After dinner I lifted the top layer of the worm farm off and full of wriggling worms I carefully placed them into a holding bin. The rest of the worm bed went into the growing beds by the bucket full that I gently dug through ready for planting. Rich, black and full of the goodness that makes a real difference in my opinion. Into this the seedlings were planted just as we slipped from day into night, and as I worked I could hear the hens making their usual ruckus as they settled.
Emptying the worm farm was perfectly timed as Spring’s warm wet weather sees everything take off. When shopping with the kids I decided to get some seedlings for five different tomatoes, lettuce, sugar snap peas, two different kinds of cucumber, marigolds, basil, coriander and capsicums. We have some more seed raising to do, but I just needed to get some stuff in the ground as soon as possible. It’s economical to do it this way, just more so when raising from seed.
I had some punnets I had been watering with Kahu but nothing had come up which had me a bit baffled. I poked around in one to see what seed was in there and couldn’t find anything. Thing is, I can’t remember actually planting anything, so I think all week we’ve been watering nothing! Jesus is this what its like when you’re old?
All the plants in, I called the children who wanted to help me move the hens. The new hens are not quite brave enough to head into the hen house on their own, so each night, around eight pm, the new ten are settling in for the night. I just have to pluck them off the roof of the re-cooperation unit and snuggle them into me before depositing them into the hen house where the old ones eye me up suspiciously. I’m always careful not to put the new ones higher than the old so as not to upset the apple cart, but by my third night of doing it, they quickly fly up and roost happily. Wheriko helping me and a bit of a hen whisperer, we get them done in double quick time. This is getting annoying tho, so might have to rethink this.
Next morning after an early morning spa, I took a quick wander around the orchard. Everything is so green. The trees are laden with blossom and the promise of great baskets of summer fruits. Instead of breakfast I dove straight into my next job, to layer pea straw on the top around the new plants. This keeps the moisture in and provides some more goodness for the soil as it breaks down. This is cheap as chips in the South Island where it comes from, but the transport up here makes it $25 bucks a bale, which South Islanders think is daylight robbery.
Wearing nothing but a toweling bath robe and still damp, I go to get a bale from under the tarp where I have carefully stored them. I lift off and see Mother Rat has been nesting in the middle. She has burrowed into the bale and then gouged out a lovely soft warm bed in the middle. Clean as a whistle I can see where she has gone outside to do her poo. Ohhh, it melts my heart. After all, shes just a single Mum raising a whole litter, living on her wits with babies to feed and raise. I’m a little nervous however. I don’t particularly want to meet her, or her babies. No, I need to be better armed in case I run across her, so I nip inside for gloves and garden shoes.
There’s no sign of any rat or babies until I get to the last bed of sweetcorn seedlings I had planted last night. I stare at the bed, uncomprehending. I planted a dozen seedlings last night, and I can only see a couple! What the hell? I look around and seeing a couple of rat holes in the ground I realise the little bitch has been coming in here. All the sweetcorn seeds I know I had planted in the other beds have been dug up. Has to be a rat. If it was a rabbit they would have eaten the greens. The lettuces and spinach and silverbeet are all untouched. I’m pretty angry as I set the big trap. That’ll fix them I think to myself as I head in for breakfast. This ain’t no community garden!