There is nothing quite like eating vegetables freshly harvested from the garden! For many years we grew vegetables in a three way system connected to the poultry run. The roosting area had three gates connecting to each of the three vegetable gardens, and would forage in which ever garden was fallow.

The poultry pen showing gates to the vegetable gardens

This helped clear the ground of weeds, and their scratching would turn in leftovers and their droppings, preparing it for the next crop. This is very successful, and we had great yields, so have repeated the system at McCarthy Park 2 along with two aquaponics system, a bush tucker garden. We use one of the three parts of the chook run as a ‘pumpkin palace’ as part of while the others grow ‘clucker tucker’- food just for the poultry or as extra pens (for example when fattening the roosters). We have found that growing pumpkin vertically saves a lot of space, but is also safer as we get regular visits from snakes.

Over the years, we have worked out what grows well and and what time of year (given that we are ‘professional peasants’ with day jobs to manage as well as weeding and pest control!). The soil certainly improved over the years, with the addition of manure collected around the property, from the poultry, guinea fowl, rabbits, turkeys and sheep.

We are able to eat completely home grown meals on a regular basis, often supplemented with our own meat or fish, and it is great to be able to preserve excess for out of season enjoyment, like sauerkraut, chutneys, sauces etc.

We tend to grow a lot of things that are easy to grow. For example kale- we steam it and freeze it so it is ready for instant use, and it provides a good source of green food for the rabbitschooksducks and turkeys. There is never too much!

Plenty of kale for us and the animals

Preserving excess means we have a supply for a longer period of time:

Steamed kale for the freezer, and dried mushrooms

With a spare room available (as children grow up and leave home), we created a ‘produce room’ to store preserved food:

The produce room at its best!

The produce room at its best!

Potatoes growing in bottomless drums

The ‘wagon wheel’ covers helped to prevent the chickens getting to the vegetables, while they can still keep the ground clear of weeds. We don’t need these now the vegetable growing area is near the house, but they were very successful here.