Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Spring already?

I can hardly believe my last post was around this time last year. I was determined to blog more often and, well obviously, that did not happen.
I have decided that I will continue to blog as and when I feel like posting something. Could be once a week, or even once a year, but I won't shut this blog down yet.
We still have big dreams of moving out of the city and if that happens I would love to document the journey here.
So until my next post, here are just two photos from today. A mulberry bush in full fruit and four cauliflowers I managed to harvest. These are actually the first cauliflowers I have successfully grown and harvested.

  

 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Happy Spring

I was meant to write this post on Monday, Spring Day, 1 September, but I got side tracked and time ran away. So HAPPY SPRING to everyone in the Southern Hemisphere. Although I love the cooler weather, I am really looking forward to the hot summer days ahead (ask me again in 3 months and I will probably have something else to say).
Monday was a grey gloomy day, but there were still many signs of spring in the garden. Here are a few pictures to show that summer is surely on its was

Nasturtiums flowering

Pawpaws ripening

Coriander bolting

Tomato flowering


Granadilla vine finally taking off
First granadilla flower

First ever Mulberries on a very young bush 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Baby quails

Some months back we got six jumbo quails. Five females and a male. We also got a secondhand incubator. We now have about 30 productive adults. We should of had many more but we had a problem with our cages not being very secure and a rat that was stealing our babies. But both those problems have been fixed and we are on the fast track to having more quails than we can handle.
We started off just using the eggs but now we raise quails for both eggs and meat. Its a simple way to raise your own meat when space is a concern because quails don't need a lot of room.  We also get so many eggs we can hardly keep up with them.

About 3 days worth of eggs
Our incubator is a Brinsea Octogon 20 and we can fit about 77 eggs during each incubation. This is our third successful incubation and the first time we filled the incubator to capacity. We have had a good success rate so far with only a few eggs not hatching each time. This time only about 45 hatched. It could be because our new breeding stock is still quite young. Quail eggs are incubated for 18 days.
Our eggs started hatching on Friday night, but the incubator shouldn't be opened until the babies are dry. They can stay in the incubator for up to 24hrs so I left them over night to finish hatching and drying
  
Our Brinsea Octagon 20 incubator
 Out brooder is nothing more than a plastic tub with the top cut off and replaced by fine mesh. I use a shallow food bowl that contains starter mesh grinded up even finer using a coffee grinder. I put marbles in the water bowl so that the babies do not drown or get too wet from walking in the water.
Warmth is provided by two sixty watt filament globes, but in summer I could probably get away with using only one.
For the bedding I use an astro carpeting type of fabric on the floor so that the babies to not get splay legs. I once used newspaper and a few babies got splayed legs, but as soon as I notice I changed it for this astro and the babies got better. After about a week I replace it with newspaper and hay/wood shavings. The astro gets dirty very quickly and it is quite a mission to clean, but it is important for the first week. They will only stay in this brooder for the first few days.

Splay leg is when the babies look like they are doing the splits and they cannot get up and walk, they just drag themselves around the brooder. It happens when the bedding substance is too smooth and slippery and they can't get a grip with their little feet. If you catch it soon, it is fixable by simply changing the bedding.
Brooder set up, nice and clean before babies go in
 Now the hard part is getting the babies from the incubator to the brooder. When you open the lid it is like a sea of baby quail all trying to get out at once. And the sides of the incubator are not very high so they can easily jump over. So I like to do this on the floor, so if one does get out, it doesn't have far to fall and I can catch it quickly.
Can you see us?
As soon as they are in the brooder they start pecking at the food and sipping the water. It is amazing how instinct kicks in.
Instantly pecking at the food, or huddling under the light to get warm
  Day old quails are just the cutest little things but they grow at an amazing pace. Before you know it they will loose this fluffy cuteness while they start growing their adult feathers. Within 4 weeks they will look just like the adults and by six weeks the females will start laying. And so the cycle begins again.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A surprise in the mail that brings me back to blogging

It has been 9 months since my last post, wow how time flies.
I had just about given up blogging, until yesterday when I received a parcel in the mail with some very encouraging words. To explain, I need to go back a bit, a year back to be exact.

On the 3 August last year I posted about buying borax in bulk, and how I found a fantastic supplier, kcatz soap crafting (formally KCshop). Kathy was friendly, efficient and her prices were great. So I bought my borax, posted about it and hoped I was helping other people by finding this great supplier.

