Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

There is a season (turn, turn, turn)…

October 18, 2011

20111018-200132.jpg

We’ve been neglecting our blogging duties due to commitments, and we haven’t exactly been active…

However, further proof to the amazing self-regulating powers of nature in the permaculture garden, our little “urban farm” has been ticking along quite nicely.

The good rains we had last spring and summer (courtesy of La Nina) look set to continue this season, and with 4 years worth of soil-building using composting, worm-farm, and mulch crop techniques (not to mention the ubiquitous chills and their contributions) have left us with a thick, rich humus full of life.

All we have done for 18 months or so is a little tinkering around the edges. We haven’t planted anything, as everything is self-seeded.

Having said that, we are looking forward to spending more time in the garden, as it is such a lovely space to be in, and sinking our hands into this beautiful black soil is an experience that is truly exquisite.

And hopefully we’ll get it together enough to share it all with you….

What to do with all these pumpkins….

May 29, 2010

Fence pumpkin

Want a good recipe to have with all those pumpkins?

Pumpkin Soup with Sage Pesto

  • 1kg diced pumpkin
  • 2x potatoes, diced
  • 2x large onions
  • 1.5Lt chicken stock

Chuck the above ingredients into your pot and bring to the boil, then simmer until the vegies are soft. Blend, then season with salt and pepper to taste, as well as a pinch of nutmeg. Serve into bowls, and add a spoon of the following pesto:

  • 8g Sage
  • 20g flat-leaf parsley
  • 1tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts
  • pinch rock salt
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 50g Good quality parmesan, romano, or pecorino cheese, grated.

Blend all the ingredients together (except the cheese) until you have a green paste. You may need to add more oil, maybe salt too – see how you go. When its blended, add in the cheese and stir it all through.

You could look at adding a dollop of cream into each bowlful too. Maybe even sour cream. Experiment. The amounts of the ingredients can also be altered, depending on what you have available, and how many people you want to cook for.

Late summer

March 24, 2010

What an interesting season it has been.

I know everyone is gearing up for autumn, however all this humidity we’ve been having points to what is sometimes referred to as a ‘Late Summer’. It has certainly been playing havoc with some of the late harvesting produce. We are finally getting eggplants however, and the capsicum are finally fruiting.

I’ve been busy cutting stuff back in order to reveal some of the beds to the shortening sun, but also to create some solid matter for the compost.

Our beds have suffered considerably however with a terrible delivery of soil we received back in spring. It was allegedly meant to be thick, rich, humus, compost material – instead it turned out to be thin, lifeless, and incredibly hydrophobic. Watering now involves the water running across the compacted soil and spilling into the pathways. I would like to reveal where we got it from, but then that could be considered libel/slander. I certainly won’t recommend buying soil from these suppliers ever again.

So it looks like this winter may need to involve healing the beds and nourishing them back to rich life over the winter. Perhaps some sowing of winter manure crops, and layering of different materials, such as Lucerne, Sugar cane mulch, pea straw, compost, worm castings, and so on.

The beans are still going, and I’m leaving them to dry out. The Borlottis were the most successful of all the varieties.

The Jerusalem Artichokes are almost ready to start harvesting – I just wish the weather was cooler to enjoy rich soup. But perhaps we’ll be able to feast on it over the Easter break.

I picked the parsnips, and most of them were woody, as they really needed to be harvested a lot earlier. I used the smaller sweeter ones in a 5 Root soup (courtesy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday cook book), and they were yummy.

Zucchinis are still going. The Gojis are finally fruiting. Pumpkins are swelling. And excitingly there are a couple of Chinese Bottle Gourds coming along nicely.

I’ll get the camera out and take some piccys……. coming soon.

While the cat’s away…

January 31, 2010

We haven’t been updating our blog for some time. Mainly because we haven’t been gardening.

However, it seems that these permaculture principles work, as the following photos will attest to. We haven’t been home since the start of December, and the garden has turned into a full-blown food forest!

Never been watered.....

