Posts Tagged ‘seeds’

In which my garden is saved by sunshine and friendship

Honestly, I thought I’d never get back into the garden. The weather has been miserable, the weeds had grown high, and Mr Gorgeous has been too busy to be of any moral or practical support.
I’ve been dashing past on the way to the chickens, trying not to look at my weed strangled vegetables, or the rabbit damage.
Fast forward to last week, when my lovely friend Jenny came and weeded with me for the day. She and I spend occasional days in each others’ gardens, chatting about books and children and life in general, while we prune, or weed, or plant, or whatever needs doing. Never has it been more appreciated than this week, when we cleaned out no fewer than five vegetable beds in need of weeding. I’m so grateful I could weep, as it then gave me the push I needed to get into another two beds, one of which is now planted with strawberries which have been moved from where they were last year.

Then, to my great joy, my Gorgeous got a free afternoon, and spent it digging with me and moving strawberries. I love that man!
For the last three years I have dug, separated and replanted my strawberries, and the yields have been way up. Last year I had two picks of 1.5kg each, and many more on the other days. I’m much later moving them this year. I know I should have done it a month or two ago, but better late than never, I hope.
The daffodils are blooming along the old fence line, so it must be spring!

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Here’s one of the beds Jenny helped me weed. The onions underneath are thriving, and the brassicas are coming along, but not ready to pick yet.

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I’m trying to decide what to do with these capsicums. In Perth I would have cut them off for another year’s crop. So far they’ve never survived this long here, so I don’t know whether to pull them out, or prune them hard and see. Does anyone else have success in Victoria with keeping capsicums over winter?

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No matter what state the garden is in, the view is always beautiful.

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The citrus are in full fruit. Here’s the grapefruit which sadly lost a couple of limbs thanks to the weight of the fruit, and my lack of diligence. If anybody wants a grapefruit, let me know!

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This bed looks great after weeding. The rabbits haven’t eaten the kale yet, but I was worried that now that the weeds are gone, they’d been able to find them, so I’ve sprinkled lots of blood and bone around just in case.

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The rabbits definitely HAVE been in the parsley. What a chomp they’ve had. Blood and bone has been sprinkled here also, so I’ll see if the damage stops.

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Yay! Asparagus season is just beginning, and with all the eggs we’re getting, I think there will be a lot of asparagus soufflé on the menu, and steamed asparagus with our lamb. Yum. (Plenty of blood and bone here too!)

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I’ve finally pruned my fruit trees, after a talk in church in which the speaker mentioned in passing that he had done his pruning VERY LATE, and since mine wasn’t even done yet, I went straight home and did it. Now I know that wasn’t his point, but I take inspiration where I can!

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Our satsuma plum is absolutely COVERED in blossom. We’ll have either lots of plums or lots of broken limbs if I’m not careful.

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PLANTING
I’ve been busy in the sunshine planting seeds. I’ve planted up 60 punnets of summer vegetables including tomatoes, pumpkins and melons, capsicum and chilli, as well as lettuce and other salad greens. I haven’t put any seeds in the soil yet, but I’d like to put in one more lot of peas while there’s some cool weather left. Is it too late for potatoes?

HARVESTING
Little Miss Sunny, who is 18, has discovered kale chips, so the kale harvest is going full speed, and they being cooked and consumed by the teenagers (and us when we can get our hands on them) at all hours of the day.
We have buckets of citrus -lemons, grapefruit, oranges, limes and mandarins.

TO DO
Still five beds to be weeded. About 400 strawberry plants to dig up and hopefully give away. (Any takers?) lots more manure to add to the garden. That will do for now!
Thanks to Lizzie from the Garden Share Collective for hosting a garden round up. Pop over and have a look at some other gardens if you’re interested.
http://www.strayedtable.com/2014/09/01/garden-share-collective-september-2014/

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In which I harvest like a crazy woman

March has been a big month for harvesting in the garden. My kitchen bench seems to be permanently covered in produce which needs to be dealt with urgently. Some days it seems to take all day! Cucumbers have been compulsory at every meal, and lots is being put aside for leaner days.

