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Milkwood Blog

Summer is DONE (but our garden is not)

March 4, 2014 | Farming, Gardening, Grow It, Market Garden, Milkwood Farm | 15 comments | Author:

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So officially, Summer is done and dusted. Which is fine with me, if it means Autumn rains aplenty. By the Milkwood Farm clock, however, we’re still right smack bang in Summer, for a few more weeks at least.

Tomatoes absolutely everywhere, corn coming on, beans about to ripen, cucurbits extra absolutely everywhere, and Surprise! more ducklings. Ah, Summer… 

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Also, things are moving around hereabouts – Michael’s been head hunted by the amazing Common 2 Us crew in Sydney, so he’s now based there now.

This is awesome in all ways except the bit where Michael’s at Milkwood – it’s left us with a slight lack of folks whose focus is the market garden.

And as you can imagine, the Milkwood Farm summer garden needs a little more than my and Nick’s sporadic, if loving, attentions, as we attempt to do lots of things, both land, laptop and workshop related, at once.

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Enter Anji!

Huzzah for this lady – a beginner farmer (and many other things) who has come to wrangle the tomatoes, ducklings, irrigation plan and prettymuch everything else garden related.

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Er, yes. Ducklings. Did I mention that more have appeared?

Before he left, Michael put the muscovy duck flock in the market garden, as due to having to tighten our belts on the water supply front, we let one block of plantings go.

The ducks thought this was a marvellous idea – they’ve been doing great work with slug and grasshopper patrol, and since we have no delicate greens in at the moment like lettuce and such, they didn’t cause any carnage.

So as the resting block grew high with seeding kohlrabi, escaped carrots, fat hen, feral brassicas, grass and all the other plants that have been lying in wait in our garden soil’s seedbank for just this chance, the ducks took this place on as their own. On a family level, it seems.

So there’s one big batch of teenagers and adults now, plus another generation coming on.

Duck day cometh. Probably prior to our upcoming Autumn Permaculture Design Certificate, so that we can include duck confit on the menu somewhere. Lucky permaculture design students.

Also, this week marks the re-populating of Milkwood Farm, after a few Summer months of just our family on site – Danni the superchef is back, Heather, who was a market garden intern last spring, is coming back to co-ordinate the Autumn courses, and we have a new teaching intern, Brendan, joining us too.

These last few months feel like they have been a bit crazy – mostly due to the heat waves and the Sandor Katz national tour.

Oh and getting no Summer (nor Spring, nor Winter, really) rains has also been interesting – thanks to our family’s dams, we’ve had the irrigation water we needed to keep our veggies humming, and our tinyhouse’s greywater outputs have nudged our newish holistic orchard along.

Our drinking rainwater supply has been solid due to our extremely large shed’s catchment area and ample tank storage, so all’s well on the essentials front.

But for the surrounding country, things have been pretty crispy.

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I can’t remember being as excited about wet kids and dogs (by their virtue of being wet, that is) as I was this last weekend. Oh and that’s Ashar making another dragon trap.

Until this last week, that is! We got about an inch of the wet stuff, finally.

Nothing to write home about normally, but this season, we’re dancing.

Within days, there will be a green sheen on every hillside you can see. Which will nicely offset the red of our everywhere tomatoes.

How are things in your patch? Get any tomatoes this year?

I am collecting recipes for most-awesome-ever spicy fermented tomato sauce, by the way – if you have a lead, do share…

Oh and lastly, a note that the bean tipi has reached it’s zenith – on three sides, anyway. Best dragon catcher den ever.

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15 COMMENTS


  • Thom Foote March 4, 2014 at 6:07 am | Reply

    And our spring is about to begin here at Footehills Farm in Eastern Washington state. Still plenty of snow but should be ending this week and then the thaw begins. We plan to do much denser planting this year. Your pics look great. I am envious.


  • unionhomestead March 4, 2014 at 7:55 am | Reply

    Love feral brassicas…can alway be counted on when every other vege is sulking!


  • Nicki Noo March 4, 2014 at 8:18 am | Reply

    Hello Kirsten! Yes we have had the rain here in SA too and everything is a good inch of green! My girls school ( wonderful Stephanie Alexander kitchen garden) has won the tomato sauce competition held at the botanic gardens for the 2nd year, they use the fabulous recipe from Sally Wise’s A Year in a Bottle. It has a hit of cayenne pepper! Have fun saucing!! :-)


    1. milkwoodkirsten March 4, 2014 at 8:54 am | Reply

      Yay for rain!


