When you're talking to growers, it seems it's never quite right - either they complain about too much rain, or not enough...
But, seriously - come on now! This winter has been somewhat extreme in it's rainfall here and it wasn't fun. I can't help but wonder whether this is the new normal - more atmospheric carbon = more heat = more moisture = more rain?
Seeing the sun the last few days was glorious though and seeing my seedlings all spring up even more so.
Seed sowing is going to continue this month - even though it means increased fuss over the little plant babies - having to move them from inside to outside, from sun to shade, sometimes several times a day. I often think growing seedlings is like having a baby - being continuously aware of their needs.
Having said that, we don't have a great set up here for raising seedlings - how easy it would all be with a glass house and a sprinkler system!
Bed preparation continues as well, trying to outrun the winter weeds which are now putting on a real growth spurt - as well as all the new ones coming up with increased soil temperatures. We're also spreading compost, aerating the beds (!!!) and mulching everything that is not going to be seedbed in the next little while.
As we clear the beds, some of our winter crops, which are past their prime, are coming out as well - although I like to leave as many of the brassicas to flower for the bees to feed on as possible. They are just buzzing at the moment!
Everything that comes out of the garden beds goes straight onto a compost heap - mixed with the last of the autumn leaves I had stored away (and some extra ones that I can sweep up from the forest floor here). Add the chicken straw and - boom! Ready to go.
We've had some new arrivals with three new hens and are hoping for some egg production. They are Araucana crosses, so look! - green eggs!
So this is going to be one of these completely self-serving blog posts which I write to make only my own life easier... Thing is, a perceived 20 times a day (realistically, maybe once every 10 days) I get asked "So why did you call this place the Rabbithole??" Often, this is accompanied by a somewhat curious expression on peoples face - but sometimes there's a hint of a dubious touch to it.
Admittedly, if you're going to be growing vegetables, the last thing you want is rabbits, right?
But first for the story: if you have ever wandered the yards of the beautiful Rabbithole, you'll have noticed that our garden situation is a little peculiar. (Ok, less so since last summer, but still...). Against all permaculture principles (Zone 1, vege garden, most often visited, closest to the house) our main garden and orchard are a level below the house, accessible only via a somewhat treacherous bush track (which I love).
Which essentially means, when you arrive, you dive down through the shady dark forest until you reach the sunny meadow below. It's just like falling down a Rabbithole - and ending up in vege wonderland. Or something like that.
(Last summer we surrendered to permaculture wisdom and added a kitchen garden next to the house as well - but wonderland garden is still going strong and now - with more mature fruit trees flowering - more wonderland-ish than ever)
That's one version of the story.
The other version of the story is to do with Morpheus.
Because the simple yet complex life at the Rabbithole is very much intentionally a counter-reaction to popular culture. Here, we believe that salvation does not lie in purchasing the next shiny object. We acknowledge that our current lifestyles are unsustainable, and have to change. We live with this consciousness every day - even on the days when we are not making the best sustainable choices. It's a learning process. And one of discovery. We see through the wool that popular culture pulls over your eyes - we like to name things for what they are. In essence, our regular ways are killing the planet faster than we can comprehend, climate change is already here and the economic growth paradigm is - finally - entering hospice. To see these things for what they really are takes a bit of learning - and a fair bit of courage. So, what would you like? The red pill or the blue pill - and how deep do you want to go?
For those of you who find this a little bit heavy - don't worry too much. Just
Loving this time of year! The blossoms have opened up on the plum tree, which is the first sign of spring. The last month was all about dodging the rain and getting ready for spring - in an alternating fashion.
The bright side of 'dodging the rain' involved our lovely WWOOFer Stephanie creating some amazing artwork with the kids in the school holidays, and sewing some amazing floor cushion covers (I LOVE floor cushions!!) and all of us in a spontaneous kerfuffle redecorating the lounge...
And then - when it stopped raining - we did get out into the garden on a big weeding mission (the winter weeds we've been eating most of the winter - lambs lettuce, nasturtium and parsley - were allowed to stay just a bit longer :), applying compost and a thin layer of mulch.
Most of our compost is home-made, but for a top-up, we called in the awesome guys at CompostingNZ to supply us with a certified organic bulk order. Due to our very rabbithole-like lay of the land 'round here, we're always having to split our precious compostables between the upper and the lower garden - with most of it going down the hill into the chicken compost. Upstairs, with drive-on access, we can take advantage of some external capacity. Advantageously, this is also guaranteed weed-free - which has been my secret weapon to carrot-success last year. There you go. I cheat.
