Summertime, and the living is easy….

Lettuce selection going well - had this for dinner tonight!

Well the weather this weekend looked very promising and I thought that it was the perfect opportunity to revisit what I have planted and try something new.

First up though was a “growing vegetables for summer” one day class with CAE Melbourne, run by a very lovely Greek man named Mark Dymiotis. He has been teaching with CAE for about 20 years and the course actually took place at his house in Hampton – down in the south east of Melbourne near the beach.

The blurb for the course was: “Consult expert Mark Dymiotis at his home garden, a standard suburban size garden featured in Australia’s prestigious Open Garden Scheme, as well as popular TV shows. Mark will discuss critical issues including soil preparation, composting, planting and watering to maximise your summer crop. You too can grow tasty and healthy crops and significantly reduce your shopping costs.”

I had never heard of Mark Dymiotis, but apparently his garden is pretty famous. I have to say I was very impressed when I got there! He had from memory four huge vegetable beds, plus an orchard with fig, lemon, mandarin and olive trees. He also had rambling herb patches, celery that had sewn itself into the lawn (which he left of course) and an AMAZING grape vine that went around three sides of the house on a huge trellis overhead. His website is here if you want more info http://www.markdymiotis.com/

Mark was very inspiring and his gardening ethos was essentially, don’t spend money on fancy compost or potting mix, use the soil you have and garden naturally. Apparently he didn’t use any pest control, he just let them nibble and used companion planting to combat this. He was very keen on crop rotation and natural composting, with a bit of horse or sheep manure (mixed 50 50 with water) as the best way to keep plants healthy and producing fruit. He also teaches classes on  sour dough bread making, oven building for bread, olive preserving and olive oil making, and wine making!

The key thing I took from his class was to start by planting your seedlings in trenches, then after the seedling has settled in and has grown a bit, building a hill around the stem of the plant to encourage more root growth, and making a moat-like trench around the outside of the  hill where you put the water, compost / fertiliser etc. I also learned how to properly make compost including green compost (where you grow a crop of lupin/barley/broadbeans then chop the plants in half and dig them into the soil to add nutrients back in.

This class was all well and good, and I learnt a lot. However, it didn’t really focus on MY specific need which was growing in pots when you don’t have a garden and soil to use!

Nevertheless, I was still encouraged to review my plants and start a new project. Namely, BEANS!

I went to bunnings and got a new planter box. It is about 50cm deep by about 80cm long .  I will check the dimensions later. I bought some seeds for yellow butter beans (cherokee wax), purple climbing bean (purple king) and green dwarf bean (snap bean). The seed brand is Mr Fothergills. The packs say sow spring and summer and harvest 8-10 weeks for the green and yellow, and 10-12 weeks for the purple beans.

Here are the bean planter boxes with beans planted!

Beans day one - freshly planted!

The pink container used to have my rocket in it but that had gone to flower really badly and was not producing any edible leaves anymore. Rocket is more of a winter plant anyway, so I harvested the rest of the leaves and re-used the pot for extra beans. I have planted 10 in the grey planter and 10 in the pink one! might be a little crowded but will see how it goes. Will get some stakes once they pop their heads through.

I also decided to FINALLY plant my herb window box which has been sitting around the kitchen for ages.

New herbs and old

The new herb planter is the white one at the bottom of the picture. I have sweet basil, dill and coriander in these and they are going in the kitchen by the window:

New herb planter

Planter in situ next to poinsettia

I also checked up on my other plants and while there seems to be a bit of white fly around its not doing too much to the plants.

Cos lettuce, sage and parsley all thriving

Celery will definitely need re-potting soon!

Close up of my baby celery!

My chili is finally flowering, might get some fruit, fingers crossed! None last year

Mint is loving all the rain and being placed back next to the tap for some reason

One lavender plant seems to be growing sideways... any ideas why?

So I ended my gardening session by pruning one of the lavender bushes back and tying the flowers up in bunches and hanging them upside down to dry. This bush however seems to actually be growing sideways and I don’t know why. We have it facing away from the sun at the moment to encourage it naturally but I am thinking I will need a stake perhaps to force it to grow up not down! Anyone have a clue or suggestion on how to fix it?

xx J

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One response to “Summertime, and the living is easy….

  1. Mint – likes to be damp, which is why it likes rain and shade and tap!
    Lavender – perhaps reaching out to get sun? Good you have separate from everything else as it tends to take over when planted with other things.
    Whitefly – horrible and will destroy plants, apparently plants get sicker if they are not watered properly, so every morning (Or night if you don’t have time AM) water everything well!
    Didn’t realise rocket was a winter plant? Also you may want to plant your herbs with annuals together (basil and corriander) and perennials (sage, marjoram, thyme etc) together so you don’t disturb the roots of the perennials when the annuals finish at the end of the season.

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