veggie garden

Winter wanderings

… a bit of a mixed bag

It finally cooled down here in Brisbane…I thought the summer was never going to end, with record temperatures maxing out all around this ‘wide brown land’ of ours, but finally it feels like winter.

The aquaponics system is still going well, but sadly I have to report we are down to two barramundi, which goes to show that the guy we bought the fish from was right, as the Jade Perch are still powering along. They are feeding a bit less now that it is colder, but they are active and seem quite content.

We are still harvesting lots of lettuce, spinach and celery from the beds, with ample herbs—parsley, chives and coriander thriving in Bed 4. We are now starting plants off in rock wool-filled seedling pots, nestled in the main grow beds which we then transfer out to the NFT system as they get established.

We had the strawberries in the NFT but so vigorous was their root growth that they were blocking the water flow. The strawberries have now been transferred into the main beds, and are doing exceptionally well—producing beautiful, big, rich, red berries.

Meanwhile in the soil garden, Chris has lifted the sweet potatoes (oddly white on the outside and purple inside), and planted broad beans, beetroot and potatoes (we are hoping for good cropping from the three different varieties we have). Yesterday we harvested the turmeric (see pic)—a yield of just on 1kg—far too much for our immediate culinary needs (one can only eat so much curry!) so we will either freeze, ‘pickle’ in alcohol, or dry what we have. All a bit exciting!

But what prompted me to write this morning is a cute little incident this AM that went a little bit like this:

HIM: (with slight distress in his voice and a furrowed brow) I can’t find Georgie! [our remaining Isa Brown chicken]

ME: OK (as I leapt from the couch—still in my jammies) I will help, she won’t be very far. It’s ok, she was hiding on me the other day, she’s there somewhere. [we are on a suburban block and the chickens have free range of around 300 sq metres]

Down in the yard we walk around clapping and calling her name and the mandatory cry of ‘Chook chook chook‘. The other three chickens followed us like well trained dogs around the yard as we poked our heads around corners and looked under benches and through the shed…and then, miraculously, he spotted Georgie out of the corner of his eye…over near the open compost bin, on top of the bag-full of leaves I had raked up two weeks ago.

There she was, sitting snugly on top of the bag, sitting on top of a total of 10 EGGS!

We had figured egg production had gone down recently because it was winter. We had just passed the winter solstice and so the days were the shortest all year—maybe one egg a day was how it was going to be until the days start to get longer and warmer. What we had not realised is that the chickens had established their own ‘secret squirrel’ laying place.

So in a flash major concern went to relief, right on to disbelief. 10 eggs! Yay! God I laughed! Silly chickens!


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