This last weekend, my seed order went in and before long, an early under-cover sowing of zucchini, peas, beans and greens is going to get under way. Below is my order for this year. Between $200 for a compost top-up (which is a bit of a luxurious bonus), $100 for seeds (plus a variety of self-saved ones) I would expect this to take us through to about this time next year, vege-wise. Not too bad for a year's supply of food.
Organic Bean Blue Lake Dwarf
Organic Bean Golden Wax Dwarf
Organic Bean Gold Marie Vining
Organic Cucumber Lemon
Organic Cucumber Tendergreen
Organic Lettuce Merveille des Quatre Saisons
Organic Lettuce Parris Island Cos
Organic Pumpkin Autumn Harvest
Organic Radish Easter Egg
Organic Squash Honeynut
Organic Zucchini Black Beauty
Organic Zucchini Cocozelle
Bean Lazy Housewife Runner
Bean Top Crop Dwarf
Komatsuna Mustard Spinach
Cucumber Homemade Pickles
Gourds Large Bottle
Beetroot Chioggia Red/White
Carrot Pusa Asita
Tomato Black from Tula
Tomato Matt's Wild Cherry
Corn Florida Supersweet F1
Corn Florida Supersweet F1,
Tomatillo Grande Verde
Organic Okra Clemson Spineless
Basil Genovese Giant
Today definitely felt like summer is on it's way... I've been busy busy busy planting and preparing the beds for more planting!! I even got an optimistic tray full of tomatoes started in the seedling house (plus cheating and buying a few seedlings for the glasshouse). The garden is definitely waking up and the fresh growth manages to outrun the snails (mostly ;). The orchard is also looking quite different - the tree Lucerne got a major slash to give room and light to the fruit trees - it's looking quite different down there. We're down to almost nothing as far as grass is concerned - the sheep cleared everything up for spring growth.
So in this waxing moon phase I planted out seedlings of: brokkoli, cauliflower, kale, peas, celery, celeriac, mizuna, lettuces. Started more peas, dwarf beans, even courgette and tomato (under cover) and out on the heat pad the peppers and eggplant are growing (although they took a major hiding by me letting them dry out the other week...)
And so much more which I can't even remember...
Anyway - a few photos...
Our recent WWOOFers created this fantastic video of their stay... Including the AMAZING SWEDISH CHEF breadmaking tutorial!! Gotta watch!!
Something I have been thinking about for a long time... the construction of these shelters is so beautiful, self-supporting top beams, resting on triangular wall structures. Really looking forward to learning about this myself, and honestly hoping lots of good people are going to join me. Building a house in a day... how cool.
With a bit of luck, the roundhouse may stay at the Rabbithole for a while, and become a learning space for all the good things to come. Looking forward to it!
"Our revolution will have dancing and excellent food" - Anne Dillard
Life's no good without music. So one might think... Well, I certainly do. And I also often wonder about the music we hear so much of these days - synthesized, computed, compressed - a sign of our times?
Anyhow, it's great to hear some real, 'handmade' music that would still be great during a power cut. And with our professional flutist WWOOFer Marina staying this week, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to launch our series of musical afternoons: the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. We had a small crowd this time, on short notice - but there was cake, tea... and an afternoon full of lovely music. The recording equipment packed up on the day (Ha! See above! :-) - but here's a retake and small taster for those who couldn't make it.
And with great music and a belly full of cake, we look forward to many further Tea Parties... The perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon, me thinks!
To start off this Blog, here's a repost from the old site, a couple of years old, but still relevant. I'll keep reposting gradually, as seems relevant.
Someone asked the following questions today – since I was somewhat surprised by some of my own answers, I thought I’d quickly post them here.
- Why did you choose to move to Wellington?
I didn’t – I was placed by the German Foreign Ministry, to do a Referendariatsstation at the German Embassy in Wellington – then I ran into Daryl on my 3rd day, moved in with him after a week and a half (it was winter and freezing at the backpackers) and now we have 2 kids.
- What do you like about New Zealand?
The ability to do whatever it is you want to do. Much less restrictive than in Germany. People are a lot more ‘real’.
The countryside, living off the land.
A lot less people.
- Why do you think permaculture is important today?
I think permaculture is one of the gentler expressions of human ingenuity – a way to coexist with nature and all living things without denying our ability to think.
I believe permaculture, for many places, is the only way for humankind to survive
- What means permaculture to you?
Permaculture for us is an experiment that we are only at the beginning of. It holds many many opportunities. It also has given birth to the Transition movement, which I believe is one of the most important movements of our times (in all the different forms it takes)
- What does your “Rabbit Hole” look like?
Green, diverse, food growing everywhere, brimming with life in all forms. We hear flowing water, frogs and the morepork at night. I love every bit of it, down to the last glowworm.
Also, I found this song on the ooooby website – quite enjoyed, so hereby shared