Irrigation – Part Two

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Well, I finally got around to installing the irrigation system into the fruit & veggie patch.

The rigid hose and some of the fittings had been given to me by my son-in-law, as he uses a bigger diameter on the farm. The hose had been used previously and I had to spend a bit of time stopping the old holes and washing out any accumulated dirt and spiders etc.

I’d learned from my previous installation, in the decorative garden beds, to be a bit choosy in selecting the actual type of water outlet to use. Sure setting up spray nozzles means you can water a whole group of plants in one go but unfortunately this also encourages the weed growth! A future project entails going around the initial installation and replacing the sprayers with drippers instead – in some areas anyway.

However, for the raised vegetable beds the sprayers are ideal. Most of the weeds have been removed and any subsequent invaders should be easily disposed of. Depending on the type of nozzle you choose, you can decide the flow rate and the direction of the spray.

The nozzles are fitted to some small diameter rigid risers which are pushed into the hose wherever you think is the best place. These risers come in various lengths and are usually most suitable for raised beds. I actually ran out of risers but, rather than popping down to the local farm supply shop, just used pieces of a flexible tube, we call it spaghetti,  and, once the nozzle had been fitted, attached them to some wooden sticks. It worked a treat. These sprayers now attend to my all my herb and fruit and vegetable beds.

The spaghetti line is more commonly used for water drippers and I’ve used them on the citrus, coffee and bay trees and the dragon fruit too.

I can easily add on some more hose, etc., to this new watering system should I add some more beds, fruit hedges or trees in the future. Meanwhile I can now enjoy hassle free watering whilst sipping my morning coffee!

Here’s an old joke for you: “How come you’re only watering half your lawn?” a perplexed passerby asked me.

I replied, “I just heard there was a fifty percent chance of rain.”

Happy gardening,

TUG

 

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The Great Eggscape!

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Yes, I know it’s a terrible pun but I’m going to keep cracking them. We  bought four young chooks: two Rhode Island Reds and two Australorps. The Australorp on the far left is now called Ms. Houdini. We found her, early one morning, frantically running up and down the outside of the pen. She’d got out but couldn’t work out how – or so it looked to us.

I eventually discovered that she’d managed to pop out of a small hole I’d overlooked whilst overlapping the chicken wire, Whist she was easy to herd back into the pen with her sisters, the bigger worry was, of course, if she could get out – what could get in!

Having used up all the found chicken wire, I had to nip down to our local store and grab some new stuff. Luckily it was fairly cheep, you could say it was only a paltry sum! Not much to  shell out at all.

I patched the hole and then carefully went around the entire perimeter ensuring any other small open spaces were now safely covered. It looks good. Still no eggs to  report but it’s still early days.

A hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg.                                                               Samuel Butler

Happy gardening,

TUG

The chooks have arrived!

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Not a great photo but I’ll try to do better next time. We’d planned to get some hens around Xmas time but with the run and coop ready, we thought – why not! Having a few poultry in the backyard seems to complete the circle for us as gardeners. The art of husbandry, the collecting of eggs, the free nitrogen rich manure and the sheer joy of listening to the birds chuckling to themselves as they scratch around in the soil looking for tasty tidbits, all feeds some deep centred need within us.

Man has kept livestock, of some description, since Neolithic times (12,000 years ago, however, the keeping of fowl (Gallus domesticus) is slightly more recent. They were originally bred from a wild junglebird (Gallus gallus) around 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. Researchers are unsure where the domestication began and may have several origins South and Southeast Asia, South China, Thailand, Burma and India – the jury is still out it seems.

We bought the young Point Of Lay chooks from a local supplier who tells us he sells 200 birds every month and struggles to keep up with demand. He’s not the only supplier in town and these are predominantly egg laying fowl not the meat producers. Just goes to show there must be a lot people out there getting into backyard poultry.

