We take baby steps here at Earlwood Farm. While many farmers would have irrigation at the top of their list of priorities and, due to the necessity of water for life, said farmers would likely have purchased and installed the irrigation system before doing any planting, here at Earlwood Farm, we have approached the issue of water slightly differently. We have aspirations to build both grey water and rain water harvesting systems, but with the exception of a small pink bucket for dish water, we haven’t really done either yet. So, until a couple of days ago, we had been watering all our plants for several months (from the mint and the rosemary to the passionfruit and pumpkin) with a tiny three litre watering can. This would have been fine if there’d been a steady stream of rainy days and we just needed the can for the odd dry spell, but alas, with the exception of a downpour on Christmas Day, Sydney has had a remarkably dry Summer. However, since we’ve purchased a hose two days, there has been two solid days of rain, with more on the way. So we haven’t really needed a hose this week, but it is quite good to finally have one.
Beside the the Great Hose Purchase of 2013 there was more sprouting of interesting things on the Farm. Craig is utterly enamoured by Jackie French’s Backyard Self Sufficiency and, aside from falling in love with the down-to-earth enthusiasm of her writing, he is really excited about the possibility of growing anything and everything, as she recommends in her book. So, we’ve sprouted some really old dried chickpeas and black beans that have been sitting in my pantry for several years. We are surprised by the memory that remains in the seeds, the fact that even after sitting dried in a little jar in the dark they still know how to grow into a little plant. We sprouted them much like you would lentils, by soaking in water and leaving to dry and then, once they have sprouted planting them in little coir seedling pods. They are such sweet and energetic little sprouts.
We also have planted some lychee seeds. This activity has accidentally borne a multi-decade fruit-growing project. After some research, we discovered that the trees initially sprout quite quickly to become a short shrub of fifty centimetres, but then they just chill out and sit dormant for three to five years before beginning slowing growing again. As such, if they make it through this long infancy and we take care of them, we can expect our lychee trees to fruit sometime in the next ten to twenty years.
We also have accidentally seeded 16 watermelon plants. Notorious for their long vines and large fruit, we are not quite sure to do with these 16 baby monster plants. The reason we have ended up with 16 is because Craig handed the reigns of planting to the young girl in the house behind us instructed her to seed 16 cucumber plants. He handed her the wrong envelope and so it turned out to be 16 watermelon plants. We are thinking of trying to dump some of this unwanted litter at the local watermelon shelter in the middle of the night, and hope that they will find a home in the yard of some do-gooder green thumb before they have to be put down.
We have had some good growth beginning to happen in the garden too. The other morning we found a bee in the zucchini and pumpkin flowers, and now they are fertilized and starting to fruit. We also scattered some seeds quite haphazardly in a pot and they are developing into a nice little cluster of plants (basil, mustard greens and rocket).
We also received a lovely gift from Aaron’s friend Johnny who was leaving Australia to return to the USA: a capsicum or “bell pepper” plant, some mint, lemongrass, oregano and also a worm farm. Although we are almost overwhelmed by variety, we still have plenty of space for more plants and more planting. Much like the last post, the farm is still running on blind enthusiasm, accident and luck.
As I write this post it is still raining. High winds are expected to hit Sydney in about half an hour. We are hoping that the seedlings that we’ve planted out the front will make it through this wild night, if they do we will no doubt have exciting news in a few months about the abundance of chick peas and black beans and watermelons alive in our front garden.
NOTE: THIS POST WAS ACTUALLY WRITTEN ON THE 28th JANUARY, BUT WAS NOT PUBLISHED UNTIL A BIT LATER