Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Lettuce rejoice

Spring has well and truly pounced, as they say, so Rose shifts attention from the house to something which is now growing even faster.

A key part of this sustainable lifestyle for us is the ability to produce as much of our own food as possible. We have 8 acres of land in total, divided in half to form the ‘paddock’ and the house block. The block contains our native bush ‘forest’ and enough space for a large vegetable patch and an orchard, one day.
We had a fairly substantial vegetable garden at Woodside Road and enjoyed what the chickens hadn’t trashed! They quickly cottoned-on to this all-you-can-eat buffet when the tomatoes started ripening and although they often got there first, we all enjoyed fresh organic produce.

Once we settled into the container my thoughts turned to growing some winter vegetables. Knowing that we wouldn’t have a proper vegetable garden for some time we bought a couple of kitset macrocarpa beds measuring 90cm x 2m. I had the fun of assembling them and, once stacked on top of each other, they made a perfect interim garden. We found the best sun and wind protection was a spot near the fence in the forest, ideal as a temporary site.
I planted bok choy, cabbages, broccoli, silverbeet and beetroot with a wee patch of celery as well*. There isn’t much more space now that things are growing well and we are looking forward to being able to enjoy ‘home grown’ again. The real bonus is that the chickens haven’t discovered it - yet!

Henry and two of his girls sample the 'chookateria' smorgasbord
The arrival of Spring has also meant that the chickens have finally started to lay again, but they took exception to a change in bedding in their nesting box. I gave them some wood shavings, thinking they might like it, but they voted with their feet and started laying in self-constructed nests in the main part of the chicken house; so back to pea straw it is! I bought them a Chookateria - a metal box with a lid that lifts when they stand on a platform. This is designed to prevent the unintentional feeding of the entire Wairarapa sparrow and finch population, once the chickens have ‘left the table’. It has taken weeks and weeks but I think they are finally getting the hang of it!

We have also been turning our minds to productive use of the land we have. Roger uses the bottom paddock for grazing but it would be great to see it utilised and paying for itself. Various ideas have been suggested (including a mangrove swamp boat tour, wetland petting zoo and railway station carpark over-spill) but nothing has resonated to date. Watch this space!

*Lettuce will be added at some future date

Deep in the forest, the vegetables plotted their take-over.

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