Our one tonne challenge is over. For 365 days we have weighed and recorded everything that we have harvested from our frontyard garden. Everything from eggs laid by the chookies, potatoes, apples, artichokes, tomatoes, chillies, garlic, cucumbers, zucchinis, pumpkins, herbs, salads, lemons and much much more.
and so.....drum roll please brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrum....tiss! We harvested a whopping 380.73 kgs. YAY!!!!
this year our 2 big players, the grapefruit and oranges didn't fruit, nor did our bananas and all of our nectarines were lost to pesky possums and parrots....grrr next time gadget, next time! But our big winners this year have been lemons, sweet potatoes, yakon, potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes.
On the bright side we did harvest over 90kg of pumpkins from just 3 vines! We were also surprised to realise we harvested over 900 eggs from the ladies over the year.
When we started our one tonne challenge we were only growing in the front-half of our frontyard (about 70 square metres of space). As the year progressed so did our desire to utilise all of the space we have so we covered the bottom drive and the rest of what remained of our front lawn with woodchips and manure to increase our growing space by another 20 sq metres.
Now that the only lawn we have is a narrow path to the front gate, we feel that we can finally, and in all honesty, call ourselves "frontyard farmers"!
|Our front lawn...|
After harvesting the pumpkins in the drive we realised it was the perfect space for a polytunnel...well a mini, home-made one. Using bamboo harvested from a friend's backyard, some zip-ties, clear plastic and a few star pickets, we constructed what has been a very handy little greenhouse for under $50.
Putting them to Work
Good ol' fashioned, hard work is rewarding. For adults, preparing a bed for planting, trudging wheel barrow after wheel barrow of manure in to your garden or back breakingly planting out 150 spring seedlings - whilst you finish up exhausted, sore and a little more stinky, you're rewarded with a great sense of satisfaction, these days, our daily routines of roaring back and forth to work in the traffic and sitting in front of a computer screen all day rarely leaves us with a sense of satisfaction. It's the same for kids, they thrive on hard work, having a challenge, getting dirty and achieving a daily goal. Not sitting in front of an x-box, an ipad or the tv, these empty things don't satisfy kids.
Our 7 year old daughter rather prides herself as the domestic goddess, choosing to clean the family bathrooms each morning, wiping the basin, sweeping the floor, changing hand towels, returning tooth brushes to drawers etc, her completed job reinforces tidiness and a sense of each of us looking after each other in our home.
The two youngest, 5 and 3 year olds, water the seedlings each morning between 6:30-7am. They empty the compost into worm holes and water the entire patch. This means cold fingers from using the hose, hurrying up with breakfast and being responsible with water usage, turning off taps and checking over the garden. By doing their job properly then the seedlings thrive, can be planted and then harvested for our family, they are very aware of this.
|work is bliss!|
Whats growing in the patch
With Spring just around the corner we wanted to test-drive a few new varieties of veg. We're trialing a row of Siberian tomatoes that are already in the ground (mid Aug). These tomatoes are reported to be v tolerant to cool conditions but we doubt they're tolerant to frost, so we're expecting they'll be a good choice for the start and end of tomato season to extend the growing period - we'll report back and let you know how they go.
|the new beds, prepped for our Siberian visitors|
The coolest cukes for 2015 would have to be painted serpent cucumbers and Cuca-melons which are actually a miniature watermelon...yum. On the bean front we're excited about growing the Madagascan Lima bean which is a perennial, said to be prolific in its 2nd and ongoing years. They also make an outstanding falafel and are said to be a good alternate to fava beans for warmer climates. Asparagus peas (also known as the winged pea) are next on our trial radar which as they suggest have a similar flavor to asparagus. We've also been growing a range of radish over the winter including Japanese daikon, hailstone (both white varities) and French breakfast. Interestingly enough we've noticed that slugs are quite attracted to the French breakfast but seem to mostly leave the others alone.
|Hawaiian Guavas... wonderful colour!|
An oddity that we're given recently and are also thinking about trialing is a pea bean cross, or Pean, which we think is more commonly known as Hyacinth bean or Lablab. I don't know if the guy that gave them to us was trying to knock us off, but our initial research suggests that they may be rather poisonous, if not boiled repeatedly.... hmmm....worth doing your research! Has anyone else heard of the mysterious Pean? Love to hear from you Pean experts out there.
Next time, more on Black soldier fly, and some ideas about a virtual community farm in the Mountains.