Thursday, June 18, 2009

Growing potatoes in a bag.

Permaculture is largely about growing food and using resources wisely. I don't grow as much food as I should but we have recently got the little vege patch going again and the season allows parsley and other herbs to grow unaided. I don't really like to have to water the garden; it is meant to be winter after all, despite the lack of rain so far.
They've grown since last week.

This year I am trying spuds in a tree bag as a method to grow in a small yet sunny space in the garden. Last year the potatoes were in too much shade and died a slow drawn out death. I am also using it as an experiment in reusing/composting some old cocopeat mulch and leaves. The tree bag was rescued from work. I went thirds in a bag of White Star seed potatoes. I've never heard of them or seen them for sale but they sound like a good versatile variety, having checked out their credentials on the Potato Marketing Corporation site.
Not very interesting so far.

This morning I put a layer of coco mulch and some cow and sheep poo in the bottom of the 45 litre tree bag, then some leaves from the honey locust and placed the spuds on top of that, about 15 cm apart. I then had to get a big pot out and do that one with layers too as there were too many spuds for one container.
Then I layered a bit more mulch and poo on top of that and now we wait. It's important to not let them dry out and also not to drown them. It is cool during the day at the moment so they won't dry out too fast.

So now the trick is to gradually keep putting more layers of dry materials around the stems of the potatoes as they grow. In this way the stems will produce tubers from the sides all the way along and you get a good crop of spuds. Every now and again add some more manure or feed with some fish emulsion. You must ensure that the potatoes are kept buried as they form, so keep on adding mulch or straw around the stems.
After a couple of months the leaves at the top will die back and you can harvest your potatoes. Store them in a dark dry cool place.
We shall see how mine go...

Black cockatoo.

Beautiful black cockatoos in an urban almond tree.
This is not my photo, it was taken by a work collegue, Merrilyn. It's just such a great picture that I wanted to put it here for others to look at.
Enlarge for full view.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Winter sun angles.

In the southern hemisphere this is a good time to be checking out where the sun manages to reach in your garden in midwinter. With only a couple of weeks until equinox the shadows are at their maximum on the cold side of the house. This is important to know as there are not a lot of plants will grow in that much shade. Deciduous plants can be a good choice for deep shade on the south side. Ideally you will remember to look at those same areas around summer equinox and see what goes on then too with sun and shade.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Break time.

Did my only exam for the semester yesterday. I'm not feeling too good about it, as there were two rather nasty questions on stuff we barely touched which therefore I had no idea how to answer. Even the parts I thought I knew I don't feel so good about. Hopefully I will somehow manage to squeeze a pass out of it, but I won't be holding my breath.

If it's like last years exam for the same subject one of the questions was too hard for everybody and so the marks were scaled up. I can only hope. It's an interesting unit and I understand it all in theory, but the maths has gotten the better of me, and I have also discovered I don't seem to be good at writing reports. Next time, I will have to get someone else to read my draughts so I can try and fix some of the stupid mistakes where marks get lost.

Not sure how long until exam results come through. I'd hate to have to repeat it because I understand it and that would make it really boring to do again.