Friday, October 26, 2012

Composting and Gardening

has always seemed a challenge to me until we decided to move more to sustainable living and being less dependent on quick fixes. Now living on a small pacific island means that we do have to rely on a great percentage of our meals coming from processed and packaged food. You can buy local beef at certain stores but chicken and pork etc all come for New Zealand and Australia.

There is very little production of meat here, no matter how many pigs are roaming the streets and causing havoc, they are reserved for the family umu, celebrations and funerals. What a shame really but without a proper butcher and farming protocol the population would quickly dwindle should it be taken to a commercial level. I am also terrible for not wanting to know where the meat I am eating actually comes from, as a former vegetarian I still have the heeby geebies when I am cutting meat and fish is a no no for me. However trying to be healthy and eat low fat meats is impossible almost here as we lack the packaging information we are so accustomed to overseas. Its more a what you got is what you have to deal with, and draining fat three or four times off ground beef is very common.

As for vegetables, the market has improved greatly here in the 7 years we have lived here, we used to get excited when lettuce and tomato's showed up for winter, however now we have them year round as well as a wonderful array of peppers, cucumbers, squash and more. I love supporting the market and buy still 80% of my produce from them. However we have begun to grow more and more at home.

Where we live is open to the ocean and the winds that predominantly come from the east, this means finding an area that has suitable soil and protection has been a bit of trial and error, but we think we have finally found the magic place and the right mix.
My first lettuce

We make our own compost at home which has proved so valuable in getting our vegetables to grow, we turn compost through our soil as soon as it is made to keep replenishing the nutrients and experiment with our compost. Currently we have 3 batches under way with mixes in them, one has majority shredded cardboard and green mix, one is half and half and one is all garden mix. They are all going very well, and the addition of our vegetable scraps seems to create a good and healthy mix. So much so that we are currently seeing steam coming out of our tumblers.

One of the issues with growing vegetables here is the climate, hot and humid at times and without a true spring and autumn we have to experiment with when to plant what. Also this year we had drought conditions for almost 3 months, but finally we have been having some rain.

Carrot tops

Bonnet Chili 

The back of the seed packet and advice given does not necessarily translate to what and when you should plant here. Right now we are playing around with it, but our radishes proved brilliant and spicy, our carrots have tops and all our peppers are on their way.

Radish - spicy and fresh

Its actually turned out to be a lot of fun and we are looking to expand our garden very soon, my innovation of cake tents over my seedlings has protected them from the chickens we have in our back yard. I also had to start a "seedlng database" so I can identify weeds from my vegetables, and this has also been a fun project with a few hiccups along the way. My husband ridicules me on my "Babylon style" garden with the use of plastic bottles but hey it works and he loves the cilantro in almost every dish!

So as we continue and improve our garden, we hope for others to share some of this information along the way.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome, I love reading about your gardening. You have a wealth of information that Vava'u and its people could benefit from. I learn so much from you.