Other than a hand of bananas for some lovely guests, we didn’t buy any fruit or vegetables in March. We have eaten watermelon, rockmelon, apples and pears – two kinds of each. There are also grapefruit on the tree, but they will wait until the apples are all done. On occasion, the kids still look blankly into the crisper of the fridge and have to be told that the apples are still on the trees; such is the power of habit. I try to get them to bring in an armful when they go down to get one.

For this month’s blog, I thought I’d do a tour of the vegetable beds, and look at what I’m harvesting, what I’m planting, and what I need to do. It is quite long, sorry, as I have a lot of beds. At least looking at them all doesn’t take as long as weeding them! The first bed pictured here has some blueberries and artichoke at the back, and has had potatoes and zucchini this year. I took a before photo…

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Then went through and harvested the zucchinis and potatoes and took an after photo. I’ll plant some peas in here I think, because the soil looks a bit tired, and I think it could do with some extra nitrogen.

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Here’s the harvest. The potatoes, mostly kippflers, and some desiree came to the level top of my basket, and the zucchini, including the one that got away are on the top. We had a great meal of the potatoes last night. We picked up a BBQ with a lid for $40 at a garage sale, so I wrapped the spuds in alfoil with butter, chilli and rosemary, and roasted them in the BBQ. Very nice indeed.

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The next bed along has had beans, eggplant and capsicums and chillies. The eggplant is nearly all done, the capsicums are still going strong – just hitting their straps really, but the beans have all died really suddenly. The leaves went yellow and mottled, and they just stopped producing. I found quite a few juvenile vegetable bugs on the beans, but I suspect that wasn’t the whole story. Anyway, I grabbed what I could and pulled them all out. I think that I’ve neglected the soil a bit this year, and that could be the cause of my issues. I’m predicting a big manure week.
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Still, the view as the Aunty Collector and I worked, and the lovely weather this weekend made for a pleasant afternoon. When we had finished our work, the Aunty Collector grabbed the stakes and corn stalks, and had a great time making a tepee of sorts, and then trying to keep the dog out of it.(Unsuccessfully)

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The strawberry patch is a weedy disaster. I left the netting on too long so instead of grabbing a weed or two, or throwing on some mulch as I went past, things just grew like topsy under the netting. It’s a mess of runners, weeds, and I don’t know what else. Last year, I pulled everything up at the start of winter and just replaced the strawberry plants, and I got kilos of strawberries, so I think I’ll do the same again this year. Only with more mulch. And with remembering to take the netting off. And with more vigilance.

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This next bed is mostly clover since I pulled the onions and leeks. There are a few eggplants at the back, but although they have flowers, I may have put them in too late to get fruit. We’ll see.
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The corn and beans at the back are all done. Same bean problem here too. The silverbeet in the middle is THRIVING, and the beets are coming on well.
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Photo Credit: The Aunty Collector

The next three beds are where the rockmelons were. For the first time this year I’ve separated them from the pumpkins, and they’ve produced fruit. I can’t believe it took six years of swamped melons and no fruit to come up with that brainwave! There are still beans (fairly healthy) and cucumbers producing here.
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The asparagus is growing large and will be feeding the roots. I’ll need to get some manure here too.
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I planted some painted mountain corn. The ears are so beautiful. I’m drying it to see if I can make popcorn, but I have to admit I don’t know what I’m doing, and early experiments are NOT promising. Still, it’s giving me a great deal of pleasure as it graces the kitchen bench.
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Lastly the tomatoes and pumpkins are providing lots of colour and lots of meals. I’m roasting and freezing the tomatoes in Chinese food containers for winter meals. Between that, the lamb and the grated zucchini, the freezer is groaning. The purple ties you see here are an old pair of thermals!

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This poor tomato must have missed out on water. What a sorry specimen

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PLANTING
When my mum was here last year, she sorted my seeds so I could see what I should be (could get away with…) buying. Last week I finished the sort, and labelled the bags, and the resulting tidiness makes me happy.

