Lifeboat Farm

New Feijoa Hedge
September 28, 2008, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Food, Garden

To cap off our day in the garden we planted five feijoa seedlings in a sheltered corner of the garden. Hopefully in a couple of years we’ll have all the feijoas we need (which is a lot when you love them as much as we do).


Carpeting the Weeds
September 28, 2008, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Building, Environment, Garden

We had a very busy Sunday in the garden, carpeting over weeds and planting a bunch of new native trees. Here is a section of our native garden after I cut back the out of control weeds (yay spring flush).

Next we laid old wool carpet pattern side down (to protect the plants from the 70’s patterns) and cut slots for new and existing trees and shrubs.

Here’s the finished strip with a few new plantings. We’ll cover the carpet with mulch and while it takes a few years to rot away, the carpet will suppress all the weeds. We’ll need a few more trailer loads of carpet to finish this garden bed but it’s a start. Luckily the local carpet retailer is keen to see the old carpet they uplift recycled. It’s a win-win when you feel warm and fuzzy about recycling but still get to deal out some death to the weeds. Eventually the shrubs and trees will be big enough to crowd out the weeds. One of our older gardens needs almost zero weeding, it’s so densely covered with natives.

Planting Comfrey
September 28, 2008, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Garden, Technology

Not having any comfrey here at the new farm we mail ordered some last week. One kg of roots arrived in the post so today we planted it. Comfrey is fantastic stuff for composting or feeding to stock. It easily grows from sections of root and you can split it up each Spring to increase your harvest.

While we decide where to put it, we’ve planted it in these tubs. It’s mobile and hopefully in these, the chickens won’t be able to get to it so easily. They love comfrey and will happily destroy the plant to get at a few leaves.

Rustic Sausage and Lentils
September 27, 2008, 8:40 pm
Filed under: Food, Recipes

We were at the farmers market yesterday and picked up some Irish sausages. Karen decided to try a French-ish recipe for sausages and lentils and it was fantastic.

Rustic Sausages and Lentils


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced carrot
1 medium onion, decided
5 cloves garlic, roughly minced
1 cup green lentils
2 bay leaves
a handful of parsley
2 sticks of celery
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup tomato juice
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups red wine
4 chunky sausages
1 cup chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper to season
chopped parsley to garnish

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, celery and garlic and cook slowly until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the washed lentils and stir for a couple of minutes until they are fully coated with oil. Add the tomato juice, salt, chicken stock, parsley, bay leaf, parsley and red wine, bringing it to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for an hour. Remove the bay leaves.

In another large skillet quickly fry the sausages in their own fat until lightly golden. Slice the sausages into fat, bite-sized chunks and add them, and any fat they rendered to the lentil mixture and cook for a further 15 minutes. Add the cup of chopped tomatoes and stir to warm them through.

Check for seasoning and add salt or pepper to taste before garnishing with chopped parsley to serve.

As she was serving it, Karen mentioned it was technically peasant food. I’ll be happy to be a peasant if that’s the case.

The Barter Economy
September 26, 2008, 10:06 pm
Filed under: The House

I’m feeling a bit chuffed as I’ve just discovered another angle to our local barter economy. One of the flooring companies in town is happy to exchange trailer-loads of used carpet for baked goods, eggs, beer or whatever else we feel like donating.

You might wonder what use is a trailer-load of old carpet, but when it’s wool carpet you can cut it into squares and use it to suppress weeds around newly planted trees. Other notable recent trades include a dozen eggs for two loads of crushed lime rock for driveway repairs. Cash is going to play a part in our lives for the forseeable future, but the more we can barter for the things we need, the more fun this self sufficiency game becomes.

Planting Poplars
September 26, 2008, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Trees

We planted the first 40 poplar stakes today along the (almost complete) fence line beside the large house gardens. The ground is still soft enough to plant in and we still seem to be having enough weekly rain to keep them happy. This line will be kept trimmed to about 2m to encourage them to hedge (hence the close spacing) to provide wind shelter for all the veges.

Here’s helper Marissa with another bundle of stakes to go in. This next shot shows me on the pogo stick device that makes the holes just the right depth. We make our own fun in the country.

Easy seed planting
September 24, 2008, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Garden

With the arrival of our King’s Seeds order, I’ve started Spring planting in earnest. The 2nd most useful gardening tool I have (after a dibber) is my bit of old broom handle. Making a small furrow in the garden bed by pressing down the dowel is the easiest way to sow seeds. It not only marks out the row nice and straight, but it compresses the soil slightly below the seeds. This allows capilliary action to wick more moisture from below to the developing seeds – lessening the need to water so much.

Today I planted a few rows of carrots and leeks alternating (they are good companions as the smell of each deters the pests of  the other), a couple of rows of beetroot and some cavallo nero, or black cabbage. They look a bit like a palm tree, with long curving leaves…but taste fantastic in traditional Italian cooking.