"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Thursday 9 December 2010

Battling the elements, insects and birds

I have not much time to blog over the past few days - for I've been madly busy getting the solar cook book sorted (it's going to be a few weeks yet) and also we have redesigned the vegetable garden.  I had to make it bigger because the old one was, firstly, not big enough, secondly, it was getting overcrowded with all the goodies that are growing in it, and finally, it wouldn't be at all big enough for what I want to grow in it next Spring.

For next Spring I will need to plant mealies (sweet corn) somewhere other than where I planted them this year - and that's not even taking crop rotation into account.

This last Spring I decided that my retainer block section could possibly grow some vegetables - well, it can, but not the veggies that I anticipated.  Anything more than 30 cms (15") high will just get wind blasted - we have a wicked South Easter which blows here in summer - they call it the Cape Doctor, for it blows all the winter smokey air, which is still lingering, out to sea.

But the Cape Doctor is not kind to gardens:

As you can see I had to support my mealies with whatever I could find - even tying them up with stakes...

Then we thought of putting up some shade cloth - to break the force of the wind.  Not the prettiest, but it worked thankfully!

The end result - I have a couple of mealie plants which have survived the wind thus far - and for which I am extremely grateful.  But this spot certainly wont do for next year, so...

RMan to the rescue!

I have to say the RMan came through 110%.  I am completely blown away at what he constructed, using alien Black Wattle poles!

This is the old veggie patch - my attempt:

And this is what I have now:

The start of the makeover
RMan in action

Finished - my new shade cloth "tunnel" - and already
planted (on the right hand side) with all the
seedlings I had ready

He even installed an irrigation system for me - bless him!  10 minutes every morning - watering sorted!

And another benefit of my new, improved and enlarged veggie patch, is that my broccoli and cabbages should be safe from Cabbage moth, etc - for they can't get in!  As for cutworm - I have planted every seedling in a protective loo roll holder, so they are stymied.  Not even snails can get access as I have an impenetrable border round the base.  Now - to sort out the moles...

I'll post a pic of my "bath" raised veggie patch later in the week - that also worked a treat - we've eaten so much salad from it - we actually can't keep up.

Also, I thought I would share with you how I am protecting my strawberries - the Black Starlings can have 10% of the harvest - no problem, but the rest is for us :-) 

I saved some netting which my winter squash had been packed in, and draped them over the strawberries - it works a treat!  They can see them, but can't get to them!

Now, if only MKid would hurry up and get here (NGirl and MKid arrive on Sunday) for these beauties are for them :-)


  1. Sometimes it just takes a whole lot of ingenuity to have success against the elements and the critters. You are off to a good start.

    We have a snow covered garden at present.

  2. Mrs M - I'm trying to tread lightly - and aiming not to kill any unnecessary critters - prevention is preferable to chemical in my book!

    Oooh - would love a snowy garden - especially at this time of year. Keep warm.

  3. What a clever idea withe the net bags. I save those things but never thought to do that. You have been very diligent with your gardening and have come up with some good solutions. I hope they work well for you.

  4. Leigh - thanks for the compliments :-) What do you do with the bags?

  5. That is the most interesting way that you are growing your corn, I have never seen it grown in that manner before. Hopefully they will manage the wind and grow up to give you lots of nice sweet corn. Do you have a long enough season that you can re-plant any damaged crops if need be? It seem like that is all we do some years is re-plant, re-plant, and re-plant.:)

  6. LOL Mr H - I seriously don't know how many, if any, corn I will manage to harvest - it was for the fun of it and to see if anything would grow in that area.

    Because I know that the area isn't really suitable, and I don't have the minimum of 8 - 12 rows (on level ground) I am not going to replant. Next year, though, I will definitely be planting them elsewhere in the garden!


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