  • Kostas March 4, 2014 at 8:29 am | Reply

    Very jealous of your garden!
    One question I’d like to make. I see you have different varieties of tomatoes. Did you do something to prevent cross-pollination or you are not bothered with it? I’m asking in relation to seed saving of clear seeds. Thanks


    1. milkwoodkirsten March 4, 2014 at 8:53 am | Reply

      Heya, no we’re not really worrying about saving tomato seeds as we have a seed breeder in Mudgee that does top-notch chem-free tomatoes https://rpseeds.com.au/ – so in the interests of having all the tomatoes in one convenient block, we just eat them instead of saving them :)


    2. Bec (dixiebelle) March 4, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Reply

      Kostas, tomatoes won’t cross pollinate very easily, as they self pollinate (they have both female & male within them and just need the wind or insects to shake the plant to enable this to happen), even before the flowers open! We have grown several varieties of tomatoes (usually about 5 to 7 varieties in our backyard) and have collected seeds for a couple of years without issue.

      http://www.growing-home.com.au/grow/saving-growing-from-seed/#FAQ5 http://i2.wp.com/www.growing-home.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Saving-Seed-4.jpg


  • Genevieve March 4, 2014 at 12:49 pm | Reply

    Yay for rain in Bungendore/Canberra too! Love reading about the goings on at Milkwood, thanks for the update… how do you keep up with the zucchini’s? We only have three but I’m scrambling for recipes…. so far my favourites are zucchini fritters and a very yummy zucchini brownie (paleo style).


    1. milkwoodkirsten March 4, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Reply

      we pick them small, is our main strategy – or eat them as flowers. or make cakes, fritters etc – when they’re small you can treat them like pickling cucumbers?


  • Margaret of Vivid Edible Gardens March 4, 2014 at 4:53 pm | Reply

    Kirsten, I can imagine how happy the rains made all inland farmers, as you said, it was crispy. Summer is done in Denistone, too, although this week we are going to have temperatures in high 20s. While pumpkins reached their final size, the cucumbers are nearly finished and all tomatoes are gone (we didn’t have much luck this year with them). This week is for winter planting: vegetables and green manures.

    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=433078026827361&id=195619727239860


  • Deb March 4, 2014 at 8:44 pm | Reply

    Hi peeps.
    I, up to this season, have had a really productive courtyard garden. I’m in a townhouse now and have always had a productive vege patch wherever I’ve lived. I’m usually preserving this time of year or giving away produce. But this year…. I’ve had so FEW bees I’m resorting to manual pollenation. Something has happened in my local area perhaps?? You seem to be producing well so perhaps it’s in my management of the space, soil and shrubs. I have stacks of birds coming in despite of the cats… It is the cats chasing away the bees?
    Please, any advice?


    1. milkwoodkirsten March 5, 2014 at 8:46 am | Reply

      Cats shouldn’t affect the bees and at our place we’re having the opposite prob – more bees than flowers so the bees stole all the pollen from the corn! (which is usually wind pollinated and doesnt benefit from being full of bees, strangely) – do you have enough flowering plants in your garden (in addition to veggies) to attract the bees?

      Maybe there’s stiffer competition where you live now? I would stack your patch with blue flowers like agastache, borage and anything else that will flower prolifically and attract bees, who will then incidentally pollinate your veg while they’re there – I think its about volume of good stuff when it comes to bees in urban areas…


  • Jason Dingley March 6, 2014 at 4:08 pm | Reply

    I have even planted out another summer crop including tomato, zucchini, cucumber, etc. We will see how they go.


  • Dean Driscoll March 8, 2014 at 8:55 am | Reply

    We were driving through Murrurundi when that rain started and by the time we were in Scone the rain was very heavy. I thought about Milkwood as we drove along the Castlereagh HWY and passed the turn off to your place. Plenty of rain as we drove past. I could not but help think about the denuded and degraded landscape all around us as we drove past. Seeing all those key points in the landscape not taken advantage of in this abundance of rain but, it was a good thought to know that you were getting rain. The fruit tree guild we started in Blackheath, 4 months ago is flourishing in these conditions!


    1. milkwoodkirsten March 9, 2014 at 11:10 am | Reply

      Hooray! x



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