Cow Peas

Our deal with our children is they can watch as many movies as they like, as long as they she’ll peas at the same time!

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Here are the results:

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We planted about one hectare of cow peas this year, and they did quite nicely with all of the rain. We are harvesting enough peas to keep us in bean soups and so on through the winter.

Our boer goats will eat the rest probably next month, before the plants dry too much. It will make a good, high protein green feed before they lamb in July.

We will also combine the peas with our tomato crop and make ‘baked beans’ as a preserve.

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Winter. Endings and beginnings..

Our summer garden has come to an end. All of the tomatoes and aubergines, pumpkins and squashes, broccoli and cauliflower have been eaten, preserved or given away.

Some of our boer goat ewes are heavily pregnant and so the task of clearing the leftovers falls to them. Here they are making short work of some cauliflower plants.

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It’s now a few weeks since I took that pic. It is now midwinter and they are now eating their way through the lucerne and sericea I baled. The grey is last year’s mulch, and the yellow, this year’s contribution. The goats sort through the bale and eat all of the tasty bits, and spit out the stems and other unpalatable bits. I estimate about a quarter of the bale is turned to mulch, but that is simply a function of the amount of grass growing in the lucerne field when baled.mulchgoats

I will soon start making seedlings again for spring, and hopefully we should be producing abundant tomatoes again before long like last season.

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Some new lambs for the new season:

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So this completes a cycle where goats, lucerne, vegetables and the by products of all of them, add to the fertility of the soil, the goats, and us humans even get some benefit!

Ruth Stout’s Potato Method Works!

I recently tried Ruth Stout’s potato planting method using straw mulching. Basically you place a seed potato on the ground, cover with straw and wait. Our straw mulching has been quite successful with other vegetables, so when some store bought potatoes started getting roots on the shelf, I put them in the vegetable garden and covered them with about 200mm of straw.

Lo and behold about 2 weeks later, potato plants! (okay, no potatoes yet, but its a start…)

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Some beetroot seedlings that I planted out:

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Fancy lettuce:

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Jalepeno Peppers:

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Mulching

I had a lot of straw bales left over from last winter, and a lot of animal bedding that needed to be cleaned out. I hunted around on the net for ideas on what to use leftover bales for. Apart from all of the straw bale house building ideas, I eventually came across the idea of thick straw mulching for veggie gardening.  Here is a site that gives you the general idea : http://www.goveganic.net/article182.html

It seemed deceptively simple, and turns out that it is. Basically you pack your beds thick with straw. Grow seedlings, and when they are ready to plant out, make a small hole in the straw, plant them and pack the straw back around the stem. And that’s it. You get the odd weed pushing through the straw, but you just pull that and drop it on top of the mulch pile.

Previously we were using lots of compost and digging over the beds, or using a disc harrow to work in manure, but weeds were a huge problem overtaking the vegetables. Now we are just packing any organic matter as thick as possible on the ground, and the veggies love it.

If it wasn’t for using this technique, there is no possible way that our veggie garden would have survived the recent drought and 40 degree temperatures (C not F). Granted it didn’t grow very quickly, but now that we’ve had some rain, everything is taking off.

Some pics:

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I am currently making seedlings of autumn vegetables like chard, celery, brocolli cauliflower, lettuce and maybe some late tomatos etc ready for when the weather cools off a bit.

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