Monday, 24 August 2015

The Frank and Ethel Collective

You know me by now, right?  You know that when I decide to do something, I go at it whole hog.  Yep, that's me, all or nothin'.  Remember last post I was poring over gardening books and planning an assault on the front yard?  Well my friends, the wheels are most definitely in motion.  It all started with sprouting mung beans and alfalfa seeds:

Alfalfa!!!  So much alfalfa.  From two tablespoons of seeds.

Mung beans!!!

Note to self: do smaller batches next time.  Nobody else eats it.

Emboldened by this success, I decided to branch out and try actual plants.  From seeds.  Because y'know, economical and all that.  Plus, a good challenge for this decidedly not-green-thumbed yahoo.  But why grow just one plant?  In one measly pot?  Oh no, no no no.  We must charge forth, arms flailing, and plant ALL THE THINGS.

It may not look terribly exciting to the average Joe, but I am quietly trying to not explode off the chair every five minutes to go and check if anything is growing yet, or worry that I really am doomed to a life of store-bought veg.  Behold, my square metre garden!


Deane built the raised garden bed for me (with plans for expansion, should everything go well), and although it looks empty at the moment, there are actually seeds (hopefully) germinating in the soil.

Here is my 'map' for this round of planting (totes not to scale):

The beans, rocket, spring onions, carrots and radishes are all planted straight into the plot, and I have the cucumber and mesclun germinating on the kitchen windowsill along with some capsicum and cherry tomatoes.  I have also planted some lavender, marigold and phacelia (purple tansy) seeds for companion plants to try and ward off any wee buggies that might eat my vege plants before they grow, and encourage helpful insects like ladybugs and praying mantises that eat the slightly less welcome guests.  Plus they'll be providing a feeding and resting spot for bees, who need all the help they can get.

Flat leaf parsley and some anaemic-looking basil, hanging out with the yet-to-sprout seedlings.

The coffee sack planters have silverbeet, New Zealand spinach, borage and nasturtium, and the big sack has desiree potatoes.  I found a tutorial for making coffee sack planters online (although they're ridiculously easy and you don't really need instructions.  It's one of those 'why didn't I think of that?' kinda things).  I got the coffee sacks for $2 from the Allpress Cafe on Ponsonby Road.  Way cheaper than crappy plastic pots or wooden planters, lighter and easier to move than ceramic or terracotta pots.  And they're biodegradable :)

Obviously nothing has sprouted yet - I only planted the first seeds a few days ago.  Let me tell you, staring at potting mix does not make anything grow faster.  However I did spy some tiny wee green bits in a few of the mesclun seedling plots.  Excitement!!  Two days earlier than expected!

I have also planted 12 strawberry plants.  I pondered briefly whether 12 plants would be too many.  Then I considered how much I spent on strawberries last summer, and realised it probably wasn't enough.  We shall see.

I downloaded a gardening diary app on my phone to keep track of my garden (although it only does fruit, veg, and herbs; not flowers).  It's neat to see the 'days to harvest' counting down!  I'm sure it'll be even more exciting when that time gets closer.  I am of course assuming things actually grow...

Also very exciting is the accompaniment to the vegetable garden - The Frank and Ethel Collective.  What is The FEC you may ask?  Why, it is my worm farm!  It currently houses approximately 2,000 composting worms.  As worms are hermaphroditic, I have named half of them Frank, and half of them Ethel.  Or maybe all 2,000 of them are called both Frank and Ethel.  I don't think they'd mind either way.

The unsuspecting 'worm cafe', aka The FEC.

Frank(s) and Ethel(s) have been settling in over the last few days, getting all cozy in their new home.  On the cooler nights I covered their box with a blanket because apparently they prefer temperatures between 10 and 30 degrees.  I don't want them to get too chilly.  Today I gave them a small feeding of worm treats (worm fattener, made by mixing chicken layer pellets, milk powder, wheat bran, corn flour, and lime or dolomite) and tomorrow I will give them their first bunch of food scraps.  I've worked out a schedule to start with (treats on Monday, feed on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, condition on Thursday, and flush on Sunday) to ensure they're well looked after.  I don't want to accidentally become a worm mass-murderer.  Maybe a little OTT...?  I'm pretty sure my kids think I've lost the plot.  Either way, I'm happy.  I'm enjoying myself.  I'm optimistic that I will be able to grow something edible before the end of summer.

I have plans to plant more things (More carrots! More lettuce! Button squash! Courgettes! Beetroot!), and am already looking forward to thinking about stuff I could plant for next winter (Asian greens! Broccoli! Soy beans!)  I have a mushroom kit ready to go for oyster mushrooms - I'm just waiting for the spawn to arrive in the mail.  And I'm even getting a bird feeder.  Roll on, summer!

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