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Posts Tagged ‘Garden’


Three types of beans we grew

I had a goal at the beginning of this summer where I thought it would be a really awesome idea to grow our own dry beans. I wanted to get at least a year’s supply. The idea of sustainability is very infectious for me. I love anything that hints at it. Make your own, do it yourself, minimalism, all of it is fascinating. However, I’ve started to realize that some of these ideas are a bit of a fantasy really. They sound so lovely, not to need to depend on anything but your own efforts, but in reality, the amount of work in doing things this way is tremendous. You would actually need you your whole family to quit their day jobs and come help do everything. And this is exactly what people used to do. Their job was survival, and working year to year to make sure there was enough food to eat and enough warm clothes and bedding and firewood for the winter. 

This summer I did grow enough beans to last us at least a year if not more, but the process gave me mixed feelings about the loveliness and fantastic ideas I had when I started. We had a terrible season, with a lot of rain. It made planting happen late and we had to harvest the beans before they finished drying because they started molding on the plant. I didn’t have to worry about watering while they grew, but they never would have dried on their own. Below is a picture of our garden this year. The light coloured green is the beans that are starting to die off and right before we harvested.

The next photo is a trailer with all the bean plants pulled up by the roots and piled up.

The next task was to get those beans off the plants and spread out somewhere so they could finish drying. Thankfully I had some help from Darren’s Uncle, Mum and Brothers (Darren was at work). Then I had to shell the beans, put them in trays with screens for bottoms that Darren’s mum had lying around and allow them to finish drying. Lastly, I had to sort through all those beans and pick out any that had any mold on them, which was quite a few. This process took about four weeks and was grueling. This was mostly because I was shelling all the beans by hand, one by one. Near the end, I discovered that if I put a bunch of pods in a pillow case and banged it around, all the beans would just fall out. This made the last few beans finish up quite fast. Below is a photo of the beans being shelled (Darrens mum helped a little in the beginning) and the next photo is the beans finished.

 I got 7 cups or 1.4 kg/3.1 lb of kidney beans, 33 1/2 cups or 6.2 kg/13.7 lb of black beans, and 41 cups or 7.1 kg/15.6 lb of pinto beans. Through it all, I feel that when we run out of beans, I will be buying more instead of planting more. I think it was a great experience, and I learned a lot, and feel like I gained skills that I would need if indeed we had to grow all our own food at some point. But for now, that effort probably would be better placed in growing other foods that are actually better off being homegrown and organic to avoid the chemicals they spray on them, such as potatoes and corn.

Below are some other things we grew despite the terrible weather. 2 canteloupe and one small watermelon (only one ripened).

We grew more, but maybe I’ll share that another time. All in all, growing a garden is very rewarding, but be very thankful we are privileged to live in a time and place where we can buy our food if we need to.

I’m so happy to be done looking at beans!!! Haha…

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So overall having autumn makes me think it’s November and I’m tricked into thinking about Thanksgiving and Holidays. Last week I made a pumpkin pie and it was wonderful… I found an overly priced can of Libby’s canned pumpkin which isn’t popular here. It made a delicious pie for my nostalgia. I also learned that the pumpkin they Libby’s uses don’t actually look like what you think of when you think pumpkin. They are a species they have cultivated themselves for their product and it looks a lot more like a butternut squash. All of the pumpkin grown for the millions of cans of the stuff is located within 8 miles of each other on a few farms in Illinois. Fascinating… Now I want to make my own pumpkin pie from butternut squash. Anyway, the days are getting shorter and shorter and the weather is getting cooler. We’ve been lighting more fires and Darren put in a heat transfer system so the heat in the living room can get to the bedroom. It makes it much more comfortable in our uninsulated house. Autumn is so different here in that most things get greener, but it’s also very similar with the weather changes and the few trees that do lose their leaves.