Jump forward many months, and I receive a surprise email from Kathy, thanking me for posting about her store, and how it has generated many leads for her and that she wanted to send me a parcel to say thank you. I was so surprised, I mean, how many people actually read this little blog of mine, I had no idea it was enough to create any leads at all.

So yesterday my thank you parcel arrived and I am so grateful to Kathy. It is so much more than I expected. It touched my heart to see that there is such genuine and sweet people out there. The best part was a personal note encouraging me to continue with this blog, and that I do not realise how many people actually read it.
So that I what I plan to do and I have Kathy to thank

My beautiful, unexpected and much appreciated gift from Kathy


Thank you so much Kathy, I am delighted with my goodies and can't wait to start using them.


A lot has changed here, the veggie garden has been drastically scaled down and we now have quail and baby rabbits, the chickens are gone, but we are planning on getting more.
But all that is for another post...



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fruits of Spring

Its been two months since I last had a blog post. I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, just gotten really busy. Unfortunately not as busy in the garden as I would have like to be, so I think this seasons produce will be quite low.

I don't grow a lot of fruit, but the two varieties I do have are doing very well.

Cape Gooseberries are taking over the far right of the office garden 

 

And with all the wind we have been having, so many end up on the floor


So I gathered them up, peeled off the husks and sorted out those that had been half eaten by slugs.


And ended up with a fair amount to work with


Not sure what to do with these tart little berries, I decided to quickly throw together a simple pie. It's not the greatest looking desert I have made, but it sure tasted good.


The other fruit I am so grateful to be able to grow in Durban is bananas,  and yesterday we again harvested another huge bunch of ripening bananas. 
I see a lot of smoothies in the near future....

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Frogs!!

Spring is a lovely season, my second favourite after autumn. But it does bring with it a few things that I would rather do without... flies, mosquitoes, other insects that munch my veggies, strong wind and FROGS!
Don't get me wrong, I am a nature lover. A few frogs in the garden would be awesome, but this is another story all together.
What I have in my garden are actually toads, Guttural Toads to be exact. Big fat squishy toads. They congregate in my tiny pond like its the neighborhood hang out.

Our little pond
  While watching TV the other night they started croaking, and it was okay. We all smiled and said springs back, the frogs are here. Then it gradually got louder and louder. Eventually we couldn't hear the TV anymore, only the toads. So we went out to catch what we could and relocate them to a nearby park.

I have tried to put a file in here so that you can hear the sound, but its not working but if you would like to hear you can use this link. Its a local site with a few different toad calls

That night we managed to catch 17 toads! And that wasn't all of them.
The next day we went out searching and found another 6.

Not so pretty Guttural Toads

Now every time we hear the toads start up in the garden, my boys come and ask: "can we go frog hunting?"


Sunday, September 1, 2013

HAPPY SPRING!

HAPPY SPRING DAY!

Today is the first day of spring here in the southern hemisphere. Its been a chilly few days with a cold front passing through, but today was gorgeous. It was still a bit cool in the shade, but is was a perfectly clear day and the sun was warm and pleasant, a great gardening day. My boys even had their their traditional spring swim, although they never made it past waist deep.

I didn't get as much done as I would have liked to but I did manage to compost a few empty beds, remove a lot of my winter crops that were not producing or were full of aphids, and did a whole bunch a weeding (a sure sign that its getting warmer)
I am looking forward to the garden show coming up in a few weeks so I can get lots of seedlings to fill my empty beds. I also have a table full of babies that I seeded myself but forgot to take a picture of.

Here are a few photos of the garden today.

A tomato plant that self seeded is starting to produce ripe cherry tomatoes

Strawberry spinach is doing very well. The berries actually look better than they taste. They are quite bland and plain but you can use both the berries and the leaves to make a nice looking salad

Lots of spinach (chard) at the moment.


Watercress in a pot in my pond. I started this with a shoot from a bag of watercress from the shop. It's doing extremely well.

Gooseberries are going to be ripe very soon

The last of my brassicas that hasn't been attacked by aphids.

A garden FULL of self seeded fennel. Thankfully the rabbits love it. I need to find some way I can use it in the kitchen

 Two pawpaw trees have popped up, I am hoping that at least one of them is female.

How did you spend spring day? Or perhaps your side of the world is headed into autumn?