Whilst we had family & friends (thanks folks) coming to feed the cat, there really was no watering or attention paid to this garden. Over the summer period, they harvested plenty of food, thus ensuring continued food production. Only 1/3 of the beds were watered with weeping hose, set to timers for the allowed watering periods (2 hours twice weekly).

The under-storey of the food forest

There is a theory/practice within permaculture of the food forest; the idea being you have a forest, but where everything is edible. And just like a ‘normal’ forest, the ecology is self-sustaining and self-regulating. The structure is also forest-like, with a canopy and under-storey. Well this is what we have inadvertantly created, and with minimal human intervention over throughout this season, nature has done its own thing.

The pond completely overgrown

In actual fact, there is a micro-climate situation occurring here. On one of the warmer days during Australia Day weekend, I noticed that this dense jungle like area was humid, just like in a forest; other parts of the garden felt completely different. This area was not watered at all. I imagine this also sheltered the house from heat also.

More food jungle

This area is the highest point in the garden – its also the most lush. Amazing what you can do with mulch, quality soil-nurturing techniques, and cramming those plants in. I was concerned that I hadn’t gotten much in to the garden over the spring – how wrong I was. The only planting I managed this season was just before and just after the crazy hot spell we had mid-spring. Other than some mulching and a shipment of soil, there was no work put into  the garden at all.

Pumpkins and Tomatoes - never got watered! (can't you tell....)

This zone was completely neglected throughout the entire period. I gave all the plants here a bucket of water each just before Christmas when we dropped in going between OG and EG. There are about a dozen tomato plants and 3 pumpkins. The parsley that grew self-seeded has gone to seed also. We’ll leave it be so that more parsley can grow wild. The pumpkins were also self-seeded. This bed was essentially made from the duck-muck (straw, etc) over the winter period. It is lush, rich, and highly moist. It is also our worm factory. In there somewhere is a compost bin…. and some Belladonna has crept in there also, which of course is pulled out and disposed of carefully (it is a poisonous nightshade weed!)

Another dense food forest area

Where's the house...?... or is it an ancient Mayan ruin?

No, that’s not a dope plant – its a Mexican Marigold. This is a standard permaculture companion plant. I have also deliberately left the remaining leeks and spring onions go to seed for collection (or self-seeding). This area under the two Nectarines were also heavily planted with Swiss Chard – we’ve left that seed too. The capsicums here are only now starting to fruit.

The food forest from the driveway; note the height of sunflowers and Jerusalem Artichoke

When I turned up returning from EG, I was amazed how over-grown everything was, irrespective of being ‘neglected’ over a 6-8 week period. A friend of ours turned up one day, and rang us that night to inform us that “our garden was ruined, that no one was looking after it…” On the contrary, it looked after itself. And there has been only one casualty – my Golden Cluster hops bine that was creeping up outside the bedroom window; it was in a pot and not watered – however the rhizome should still be ok for next season, as the plant hasn’t died, but I have lost all the flowers (bugger!)

Beginning to cut back the urban jungle

I didn’t quite get it in this shot, but the lawn chamomile we planted into the nature-strip has also taken off nicely. Even the small bed in front of the fence took off nicely – there are tomatoes and cucumbers, and plenty of other plants like Evening Primrose, Chinese Jute, and Chinese Bottle Gourd, as well as the ‘good bug’ plants that attract the predator insects.

The grape vine has thankfully done the job that the passionfruit vine used to - covering the fence.

We lost one of our passionfruit vines, but the grape vine that appeared randomly last season has taken over the job of providing fence cover – unfortunately, it also appears to want to take over the whole too! Can’t wait for that pergola…..

Fence pumpkinThis pumpkin began growing between the pickets – we’ve picked it, and its our first for the season, but there’s plenty more. Not sure of the variety, as the seeds were lying loose in the bottom of our seed box – here’s to random veg planting!

Admittedly there has been some rain this summer, and that probably helped alot. And the zucchinis, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are really only now fruiting, so we didn’t miss much. However, our lovely care-takers Damon, Marinella, and my mum (thanks heaps, folks) harvested plenty while we were gone. And this is the key, because if things aren’t picked then the plant stops producing.

