Grow Gather Enjoy: Garden

Showing posts with label Garden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Garden. Show all posts

Goings on in the Garden: early Spring

09 October 2018
I did mean to post an update late last month but time escaped me! So, I'm combining September and October for an early spring edition of goings on in the garden.

What a difference a couple of weeks makes though at this time of year when the weather finally shifts. There is so much happening in the garden now and the promise of late spring and summer harvests looms.

At the community garden patch I've been renewed in my digging efforts in an attempt to get it all ready to plant out. Plus at the same time wanting to get rid of the last of the couch before the warm weather breaks it out of it's dormancy.

 The broad beans are going well.


Signs of Spring

02 September 2018
Today marks the second day of spring and I'm happy to report that it actually feels a little like spring here in Canberra. The breeze is still on the fresh side but doesn't have that icy edge today. The sun is shining, skies are blue and signs of spring are popping up all around.

Spring brings with it feelings of anticipation and hope for me. After the hibernation and stillness of winter there is a wound up energy that starts to make it's self felt. The warm weather makes me long for time in the garden and outside in general. It also has me looking to dig into tasks and projects that I've been reflecting on over the quieter months.

Unidentified spring blossom at the community garden.

Goings on in the Garden: August 2018

26 August 2018
So close to spring and yet still so far really. I skipped my garden round-up last month as we were away and to be honest, there wasn't much going on. Canberra winter is not conducive to garden happenings. However, this month I'm happy to report a bit of growth and also a few signs of spring...yay!


Spring seeding & up-cycled seed starting pots

23 August 2018
When I first started gardening I mostly planted out from seedlings. I dabbled a little in seeds but waited until I had a few live plantings under my belt before taking that next step. However, I always knew I wanted to delve into starting from seed if only for the sheer variety that is available.

Over the years I've tried a few different ways and options for starting out seed. I've found that planting direct gives me very variable results so I generally start my seeds in smaller vessels and plant up or straight out. I now feel I've settled on a system that works for me and a big part of it is up-cycling.

Doesn't matter how many times I see it - still exciting to see a plant popping up.


Seed Sorting and Spring Plans

07 August 2018
Before each main planting season I try to take some time to check out my current seed situation and make plans for the season ahead. I must admit I get a little excited about choosing, buying and planting seeds. I always do too much of all three!

So, on a nice rainy winter day I sat down to take stock and make plans.

Purple podded peas saved late spring 2016.


Goings on in the garden: June

26 June 2018
This morning I stopped off at the community garden to take some pics for my post today and it was frosty: -5℃ overnight. So, as you can imagine things are growing pretty slowly in the garden at the moment. However, there are some exciting developments over the month that hint at spring harvests to come.

Frosty Red Russian Kale


Garden Harvests

10 June 2018
Over the last couple of weeks I've been harvesting the last of the summer planted crops. As the weather shifts into true winter the harvests will be very few and far between so it has been nice to gather a few lingering provisions.

Here are a few pictures of what I've been gathering from the garden:

Single white carrot and chioggia beetroot.


Tomatillo Salsa

31 May 2018
I first came across tomatillos in a Diggers catalogue and I was intrigued. Being a sucker for a novel vegetable in the seed catalogue I quickly ordered a packet and gave them a go. I can happily say they've been a great addition to the garden and the preserving cupboard.

Tomatillos come from Mexico and you'll come across them in many Mexican recipes. The most well known use is Salsa Verde (not to be confused with the Italian herb based sauce). They can also be added to raw salsas or, according to my daughter, enjoyed like an apple straight off the vine (generally when they are on the riper side of things like the front fruit in the pic below).


Goings on in the garden: May

24 May 2018
Activity in the garden definitely slows down as we get closer to winter. It's nice to potter around and watch the change of the season though. Things grow much more slowly of course but over a month there is definitely change to be seen.

Unidentified brassicas getting bigger

Cauliflower seedlings.

The two pics above are of my space out behind our back fence. Previously housing pumpkin and tomatillos. You can see the edge of the pumpkin vine that I've left to die down and compost back into the soil. I'm still yet to dig up the sweet potato vines here, I'll wait until they get hit by a big frost. I'm happy to see the brassicas at various stages of growth as hopefully it'll mean I don't get inundated! The cauliflower seedlings above wont do much over winter but will hopefully fill the space of the spring hungry gap nicely.

