It sure is a slug fight. These slimy critters are taking over my garden and it’s a war! Welcome, come on in. Hi, how are you? Thank you for opening up this post to read about how I am travelling with teaching myself how to live more of a simple lifestyle. It’s wild weather outside here on Bruny Island so I thought I would update you on what has been happening around the place.
I can’t believe that winter is here. Yay. I love winter. I love that you can snuggle up in front of the heater and read books. I love also that you can rug up and head out for walks to then come back inside by the warmth. Those simple things in life we must not take for granted. It is pure pleasure.
In Tasmania we kind of bypassed autumn. It was cold and we didn’t have too many warm autumn days. However I was still able to get outside and plant my winter crop.
My vegetable gardens have all been prepared and now it is just a waiting game and a regular fight with slugs and snails. It is really weird how I have heaps of slugs and snails in my vegetable gardens but my neighbour seems to not have any. I wondered if it was due to my soil being dirty. When I say dirty I mean with sheep poo sitting on top. Apparently that is not the cause. I have used beer traps, eggs shells, coffee grind and pyrethrum. You will see in the photos I had pea straw down. This was a rookie mistake. I thought you put pea straw down all year but depending on where you live and your climate you don’t. For my vegetable gardens in winter they already retain their moisture so I don’t need to put it down. This can cause slugs as they like the warmth. I will give them warmth. Off with their heads!!! Too funny, I didn’t take their heads off but my new six chooks who I just love did gobble them up!
Whilst I keep an eye on my new winter crop seedlings I am also waiting for the fruit trees to go dormant so I can cut them right back. My neighbour is actually going to come up and show me how to prune fruit trees correctly. Apparently their is a knack to it. I would love to hear how you do it. Maybe you would like to send me in some photos. So lets take a look at what has been happening here on primal farm. (I like to call it Primal farm because I am manifesting that our market garden will take off and we will have a range of animals that we use to enhance our soils and land).
I do need to replant a new lemon tree and dig up two other citrus trees that have not done anything where I originally planted them. So out they come and into pots they go inside one of my gardens.
Also about a month ago I went and purchased over 50 new natives trees to plant in a new native garden that I have designed. This is to use up grass space but also bring in some bio-diversity into my garden. Our ground is rock hard. Everywhere you dig you are digging into clay and rock. Not much fun but great exercise. We use a crow bar and shovel to do the digging. Now that is primal work!
So lets take a look at what has been happening around the place.
In this photo above, from the top end I have planted the following:
At the back: brussel sprouts
In front of brussel sprouts = sprouting broccoli
In the middle at the back is silverbeet
In the middle in front of silverbeet is Kale
In the middle in front of kale is Cabbages
Closer to us at the back is Silverbeet
Closer to us in front of silverbeet is kale
Closer to us in front of kale is cabbages
So you see how I put all that pea straw down. Well the next day I ripped it all back up again. That was a fun day!
In the photo below I am now standing where I showed you the brussel sprouts. At this end I have cauliflowers growing at the back and kale, parley and coriander at the front.
See the bottom tier and the empty patch. This now has a green crop in it.
Here is my green crop. Growing really well. Lots of good nitrogen in this patch.
More green crops going in
These photos are taken from the garden I like to call Garden B. I have three large vegetable gardens, which you will see in a bit. Garden B is a tiered garden and in these photos I have divided the top tier in half and the same for the bottom tier and then I divided them into smaller garden beds. So far it seems to be working. My parsley is last seasons so some of it is dying off and some is re-sprouting.
The silverbeet that you can see in the bottom tier is last seasons. Actually I think I planted this in summer. It is going really well and looks super healthy. The only thing I do with it is feed it on a fortnightly basis with seasol and power feed and my soil has plenty of sheep poo and our home made compost.
In the photo below I have last seasons silverbeet and rhubarb and in front of the rhubarb I have planted a crop of celeriac, tatsoi and lettuces.
Who loves rhubarb? I am not a big fan of rhubarb and I don’t use a lot of it. This patch of rhubarb has been in the garden since we moved here. The previous owners planted it and it grows so well. I have a freezer full of it. If you live in Tasmania, feel free to come and grab some.