I’m now getting ready to sow seeds for the next season (I am determined to grow a crop of Brussel Sprouts this year!), but whilst the first step is raising seedlings, I have no idea where I’m going to plant anything, because the place is so full of food!

See what happens when humans don’t intervene – a true case of wu wei wu “action through non-action”.

Busy in the kitchen

September 22, 2009

Whilst all those lovely new season vegies are busy growing, why don’t we step into the kitchen to see what lovely delights we’ve been able to come up with…

Winter Brewing: #27 & 28 Happy Pils “B” & “C”

While the weather was cold over winter, I managed to make two batches of my Happy Pils pilsener. I used different types of hops in each of the batches. The basic recipe is as follows:

  • 1.5kg Bohemian Pilsner grain
  • 500g Munich Malt I (light)
  • 100g Carapils
  • 2kg LDME
  • ½ tab Irish Moss
  • Wyeast 2278 Bohemian Pilsener starter (425ml)

The first batch I did used “B”-saaz, which is a strain developed in New Zealand, and is rumoured to be what is used in the James Squires Pilsner. The schedule for that is as follows:

  • 30g B Saaz (AA7.8%) @ 60mins
  • 30g B Saaz @ 15mins
  • 20g B Saaz @ 5mins

The second batch used traditional Czech saaz hops, which makes this batch a Bohemian Pilsener proper:

  • 70g Czech Saaz hops pellets (AA3.6%) @ 60mins
  • 30g Czech Saaz hops pellets @ 15mins
  • 20g Czech Saaz hops pellets @ Flame-out

Both batches remain untouched in bottles as I write this, as brews made with a bottom-fermenting yeast strain require longer (and cooler) time to prime in the bottle. Permaculture principles always permeate my brewing, as I take advantage of the seasons when brewing, thus minimising my need for gadgets that need electricity – why try to brew lagers in summer, or ales in winter?!? These beers will be left until those warm summer nights when the ideal thirst-quencher after a long hot day in the garden is a cold, crisp, hoppy beer.

Cooking from the garden

I have had a ball over the last couple of months cooking “on-the-fly” (as I like to call it). I can’t plan recipes ahead of time, and I never seem to be able to plan a menu before I go to the shops. So, I work along the ‘organic principle’ of working with what I have at hand, which not only includes what is in the garden, but what is in my fridge or pantry. At first, this idea was daunting – but then I discovered another use for Google – type in your ingredients and the word “recipe”, and up comes a diverse and wondrous variety of possible combinations of ingredients. Its then just a matter of finding something that you: a)have all the ingredients available; and b) like the sound/look/taste of!

The following is a recipe I found in this way. While I had all of the ingredients in my fridge/pantry, most of them are also found in my garden – its just that they are still in punnets or growing as seedlings still. So in a few months, I will be able to make this one again, but this time with all home-grown ingredients.

Pumpkin & Parsnip Cassoulet

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 lge onions, chopped
  • 500g pumpkin, diced
  • 500g parsnip, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2x cans mixed beans (I didn’t have cans, so I used a selection of dried beans, left to soak for several hours in a bowl of boiling water with some bi-carb soda. The beans I used – all growing currently – were Borlotti, Black Turtle, Red Kidney, White, and Pinto. After soaking, I measured out about 500g, and then put the rest in the freezer. I could have used Azuki, but they generally take a lot longer to soak, much like chick-peas)
  • 2x cans diced tomato (Again, come the end of summer, we should be able to provide this as fresh ingredient, given the number of seedlings we’ve got going. Just remember that you’d need a lot more than 850g if using fresh…)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 300ml Vegetable stock (I actually used stock I had just recently made from scratch and had left over from something else. Making your own stock is easy, reeeeal easy….)
  • 2 lge sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tbs sugar (reduces the acidity from canned tomato; maybe not necessary if you used fresh tomato)
  • 75g breadcrumbs (we use gluten-free of course. Often mixed with a bit of polente)
  • 25g parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 160-180. Heat the oil in a large pan/wok, add onions and fry for 5 min/until golden. Add pumpkin, parsnips, and garlic, and cook for a further 3 mins. Stir in beans, tomatoes, wine, stock, thyme, sugar, and plenty of seasoning (or to taste). Bring to the boil, then transfer to a large casserole dish, pressing the beans and vegetables beneath the liquid.

Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs and grated cheese. cover, then cook for 40 mins in oven. Uncover, stir well and cook for a further 40 mins.

Serve with garlic bread and stir-fried cabbage (I used kale from the garden, equally nice!)

This recipe should serve 6.

Voila!

Help with cooking

Can I just say that Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion is a must for any kitchen-gardener. This is a handy guide to the most common ingredients found in Aussie kitchens, and details the best way to use them, including what other foods they go well with. Combine that with Google, and you are set to being your very own Masterchef!

If Firefox is your default web browser (and quite frankly if it isn’t, then it should be), then there is also a marvellous recipe search engine called GoCook which you can install as part of your toolbar.

My biggest kitchen-gardening inspiration would have to be Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his River Cottage venture. There is a section on seasonal recipes on the website; but I have to strongly recommend trying to get a hold of his TV shows. I believe ABC1 will be screening River Cottage Spring from this week onwards at 6pm.

But closer to home, the ABC’s The Cook and the Chef was also good to learn about seasonality in cooking. Unfortunately, the final episode was screened last week. However, it will most likely continue on ABC2 or as daytime re-runs; and I know it screens also on pay-TV’s Lifestyle Food channel. They had also released a DVD-box set that was organised according to seasons, which we have. I don’t know whether it’s still available, and chances are they’ll re-release something now that the show is no longer being produced.

Of course, I also quite enjoyed Ready, Steady, Cook – both the original British version with Ainsley Harriott, and the Australian version which screens on channel 10. The idea that a chef could be given a set of ingredients and come up with something amazing was always inspiring – especially when I used to look at a pantry full of food, and not be able to come up with anything beyond what I knew (mainly bolognese pasta, or some kind of curry).

Combine these with fresh produce out of your garden, and you have the potential to eat at home like you would in a flashy restaurant or cafe.

Enjoy…..!

Spring update

September 4, 2009

Contrary to what the masses believe, Spring has been here for over a month now. The idea that somehow nature magically changes seasons on the September 1st is both daft and just plainly ethnocentric, reminiscent of the days when God was portrayed as a bearded, white, anglo-saxon-looking male. Obviously, someone forgot the plant world that Spring doesn’t come until September, as the following photos (taken in early August) will attend to.

Our first Duck eggs

Our first Duck eggs

Almost like clockwork, come the first week of spring, and Marbles and Bubbles laid their first eggs. Indeed, for the last 4 weeks, they have consistently laid an egg a day. Lovely! The last week however has seen production die off – possibly because of the cold? It was certainly useful for cooking, giving us a sensational ingredient to mix into mashed potato or soups to provide a rich flavour that is just divine!

183

Goji cuttings

Goji cuttings

We took a whole lot of cuttings off the Goji trees just as they started to shoot new growth. Hopefully, all these cuttings will strke, and we’ll have a good lot of Gojis to sell or give -away as gifts – a much sort-after plant for those in the Chinese Herbal Medicine profession.

The citrus garden

The citrus garden

The front section of the citrus garden was planted out with a bunch of new Brassica seedlings, as well as a few left-over calendula flowers. We also dug out the Dwarf Peach tree and put it into a large pot; in it’s place we planted what we thought was a Navelina Orange – which has turned out to be a Grapefruit. Let this be a lesson to those buying cheap fruit trees – there may well be a reason why they are on sale!

This patch looks like it will come together quite nicely this summer, especially since we think we have taken control of the rogue kikuyu situation….