Sprouting broccoli in a pot - nearly ready to flower.

Here is a mix of kholrabi, purple cauliflower, mangel wurzel and parsley.

More broccoli.

Super exciting to see the first signs of a potential harvest of broccoli. Sprouting broccoli first puts up a larder head in the middle and then continues to put out the smaller flowers as you harvest. I'm hoping that I'll be harvesting some across winter. Most of the other plants wont give me much love I don't think until the weather warms at the other end.

Berries and pomegranates losing their leaves. Guava in the background.

The deciduous bushes and trees in pots are starting to lose their leaves. The subtropical plants - guavas, feijoas and loquats, are still green. I'll keep my eye on these as the frosts start to get heavier and move them as needed to keep them protected.

Down at the community garden the digging continues.

Strawberries and globe artichoke.

Digging progress - getting close to half way!

Broad beans looking happy.

Lots of digging still to be done but definitely getting somewhere! I planted the strawberries out last month and they are going ok, although I've lost a couple. I've inter-planted with some lettuce that one of the other gardeners was giving away and scattered out some rocket seeds. I'm planning to make this a bit of a perennial bed within the larger garden bed over time. The broad beans and garlic continue to grow strongly. I'm so glad I was able to get these in as it's heartening to turn up to the patch and see some progress on the plants and not just be faced with weeds and more weeds.

No planting planned for the coming months as we move into winter and heavy least I'll be able to keep warm with all the digging yet to be done.

How are things going in your garden?
What are you harvesting, planting or changing?

Goings on in the garden: April

29 April 2018
Autumn has definitely arrived. We experienced some warmer than usual days in April but things are starting to cool down now. The trees are putting on their big display of colours and some are already almost bare.

The garden season is clearly changing around here. Most summer crops are all done and pulled out. I'm leaving the sweet potato for as long as I can until I investigate what is happening underground - hopefully something. Pumpkins are still curing and tomatillos are still ripening but that's about it. Oh, and my finger lime has started flowering - I think it may have been confused by the warm weather.

Blossoms on the finger lime.

Things have been a little busier in regards to gardening now that I've taken on my plot. Not so much producing anything but a whole lot of digging has been going on in the last half of this month.


Cabbage moth/butterfly, green caterpillars and organic pest control

22 April 2018
One of the biggest benefits of growing your own food is knowing what has gone into growing it. Particularly for me it's knowing that nothing questionable has been sprayed on it either while it was growing or before it ends up on my plate.

Of course growing your own tasty fruit and veg does not go unnoticed by the local bugs and wildlife. They too enjoy organically grown fresh produce it seems.

This time of year, particularly with the warmer than usual weather, enemy number one in my garden is the cabbage moth/butterfly. They flit about laying their eggs on most green leaves they can find but are particularly enamoured with the brassica crops. I don't even attempt trying to grow brassicas over summer as these guys are too much of a pain in the warm weather.

Exhibit A: caterpillar munched broccoli leaf

If you are interested in growing things without sprays or powders or the like what can you do? Here is my three step approach.


Community garden plot

12 April 2018
One of the hardest parts of leaving our Adelaide life was letting go of my amazing garden. We bought our home in an established suburb that was home to many migrant Greeks and so we inherited a backyard that was all garden with plenty of fruit trees and vegie patches.

Over the five years there I managed to build the garden up to a point that it supplied most of our veg and fruit needs for day to day eating and some preserving. We were not self sufficient at all, but the closest I've ever been on the fruit and veg front.

My Adelaide garden in late Autumn last year.

We are now renting in Canberra and most of my growing is happening in pots as I ran through in my garden post. But all that is about to change as I've managed to secure a local community garden plot. Yay!

I had put my name down late last year but there was nothing available. However, just before Easter I was notified that there was now a plot available. So, after a quick tour of the garden and tossing it up I decide to take the plunge.

I'm now the proud gardener of 45 square metres of couch grass. Not so much yay....

My couch plot - I did inherit a globe artichoke and some bronze fennel.

In the pic above you can see my plot in the foreground and some of the gardens behind. I've got my work cut out for me, that's for sure.

Last week I started digging a patch to clear the grass and as many runners as I can. I started with a 2x5m strip (the garden is 9x5m) and have finally gotten to the end this week.

