Farming is fun!


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Hi all, Just finished a great day at TAFE – getting our hands dirty, planting more veggies in our patch and doing our first round of weeding. It’s just so satisfying, it can’t even be explained! When we got home … Continue reading

Budding gardeners we are…

Organic Farming Certificate Update – 16 Aug 2011

It was another awesome, information-packed week at TAFE. We received the good news at the start of the day that we avoided massive crop loss during the week! Here’s what happened: we had planned to get our first seedlings in the ground last week, but our field trip to the Avocado Farm took up all of the afternoon (mostly because we were saving perfectly good Avocado’s from the waste heap)  – and lucky for us, because the very next night the whole area near the TAFE Campus experienced a massive hail storm, and all our seedlings would have been destroyed… and it would have been back to Week One for us! Continue reading…

Figs, pecans, maple syrup…

Week 3 – 2nd August 2011

Learning to propagate from cuttings

This week was very interesting in our Organic Farming course. In the morning we focused on propagating plants, hardwood trees in today’s case, from cuttings. Hardwood trees include figs, grapes, kiwi fruit, maple syrup tree and pecans… Sounds like a smorgasbord already. There are also some notable ornamental (non fruiting) hardwood varieties too, such as Crepe Myrtle, Gingko Biloba, Mock Orange and May Bush. I believe we will be covering semi-hards and soft woods in coming weeks. Continue reading…

Seeds are up; Spuds are in!

July 26 – Week Two Organic Farming Certificate

Firstly, let me say, I have no idea how Rachel and I survived last week. We were both exhausted, and are still trying to catch up on rest. But enthusiasm will take you along way in life! And we are loving what we are doing…

I’m letting enthusiasm drive today’s blog, because we did some really fun stuff that I want to share. First up this morning (after meeting several new classmates) we headed over to the Greenhouse to check on our seeds from Week One. I think we were all amazed to see little plants already sprouting, some were quite large. Continue Reading

What a week!

Gosh, its been a jolly big week so far and still 2 days to go! Feeling pretty exhausted right now, but wanted to get a few thoughts down before sleep happens. Today at the farm we spent some time with the strawberries again. They needed a little more weeding. They haven’t really started to take off yet, as Rod explained that the soil is not quite warm enough yet, but they are happy and content as they are and ready to burst forth any week now. It might be about time to plant some, if you want to get some strawbs in your garden. Continue Reading

Off to school we go!!

G Block, where the learning begins...

19 July 2011 Today we started TAFE. If you haven’t been following our posts so far (where have you been?), we have enrolled in a Certificate 4 in Agriculture (Organic Farming) at Wollongbar TAFE. That’s right! Now, Rachel was planning to go to Griffith University next year and do a Clinical Psychology Doctorate, but as as the enrolment date drew closer she couldn’t hide her lack of enthusiasm from herself or anyone else. I am already a Psychologist, (have been one for 20 years) and whilst I love what I do I am keen to take things in a new direction, like somehow combining psychology with my love of growing food and being in nature. Continue Reading

Week 5: learning that farmers have their own lingo

Well, its official: we are off to TAFE to study Organic Farming one day a week and Rachel is going to forget about Clinical Psychology Masters. Woo Hoo 🙂 It feels exciting to be following our dream at last!!

July 6

On the farm today: It was a big social day at the farm. Pete who does accounts was present all day (we met Pete in week 1 or 2 and he has been there a couple of times on a Wednesday when we go, helping run the office side of things), Rod and Tania and their kids, and Aiden. Just after we arrived for morning tea, Aiden’s wife and two young kids visited and brought scones. Steve (another farm-hand) was also there all day (he’d been off sick for a few weeks), and of course the two of us (I almost stayed home as I felt unwell, but decided the farm would be good medicine).

Our first job for the morning was to put in some flat leaf parsley seedlings. Rachel and I worked together on this job, while Tania did some weeding in another section. There are so many growing beds with such a huge variety of stuff growing. I haven’t seen them all yet, but so amazing. Rod was saying yesterday that he would lay down between 5 and 8 new beds every week! Phenomenal. Here is a picture of the row we planted still empty…

Planting flat leaf parsley

Our next task was to plant beetroot seeds straight into the growing beds. The beds are about 50-70 metres in length and have 3-4 furrows in which we planted these cool looking seeds. We learnt that beetroot doesn’t transplant very well as seedlings so its best to just pop ’em straight in the soil and let them grow.

rachel showing off her technique at planting beetroot

However, we were very excited to see the beetroot plants we had thinned out in our first week (giving them more room to grow) were doing REALLY well! We had both been so nervous that we would stuff it up on our first day – but nope, they looked fantastic! Here’s a pic of them now (at about 15-20 cms)

We did a good job, yay!!

After this job was done, Aiden could lay down some watering hose and we got back to some weeding, this time amongst the shallots. A tricky and delicate job, as the shallots are easy to slice and then the whole plant is gone! Michelle has a special tool, of which she is very fond which did the job well – only one loss! And then it was time for lunch… What a productive morning.

I love the talks we have around the lunch table at the farm. As Rod said a few weeks back, “if we get onto a good topic, we will just keep talking, and don’t really keep strictly to time, so some lunches are longer than others”. Well this was definitely one of those days. Good food, good conversation, especially after a strenuous morning in the fields, feels deeply nourishing. Both of us have said that we feel like we enjoy our food so much more on farming days (and we both like our food pretty good anyway). Somehow we got onto the topic of vulnerability (and if you haven’t seen Brene Brown’s talk about this topic, check it out here)

Finally, the conversation came to a natural close and we headed back up the hill, and the kids came too! In the afternoon we focused on weeding. Rachel started out between the kale and learnt some new farming lingo ‘dutch hoe the guts’ which basically means get between the rows with the dutch hoe and kill those weeds. Here she is doing just that….

Dutch Hoe the guts...

The we got into the coriander, which has to be some of the most fiddly weeding there is to do. Its really hard to discern weed from herb, and because coriander is so delicate and the weeds nest in really close. Tania explained that coriander grows and gets harvested quickly, so the weeding has to happen at the right time in order to get the best growth. We cleared those rows so those gorgeous plants could breathe and drink in the sun. The afternoon seemed to slip by so quick too, and before we knew it the sun was dipping behind the mountain ranges to the North-West and it was time to pack up and head home to Byron Bay.

Observe Tania's delicate approach to the coriander weeding...

today’s harvest: broccoli, shallots, tomatoes, kale, mint, snowpeas, bok choy, flat leaf parsley, radish, ginger, lettuce, sweet potato, carrots, coriander and spinach… Thanks Tania and Rod 🙂