The Brassica patch

The Brassica patch

This is the only vegie bed that has done well over the winter – albeit slowly. In here are some Kale, mini Cabbage, Silverbeet, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Red Shallots, and Swedes. The boxes have lettuce and mini Cabbage seedlings (freshly planted). This section is on the north of the house, so gets some nice sun in winter. The silverbeet was actually growing all along the front, however the possums helped themselves…. That’s a container of Snail Ale in the corner!

Rogue tomatoes

Rogue tomatoes

We’ve been getting self-seeded tomatoes coming up since late winter. This one turned up in a hanging pot which has strawberry seedlings in them.

Damned possums....

Damned possums....

This was my very successful patch of Sprouting Broccoli. As you can see however, just as it was about to fruit, the possums decided to help themselves to them – leaves and all, stripped bare. So, no broccoli this year whatsoever. That’s self-seeded cow-pea growing up behind them. This is related to Broad Bean, but is usually planted as a green manure (which it was the previous autumn-winter).

The first blossom of the year

The first blossom of the year

Almost like clock-work, every year the first week of August sees fruit trees around here go into blossom. This is the smaller of our two Nectarines.

This is quite encouraging, as this tree had a difficult first year, being planted in the wrong spot, and then transplanted. It didn’t really fruit last season – given that it is the first tree to blossom, then we expect it may fruit before its larger sibling next to it. Needless to say, the bees are loving our garden right now…

Which reminds me – watch BEE MOVIE, especially with your kids. Very funny and very relevent. Without bees, no pollenation, and no fertile plants, fruits, vegetables, flowers, etc. Therefore, no life. We need the bees, so lets encourage their presence in our suburbs, instead of looking to wipe them out with insecticides and lifeless suburban lawns.

Unexpected guests

Unexpected guests

These critters showed up on “Joy’s” Peach tree. Last year, it was the Plum tree that was attacked as it started its Spring blossom growth. Not sure if they are aphids (we always thought aphids were white), but can’t seem to identify them as anything else. Haven’t seen any ladybugs yet, but we expect them to show up any minute now…. The other day, the ducks were helping themselves to what they could reach; either way I think we have our organic pest control well under way.

The new additions to the family...

The new additions to the family...

And we have had kids…. Mama Cavy gave birth to four very small and very cute little guinea pigs. They’re sooooo cute…..

Right now, the cold-frame is full up with seed trays, all filled with punnets seeded with the new season’s growth:

  • Beetroot
  • Adzuki beans
  • Borlotti beans
  • Black turtle beans
  • Carrots, purple dragon
  • Tomatoes: Principe Borghese, Tigerella, Yellow Italian, and other Heirloom varieties (courtesy of Diggers)
  • Eggplant
  • Sunflowers, Russian
  • Zucchini: Lebanese and Italian Striato
  • Pumpkin: Butternut (we think)
  • Capsicum (we think)
  • Peas: golden-podded, and purple-podded
  • Broccoli (seed in punnets, as well as previous seedlings in ground)
  • Parsnip (planted in ground and in punnets)
  • Radish (planted in ground)
  • Amaranth (the leafy Greek stuff)
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Celery
  • Rosella (native Hibiscus, used for jam and champagne)
  • Potato (planted in ground)
  • Jerusalem Artichoke (planted in ground)

Now that we’re in September, there will be plenty more seeds being planted out, getting ready for a very productive and abundant summer.

It’s getting chilli around here….

August 7, 2009

Please be careful when grinding up last season’s chillis to make pepper – I haven’t been able to stop my eyes or nose running for the last half-hour….

LMAO

Certainly my newly-acquired coffee/spice grinder comes in handy for such things. Just cut the chillis off their string, place in the grinder and let it rip!

Voila! Instant cayenne pepper!

From this ...

From this ...

... to this!

... to this!

Uses for Cayenne Pepper

Well, you can use them for cooking obviously. Sichuan cooking (southern province of China) incorporates these chillis whole; but they are used in many recipes requiring the flavour and heat from chillis. I find that drying them on a string and then grinding into powdered form is a wonderful way of preserving them. The powdered form means it can then be mixed with other ground spices to make a ‘curry’ of your choosing.