Here they are. Seriously, how cute are they? I am sure all gardeners feel this way; treating your seedlings with so much love and tenderness. I must admit I even talk to them. “please grow, please grow.”
Below are our raspberries. Now that was a sad day when the season had ended. But I am so grateful because I was still eating raspberries right up to the second month of autumn. Crazy. So now I am waiting for the bushes to die off so I can cut them all back and give them some loving. In amongst all those crazy bushes I also have two green gage trees, a nectarine and apricot tree and a apple tree. My neighbours are very helpful and have recommended that I wait to all the leaves have fallen and then that is the time to give them a good prune.
Whilst waiting for my winter crop to grow I am eating plenty of silverbeet, celery, carrots. I have potatoes and pumpkins in storage. Oh yes I nearly forgot. I went out to the garden last night and noticed my leeks. So I also have leeks to use. Great for making soups.
The two photos that you see below were taken yesterday. Look at how healthy my lettuces are and the rhubarb is flourishing! I did mention that it grows in abundance.
Healthy lettuces. Yum!
This is what the slugs and snails are doing to my leafy greens. I went and purchased organic safe to use snail bait. The horticulturist I spoke to mentioned to put a good dose of it around each of my seedlings.. BUT I think it may have damaged them. Can you see how they look burnt? I think it is from the snail bait. So in the next couple of days I am going to remove all of it. The joys of organic gardening! I would love to hear from anyone who has tips and tricks up your sleeve who knows how to get rid of these slimy creatures once and for all.
The pea straw has all been taken off. You can see how wet and muddy it is. I have clay soil which is good and not good. My next job is to enrich the soil with gypsum. Gypsum apparently breaks up the clay to allow the nutrients to be unlocked and work more freely into the soil.
OMG now this particular day I did get a fright. Opened up the compost bin only to find a quoll sitting in there. Boy did I jump. You may have seen the photo on my Facebook page
Overnight I left the lid off the bin and thankfully he just crawled back out. I am sure with a big fat belly and nicely nourished by all my organic matter.
Now we get into garden A, which is my roundabout garden. I have put a lot of work into this garden. I have worked extremely hard on getting the soil healthy by putting in mushroom compost, sheep poo and organic matter. From a home soil kit test our soil’s PH is 6.5. From what I have read in my large collection of garden books this is good.
In this photo garden A looks a bit empty. I hope you can see, right over the back to the left is a bunch of last seasons kale and I had to rip it all out because it was covered in snails and slugs. I believe this is where the problem started. Also in the middle to the right where you can see the silverbeet, this too was also covered in slugs.
Hello hole in plant. Even the slugs know how good kale is to eat. Cheeky!
At least they haven’t noticed the brussel sprout seedlings.
I read in one of my organic gardening books to use beer traps. So off I went to the tip shop and purchased some bowls and then to the bottle shop to purchase the cheapest beer I could find. I now have amongst the snail bait, eggshells and coffee grind, beer traps. They have been in for two weeks and not one slug has fallen for the trap! Arhhhhhhhhhhhhh
If I find you I will squash you. Yes slug I am talking to you! Look what you have done to my brussel sprout plant. It is not funny anymore and I call a war!
But before I do I am going to stop and look at how pretty the autumn leaves look all fallen onto the ground. I raked up the leaves and used them on the empty garden beds and created another green crop. I think all up I have 5 empty beds all with green crops. This is all new to me as I have never gardened before until I moved to Bruny Island and now that I have ten acres to play with I have a lot of Learning to do.
Back up to check out garden A. It now has the winter crops in it and is starting to look full. In the middle I have more cabbages. Red and green and around the outside I have planted the following
Queen Anne’s Lace – to encourage the good bugs
Sage and thyme – to encourage the good bugs
Radishes are around the front of the plants and in between the rows
Kale – two varieties
And a green crop
Wow just writing that I am super proud of my efforts. I must remember to stop and look back at what I have done. Sometimes I just keep thinking of all the jobs I need to do and it can feel over-whelming at times.
