28 August 2010

Preparing for Spring!

We are like bees buzzing around our rose- and vegetable garden, preparing for Spring! My vegetable garden was a huge disappointment during the winter months. This was my first winter season of having a vegetable garden and I didn’t know the sun’s position would change so much during the winter!  Only three and a half of my 7 raised bed’s had sun during the winter.  

We planted beans in a bed which had NO sun during the winter, but I didn’t know when I planted in early autumn and they started beautiful during autumn, but when winter came they all withered and died! 

We planted two varieties of carrots (bought from two different suppliers) - the one variety sprouted very well, but then one morning there were nothing left!  Some bugs must have had a feast during the night.  The other variety didn’t even sprout.  This bed did have sun! I was so disappointed. By the time the bugs had their feast, it was too late to sow anything else and the bed stayed empty the whole winter season.

In the other sun bed, we had rainbow corn, and this was a huge surprise and treat.  We only got a few cobs of corn, but at least we had a harvest and could give away and save some seed for the next season!  By the time the corn was harvested, I was so disappointed in my vegetable garden, I just left the bed to rest for the remaining season.  
In the other bed, in full sun, we had a plentiful harvest of lettuce!

In the half bed with full sun, our broccoli grows beautiful, but it feels like ages!  We hope to pick broccoli in the next two to three weeks!
And that was it for the winter!  I need to make serious changes in my vegetable garden for the next winter.
But now for this season!  Am I so excited and have high (maybe to high) expectations!  This year I’m more prepared for spring.  I have 7 beds f to start with, in comparison with two this time last year! I have heirloom seeds and I have a little more experience now.
So what are we doing?

CJ, Josua, Andrew, David and Daniel prepared our beds.  

We added horse manure, bone meal, peanut shells (for drainage), river-bed sand, left over coffee beans and the every day’s ash from our fireplace to the beds.  

This we’ve done at the beginning of August, so when we plant by the middle of September, the horse manure would have decomposed a little.
My compost heap is not doing well. I must still be doing something wrong.  I just don’t get the temperature right.  CJ got me a few bags of horse manure and after Christo and CJ pruned two big trees in the front yard, CJ put all the little twigs 
through our shredder.  The first two days the temperature was high and steam came out of the heap.  But a week later it was cold!  I don’t think it gets enough son.  As a result I can still not use what is in my compost heap for the beds.

Christo and CJ made me 3 light boxes, with growing lamps, for my seedlings to germinate. Having the seedlings in a controlled area helps increase the germination rate of the seeds. This way I can win a few extra weeks into the planting season.  By the time the weather takes a turn for the better, my seedlings wiild be strong little plants, and I can replant them in my prepared beds. Luckily we don't have frost in the Cape.
Heidi-Mari and I prepared seedling soil for our seed trays.

The soil for my previous seasons was not what it should be.  The seedlings were a pale green, a sign of nitrogen shortage, due to ‘too fresh horse manure’.  This time we could do it right! 
My Worm farm had done well over the past few months.  I’m tapping off a good amount of worm tea every second week and I got some vermicompost to put in the seedling soil, mixed with sifted potting soil and peat moss.  This ‘recipe’ we got from Jane’s Delicious Garden book.
After preparing the seedling soil we could fill our seedling trays, 27 of them. We emulate the conditions a seed would find in nature.  To do this we created two levels soil. The lower one firmly pushed down, for anchoring the plant's roots and a top one loosely sprinkled on top in which the seed can germinate.

We planted lettuce, tomatoes, onions, butternuts, squash, peas, beans, watermelons, basil and coriander and put them in the light boxes.  After 3 days the first seeds were germinating!  

It is so exciting to go check which seeds germinated every morning.  Heidi-Mari, Danika, Josua and I take turns to spray our seedlings every day.
In our rose garden we also spent some time.  Last year I attended Ludwig’s finger pruning demonstration and found it so helpful.  This year I attend the winter pruning demonstration and did my own rose pruning.  It was so much fun!

After pruning we worked in a thick layer peanut shells, for irrigation and plenty of horse manure.  I also gave every rose bush a good shot of Bokashi.

The first roses budded beautiful after pruning.

The Cape had a dry winter season, although we are a winter rainfall season.  August was a sunny month and after only twee weeks the roses looked like this.

Christo and the boys also pruned some trees in the front yard and afterwards showed the little ones how to use a saw, cutting the “logs” into smaller pieces. 

I observed a tendency with Home School Parents to always get someone from outside to teach their children a skill.   Isn’t it much more fun when Mom and Dad teach their children a skill themselves?  And if Mom or Dad don’t have a certain skill, why not study it together.  
Our boys are learning all their life skills from their Dad. Over this weekend the boys will help their dad adding an extra consulting room to his health shop. They will learn carpentry, painting and practical thinking. 

I teach my daughters the skill of cooking, baking, sewing, all by myself.  I couldn’t sew, but taught myself and now I pass it on to my daughters. Heidi-Mari and I are teaching ourselves the art of cardmaking and it is enriching our relationship. Together we also enjoy experimenting with different ingredients in baking. Isn’t this what home schooling is all about?
When we started our raised beds, we used all our available finances to build the beds.  We hoped to have finances as soon as possible to put concrete blogs and pebbles between the beds.  The irrigation system spills water between the beds and one has to ‘swim’ inbetween the beds to pick vegetables or tend to the plants and beds.  

But it was only now that we could start buying concrete blogs and pebbles and we’re not finished yet, but at least we’ve started.  

It looks beautiful. 

We still need to clean up loads of garden rubbish, piled up over the years.  

But Rome wasn’t build in one day!  Everything in due time.

For now, we will nurture our seedlings, sow some more seeds in trays, work in extra coffee beans and ash into the vegetable beds, replant our young strawberry plants and look forward to planting day!
With love 


Petra said...

Something also had a feast on our carrots, but since then they have started growing new leaves!
Our brassicas did not grow well either, but with a few sunnier days here and there, and probably longer daylight time, they have picked up a little speed.
We are far from spring here, locals have warned me about surprise frost in September still. And we are still getting plenty of rainfall.
Trust your "over" enthusiasm for the vegetable beds will bear much fruit!

Sonja said...

Ons sukkel net so met ons grond. NOu maar weer probeer hierdie jaar! Ek hoop vir die beste! Julle groentetuin lyk pragtig!Ek kan gerus ook my paadjies verbeter hierdie jaar. Jy gee my soveel wonderlike inspirasie vir die groentetuin wat ek nou BAIE nodig het!! En o is jy nie reg nie!! Ja ons moet ons kinders dinge leer, waarom is daar hierdie "mindset" in vandag se mense dat hulle altyd iemand anders nodig het om dinge vir hulle te leer en te doen?? Ons kan as ons net wil, soveel meer leer doen vir onsself! Hiervan is ek n sterk voorstaander! Dankie vir hierdie post liewe Linnie!x

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