The next step in my plan is to plant my garlic, potato onions and broad beans out. If I have any extra space left I'll add in some advanced brassica seedlings or leafy greens. Then I'll just keep on clearing in similar sized strips until I reach the end. Depending on the time I'll either plant some green manure crops to improve the soil or once it's too cold I'll cover with cardboard/newspaper and mulch to keep the couch at bay.

In good news this unseasonably warm autumn weather means my planting window is still open.

So, that's what I've been up to.  I'll still be planting a lot around home in pots but this will give me a lot more ground space....once you can see the ground that is.

What challenges have you taken on recently in the garden or life?
Any advice for organic couch grass eradication?


Milk carton wicking pots and cloches: garden upcycling

10 April 2018
I'm a bit of a fan of upcycling in the garden. Well, I'm actually a fan of upcylcing everywhere. I like to make do with what I have on hand and find a way to reuse something else for a task rather than buy new.

This doesn't always lead to a magazine shoot worthy garden but it gets the job done.

One of my favourite and most used garden up-cycles are milk carton wicking pots. I read about these in the book DIY Garden Projects by The little Veggie Patch Co crew (It's well worth checking out from your local library if they have it).

'Red Giant' mustard leaves happily growing in their upcycled home.

They are super simple to make. I'll let the pictures run you through it.

Take a plastic milk carton and cut it in half. Grab a bit of old cotton material.

Stuff the material through the 'top' of the carton with some inside and some outside.

Nest your two pieces together.

Fill with desired growing medium and plant. Here are some various seedlings.

I use these a lot to plant up seedlings before they are ready to go in the ground. This year, growing in pots mostly, I'm experimenting with growing leafy plants in them for the long haul.

Another great use for plastic milk cartons is as garden cloches. They offer protection to small seedlings from a variety of things. This time of year they are great for keeping the cabbage moth butterflies off delicate brassica seedlings. The top half is easiest to use as it does let a little air flow through and you can push a stick through the opening and into the ground to keep them anchored on your plant. The bottom half offers more complete protection and creates a mini green house. I just sit a rock on top to stop it flying away.

Here they are in action in my Adelaide garden (see, not magazine shoot worthy)

To store the cloches when not in use I stick a stake in the ground and slide them on. You may be able to see them near the chicken pen in the pic above (but it's a little small).

Once they've finished their use they still end up in the recycling but I like the fact that I've eeked a little more purpose out of them and kept the garden growing better too.

Got any other uses for milk cartons in or out of the garden?
Do you aspire for 'magazine shoot worthy' or more function over form gardening? (not that they can't coexist)


Goings on in the garden: March

25 March 2018
I've been writing a lot about food and eating as I've gotten started in my blog and have been sorely neglecting my other love - growing food. It's probably a little to do with the fact that I'm adjusting my gardening at the moment to work in a new climate and also a different space.

Most of my gardening is currently happening in pots as we are renting. Previous to this my whole backyard was a food garden in Adelaide. In fact my oldest daughter spent the first week wandering around our rental garden asking what were the things she could eat and where was the fennel.

So, I thought I'd take you on a little tour of my current garden and chat about what is happening.

Pots around edge of patio - fig, guava, chilean guavax2, feijoa x2, jostaberry, herbs, strawberries, warrigal greens and an assortment in the plastic tub (see below).

The strawberries are producing so many runners at the moment. That basil will soon be pesto.

Tub from corner of top pic - beetroot coming to an end and a pocket melon that you can just see in the top right corner. Have put in some new carrot seedlings but I think I need to add some extra soil to this tub. 

Here are the pocket melons nestled in an adjacent pot. These were a seed freebie from diggers. The ripe one is about 8cm long

A lot of the pots I brought with me from Adelaide. My dear dad trekked over and loaded up a trailer full of my numerous trees and shrubs that I just couldn't leave behind. I also took the opportunity to gather a heap of herbs from my existing garden so I didn't have to start from scratch. The plastic tub was a moving casualty that I put to good use as a wicking bed. The beetroots have done ok, only growing to about golf ball size but good for grating into a few summer salads. I'll refresh the soil in here and maybe try growing a few leeks. These will of course sulk all winter but hopefully reward me with an early spring harvest - one can live in hope.

The bare dirt behind the patio didn't last long - in went some beans. Fig in the big pot with a few more Adelaide transplants - a loquat tree and some horseradish.