What creates the heat from chillis in general is a compound known as capsaicin, which is found in all fruits of the Capsicum variety – cayenne chillis are generally regarded to be a variety of Capsicum annuum – which are all part of the Solanaceae family (“nightshades”, along with tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, belladonna and tobacco).

Capsaicin is said to reduce platelet aggregation in blood and help relieve pain. It is also said to contain vitamins E and C, and carotenoids.

In Chinese Medicine Dietetics, it is considered Hot, and so can counter col, especially in cold climates and seasons. It is also Pungent/Acrid, and so will assist in dispersing qi up and out, which is often why pungent foods/herbs are employed in cooking to help sweat out a cold/flu. However, too much of a good thing can also be harmful, as the heat in this little cracker will dry up the yin/fluids. Those who constantly eat hot-spicy foods often present clinically with a lot of heat in the Lung and Stomach with some manner of yin-deficiency.

I find that adding a very small amount of cayenne gives you the flavour and a little heat, without a meal becoming over-poweringly hot. At the end of the day, if something is soooo hot you can’t taste the other flavours, then you may as well have just eaten the chilli on its own.

Surprisingly, our chilli bushes are still alive, even in this cold weather. The Jalapeno is still throwing fruit, as are the Topino Rosso. Even the miniature Sweet Chocolate Capsicum is alive. I haven’t noticed the Cayenne bushes producing anything, but then I haven’t looked.

Now that we’re in august, we are planting the seeds for spring growth – mainly greens still at this point. But in the next couple of weeks, we plan to start putting in more carrots, swedes, turnips, some more brassicas (the possums ate everything we had in!), celery, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, etc. The snow peas are growing slowly, and I’ve noticed the first green shoots from the potato bed. Winter has been harsh, with everything growing really really slow – and anything that was going well was eaten by possums (I wonder if I can use the infamous ‘Snail Ale’ to use here…..? LOL).

All quiet on the gardening front….

July 2, 2009

Winter is most definitely here…. and things are definitely slowing.

All the various Brassicas are slowly getting to maturity (cabbages, broccoli, swedes, kale, etc); the snow peas are finally climbing their trellis after a very slow start; and we’ve just sowed some heirloom purple broad-beans.

The plan is to start sowing seeds into trays for late winter/early spring, so that the seedlings are ready to plant. Although between exams and holidays, its not certain when we’ll actually get this happening.

An exciting development is a large number of hard-wood cuttings of two different varieties of fig trees, which we hope will strike and provide us a number of fig saplings.

Of course, winter is the perfect time for brewing lagers and other brews requiring bottom-fermenting yeasts. After tasting the Golden Winter Steam, I was inspired to make another one. This is an interesting beer, one that definitely can be classed as a hybrid – a cross between a  lager and an ale. The first taste is reminiscent of classic lagers, but then followed by a hint of fruity-esters, and then an aftertaste of malt. The aroma is not what was aimed for, and may have been because I picked the hops flowers too late. There are at least two batches of my Happy Pils that need to be made in the next month or so – the Czech Pilsener yeast works best in these cold temperatures.

Surprisingly, our tomatoes, eggplants, and chilli plants are all surviving – there are even ripening fruit on the tomatoes!!!! Weird, huh?!?!?

We are having a pest problem that is destroying the mature broccoli – and its not something that snail-ale will fix – we think that possums are eating our vegies! Perhaps possum pie is in order….. grrrrrrrrrr….!!!!!!

It will be interesting to see how things pan out for this year. I predict that we may see an early start to spring this year…..

Mini urban livestock, Quails

May 11, 2009

We have quail!

22july2009 188

After trying quail eggs from the local market and eating quail at a restaurant last year, I was convinced quail would be a great addition to our urban farm.

Quail eggs are very yummy. From my research quail eggs are higher in nutrient per gram then chicken eggs, have a higher yolk to white ratio and are very pretty, each one having slightly different combinations of white and browns spots and sploshes.

As far as cooking,

Fried Quail Eggs on Toast.

Crack four quail eggs into a cup.

Heat pan, low to medium heat.

