Nov 10, 2015

Crop failures and almost giving up! (But not quite)

25th - 9th November

What a battle I've had over the last couple of weeks. Snails destroyed my peas, cats dug up my broccoli and my lavenders were dying from dampening off. I just felt like throwing it all in. But when you start something like I've started, giving up is admitting challenges can beat me. I'm not a quitter. A lot of challenges have arisen for myself and my two girls over the last few weeks. Between struggles with school work, uncertain futures and financial worries it hasn't been easy. All I have is what is there to work with. Crappy clay soil, minimal finance along with a wing and a prayer. I have to keep going. Above doesn't look like much but it's only part of the bigger area I've been working on.

What you see here was once a solid wall of blackberry bush. I've managed to clear a fairly large area using nothing but a pair of loppers. I just destroy any new growth that comes up from the canes and graudally the blackberry is being eradicated. The tyres are going to dug into the soil for erosion control. I have a Council drain that runs down near the house area it has caused me no end of problems for years. The Council won't fix it - it's basically put up and shut up.  I went looking for alternative solutions and found a brilliant idea that ill help prevent the soil being eroded away by the water over winter.  In the gully I'll be planting lots of flax and other natives to filter the water and help hold the soil together. It may seem bleak all these challenges, but I'm taking them on anyway. My eldest daughter said to me I have grit. I appreciated it and it made me smile. I'll keep on going. This will work I just know it deep down.

Oct 25, 2015

Wind, rain and battles with cats

Diary Entries 22 - 24th October
It's been a frustrating last few days. Wind, more wind and even more wind and then rain We need the rain, I just wish it had been some other time. I had planted a tomato for our use, but that was destroyed by one of the cats deciding it was the perfect spot for its toilet needs. I was so frustrated over it. I should have protected it with netting but never thought to. Lesson learned. I'll plant another elsewhere and this time make certain the cat don't go digging it up. This wind is not helping anything. I can't spray any weeds which need doing. Instead they are bigger and weedier than ever. I've had a downer over it all. But nothing is ever easy.

  • dug over more ground it was like concrete!
  • dug out more thistles they will make good fertiliser
  • figuring out where to put the barrels for the liquid fertiliser I'll be making

Oct 20, 2015

Life in the blackberry patch and it's a struggle!

This is my enemy right now. Rampant blackberry all over what used to be a garden. I've been gradually hacking away at it section by section. Oh for perfect soil and no blackberry, but all I have is hard impacted clay from years of stock walking all over it and not much else. It's disheartening to even thing about it, But over time I have coaxed what was a struggling mandarin tree to grow. This year it's twice as big as it was back in 2012. Here it is in the photo below a struggling sad tree not anymore. I put a tyre around it and started putting in horse manure and any other organic matter I could find plus a good dose of blood and bone. It worked. Each year since I've mad sure it's well fed. Someone made the mistake of suggesting I should put lime in my soil with a PH of 8.6 no way!

Here's what I did today:

  • Planted a Beefsteak tomato plant to join a second for our own use\
  • Dug out a huge blackberry root that has bugged me for years
  • Finished building a tyre wall in the first stage of the growing area
  • Prepared a bed for my Moulin Rouge sunflower seeds
  • Made up four more trays of seeds to germinate
  • Dug out heaps of unwanted Californian thistles
  • Listened to the third lecture in the course I'm doing with the Open Permaculture School
I've had a great day and a very productive one. I woke up this morning feeling much more grounded and with a sense of purpose. I won't say that my depression wasn't trying to get me down. It was but I carried on. I know now I've done the right thing by making a firm decision to get out of the mire I'm in and keep moving forward. I am going to make this work. Happy me!

Oct 19, 2015

Starting out in a new venture at the Mad Bush Farm with things that grow

Sustainable Backyard Garden Display at Hamilton Gardens

This is my daily diary so I can keep track of what I'm doing with my future venture. After seven years of raising my kids, battling unemployment and depression with it I came to a decision. I have the land, the will and the determination to change my life. So I decided it was time to finally do something with the farm and make it pay somehow. This isn't going to easy and I have very limited financial resources. Once a while back I read about a man in the far north of New Zealand who was unemployed and only had a spade and a budget of $20 per week. He leased some land from his Iwi and has turned it into a successful growing venture. I have a spade, a pitchfork, loppers and a determined attitude that's a good start.

A few weeks ago I bought some lavender seeds from Kings Seeds and some black cummin. I planted part of the first packed of lavender seeds in a tray and hoped they would come up. I didn't expect that within three days the first of the tiny seedlings would appear! Out of the first tray I managed to get about 20 young plantlets the rest I removed as their growth was too weak and spindly. I also have Sugarsnap peas that need transplanting and some broccoli as well. It's going to take a lot of work to sort out the really difficult site I have for planting. The soil is terrible so it's going to need a lot of nuture and time. I'm prepared to do that. Wish me luck!