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I’ve planted brassicas, leafy greens some late beets, and some onions. They’re happily residing in the little greenhouse.
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Thanks to Lizzie from the Garden Share Collective for hosting the garden blog share. If you’ve enjoyed reading about this, you’ll probably enjoy the other gardens there too. There are lots of ideas and lots of great gardens.

The Garden Share Collective

 

January, in which I chronicle the ups and downs

Firstly, Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. May this be a wonderful year full of blessings.

As I write this, it is pouring outside. I was just thinking I’d have to water the garden, but all is well. I grew up on the other side of the country, outside Perth where it seemed we were always on water restrictions, and waiting for rain. Rain was always a relief, and even now, after 10 years living in rainy Gippsland, I still feel safe when it rains. Even at the end of winter, I’m not sick of it. Even when it’s boggy outside, rain still makes me happy. Especially today, when the garden was just starting to look thirsty.

One of the best things about having a big garden is having lots of people in it. We were able to have an open house on Boxing Day, and the weather was perfect. We played our new Christmas games, Finska (like 10 pin bowling meets darts) and my fabulous new backyard Scrabble game made by Missy Moo and the Aunty Collector, with some help from Mr Gorgeous. Yay kids, I love it!
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The first sunflower has just opened. I think last year’s flowers cross pollinated. I had a sunflower called Lilac Spray from Diggers’ Club and this flower seems to be half Lilac spray and half Giant Russian, judging by the height of the flower.Does anybody else have problems with their sunflowers leaning over. Mine seem to start lurching from a very young age. This year, and last, I have planted them near the back verandah, and have strapped them up with a maze of strings. The bottom isn’t so pretty, but my flowers are all standing to attention….except the ones down the back that I haven’t quite got to yet. These sunflowers are also just near the kennel of Mollie the Collie so hopefully she’ll stop them getting in too early. The seeds will go to our chickens once they’re ready.

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The herb garden is now a real riot of herbs, and is ready for another clean out. We’ve been eating lots of herbs in a happy accidental recipe discovery. We were given a sandwich press a few years ago, by some friends who stay with us when they go to the Phillip Island Grand Prix, and have discovered it makes great omelettes, cooking the top and bottom at the same time. So with our chickens giving us 5 eggs a day, it’s the perfect meal. I chop 5 or so herbs into individual dishes, then each family member can choose what herbs they want with their 2 egg omelette. Quick, easy, and the kids reckon they could eat it every day. Not to mention the fact that they feel like they’re ordering their meals a la carte.

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The tomatoes are a riot of leaves, and finally some fruit setting. I’m always late getting fruit, perhaps because I grow from seed, perhaps because I’m always late getting things into the ground. In amongst the tomatoes, (which are planted too close, but I’m quite thin, and I’m tying them up, and anyway I have a skinny kid if I get desperate) are a bit of calendula, and lots of borage. I’m pulling the borage out in succession to make way for tomatoes and putting it into the compost. We gave away an oven a few months ago to someone who turned out to be a permaculture teacher, and she told me borage was a compost activator. So far I’d only used comfrey. Are there any other plants that do the same thing? Anyway I’m happily pulling out borage. I’ll just leave a few to bring the bees.

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This year I’m trying tomatillos. Last year I picked up a few at the West Gippsland Permaculture Group’s Swap table. (They are so kind…I didn’t even have anything to swap in) I made salsa which was delicious, even though I can’t remember what a tomatillo tastes like. So this year I’m growing my own. Maybe I’ll even take some up to the Rokeby Market and sneak them onto the WGPG Swap table!

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I know I say this every year, but I’m giving melons ONE LAST TRY. My excuse other years is that they were crowded by the pumpkins, and that’s why in the last three years I’ve had one measly rockmelon and not a single watermelon. I grow varieties that are designed for short summers (though perhaps not for the wintery conditions outside at the moment), so hopefully an improvement in their living conditions will encourage them to fruit.