A drizzle of olive oil

One egg ring, lightly rubbed in olive oil, placed in pan.

Pour all four quail eggs into egg ring.

When eggs are set to your liking, place on toast and enjoy!

Poached Quail Eggs with Avocado.

Have toast and fresh slices of avocado ready.

Crack one quail egg into a cup (we find espresso cups perfect for this use)

Set a medium size saucepan half filled with water on the stove.

Add a tablespoon of vinegar.

Bring to boil, turn down to a simmer.

Stir water to create a whirlpool.

Pour single quail egg into centre of whirlpool.

Use slotted spoon to remove when set.

Repeat process until you have enough eggs for each serve (I suggest three to four per person.

Below is a cake mix conbining quail and hen eggs.

22july2009 008

Care of Quail.

We are currently housing our five quail in a metal guinea pig hutch. The hutch is being used as a quail tractor, with us moving it around under our fruit trees.

UPDATE: Quail Towers has arrived! Hiding away in a shed at our East Gippsland home was a three storey chicken hatchery which I thought would be just perfect for keeping quail. The guinea pig hutch whilst great for tractoring the quail was not all the practical for getting access to the eggs, Quail Towers on the other hand is off the ground and I can easily see if there are eggs without opening the door or bending down. Photo’s coming soon.

We feed Game Bird Crumbles which cost around $24 per 20kg bag. We crush the crumbles in our grinder as quail that are under 16 weeks old find the crumbles a bit too large to eat.

I read somewhere that quail only eat 18 grams each a day, well our quail are eating three times that, maybe due to the cold weather or their age.

In regards to living quarters, quail are very quick to escape out partly open doors, select hutches or cages that will enable you access without fear of losing your new friends.

UPDATE We lost a quail, actually we lost 4 but found three within the day. A visitor didn’t shut the door properly and at some time during the day all but one quail flew out. Quail can definitely fly, we ended up using an old butterfly net attached to the broom stick. The last quail was seen flying over our neighbour’s house, never to be seen again. 😦

Eggs Production

Quail start laying somewhere around 6 – 8 weeks old, lay around 200 – 300 eggs each a year for about 2 – 3 years. Quail that are good for egg laying are not good mothers, like productive hens the mothering instinct has been selectively breed out, so if you want more quail, use a small bantam to hatch them out or an incubator.

We have also processed our surplus (too many males) and enjoyed Greek Style Oven baked quail. Friends came over to help with the task of plucking and preparing the birds for the table. We would like to aim to have at least one meal a month of quail from our own urban farm.

Interested in getting quail? Give Jeremy from Oakleigh a call 0411 048 707, he has stock available at very reasonable prices.

Enjoy your quail!

PS Just found this blog site, which includes info of hatching out quail, well worth a read!

http://alifelesssimple.wordpress.com/

Sustainable Garden Award

April 15, 2009

100_2248

“…They said you’d never make it…”

A huge thank-you to the Whitehorse City Council who awarded us this honour. And a thank-you also to Neco for the prize of the gift voucher.

The level of excellence that I saw that night across the community was brilliant. It is inspiring to think that there are so many individuals, households, schools, community groups and businesses who are actively engaging with ideas of sustainability, environmental awareness, and ecological responsibility.

This council is clearly committed to moving forwards in respect to our collective contributions to making a difference. This is truly an example of the ‘grass-roots’ at work!

Huzzah!

And really, this was not hard work. Our urban farm is not just about providing us with some vegies. It is about making less of an impact on the planet by reducing ‘food miles’. It’s about reducing, re-using, and recycling. And it’s about giving back something to Mother Earth.

For us, this is only the beginning. Our home has a long way to go before we are truly making less of an impact. Once the garden is truly established, the dwelling space needs attention: insulating the house from heat and cold, efficient and low-impact heating/cooling systems (using passive and active systems), water recycling, and so on.

It can all be done, and all within budget – it just takes a little brain-power and some time. Yes there are expensive hi-tech ways of doing things – but there are also lots of “lo-fi” ways. And herein lies the beauty of the internet…….