Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tomato and Zucchini success and Summer Garden pics

Since I started growing vegetables I have had very little success with tomatoes and Zucchini (and most other squashes). They would always get terrible powdery mildew which would devastate the entire plant, eventually killing it. Also my squash were not getting pollinated and the babies would just rot. I had almost given up. With the tomatoes, I actually had given up. Ripped out all my infected plants and didn't bother planting more.
For the Zucchini I decided to try planting them in containers, or grow bags in my case. And so far so good. The plants are doing to well! They are fruiting and I hand pollinate every morning, and I can move the bags during the peak of the day when it gets really hot. I Can't wait to start picking them.

Zucchini in grow bags

I was very disappointed about my tomatoes. Everyone grows tomatoes and it just seems like the easiest crop to grow. Hubby got rid of some old tomatoes in the fridge by throwing them into a crevice between our two back walls. The space in about 15 cm wide and I normally grow nasturtiums there. A few weeks later we noticed some tomato plants popping up, but didn't take too much notice as we thought they would eventually get infected and wilt away. But no! One in particular just grew and grew and then started fruiting. After a good few weeks it was laden with green tomatoes!
I am still waiting for them to ripen but any day now we will be picking tomatoes.

Needless to say, I have since planted a bunch more tomato plants in the crevice between the two walls. Hoping for the same success.

I have been loving my garden this season, so much is growing and I am enjoying watching as each day the plants get a little bigger.
Here is a few pictures of what I have growing at the moment:

Green peppers are growing all around the garden

 Potatoes in hessian sacks seem to be doing well

Butternut is taking over my pathways

Corn is growing tall and strong with butternut filling the spaces underneath

Brinjal plants are exploding with fruit

Cucumber and loofah vines are taking over the walls

And a self seeded sunflower (from the chicken feed) has overtaken the top of the jungle gym! I am looking forward to seeing it flower!

Hope everyone else here in the southern hemisphere is having success in their gardens.
And as things are getting busy around here and I might not post again this year, I hope you all have a FANTASTIC Christmas, and a very happy New Year!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Garlic Harvest

It seems everyone in the southern hemisphere is harvesting garlic at the moment, and it shows by all the garlic blog posts I have read recently.
This year is the first time I have ever grown garlic and I only planted 12 cloves in a medium size pot. I knew that when harvest time came around I would regret that I didn't plant more, but I wanted to see how it went.

So here is my garlic harvest for 2012:

They look more like onions than garlic to me, but I will give them a try when they are a bit dryer in a couple weeks.
So out of the 12 cloves I planted I have 4 good size, 4 little ones, 3 started rotting in the ground (we have had tons of rain) and 1 that didn't grow at all.

Not too bad. Next year I am going to try to grow a lot more garlic and plant them in different places around the garden. How great would it be not to have to buy garlic for the entire year!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Raising Rabbits for meat

Its taken me quite a while to sit down and write this post. One of the reasons is that I wasn't sure how people would react when they see that we will be eating our rabbits.
I have Lindsey from Northwest Backyard Veggies to thank for giving me the nudge in the right direction. Lindsey raises her own chickens and rabbits for meat and reading her blog has been inspirational (chickens for food are on my list for next year, at the moment it's just eggs)

My husband use to have many rabbits which he breed mostly for the pet trade. At the time we never considered eating our rabbits and when someone mentioned it we just laughed it off. Little did we realise that nearly 2 years later we would be back in the breeding game, but this time for food. We are starting off small, just one pair of breeders to supply our own family. Maybe at a later stage we might get another female or 2 and sell to family and friends. Perhaps a future business venture for my eldest son?

We have weighed the pros and cons and we have decided that it is a step in the right direction
Here is my reasoning:

  • Our rabbits will be well looked after and have a happy home
  • They will not be confined in tiny cages where they can't even take one hop
  • They will be fed good food, have access to lots of hay and fresh water, and be fed fresh produce from my garden.
  • When the time comes, they will be slaughtered in the most humane way possible and we will be grateful that they gave our family a meal.
  • Because we live in the city, we cannot raise cows or sheep, but rabbits are small and quiet and easy to care for. It just makes frugal sense.

Just watching this video gives us all the reasons we need to raise our own rabbits

After the decision was made, our first step was to buy some rabbit meat from a butcher and see if we actually liked the stuff. So we called a few specialty butchers and eventually found one who stocked rabbit. You won't go finding rabbit in any old retail shop here in Durban. So off hubby went to the butcher to buy the rabbit, when he got there he phoned me to tell me how much it cost and whether he should still get it. R200 (about US$22) for a rabbit that was under 2 kg!! I told him to get it as we were going to consider this an investment, if we liked it we would never have to pay these prices again and our meat would be fresh and organic.

That afternoon we had roast rabbit and with the leftovers we had a lovely stew. The meat was tasty, a bit gamey, but still very good.

Our next step was to get our breeding pair. We decided on New Zealand rabbits, which are the most popular for food and got ourselves quite a young pair.

So let me introduce you to our pair of white New Zealands, they do not have names yet, and I am not sure if we will name them at all.
Getting both to stand still at the same time is not easy

So comfortable with me (even in his cage) he is nearly falling asleep

Their large area to hop around as they feel, and a shelter from the elements

They still have not breed as of yet, but we are expecting their first litter in the next couple of months.

My last appeal to those who think it might not be right of us to eat our own animals is that, if you eat meat, an animal is going to die. So why not know that that animal was brought up and slaughtered in the best possible way to provide your family with a healthy and nutritious meal. Do you know where your meat comes from and how those animals were treated before reaching your table?