I was so excited to get on with the spring planting this year, although looking over my germination spreadsheet for the winter vegies I planted was so depressing, I don’t know why I’m persevering with seeds at all!
However, we will press on. Yesterday DS2 and I sowed some flower seeds in the front garden. I have 2 rows of magnificent Irises that are just coming into bloom, plants that I have grown and divided and kept through 3 houses now. So that is very beautiful, but for the summer months when there are no flowers, hopefully we will have some annuals to brighten things up. Corncockle, Love in a Mist and a very VERY old packet of Alyssum which may or may not sprout. But better to try it in the garden than leave it in the cupboard, right? The plan is that they will grow, flower, and self seed, so that this bed will always be full.
So, the vegetable seeds I planted are only the ones that need to be raised indoors for a while. While I don’t think we will get any more frosts this year, it IS only September and I could be wrong. One year we had a huge freezing hail-storm in October! So the next batch of outdoors planting can wait a little while.
I have planted Sweet Basil, Baby Cos Lettuce, Mixed Italian Fryers capsicum, Tigerella and Amish Paste tomatoes and some Red Spring Onion. Just as a bit of an experiment shall we say, as there is still enough growing time to get some more started if I manage to kill this lot too! All seeds purchased from the Diggers club shop in Adelaide.
And over the weekend the eldest DS helped me set up a second compost heap. You just really need 2, because if you keep adding stuff to the top, then it never finishes decomposing! So I have started that today with some straw from the nest boxes, shredded paper, a stack of weeds and waste from the kitchen. Hopefully it will go do what it needs to. Of course, all the juiciest slugs from the compost go to the chickens!
So hopefully this is a good start to the summer harvest. We are especially excited about the tomatoes, as the information from Diggers indicates that we are likely to get 15+kgs of tomatoes per plant! We really love tomatoes, cook lots of food with them, but the current price for vine-ripened is nearly $10kg, so we have been on tomato rations for the winter. If I had some left over from summer to freeze, I would be a very happy chef! Now I just need some spare time from DH to get the second pair of garden beds bought and installed, so I’ll have somewhere to plant everything out!
Meanwhile in other related self-sufficiency news, we have bitten the bullet and put a deposit down for a solar panel system. Sadly, we have missed the massive feed-in tariffs that were on offer where you got paid nearly double for electricity that you produced vs what you consumed, however even to become power neutral would be a blessing. This winter’s bill was a substantial increase on what we are used to paying, and although we have made even further changes in how we use power, due to the spiralling increase in costs, we will never truly bring the bill down properly without this addition to the house. For instance, when you read the “How to cut your power bill” sites, we don’t have a dryer, or a second fridge. We use mostly low-watt fluorescent globes, and only heat rooms that make sense. The temperature the heater is set is 21 degrees, and most days we don’t need to use it due to the amount of insulation we installed when building. Our coldest the house has gotten down to inside has been 16, which is still livable. Our old house got down to 12 degrees regularly!
We had always planned for solar power, including it in the long-term budget and having a suitable large north facing roof area. However a kinder than normal tax-refund has brought those plans a lot closer, and the prices of panels have come down so much as to make it genuinely affordable. There is a wait on having the import/export meter installed, but it’s in the pipeline and should be up and generating before the end of November! We’re really excited about it!