Snail bait is protecting the silverbeet. I also have a stevia plant growing at the back. I haven’t used any yet. I think it is because I never do any baking!
Cabbages are being protected with eggs shells, snail bait and a beer trap. It has not worked.
Collecting egg shells. I have also asked the local cafe to save all their shells for me. Yesterday I received a bucket load! Perfect.
Mibuna, cauliflowers, radishes and celery are growing well
Mizuna, kale and radishes.
Tuscan Kale planted for my winter crops
Cauliflower planted for my winter crops
Mizuna planted for my winter crops
Below is garden C. This is a new patch that Andrew and I have created. Last season I grew over 40 pumpkins plus potatoes, zucchini and sunflowers. Now that we have six brand new chooks they are having a ball foraging in there.
First time chooks went in there, I think they thought Christmas had arrived! For extra protein they can enjoy plenty of worms. I read in a gardening magazine that chooks feathers are made up of 75% protein and during winter and when they’re off lay they need extra protein.
Clearing out the patch for us. I am amazed and grateful for what these girls can do
Just look at them. I love chooks and if you can I really encourage you to get some. They have the best personality and they’re too funny. I love watching them run and they bring a lot of joy to my life.
Each morning when I go to let them out they are fed first and then they run down to the potato patch. Too easy! They are our own little rotary hoes!
Here they are running in from the rain last night. They have a massive place to forage and we have also thrown our compost heaps into one big pile and they are having so much fun digging this up!
Look at what they have done! What an awesome effort. I am going to leave the chooks in here for another couple of weeks and then I will put a mustard crop in and leave that to be dormant over winter ready for spring and summer planting
Each morning the girls get a warm pot of mash. This includes vegetables, meat, garlic and turmeric. They forage all day and at night I give them a handful of wheat each, plus sunflower seeds, plus shell grit and a big bunch of greens. The tray below includes carrot tops, silverbeet, comfrey and celery tops! Healthy chooks means healthy eggs, which means a healthy Jo and Andrew.
You see how it is all connected. We are all one big garden. If we all care for the garden by looking closely at how we treat our soil that feeds the food that feeds us. Plus we can also care for it by looking closely at what we eat, and how and where it was grown.
With all my heart and soul I do believe that by eating locally grown produce and getting to understand soil health, seasonal supply and organics we can all remove ourselves from the sickness industry and grow and support our own health. There is a book out which is written by Dallas and Michelle Hartwig called “It Starts with Food” and I think this is so true. However I also feel we need to take another step back and understand that it starts with the soil that feeds the food that feeds us. To improve our own health and wellbeing and to also improve the health of the environment I feel we could do this by looking towards organics, natural and simple living and creating a future that is all wrapped up in the philosophy of sustainable and self sufficient living.
This was the harvest for my chicken and vegetable soup last night (and no it was not one of my chooks)
(The eggs are for breakfast).
My health, your health can be greatly improved if we keep life and nutrition simple. I have learnt this after so many years on the dieting train. None of us need to be on a diet. All of us can improve our health immensely by eating lots of fresh, local, seasonal and organic fruit and vegetables and protein and throw some extra good traditional fats in there for extra nourishment. Throw away all the diet books and also toss out the packaged processed foods that may line your pantry and head out to your local green grocer, the farmer down the road or to your local farmers market and buy up big on the things that were once alive. This is where your true health and wellbeing begins.
I really hope that you have enjoyed what I have been up to on the farm. I like to call it a farm because I have a big vision of creating a beautiful and certified organic farm that has a market garden to feed others and a place for all to come and be nourished, inspired and educated. I also want to have a range of animals that I am raising organically and ethically to help feed the soil and to feed us.
So for a beginner, who has only been gardening now for two seasons, which is two years, I feel I have come a long way, learnt a lot and I am still learning. I think when you own a garden or do anything in life you can never stop learning. Nature has a sure way of teaching us something new every single day. We only need to stop and be open to the possibilities.
I would love to see pictures of your garden and hear from you. Please feel free to leave any tips, hints and comments below. I look forward to hearing from you. Live well and be well, Jo