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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Time to get the winter garden up and growing.

We just finished the Nannup Music Fest where we had a full on curry and smoothie stall, and what a great time it was.Caught up with lots of friends, flapped our gums for Steve Marsh, made some new friends and caught some wonderful talent on stage, was so nice to swing in the hammock and just listen during my siesta. Do  hope that was the last of the really hot weather though! However with our first cloudy day for what seems like forever I am reminded that soon the days will be short and cold.
Autumn is the busiest time on the farm, next to spring.
Now is a good time to get stuck into the garden, clear and compost the dieseased old tomato and zucchini plants and sow a lot of seeds. Some can be sown  in trays like the brassica family ( broccoli, cauli , cabbage , kale, bokchoy) lettuce, beetroot, parsley, celery. Direct sowing of carrots, parsnips, radish, corriander, peas  and fennel and silver beet would be good also. Up and till now many seeds would not have germinated due to high temperatures.
Sown now, seedings will get a bit of size before the very short days  of winter, whereupon nothing grows and plants may even get smaller due to slugs, slaters and snails.The brassica seedlings might get hit by cabbage butterfly ( its their green caterpillar babies that do the damage) so they may need to be protected by shade cloth or bird net or something. In the hopes of rain soon I will start winter gardens with the water we have left in tanks . I will spend the water on starting plants off because by the time the rain comes it is often too cold for anything to grow. Such is climate change. So sad . It use to be that early rains would bring up heaps of self sown lettuce and brassica veg which we could transplant later as the real rain set in. Now its a matter of pumping water, thankfully by solar power on the farm. And it takes a lot of water to rehydrate extremely dry ad hydrophobic soil. Employ furrows on contour and short bursts of irrigation to fill these with water, wait for it to soak in before re-filling. This may have to go on for days if the soil is low in carbon. The more compost the better to raise the mineral level. Mature compost , or humus, soaks up and holds  vast amounts of water .
 We will be trying to find time to  "dry seed" ( plant in dry soil ) oats, barley, wheat, lupins broad beans and flax in the coming weeks, because when the rain finally comes there is too much to plant all at once. 
Its a good time to make compost. About now  I like to clean the deep litter out of the chook houses  and get a BIG deep layer of new saw dust ,bamboo leaves, wood  chips and shavings into their houses and pens  which will last till next autumn.

Autumn is the time to load up the wood shed with dry wood and sticks for winter fires. Also we must collect and package and label the many seeds currently out there in the garden.
There are many fruits to pick and preserve about now: golden queen peaches, sugar plums, figs, apples , pears, perssimons, grapes,  limes and quinces.


Its last days for sun drying figs, grapes and prunes. Really why would we ever  need to buy sugar?  Have you tried a fig smoothie? Delicious , and a chocolate fig smoothie is extra nice. 

We put sheets of glass over these to keep dew off.
May you have a lovely Autumn with friends and family XXX Bee

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