Spring Update: What’s Happening on The Urban Farm

Spring Update: What’s Happening on The Urban Farm

It is almost the end of September so I figured it’s time for a Spring Update with what’s growing, being harvested and new plans for The Urban Farm. 

The first thing to notice on the Urban Farm is just how dry everything is. It is only the end of September but we are already watering consistently with the irrigation. Donald has seen just 170mm (7 inches) in 2015 to date! That’s nearly 100mm (4 inches) short of average!

But, with consistent watering the garden is not looking too bad. In fact, there is heaps going on. 

  
SPRING HARVEST

At present we are continuing to harvest plenty of winter-spring veg. Our broccoli secondary heads are performing beautifully with regular pickings of near 500g. I love broccoli and the way it keep producing well after the primary heads have been eaten and it’s still around $7 a kilo in the Supermarket. Along with the Curly and Red Russian Kale, the brassicas are going to seed and so I imagine with some warm mid 30°C temps forecast, we won’t have them for much longer!   

 We are also harvesting silverbeet, beetroots, leeks, peas and snow peas. The leeks are lovely and fat and go beautifully sautéed down with some chicken, white wine and cream in Chicken & Leek Stroganoff. 

The peas are a funny story. We planted 3 crops of “telephone peas” (store bought seed) and half at least have come up as “snow peas”! We’re not complaining about the snow peas but I would have liked to be picking and shelling more peas. 

  
The broad beans are flowering but we are yet to see many pods and haven’t begun harvest yet. It will be nice when the broad bean harvest coincides with the end of some of the brassicas. The herb garden is also coming back after winter and needs a tidy up, while the garlic is growing really well in the warmer weather!

  
If we really set out to eat only from the garden (which we basically do) we would be about 80-90% garden sufficient this spring with only a few carrots and potatoes being purchased to add to the garden picked green veg. 

WHAT’S BEING SOWN?

In the seed house we have started tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. This year I have gone for heirloom tomatoes so I can collect seed. We have Black Russian, Tigerella, Mortgage Lifter and Green Zebra tomatoes as well as Sweetbite, Sugar Drop Yellow, Tommy Toe and Lemon Drop “cherry” tomatoes. They will stay in the seed house until we are free from frost risks in about mid October.

  
We also have Gerkin Cucumber, zuchinni and Lebanese Cucumber in the seed house. These seedlings will stay until they have strengthened to protect them from earwigs… and when I have some room to plant them out!! 

In the garden we have planted the first crop of potatoes. These have been planted deep in a trench which will be gradually filled in as they grow. We will also plant succession crops later in the season. 

  
Later in the season we will be seeking to plant bush beans, sweet corn and some more beetroots as well as the usual succession crops of summer veg. The fruit trees too will hopefully be producing fruit to pick in later summer. That have all had a good fertilise and are getting plenty of water in this dry weather. 

– Jono

Urban Farming: Dealing With Pests

Urban Farming: Dealing With Pests

Last summer was our first at our new rental. We built the chook run in a back corner, where the remnants of an old run was, using the parts of our previous run bought over when we moved. Inside the new chook run were two fruit trees – a beautiful big fig tree and a small, but rather healthy looking nectarine.

What we learnt from our first season here was that sparrows and blackbirds loved both the chook run and the fruit trees.


Now this isn’t rocket-science. We have always had fruit trees, we’ve always had chooks and we’ve always had issues with birds. But never like this! It wasn’t uncommon to see 30 or 40 birds eating the chook feed, polluting their water, getting stuck in the bird netting covering the trees and damaging the fruit.

We managed a good harvest of figs despite the birds, but the pollution of the chook run and general pest that they are meant I needed to do something.


After giving all the trees in the chook run a good haircut we set about enclosing the run with commercial grade fruit netting. It will keep the birds out but is gentle enough that the fruit trees can grow and not be damaged by wire.

The method of enclosing the run is simple – using some lengths of timber secrets across the yard, the commercial grade bird netting is simply screwed down and pulled tight forming a ceiling. There are a few gaps to plug and patch but in relatively quick time it is sealed up.

I have to give a massive shout out to my Father in Law Graeme who came over and finished off the job for me! Without his help it would have remained a half finished job for some time no doubt!

The fig tree is just budding now so time will tell if this method works to save both the chooks and the fruit!

– Jono