|Looking down the rows. Leeks on the left, cabbage centre and Kale right.|
|Fiesta chillies. My favourite.|
|This is a wheel hoe. It really makes a difference when weeding between rows.|
The garden beds are then laid out. I have a four bed rotation system so that each year the whole garden rotates anti clockwise by one plot. This means that nothing will be grown in the same plot more than once in four years. Obviously we can only grow the annuals in these plots. Perennial plants are grown in the borders around the garden perimeter where they act as windbreaks and grass barrier. Our plot rotation is in this order,
- Root vegetables
- General bed for anything that does not fall into the above categories.
Originally we only manured plot 1 each year and there is nothing wrong with doing this but I simply had a lot of excess compost to use and so I spread it around the whole area now. The only exception is if I am planting something that likes old manured soil, like garlic, that will not do well on fresh compost.
So to get back to the winter planting. After the beds are prepared we plant everything that likes to grow in the cooler part of the year. Peas, Cabbage, Kale, lettuce, Leeks, Potatoes (if we are growing them, we live in a potato growing district and I can easily buy large quantities of cheap potatoes), Jerusalem artichoke, silver beet, Carrots, Shallots, Radish, Turnip and garlic. I usually grow several different varieties of each and as time goes by I learn what likes our climate and soil. There is a lot of excess and this goes to the pigs or other livestock. Nothing is wasted.
As the weather warms up we enter the warm-dry season (as opposed to the monsoon or wet season at the end of summer, we don't really have a spring or autumn here) and we put in the second planting. Beetroot, Cabbage, Carrots, Cucumber, Zucchini, Beans, Lettuce, Sweet potato, Bok-choi, Radish, Okra, Pumpkin and Tomato.
We then enter the wet season. This time of year is a rush to get the water loving plants to harvest before we lose the garden to weeds. They grow too quickly to hand weed effectively and it is far too boggy to get the tractor in to turn it over. So I fight a retreat until the last harvest is out and then let it go to growth for a month. In some climates they have a downtime due to snow, here it is due to water. In the wet we will plant a bit more lettuce, carrots and sweet corn which loves water. Then we are back to the winter preparation and planting again.
|NOT a staged shot. I just took a picture of the basket one night before dinner.|
Our single biggest problem is obviously the volume of rain we get. We live in one of the wettest places in Australia if not the wettest.
- 2007 had 4250mm / 13.94 feet of rain
- 2008 had 3953mm / 12.96 Ft
- 2009 had 3286mm / 10.78 Ft - a bit dry that year...
- 2010 had 4330mm / 14.20 Ft
- 2011, well I need to add up the diary entries still but I can say it will be the wettest by far. We experienced a six month, wet season! It rained nearly solidly for half the year!