Hello & Welcome
October! October! A truly beautiful month. With spring truly sprung, there's birds chirping, bees buzzing, lambs jumping through dandelion fields, and flowers - including fruit blossoms - popping up everywhere.
The growth in my garden has suddenly accelerated in the past week, enough even for Rick to comment on! Which is a bit of a consolation to me, as I'm finding two things really hard starting this garden:
- CLIMATE : It's still cold. Yes, we had some truly AMAZING days this past week, and in general the weather is improving, but the growing season is starting SO MUCH LATER than what I got used to in Auckland the past seven years. Honestly, it really is turning out to be quite a thing to get used to... acclimatizing is not just physical, but I need to get my mental state aligned too.
- SOIL: The soil is... well... very far from the soil I built over three years in my previous garden. Yes, it's a good (I hope!) veggie mix with compost and manure added that I get from a landscape place, and in truthfulness, the soil under that isn't all that bad either, but what I'm working with now sure is not the "built" soil I was used to.
All that means I'm finding the plants are not where I thought they should be by now, and I feel frustrated, and worried that I'm not going to have a productive season...
But! I'm still seeing progress, and I'm still working hard, and I know in reality the first year won't ever be an instant success (without thousands to spend!), and I can only look forward to the hard work we put in now, paying out huge dividends in a few seasons. Watch this space!
Still pretty much HOT or COLD! One day's high will be the next day's low... I'm in t-shirts the one day and 4 layers the next. Which all simply points to the fact that although I really, really want it to be, it is NOT YET TIME TO PLANT summer crops in the ground!
At least the frost let up a bit for the past week, and another week of mostly cloudy with a chance of good rainfall, will mean another week I won't have to put the gardens to bed under the frost cloth at night. Don't worry, I am on alert for those terrible hard late frosts everyone who has been in Canterbury for a while warns me about. Last year's was apparently on 20 November.
My Or-Ply-Rocks (Orpington x Plymouth Barred Rock) are doing splendidly in their run, and are gearing toward being free range one of these days. They sure are big enough - gonna be a serious hawk that tries to take one of them down! The araucana are also in there - seems I got a barred pattern on the one Araucana and a very black/grey on the other - so they fit in with the current flock colours. No idea if they're hens or roosters yet... not so easy to see as they don't have combs yet. Going to have to do some research on that to see.
I'm gearing to have another lot of eggs go in at the end of next weekend or thereabouts. Currently the incubator is the nest box for Leia's hand-reared budgie chicks (aw cute!) Dawn and Dusk are our first hand-reared budgies, and will be Leia's forever pets. But if this works well, we may do this for all the others to come and try and sell hand-reared chicks. As it is, from the first hatch of eggs, we had four budgies and from this second lot, there's four still in the nest (we think!) with the two we took out. So in a season so far, we've gone from 2 budgies to TWELVE!
Not to speak of the finches, although we lost a few... this last lot of chicks just fledged today - we have a full DOZEN new babies! Plus the parents and the two chicks from previous batches. Makes TEN finches.
QUAIL & BANTAMS
The quail are laying abundantly now, an egg a day. I definitely have at least 4 males, possibly 5... which is not great, so if you know of anyone in my area who want male quail, just drop me a line! The quail eggs are great, we use them for everything - scrambled eggs, in baking, and for mayonnaise.
Of Mystique and Midnight, our two black pekin bantam hens, only Mystique is laying, and only one egg every second day. The eggs are super gorgeous - peachy pink and small. Wondering why Midnight's not laying - she's still under a year old... and why Mystique only lays once every two days. More research!
...not yet... but almost! I had to put aside my dreams of having a Southdown Babydoll after I found the ewe lambs sell for $650 each. SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS????! Then for a while I was content, and excited to get a breed called Ryelands, but it turned out transporting them from the breeder to where I am cost way too much (a whole other sheep), so in the end I settled for two one- year old ewes from a "common" mix-breed of sheep from a friend of mine. They're happy and healthy ladies, and will do the lawn-mowing job just fine.
So this weekend Rick was digging post holes and plumb-lining where the fence will be to secure the orchard from the new inhabitants of our acre homestead. Hopefully this will all be done by next weekend and we can take possession of our ewes next Sunday. How exciting!
Potager, Orchard, Herb Garden
All the plants and trees in the orchard are by now growing, and blossoming and just doing grand overall. I definitely don't have enough pollinator attracting glowers in bloom in there yet, so I'm hoping the native little insects and such that are hanging around the trees do a decent job of pollinating, so I at least have one or two fruit this coming season!
I've not really done much in the orchard except check on the growth and flowering of all the trees and shrubs. Excited to see the plum finally putting out fabulous growth.
While some of the blueberries are not looking their best, they're bouncing back, and the currants are showing lots of little trusses of flowers - yay!
The horseradish I put in - some said "yay!", some cautioned "nay!" - is also over their transplant sulk and sending out new leaf growth. Cannot wait for massive horseradish harvests.
We finally got another load of boxes and another load of soil and I'm starting to put together the last bed for this year. It's going to be a three-sisters bed with corn, squash and beans. Hopefully this one will be all ready by end of this coming week.
The other beds are fine. Not great (see my big fat moan under "Hello & Welcome" above), but going nonetheless, and starting to look better. I'm sure as the soil warms up, more positive growth will start happening.
Decided to give you a panorama view of what's what:
The quick-access herb garden out our front door is doing really well, the parsley, golden sage, oregano and pizza thyme as grown in beautifully. This weekend, I added a chef's choice rosemary (my husband's favourite), a common sage (green/grey sage), and some chives. The other box has a Tuscan blue rosemary, French Tarragon, Lemon Thyme, Lemon Variegated Thyme, Golden Marjoram and Creeping Winter Savory. I need to bulk that out with some more herbs too. Waiting for more common marjoram (sweet marjoram) seedlings, and basil of course!