Grow your own

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Grow your own

Postby van » 17 Mar 2010, 04:28

Kia ora

Once I had it all, a piece of dirt, half an acre in extent, which was Home and Hearth. A far cry from the 10 acres I had dreamed of, but in hindsight the culmination of the "Good Life". It was backbreaking work turning it into production, a loess type soil, baked hard during summer, wet and waterlogged during winter. But it taught many valuable lessons! Over a period of 10 or so years it was slowly transformed into a little paradise where we were able to grow all of our needs and more. Alas it took its toll and we moved on,

In the intervening yrs, health issues meant I took little interest in providing for myself but as things are becoming more expensive and as the art of vegetable growing seems to become lost, I am once again getting motivated to turn the soil and grow my own. I am curently in the process of designing a 'Tunnel House' tho the shape, due to a lack of tools I once owned, is more akin to a 'Plastic house'. It is less grandiose than a previous design I built, being a mere 5m by 2.8m, the cost being about half of a commercial tunnel house.

Having 1800m2 to play with, the success or otherwise of this venture will determine if more will be constructed. Again a challenge is posed in that we have about a foot of soil, with underlying strata of pure clay some 20-30 ft deep, plus copious amounts of rain. This will be circumvented via raised beds, tho the area where the structure is to be placed has 2 drains put into place soon after we got here.

With my youngest son due to leave OZ and come back home to Godzone, our travels are likely to become less far ranging and if things get much worse, I might contemplate the raising of Chooks and Rabbits again. There are so many ways to cheaply feed a family, yet it seems to have become a lost art. Mayhap the day might yet arise when on the little we have, we can once again show that 'Small is Beautiful' and a bounty can be harvested. Time will tell.

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Re: Grow your own

Postby pinky » 17 Mar 2010, 08:25

Good luck with it Van.
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Re: Grow your own

Postby NoMercy » 25 Mar 2010, 14:55

Yep, good luck. 8-)
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Re: Grow your own

Postby pilvikki » 30 Apr 2010, 23:03


since i no longer can do any gardening myself, i'm quite pleased about my daughter having taken an interest in vegiie growing. [now, if we only could have the dogs less interested in the garden... :P ] she also likes to collect rainwater for watering, always a bonus.

happy munching!
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Re: Grow your own

Postby van » 01 May 2010, 02:56

Kia ora

Well, progress has been made, the frame is assembled, and not a nail used in its construction! Given the Local Councils penchant for demanding the removal of any structure which a: "does not Comply" or b: "Does not have a 'Building Permit' " I have screwed away merrily! The last screws have arrived and now all that is left is to 'Rip' the battens to size and order the 'plastic'. After that, a reasonably warm day, windless for preference, and "Tally Ho" another 15sqm shall be available to bring produce to our table.

It is so easy, yet few contemplate the experience of having homegrown produce to add to their table. It is no doubt easier to purchase produce, but untill you have had the satifaction of growing your own, pesticide free and fresh, you don't know what you are missing. I have taken some pics, and when the project is complete will pass them onto Hooch to place here if she so desires.(Completely beyond my meagre understanding)

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Re: Grow your own

Postby pilvikki » 18 May 2010, 12:43


it is easy, once you've got the ground properly prepared, which is probably the part that puts people off...
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Re: Grow your own

Postby van » 08 Jun 2010, 18:41

Kia ora Hooch

It is not necessary to "prepare the soil". Make a rectangle out of treated wood or any other non-decaying substance. Place newspaper on the ground to smother the weeds and apply ready made compost. Insert your plants and hey presto, instant garden!
Grow spuds by covering the ground with several layers of newspaper, leaving a small opening where the papers overlap. Pu a spud in each gap and cover with straw. As the plants grow, add more straw and perhaps grass clippings to weight the straw down. When you want some early spuds, carefully move the straw aside and the spuds will be either lying on top of the paper or underneath. Remove those of edible size and replace the straw cover, letting the plant continue to grow and produce more spuds.

My seeds have arrived, I have located a source for the perpetual Lunar Calendar I was looking for, now to await its arrival and the correct phase of the moon. http://www.sces.org.nz/pmwiki.php/Content/BuySell
Bought some elephant garlic the other day, and that is sprouting on the window sill, sitting on top of a glass container filled with water, the bottom just touching the water. Placed them there on sunday, and already the roots are an inch long. Once the green sprout is about 4-6" they will be broken up and planted.
Also just gone and bought a min/max thermometer to give some idea of temp ranges within the tunnel house. Another 2-3 weeks and the shortest day will be past, then start seeds and prepare for the whitebait season.

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Re: Grow your own

Postby Ice.Maiden » 29 Jul 2010, 09:13

Best of luck with it all Bill. The simple life is always the best, although often hard work, and basically, we're self-sufficient where I live. We grow fruit and vegetables, and I bake my own bread, cakes and so on. I can't think of anything we eat which hasn't been organically grown or made.
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Re: Grow your own

Postby van » 07 Aug 2010, 18:29

Kia ora

Temps this winter have been mild, while on the East Coast they have done it hard. On a sunny day, the tunnelhouse has had a range of -1 to +30C. My Siberian tomatoes are making progress inside and will be planted out within a fortnite. Broad beans, carrots, lettuce and brassicas are doing well and my first capsicum has poked its head up. Now waiting for the Hungarian Yellow chilli (mild) to put in an appearance.