These young ones have obviously been reared as part of a big commercial enterprise, thus were incubator hatched and then left in a huge barn before being shipped out. Therefore, they have not had any older hens to show them the way things should be.  They may have a natural inbuilt instinct to scratch and peck but seem to have no idea how to roost!

Instead, when it comes to bedtime, they huddle up together in a small area between one of the outer walls and the side of the coop and just sit on the floor. No amount of coaxing will get them to change their ways it seems.

In all other aspects (I know, I know,  – an aspect is what you get when you bend over in a chicken run!), they show a natural curiosity in all areas of their run and within a few minutes of arrival had sorted themselves out an area for their dust bath. At first they turned their noses (beaks) up at anything which wasn’t store-bought feed but have since settled in to pecking at the various weeds and grasses in the run and even any left over fruit we have offered.

The photograph shows the trunk of a Blackbean Tree, it’s an evergreen and cast some much-needed shade, especially as we head towards out subtropical summer. In the foreground to the right I have hung a wire mesh basket. When available, I will place unwanted or leftover cabbages, broccoli and lettuce etc., inside thus giving the girls reason to exercise their leg muscles in having to jump up to eat the goodies.

It’s early days but I think they’re settling. Fingers are crossed. If anyone else is interested in keeping some backyard chooks, I can recommend:

For setting up and looking after your chickens Guide to Keeping Chickens – Housing Your Chickens

For the fun and games of keeping these little darlings as a business enterprise 

weekend joy

Both the above sites offer a wealth of information and some fun too. The first mentioned covers gardening too and both are also WordPress bloggers.

Finally in a belated salute to Halloween, I offer you the following quote:

“I’ve never met a pumpkin, I didn’t like”                                                                                             Jack O’Lantern

Happy gardening

Tug

 

What’s in a name?

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Sometime in the near future, we are getting a few chooks. We want them for three reasons:

Firstly, for eggs that we can keep and for some to give away to family, friends and neighbours.

Secondly, for the conversion of some of our vegetable and fruit scraps into valuable fertiliser.

Thirdly, just for the fun of watching the hens scratching around their run whilst gently chuckling to themselves.

We assembled the hen-house ourselves from a flat pack. It looked a bit on the small side once erected but we are assured it will suit up to six chickens quite comfortably. Since the house is really only for roosting and egg laying and we don’t want more than four, all should be well.

The chicken run has been made from old chicken wire, garden mesh and old farm gates and timber left lying around by the previous owners and I’d hung on to them for this very reason. The door is not shown in the above photograph but is an old unwanted flyscreen left over from our renovation when we first purchased the property.

We are not getting the chooks until around Xmas time but at least now their new home is waiting for them.

Which brings us to the question raised in the above headline.

What shall we call their new home. Some suggestions already made are: Cluckingham Palace, The Chook Nook, The Hen Pen and The Coop De Ville.

If any of the readers have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to comment.

Old gardeners never die, they just dig until it’s time to throw in the trowel.

H.V. Prochnow Sr.

Happy gardening,

TUG

Nothing succeeds like a toothless budgie!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My favourite method for saving tomato seeds is to place the best fruit indoors on a sunny window sill. When the tomato has become all squishy, (what a lovely descriptive word that is!) I pull it apart, over a sieve and under running water, and push all the unwanted pulp through the sieve leaving those wonderful little growth capsules behind. Shake as much water out of the sieve as possible then upturn the contents onto a kitchen towel.

Placing the towel in a dry airy space I allow sufficient time for the seeds to fully dry usually about two days. Then I pop the seeds, still on the towel, into an envelope, having first marked it with a description of the contents: Type of plant, Variety and Growth Habits, etc.

When I want to sow some, I just pull off part of the towel with a few seeds attached and sow directly into the soil. A few days later, the first leaves appear and so the circle starts again.

One of my daughters has told me of a method where you just cut a slice of tomato, ensuring seeds are there, and then simply slip this directly into the soil. Of course this only works if you have a sufficiently long growing seasons, (hello Bundaberg) and you don’t want to store the seeds for future use.

