Saturday, 16 January 2016

Yam/oca planting Summer 2016

Last year's yam (or oca if you do not live in New Zealand) planting, resulted in a poor harvest. The tubers were badly attacked by grubs or beetles or whatever likes the taste of yams. There were only enough for one small meal, and to keep for the next year's planting. Following "internet advice" I dipped the damaged/partially eaten tubers in wood ash, and they kept and sprouted as well as any that were stored intact.

As I don't expect a great harvest this year either, I'm trying out some more "internet advice". The tubers I have are descendants of some bought several years ago at Mitre 10, if I recall correctly.

This is the prepared ground with yams in storage vessels (egg cartons). It was cleared several months ago, and compost spread over it, and the chickens have been coming and going and scratching it up since then. The wire netting will be laid over top and prevents the chickens from scratching the garden beds. If you're considering unfenced chickens and planting garden beds which they can scratch around the verges of, but not in, you'll need to lock them away from when the bed is prepared until the netting is laid.

2016-01-07 - 01

This is the bed planted out, with one sprouted tuber still uncovered. The tuber itself has shrunken and been used for producing the long sprouts.

2016-01-07 - 06

And finally, the bed covered. The chicken fencing on the coop was opened some time earlier, and the chickens tend to follow anyone around with a tool, having learnt it means they can get underneath it and scratch. They've since scratched around the edges of the bed, but were unable to actually scratch in the bed itself.

2016-01-08 - 17

This bed I will be weeding, and the growth of the yams will likely make the netting problematic. So at some stage, the covering of netting will need to be removed, and a fencing solution that will exclude the chickens will most likely be needed.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Low maintenance corn planting

These past two years, driving along the local roads, I've noticed corn crops planted several kilometers away. I've never seen these crops irrigated, so that should be a good sign. But given how fast they grow and how few weeds are prsent compared to my own plantings, I suspect that the ground has been prepared and fertilised.

This year I've planted two varieties sourced from Koanga. The goal is to not water or weed. I have not fertilised the soil. Nor did I dig it over. It's just open paddock, cleared of grass. A pointy implement was poked into the ground, a narrow hole made, and seedlings were dropped in and then the soil around them compressed. Note that there are chickens running unfenced around the paddock.

This is the painted mountain corn at time of planting:

Corn - Painted Mountain - 2015-11-01

This is the painted mountain corn in the last week or so:

2016-01-08 - 31

This is the bloody butcher corn at time of planting:

Corn, Bloody Butcher - 01 - 2015-10-18 - 03

This is the bloody butcher corn in the last week or so:

2016-01-08 - 26

The Bloody Butcher variety is obviously a better plant for a minimal work crop. But it's not just because the weeds aren't as tall or vigorous around them. Even before the weeds were more than 10cm high around either, the Bloody Butcher still looked this consistent and had none if any plants die off. The Painted Mountain was already poor and had multiple die offs at that stage, and gives an even poorer showing now.

Black boy peach trees

There are two black boy peach trees here.  One came with the property, in the garden around the house and has produced fruit every year since the move in.  The other out in the orchard was bought at the Southern Woods nursery two or three years ago, and has only hinted at producing fruit this year.

The household tree has always had fruit that were a fuzzy grey/purple.  They have the "bloody" flesh and juice that you would expect from black boy peaches.  Personally, I don't think they taste particularly good.

2016-01-14 - 03

The orchard tree has young unripe fruit that have been and still are what can be described as a green with a red blush.  It'll be interesting to see what the fruit will be like when ripe.  Will they be different than the household tree?  Will the tree even be a black boy peach?

2016-01-14 - 06

It reminds me of reading something about fruit trees, which speculated that often we have no idea what rootstock trees we buy in New Zealand were grafted to, and whether we were even getting the variety grafted to that rootstock we thought we were getting. Would I know if my Discovery apple tree was some other variety? Probably not, unless it was one of the few varieties I could recognise. Until this year, I assumed that I should be getting what it said on the label, then it became obvious several months ago that my white currant bought from Mitre 10 was actually a red currant.