It is fair to say that I if I was a toon, I may just be Popeye or Madeleine (the whole inside-I'm big thing...). Today I would definitely identify with Popeye. Not because of how much I love Spinach, although I really do, but because of how super strong I am. Yesterday, I shovelled and carted and then unshovelled half a tonne of compost and manure. Not even exaggerating or kidding. Literally half a tonne. How did I get from being in the midst of the Manure shortage of 2012 to standing on a large pile of poo? Well, Dad doesn't do things by halves, unless of course, you are talking about half a tonne.
I was making threats about the place left, right and centre- basically saying 'the shit will hit the fan' (manure puns are just so readily available) if I didn't get some manure, because I need to get the plants in. I rang about 5 different people with no luck and then eventually ended up going back down to the Sale yards, hoping that their was some drier matter available than last week. Thanks to a special sale, we were in luck and I found just enough dry manure to cover the gardens, whilst avoiding falling into the wet side- EWW!
I was as happy as a pig in ... (see, I told you) with the thought of going home and covering the garden with my score, when Dad decided to head further out of town. Sometimes, apparently Dad's know best, even when they don't know best, and we were going to get some extra compost. A reasonable thought that I was prepared to entertain, until somehow we ended up in the middle of a yard and some guy in a backhoe bulldozer thing was dumping half a tonne of compost into the back of the ute. Seriously.
To be honest, when I got home and had a look at the ute filled to the BRIM with compost, I almost cried. IN fact I think I might have kicked the tyre a few times because I was SO frustrated and overwhelmed at the thought of unloading the lot. To make matters worse, my precious manure was right at the bottom. I imagined dying under a pile of compost and manure (not a very dignified way to go really). Probably on par with dying underneath a vending machine that you'd tipped upside down to get a packet of burger rings that were stuck. How did I get back to dying? OH gosh... Anyway, I felt like dying looking at that bloody pile!
HOW would I manage to unload this whole uteload? Well... get into the ute, shovel out a barrow load full, pick out the bits that shouldn't be there i.e. plastic or sticks that were too big, jump off ute, get wheelbarrow (with a tyre that is a bit flat) and then traipse it all the way up to the pool yard, past the pool (avoiding the pool obviously), next to the garden, unload, rake out and repeat process x 50 000 (* actual number may have been closer to 20). By lunch time, I almost had to have a nap and today, my arms and legs are aching. Clearly this Popeye doesn't train enough.
I'll be mad at the garden if it doesn't appreciate the efforts I've gone to and just grows some piddly little pest infested specimens! So- here's the line up in the new garden... starting from the top.
1 x row mixed lettuce: Hopefully these won't bolt in this weather and it rains soon to keep up the moisture content;
1 x row asian greens: Waiting to see what these turn out like, always good to add a bit of variety but haven't grown any asian greens before. Assuming they will have similar needs to the lettuce.
2 x rows of Italian rocket from seed: Possibly the best vegie out of Patch 1 was the rocket. Dad got this imported variety from an Italian friend and apparently it is super duper peppery. Not sure how it is possible to be more peppery than the last lot I grew- but I'm game.
1 x row French raddish from seed: I don't care too much for raddish, but Dad loves them and they germinate quickly. I'm impatient so I need little things to keep me entertained.
1 x row mini cauliflower: Going to have to be on the lookout for all the brassicas and may have to spray with that weird potion I mixed up, regardless of whether it changes the colour ot the leaves or not because I have already noticed a few holes in the leaves.
1 x row mini cabbage: Mini cabbages are cute.
1 x row brussell sprouts: Usually would not care less about them, but after reading Annie Smithers Garden to Table (gosh I'm in love with that book- aren't I?!) I was intrigued, so thought it was worth a go.
1 x row parsnip from seed: Because we had a packet lying around;
1 x row carrots: Because I love pulling carrots out of the ground.
1 x row brown onions: Because I love pulling onions out of the ground.
1 x row leeks: Because leeks in soup are divine.
So, soil prep included the compost, some manure, blood and bone then put the sprinkler on until it all soaked in. Prior to this, I had to dig the whole thing up and then put in some old dried cannellini beans to give a nitrogen boost. I will also give a good dose of seasol in the next few days. Fingers crossed that the manure helps to keep away any other bugs, because although the traps are working, they could do with some backup. Can't have the brassica situation escalating. Maybe I'll make some more potions?
Today was the first eggplant harvest. I managed to get three medium sized fruit, with no holes. I will attempt to cook them tomorrow and see what they taste like. They are an heirloom variety which explains the white and purple skin, as opposed to the dark purple skin you are used to seeing at corporate giant duopolist supermarkets. The eggplants are a small win for me, but a win all the same. I was thinking of ripping the bush out, but will leave it for another week at least because it has heaps of fruit on it (if they manage to escape the wrath of the mysterious black bug). I'm not getting too annoyed about those bugs anymore - either they will destroy it, or they won't and if they don't I'll be happy with lots of eggplants.
The rest of the Patch 1 seems to be going quite well- carrots and parsnips are green as can be, the sweet potato is flowering(can I dig them up yet?!) and the strawbs are looking lovely and lusciously red. I can't wait to pick them. If only I had enough to make a little strawberry farm- I could have an endless supply of strawberry jam, sauce and pie. I would even make strawberry shortcake (another cool toon).
Ultimately my goal with both patches is to be able to feed my little family's vegetable needs this coming season. Wouldn't that be lovely?! It will mean that we will have to go to the patch and build our meals around what is ready and what is coming. Exactly the way things should be. Hopefully I can do it, and I know there may need to be a few top ups, particularly until everything starts to come at once, which will happen in about 10-12 weeks. However, if we get some rain I'm confident we can get at least 60-70% of our needs. In summer, we went about 2 months without visiting the green grocer, which used to be a thrice weekly occurance.
There is also this new guy that has been hanging around a bit/a lot and he tried to help with the gardens but ended up completely dirty and just getting in my way. Typical. I think I'm going to have to lock him out of the yard so that he doesn't try to eat everything before it's ready. Reminds me of someone else I know.
Also, on a bit of an embarrassing note- Thanks for the nominations for the Sydney Writer's Centre Best Blog Awards -whoever you are- nominators?! Apparently I got more than one (?!) and it wasn't Mum because she isn't that internet savvy. I'm a bit bemused but would like to thank you anyway. However, I've chosen to remove myself from the People's Choice Award section and basically I think you should thank me for that. I'm not going to get all up in the people's grill (that would be you!) asking you or more accurately, begging and pleading you to vote for me because you may not want to. It's just not my thing and I think there are plenty of fabulous blogs out there that have entered, with bloggers who will be much better at running a campaign and are probably more choiceish-(they probably blog less about gardens and manure). Good luck to everyone and I'm actually really touched that somebody(ies) would take the time out to pop my name into the comp.
Popeye over and out for this evening, I have to go because I have an apple danish in the oven and if I don't hurry it will be incinerated or someone else will have snapped it up.