Organic Farm Update
Well it’s been a few weeks now since my last update so another update is about due for sure.
Right now it is mid-summer and hot with a capital H and dry with a HUGE capital D! We have had one decent rain since January with spotting rain only twice during that time. As you can imagine now water is an issue and trying to grow anything in the heat and dry here is ‘interesting’ to say the least.
At least our papaya trees planted about 8 months ago are flourishing and showing fruit already. So we will be eating these in about another 3 months once the rains come and juicy them up for us!
On the chicken front – these two are the only two left after our recent ‘chicken purge’! Our white chicken has tried twice to create chicks in two nests and abandoned them both times. This time she laid 3 eggs but one of the black chicken who’s nest the white chicken ‘borrowed’, decided she wanted no part of that and rolled the three eggs out of the nest! We recovered two but only one hatched – the other had been damaged. Last week we gave all the other chickens (8) away to Carol’s family who have promised not to eat them!
This white chicken and her baby are on borrowed time now. Once the chick can fly it will also go to Carol’s brother Joseph who has helped here in the past with the building. We are getting rid of all chickens because they are a pest in the garden undoing work with their scratching around. We never wanted chickens here. They were brought here by one of Carol’s brothers who was caretaking¬†while we were living in Baguio.
Our organic tomatoes thrived all through the early summer but with the lack of water and now the heat they are coming to the end of their fruiting life. We have taken cuttings and are propagating them now in the nursery ¬†ready to be planted in the garden in about a weeks time – in a different location of course to ensure rotation and disease management.
Our sunflower experiment is going well. All seedlings have survived and some have flowered. These pictured here have not flowered because we added lots of compost and they zoomed up in height and stature which was loverly to see. They will flower very soon now for sure. Hopefully after they all flower they will create good seed that is edible – that is our aim. After this experiment we can then grow them each year as a field crop. We love sunflower seeds!
The guest room is sitting all empty still! We have been busy with other things while creating funds to complete the project. We have funds coming in a weeks time which will be enough to complete the roof and the support beams for the walls. The rest will have to be done later once we have created more funds.
The organic ladies finger seed we got from NZ is doing well.
The comfrey is doing better now in the shade but it is still too hot for the plant – it needs more shade and more water. It will get more shade soon once the bamboo behind it grows more leaves. The leaves on bamboo drop a lot at this time of the summer but are replaced as soon as the rains come from May onwards.
Our vegetable garden is looking sad 🙁 We have a few things still growing but they are not doing the best. Our soil is still in early recovery from being abused for so many years. The humus content is still very low despite a lot of compost being applied. Because there is not enough water we cannot get worms into the garden because they do not survive. Soon with the rains in May we will have a flourishing garden again.
We have recently remodelled the garden at the side of the Little Happy House by levelling it and adding terraces at the end as well as restructuring the worm area. We thought the worms would thrive in a big compost pile but we were wrong. This is our first experience of being in a very dry climate so the lack of water has caught us out. I dug through the worm pile last week and could not find a single worm! The soil had received a lot of water in November but non since then so it had dried up a lot. Worms need a lot more water than I had imagined so now we have restructured what we are doing.
We have gone back to a traditional compost system as you can see on the left using a three pile system. Raw materials will go in on the left to compost out and will be moved to the middle and then to the end to aerate¬†them helping them compost more. Finally we will take the partially composted materials into the worm beds located in the middle. You can see one of the new worm beds (long and thin this time) between the blue bucket and watering can in the photo above.
The worm beds will now be just 600mm wide and 250 to 300mm deep. We are building them out of cloth suspending the walls off bamboo sticks. This will allow us to water them each day and as you can see in the photo, we keep them well mulched with dry bamboo leaves on the top. We have also planted beans around the worm area to provide more shade from the sun.
Our upcoming projects in the next weeks are :
- Finish the worm area putting all the excess old manure and soil into the compost pile
- Complete the terracing of the far end of the field near the compost beds
- Build another worm bed and fill it up
- Build a nipa leaf leanto roof above the Little Happy House door to protect from coming rains
- Finish the roof of the guest room
- Start extending the garden beds next to the current vegi garden area near the Little Happy House ready for the rainy season planting
- Dig ditches ready for the rainy season to manage soil retention and irrigation