I think we had been in our new place about a week and a half before the urge to plant something was too strong to overcome. This patch of bare dirt was just calling out to me. I popped some beans in here in the hope of helping the soil out a bit. I've managed to harvest a few handfuls off the vines but clearly the plants aren't thriving. I'm tossing up between putting in some broad beans here or doing a green manure crop over winter and digging that in before spring planting.

Behind the brick wall you can see my cucumber vines peeking out. In the pot are a red shahtoot mulberry and mint.

Another bare patch of dirt in the pic above became home to my cucumber vines. These vines have been one of the few in-ground successes as I've managed to harvest enough to and . Mint has been harvested several times over summer and dried for tea. Nothing happening with the mulberry this time of year but it will soon lose it's leaves and then hopefully gear up to deliver some tasty springtime fruits.

Snake beans, peppermint and  red russian kale seedling.

Another bare patch of dirt got the bean treatment. I think I'll give up the ghost in growing stuff in the ground in this spot and just cover the bare dirt with pots to keep down the weeds.

Lots of chilies at various stages of ripeness.

Cucumber winding down and some autumn plantings.

This bathtub has definitely added to my growing space. Unfortunately by the time I got it at Christmas time it was a bit late for much to get going. I managed to harvest about five cucumbers off this Lebanese mini muncher vine which is starting to succumb to powdery mildew. I've put in some autumn seedlings and am keeping the vine in until the last of the hot weather dies off to give the new plants a little shade protection. Autumn plantings include kholrabi and purple cauliflower. On the edge of the tub is a red russian kale seedling in a milk carton wicking pot (post on these coming soon).

Sprouting green broccoli near the bathtub.
A few more pots keeping bare garden ground covered.

A collection of pots have been sheltering out of the summer sun under this tree and keeping the weeds down on the bare ground. I'll move these into sunnier positions for winter. The lemon and lime will move into a suntrap near our back door that will hopefully keep them happy and keep the frost off. Styrofoam wicking boxes will be home to my Asian greens for autumn/winter. One has tiny plants appearing and the other will be planted out once I harvest the basil. The two pots to the right under the net are blueberries. The pot in the back left has a quince tree in it that I managed to grow from a sucker on my established tree in Adelaide. Just at the edge of the pic on left you can see a bit of the pot which contains my finger lime - I'm not sure how this one will go in Canberra. A few weeks ago it was loaded with flowers but no fruit seems to have set.

Dwarf mandarin under-planted with rainbow chard
Pumpkin vine, sweet potato and tomatillo plants going strong.

This area is definitely my biggest in ground success by far. Behind our back fence is a walking track and along the backs of many of the homes people have trees growing. Our back space was mostly grasses and weeds when we moved in plus a few struggling agapanthus (you can see these at the back right, behind the sweet potato). When we first moved in I was unsure of planting veg in this space as most of the other things were established plants and I was concerned the mowing crew might inadvertently destroy my hard work. While I went back and forth on this I decided to just dig my food scraps and green waste into the ground out here as I didn't have my compost bins. Then I covered the space with cardboard and lawn clippings to keep the weeds down. When my dad brought over my plants at Christmas there were some tomatillo seedlings that I had started back in Adelaide and so I thought I may as well pop them in the ground here and give it a go. Along with that I threw in some pumpkin seeds and couldn't help myself in buying a sweet potato plant when I went to the nursery to get mulch.

Jap/Kent pumpkin hiding among the leaves.

Tomatillos in various stages of development. Fingers crossed for a big harvest and lots of salsa.

I thought that if I didn't get any crops at least I'd be able to use the pumpkin and sweet potato for greens. But as you can see there are a heap of tomatillos and some pumpkins. I'm not sure if these pumpkins will fully ripen before the frost hits so I wont be able to store them for use across the winter but they'll still get used up in soups and stews. The tomatillos will be eaten by the girls straight from the vine and the rest will be made into salsa verde. Not sure what's going on under the ground with the sweet potato but good growth above ground so hopefully it's happily building big tasty tubers for me.

Emboldened by my success I've planted carrots, beetroot and cauliflower seedlings underneath the various vines in this space. I'm using the vines to provide a bit of protection from the sun and digging dogs on their morning walk. Hopefully by the time the vines are dying off the plants are big enough to brave the big wide world alone. I'm also planning garlic and broad beans out here.

So, that's what's happening in the garden in the first month of Autumn.

How is your garden growing?
Have you managed to get any autumn seedlings in the ground yet?
Doing any mad preserving as the summer harvests wind down?

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