Tag Archives: market garden

Week 1 in the Milkwood Market Garden – 2 Sep 11

So here I am back at Milkwood – I did my Permaculture Design Certificate here in October 2009 – and I’ve hit the ground running.  It is Friday evening – we arrived here lunchtime on Tuesday – and I have still not unpacked !  And it has been hugely enjoyable.

The Garden before cultivating - and minus the pigs...

Joyce Wilkie and Michael Plane, along with Matthew who helps out at Allsun, and I left Gundaroo at dawn on Tuesday.  Arriving here we had a swift lunch under the tree by the Woolshed and then took the Cultivator down to the OMG where 2 pigs had done …. well not a lot really. But the cultivator soon ripped into the virgin soil and in short order it was well churned up.

Matthew with cultivator

We spend a bit of time laying out the outline of the garden within the fenced area – we had planned for 28 beds in 2 blocks of 14 with a path down the middle of the two blocks.

Then it was down to work making beds : a bed is 1 metre wide in total – 700mm of cultivated bed and 300mm of path.  This is a really efficient bed width – an average height person can straddle the bed for working on it…. you can get quite yoga- like about gardening throwing in the odd Trigunasana in between weeding, planting, seeding …. but I digress. Sorry.

Mike and Matthew using a Broad-fork to lift the soil and aerate it prior to weeding

4 beds were prepared (weeded and de-stoned and raked and raised into flattened mounds) and fed with compost, pelleted chicken manure, dolomite and a good rock-dust of assorted essential minerals.

And that was pretty much it by sunset.  The next day was planting stuff grown early at Allsun – Endive, Spring Onions, Mesclun salads (lettuces) and Pak Choi. And suddenly it was time for Joyce, Mike and Matthew to return to Gundaroo.

Since they left on Wednesday afternoon I have prepared another 2 beds, planted out Rocket (seedlings and direct seeded into a bed) and sown Cima di Rapa.  I have also created row-covers for 4 beds which is a slight luxury for these hardier plants, but it was a first go and provides night-shelter for the newly-planted seedlings.

Meanwhile, back on the farm/Milkwood Permaculture a course (Food Forest/Forest Garden) has started and I spent yesterday afternoon in Mudgee on errands (buying a new rake), more Rocket seeds and collecting a course participant.

By the end of today, Friday, and thus the end of the week, the new Milkwood Organic Market Garden looks like this :

The Garden at evening....

Just the beginning – but a good start. Watch this space for our weekly reports on progress.



Filed under Garden Diary, Planting, Stephen Couling

Wednesday 31 August – Starting the Market Garden at Milkwood

When we loaded up our truck and trailer last Monday we did think that our poor old VW Transporter was going to be working well over the limit of a 1 tonne ute. First of all there was the walk-behind tractor fitted with a reciprocating spader. This is an amazing bit of kit that is so much kinder to the soil than a rotary hoe. Then there was all the seedlings (well they didn’t all fit in and quite a lot will be going to Milkwood in a couple of weeks time!). Irrigation fittings – rolls of drip hose, fittings, sprinkler head – you name it –  were stacked around the spader. Then there was the tools. Stephens new tool kit plus everything we thought we would need to get a few beds made and planted in a day. Bags of potting mix, cocopeat blocks, luggage and finally four bodies were squeezed in and we were off.

And her we are arriving at the Milkwood woolshed!

ruck arrives
We arrive at Milkwood

The rest of our time at Milkwood was spent getting things set up and a few seedlings into the ground.

Mathew spades the area
The pigs had done a reasonable job scruffing up the ground, Matthew uses a reciprocating spader to finish the job and turn in all the pig manure.
Spading CU
Matthew on the spader, Stephen and Mike talking about layout
First stringlines
The string lines are set up and the first bed broadforked
Compost goes on the beds
Compost goes on the beds
First bed ready to plant
First bed ready to plant
Matthew working up a fine tilth for direct seeding
Matthew working up a fine tilth ready for direct seeding
First seedlings in the ground
First seedlings planted
Baby Pak Choi seedlings in soil blocks

Baby Pak Choi seedlings in soil blocks

Baby Pak Choi in the ground

Baby Pak Choi in the ground

Over to Stephen

The Milkwood Market garden is now in Stephen's capable hands and he will be doing the diary enteries from here on in.


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Filed under Garden Diary, Growing, Joyce Wilkie, Planting

Wednesday 17th August – Stephen at Allsun Farm

Stephen has only been at Allsun Farm for 8 days  – phew! We have covered a huge amount of ground with him and we too have planted broad beans.

So what have we covered so far?

  • Laying hens – our dawn to dusk work force who weed, clean up bugs and lay wonderful eggs
  • transforming derelict weedy beds into fertile ground using a mower or scythe and a reciprocating spader on a two wheeled horticultural tractor
  • building beds that are fully prepared ready to plant
  • planning what we want to grow, when we need to plant it, in what quantity and in which bed
  • growing seedlings in pots, plug trays and soil blocks
  • weeding both by hand and using long handled hoes and wheel hoes
  • picking

Tomorrow we pick again and we will also get round to transplanting lettuces and spring onions into garden beds. We will in less than two weeks have covered the whole cycle needed to grow vegetables commercially. From here on in it will simply be refining techniques and practice. Market gardening is a balance of craftmenship and detailed planning – we will post some pictures asap – now it’s off to bed!

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Filed under Garden Diary, Joyce Wilkie, Planning

Growing Annual Vegetables CD Rom: review

So we’re sitting at the kitchen table, planning our market garden with Joyce and Mike from Allsun Farm, and Joyce suddenly looks at me sharply: “you’ve seen our vegetable growing CD ROM, haven’t you?” Erm, no?

With forewords by Eliot Coleman (international edition) and Peter Cundall (Australian edition), I’m not quite sure why I’ve only just come across this comprehensive resource. It’s Allsun’s self-published guide to growing vegetables, covering everything from tools and planning through vegetable varieties and harvesting. Wow. Read More »

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Filed under Kirsten Bradley, Planning, Resources

Shifting to community-scale food thinking

This week I received all our yearly seed catalogs, and, as usual, started planning feverishly. How many is too many weird and wonderful heirloom watermelon varieties? And then I paused. Wait a minute, we’re aiming for community scale in our vegetable production this year. This shifts the goalposts entirely.

I’m now realizing that, for our organic market garden adventure, we will no longer be focusing on the craziest colored tomatoes. At least for this first year, while we learn the ropes, we will be going for yield and nutritional density as top priority. Pragmatic organic, here we come. Continue reading

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Filed under Kirsten Bradley, Planning

Planning our organic market garden

I never thought we would get excited about, let along plan to do, the whole market garden thing. But while I’m all for no-dig polycultures like our domestic-scale kitchen garden, I’m also a pragmatist.

These days, we need more vegetables than we currently produce, especially from Spring through till Autumn. Way, way more. So I figure we’d better get ourselves into gear and learn how to grow ‘em. Continue reading

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Filed under Kirsten Bradley, Planning