The first mentioned method can be used for all manner of seeds, I’ve recently saved some Mango Melon seeds.

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This is a hybrid fruit originating from South America. I obtained the seeds from a fresh fruit bought from a local market. We thought it was delicious, however, as a hybrid I am unsure if it will grow true to its parent. It may revert to one of its grandparents but we wouldn’t enjoy gardening so much if there were no challenges in it, would we?

Before finishing, just a quick note on storage of seeds, this is important to get right and can vary seed type to seed type and climate. I’m lucky in that I get away with storing all my seed in paper bags and envelopes, etc. These are then placed in an airtight container and stored, in the dark, at the back of our pantry on the top shelf. This works for me but I am in no way advocating this for anyone else. If in doubt check, with your local seed saving network. Information is readily available FOC online too, of course.

Walk softly with a big zucchini!

Happy gardening

TUG

 

The other man’s grass is always greener!

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A couple of posts back, I shared how the drought had affected parts of Queensland and showed a snap of my backyard. All beige and crunchy. The grass looked as dead as could be but we’re now entering our stormy season and after just four days of rain the grass looks much different already. I’ve even had to give it a bit of a trim with the old mower.

More rain is predicted too. We certainly need it and it is so nice to have a bit of green back at my feet.

With regard to the above headline, my old Nan was fond of saying, “The other man’s arse is always cleaner”. It always made me giggle when I was a kid. I still think it’s funny!

To save you going back on previous posts, I’ve added below how the backyard looked a little while back.

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By the time you find greener pastures, you can’t climb over the fence!                  Anon

Happy gardening

TUG

Basil is so arrogant that if you ask him, he won’t even give you the thyme of day.”

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Just lately, basil hasn’t had too much to be arrogant about. Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is native in tropical parts of South East Asia and Central Africa and has been cultivated for at least 5000 years. It is now  grown all over the world and is valued for its culinary and medicinal qualities. It is also useful as a good companion plant.

Unlike other plants, herbs have not been messed around with too much. No one (Big Seed Producers) is trying too hard get a greener basil or a larger leaf, etc. So it is no surprise that herbs generally grow so well, without the need for chemicals and harsh sprays. But………..

Now basil is being attacked by a fungal disease (Peronospora belbahrii) commonly known as Basil Downy Mildew. This has become a world problem:  Basil downy mildew has been recorded in Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Cameroon, Canada, China, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Iran, Israel, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United States of America. It was first discovered in Italy in 2004. It has gone global in just 14 years.

The pathogen can be carried on seed, transplant material or fresh leaves.  Spores can also be dispersed long distances via wind. The disease may spread within an infected crop by wind, water splash and through management activities which may spread the spores from an infected plant to others. It can lay dormant in soil for several years.It especially thrives in hot humid conditions (hello Bundaberg). It was not found in Queensland until 2017

In my own garden, I have watched a number of home sown or transplanted basil develop the brown leaves, wilt and die. Thinking it was only me attempting to grow in the wrong place – I just kept trying. Until I couldn’t buy it anymore! My local herb supplier then told me of the downy mildew problem and that there was a nation wide shortage.

Gardeners are an optimistic lot (we have to be) so I kept trying to locate a source until I hit lucky with an old gardener disposing of some surplus stock at a country market stall.

I purchased two and planted out about four weeks ago. These are sited in the new herb beds. My apologies are being sent here because I forgot to mention them in the post where I was updating my lay out. Well anyway…………

As can be seen from the above snap the basil is growing well, with no sign of any disease. The other one is too but I’ve not captured it on camera.

I shall, of course, keep you updated on the progress. I sincerely hope this disease stays away from your own basil. Imagine a tomato without some basil when you need it. Actually no,  don’t imagine it, it doesn’t bear thinking about!

When the going gets tough, the tough get growin’

Happy gardening

TUG