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This bed is the site of the latest rampage by the chickens. The gate has dropped, and the wind blew it open I think. Then in marched the chickens. They dug for potatoes, scratched around the melons, and dug up quite a few of the capsicums, chillis and eggplants in this photo. I replanted those I found and gave the bed a good water and apart from a few that disappeared completely, they will almost certainly recover. No real harm done, despite first appearances. Some of the plants had been buried 4 inches deep.
At the back of the bed are the scarlet runner beans. They are just showing a few small beans now, so probably 10 days or so until our first beans. My other beans got completely waterlogged, and so I replanted them yesterday. Perhaps it will work out for the best, and they’ll be ready after these scarlet runners are finished. Who knows?

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The potatoes are being dug up bit by bit as we need them. This end is the Kipflers which have been doing overtime in potato salads. The sweet peas behind are well and truly finished but have been beautiful enough for us to bring them inside despite the allergies.
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The zucchini glut is, I suspect, just beginning. All seven plants have thrived, and that is too many. Let me know if you need one!

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The corn is up and doing well. Oh, and more beans! I forgot about those!
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So, what to do next?
I’ve got a small time window in which I can plant a few last summer crops.
I still haven’t pruned the lemon tree.
Also, I need to rethink how I do the chickens’ roosts. Every month or so, they all get a big fright as the roost collapses, and I rig it up again using wire loops and nails. There has to be a better way.
That should keep me busy…

Great weather for ducks…

What a rainy week it’s been! It really has been too wet and windy even for me. I’ve had a few quick trips out into the garden to pick produce, but other than that, I’ve been indoors. I thought I’d take advantage of the inside weather to use some of the limes that we have all over the tree. I’d had it in my mind to make lime and ginger cordial for quite a while, but I didn’t have a recipe or any idea really whether it was a bona fide drink or not. I bought a good sized bit of ginger at the supermarket, but by the time I got around to the cordial, there was only a 2 inch piece remaining, due to a lovely curry and another dish during the week. Still, not knowing how much was needed, that amount was as good as any. The end result was quite nice, but not as gingery as the cordial of my dreams, so I’ll double the ginger next time. Apart from my raspberry cordial, I make my cordial with a recipe from my sister in law, which is 2-4-6. 2 cups of juice, 4 cups of water and 6 cups of sugar.  yes, 6 cups, so it’s not something we drink every day). The ginger I sliced up thinly and added with some lime rind right from the start.
Once the sugar’s dissolved in the water, I add the juice and boil for 5 minutes. I usually add a tablespoon of citric acid.
These bottles have been added to my lemon cordial (1st prize at the show), and raspberry (2nd!) in readiness for summer nights on the back verandah. Just as soon as we get some SUN!
I’m not usually so worried about the weather. Having come to Gippsland from Perth, where I felt like we were in a permanent state of drought, I still love the rain, even after 9 years. As my good friend always says when it rains: “Good weather for ducks and Donna”. At the moment though, the desire to have a nice garden for Gardivalia is overriding my love of rain.

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Our beautiful broccoli

On the positive side, the broccoli are the best I’ve ever grown and there’s not an aphid (or is that an aphis?) in sight. I’ve always had broccoli which was smaller than shop broccoli, so I assumed they used chemical fertilisers (I use none), but this year, I got the seedlings straight from the punnet to the garden, and got them in too early for the bugs. Yay. Note to self for next year to do the same.

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Some of our lime surplus

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My lime and ginger cordial on the windowsill, with a few pumpkin seeds on the left. look at that rain!

I’ve got some seedlings in, after a very sorry start (see the pic below). I’ve been reading the “weeks until harvest” information with renewed interest. I’ve always just gardened with a view to a succession of harvest, but with a date for Gardivalia very much implanted on my mind (just 9 weeks to go), I’m also trying to have a good looking garden for visitors. I don’t want 100 tonnes of produce all ready the same day, but I want something that’s worth looking at, that will show and provide talking points about what we do here. I really want my visitors to enjoy their time here.

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The wind blew my seedlings over. I had to start again!

The weather this week looks much better; Friday’s forecast is even promising 20 degrees. I hope to plant my potatoes, and  sort out my alstroemerias  this week. I wonder whether there’d be interest in them if I dug some up and potted them?

I expect my first tulip, and the big magnolia to flower this week. I’ll keep you posted…