A continuation of our setting up to be self-sufficient: Trials and Triumphs!
After getting the initial winter vegetables planted (Broad Beans and Brassica’s – see post 1 in this series), and some dirt dug up for the garlic, next we put up a new greenhouse that we had bought with the little bit of left over house purchase money – BUT, the storms/high winds promptly ripped out of the ground in one piece and flung over the fence and smashed down all over the neighbours back yard into a thousand pieces (we literally cried – as we could not afford another one). After this, our next mission on the list was the bare-rooted fruit trees for the orchard (see further below):
As we had arrived so late at the new house, we did not have 6 weeks prep time for our fruit trees, so made the most of what we had. We dug up the holes (round NOT square – this helps the roots grow evenly), put some smallish drainage rocks in the bottom and duly composted over them well and then put some soil back on top of this to protect the roots. After a week we went and picked up our pre-ordered Heritage fruit trees from the Organic Co-op that we are members of, in Riverton. It was pouring with rain that day, so we left them until the next day, and then in they went. We staked them up as we get very strong winds, and tied them to the stakes with soft fabric tie (which reminds me we need to replace this as it has rotted in the severe weather we get here). We were very proud of ourselves!
We chose 6 trees that grow well in cold areas for very specific reasons, they were:
Apple – Monties Surprise & Kidd’s Orange Red
Plum – Billington & Satsuma
Apricot – Morepark
Peach – Black Boy
Cherry – Stella
… and we intend on getting another couple more fruit trees every year until we can’t fit any more! This is the first time we have grown fruit trees, so it will be a learning experience for us. We have been vege gardening for years, but as we were only renting, the only fruit we ever had previously, was if there were any on trees on the properties.
Garlic: The next thing to tackle after the fruit trees, was the garlic. We LOVE garlic and use it copiously in everything nearly, so thought that 50 bulbs would be plenty. Even though we are not fans of digging up the ground and prefer a more permaculture way of growing, with the backyard here having been in grass for the last 80 years and a river-bed 800 or so years ago, there was no way we could grow anything in a 30cm thick deep mat of tangled grass roots, so we had to degrass the top and plough, nothing else for it. This of course brings up “weeds”, which we see as misplaced plants. So we had to spend some time removing them and/or moving them to other places! It also helped us to find out exactly what we could do with all the plants we did not know how to use, and a couple of wild plants and foraging books later, we learned we could eat dock and dandelion and chickweed and plantain and many other garden “problems”!.
The garlic went in not on the shortest day as it was meant to as we were not even here yet, but it did go in at the end of August, which doesn’t make much difference. The main thing is to get it in before the end of spring, or it will just race off to seed too quickly. It is important to keep garlic well watered, or it will not swell into large bulbs. We used to flood the garden every 2-3 days until it was like a lake, and let the water go down, but we do have very free draining soil. It is all gone again in about an hour. Experiment with yours, and see how much water you have to give it to keep the soil wet. Also, garlic does not like competition, so keep the plot weed free. As the garlic does not really have any pests or diseases, it is one of the few crops we single planted – ie: all in one place. I don’t think we would do that again, but as it was only our 2nd garden to go in and we had nothing else to plant it WITH at the time, it just suited us better that first year. This year we are planting it in with all the other vegetables and flowering plants that like it as a companion. The main thing to keep it away from, is peas and beans – they hate it. We eventually edged the garlic garden with logs from the forest (we can get Wood collecting permits from old logging sites for just $10 per month), and we use the wood we get for all manner of things! It was just too hard to keep the grass from encroaching.
NOTES for garlic:
You must completely dry the plants. Lay them out in the sun or a warm place until they are totally dry, then tie/plait/hang them up in a cool but dry place to keep until use. We have turned the laundry off the back of our house into a “cool store” for all our winter store food that likes to be kept cool but dry. It has worked really well so far. Only thing is we did not plant enough garlic after-all and we ran out, so its 100 bulbs this year! 🙂
The next blog in this series will continue on again with our set-up for self-sufficiency. I hope you have enjoyed these so far and that they inspire you to give your dreams a go and pick up a spade and fork and go to it! It is very hard work and there are lots that can go wrong, but nothing can ever keep someone who refuses to quit down for long!
GOODBYE AGAIN FOR NOW:
Once again, it is a privilege to share our journey with you, please share yours with us as well. Peace and prosperity in your gardens and homes. From Suz
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