Winter Gardens

These are a new concept to me. In america where I’m from you wouldn’t even imagine growing something in the winter. There is so much ice and snow and cold that your garden would be better off as a ice skating rink. Well, in NZ winter gardens are very popular. People will grow all sorts of things that don’t need lots of sun and don’t mind a frost here and there. So, this year I’m going to give it a go. Things don’t grow as fast because they don’t get as much sunlight, but they get plenty of rain so you never have to water anything. We still have beets, carrots, and celery in the garden from the summer and I just pick what I need when I need it as they won’t die from the cold. I’ve just finished potting up some seedling from the local nursery here and will pop them in the ground when they are a little bigger. We’ve got Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Spinach, Silverbeet (another green, nothing related to beets) Lavender, Dill, and two kinds of Parsley. Darren is also planning on planting some garlic and onions in the next week or so. I’ve also been trying to collect seeds from our summer crop and was able to get seeds from the tomatoes, celery, broccoli, beans, zucchini and lettuce. And what’s really cool is that some of the lettuce seeds blew onto the soil after I pulled them out and have started sprouting on their own! So I’ll leave them be and we’ll have more lettuce soon.

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Chicken rearing is unpredictable

Remember last time I told you that I was hatching all these eggs and was going to have 30 some baby chickens to look after? Well, of the first batch of 10 I only have one left as some of them went mental and started attacking each other. By the time I put the injured ones down and culled the culprits I had 6 left. Two of which were eaten by a suspected cat and the rest were torn to bits and left in their night box by a stoat (similar to a weasel) who like to kill for fun.  The next lot had a problem with the incubator and the humidity, so out of 18 eggs set I only got 8 to hatch. These are still alive and are happily living with the one chicken a month older than them. And of the last lot I hatched, of 12 set only 4 hatched as I had more issues with humidity. So, I only have 13 chicks. I’ve learned a lot, maybe next year will be better.

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4 Wheel Driving

A few months ago we bought an old 4 wheel drive vehicle that Darren has been tinkering with. We took it out with some friends and had some fun the other weekend. We road up a dirt road and watched the sunset, had supper in the freezing cold outside and then drove back down in the dark. It was a good old time!

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Baby is growing 

I had my anatomy scan a couple weeks ago and got our first photo of our little one. When we got the photo I couldn’t help but pull out whenever I had a free minute to just stare at it. I try to imagine who it looks like. It’s presence is very well felt now as he/she especially likes to bounce it’s head on my bladder and other organs down in my pelvis. All is well and normal so far, and I’m for the most part feeling pretty good. We are waiting to find out the gender and have it as a surprise for the birth. We still haven’t picked any names though. I have had a go at sewing some clothes. I found this great tutorial on how to make a onesie which I tried out.

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Soap Making

About 6 weeks ago I made some soaps from scratch. They smell of Lavender and Spearmint. I’m hoping to make more of different scents and to even try making liquid soaps like shampoo.

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A visit from the neighbours sow

Last week Darren and I woke up to the sound of ripping and tearing. It took us a while to figure out that there was a large pig ripping holes in the bag of apples we had on the back porch. One of our neighbours had a hole in his fence and their pig decided to spend the day on our land, ripping holes in the dirt and gardens and eating our apples. It was mostly amusing but kinds of annoying and the neighbour gave us some money for the apples and has fixed his fence.

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Darren and I have been spending most weekends and some evenings getting our garden set up. It’s a lot of hard work, but I think its nearly ready to just let it grow. We’ve been mowing, tilling weeding, mulching, planting, transplanting, watering, patrolling for pests, replanting etc… Most of our tomatoes plants were killed by a frost, but fortunately Darren’s Nana had some extras that she gave us. Our goal is to be as self sustainable as possible. We want to produce our own produce and then process it so it can be stored when it’s not in season. We’ve planted the following so far: Tomatoes, Leeks, Lettuce, Sweet Corn, Beets, Carrots, Celery, Beans, Peas, Cucumbers, Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Rhubarb, Pumpkin, Artichoke, Silverbeet, Potatoes and Zucchini.

One of our first projects after our wedding was to build a chicken run for our chickens so they didn’t eat our garden. They love scratching and having dust baths in the nicely prepared soil. So After that was finished we could plant, but then the frost came… So after about two weeks we planted again.

I’ve also realised that we have a slug and snail problem here. every time the pumpkins would come up I would rejoice only to find them eaten all the way down to the roots by the darn slugs and snails. I used to think their were cute, but now I wish for their death. I went out on a rainy evening a last week and collected about 150 of them and fed them to the chickens the next day. Finally I bought some slug bait and our pumpkins are finally thriving. The ducks are great in the garden. They love to eat bugs AND snails! and they don’t scratch.

Anyway, below are a few pictures. Hopefully we will have a good harvest in a few months. We are having Darrens parents water it while we are away over christmas and when’d we get back everything should be just about ready to eat. Yum!

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