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Re: Grow your own

Postby Ice.Maiden » 08 Aug 2010, 12:26

Beautiful! Hope the fruits of your labours are worth it - no pun intended.
We've been picking home-grown tomatoes, and the Victoria plums and Conference pears are coming on nicely. Already had loads of redcurrants, raspberries and some sticks of rhubarb. All of it's untouched by sprays or fertilizers - not even natural ones, and the difference in taste between these and shop-bought things is like chalk against cheese.
We had some beautiful runner and broad beans and new potatoes as well.
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Re: Grow your own

Postby van » 08 Aug 2010, 16:37

Kia ora Maiden

Ah, currants! I used to get an empty 1.5l bottle, fill it about a third full with black currants + 1 cup of sugar. Top the bottle up with gin and shake regularly on a daily basis to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved let it stand for a month or 2 or longer. Then when there is a miserable cold day, pour yourself a nice nip of Black currant Gin! Warms the cockles of your heart as well as other parts of the body! When the gin has finally been drunk, remove the blackcurrants and put them on icecream or perhaps a nice warm custard pie! Heaven on Earth!!

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Re: Grow your own

Postby Ice.Maiden » 08 Aug 2010, 23:35

Hey - now that sounds excellent Bill!!!!! Sadly, I no longer drink, but that sounds so super that I'm going to try and make some. Will red currants work as well? We have blackberries on their way, but no actual blackcurrants.
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Re: Grow your own

Postby van » 09 Aug 2010, 03:07

Kia ora Maiden

I fail to see why the same receipe should not work for red currents. Reminds me of another. Not sure of the liquor used but think it was probably gin, and raisins. Ah here we are! Boere Jongens
http://www.familycookbookproject.com/vi ... 7&sid=3493
Ah, it says raisins, but memory serving me right we used sultanas (probably 'white raisins') Interestingly enough, it was not that long ago I had considered sultanas and whiskey. With the sultanas I think you get a more 'muscatel' flavour.
Enjoy!
Ever made sauerkraut?
An English friend of mine recently presented me with the best pickled onions I have ever tasted! If it comes to pass, I shall post the receipe here.

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Re: Grow your own

Postby Ice.Maiden » 09 Aug 2010, 10:08

Thank you Bill, and I bet the whisky with raisins'd be great! I picked a load of red currants earlier on actually, so I'll wash them and then add some gin and sugar. Do you think it might be ready by the end of October, because we're having a party then!
Just one thing - with the stuff just standing in the bottle, apart from a shake now and then, doesn't it go off - mouldy - or does the gin prevent that? What happens when you're ready to try it - do you strain the fruit out, or leave it in?
As for sauerkraut - sorry, I absolutely loathe it, yet I like fresh cabbage. Think it's the highly salted, vinegary taste which makes it so awful, but plenty like it. Then again, I love pickled onions, which aren't much different really. I took a recipe from the internet if you'd like to try it - and they turned out lovely!

http://www.bestrecipes.com.au/recipe/Gr ... L4641.html
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Re: Grow your own

Postby van » 09 Aug 2010, 20:09

Kia ora Maiden

Leave them in the bottle till all the liqueur has been drunk. Then remove them, add them to icecream or something with custard and eat for desert. As I have never tried red currants, I would be interested in the opinion of the tipplers.
The receipe for the onions looks good. I'll wait untill I get the local receipe and make a comparison, then decide.

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Re: Grow your own

Postby Ice.Maiden » 10 Aug 2010, 07:39

Well you try the onions, and I'll try the redcurrant- in- gin thing. In fact - I've done it now, so it's just a case of waiting. Thank you for that.
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Re: Grow your own

Postby van » 05 Sep 2010, 04:12

Kia ora

Tomato plants are doing well and the peppers have been planted. I have managed to get the receipe for the onions and will compare it with the one you suggested when I get a moment. Currently the fine weather has left us and we are experiencing typical spring weather, cold wet and windy :(
Am hoping to get some cuttings and suckers from what is supposed to be a nice plum tree. Sounds like it might be a Burbank.

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Re: Grow your own

Postby Ice.Maiden » 05 Sep 2010, 09:50

It's been less than a month since i wrote that last bit, and our plums didn't turn out too well. They didn't mature as well as they have in other years, probably due to the early dry spells we had. Even so, I managed to pick enough. Maybe next year.....
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Re: Grow your own

Postby van » 06 Sep 2010, 02:27

Kia ora Maiden

We had one plum tree, more an ornamental one, I think. It had red foliage and small red plums. They are often seen in street plantings, primarily for their flowers and foliage I think. Having said all that, the fruit makes a wonderful Plum sauce! I am also reminded of Crab Apples, which combined with Japonica Apples make great Crab Apple Jelly!

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Re: Grow your own

Postby Ice.Maiden » 06 Sep 2010, 07:40

Oh that brings back glorious memories! When I was little, we had a crab apple tree in the garden. I used to make dens in it, and'd eat teh larger of the apples, which didn't seem quite so tart. The fruit was left to fall, as my mum never made any crab apple jelly or anything, so me - and the wasps - had free rein!

Your plums with the red foliage weren't damsons were they Bill?

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