Happy Winter Solstice

Happy Winter Solstice! A few days ago was the shortest day, winter solstice. Although that means days will only get longer, winter seems like it still has a long way to go. But the garden still has some life in it despite the cold days.

Last update was about The Garden of Plenty (aka Mike and Karls borrowed garden) this week I will show you what is happening in our backyard.

carrots going well!

Silverbeet grown from seed

Silverbeet bought from the farmers markets this weekend – wanted something a bit bigger so I could start eating it already! Will plant it out into the Garden of Plenty when its a bit bigger

Garlic shoots are coming up nicely

Italian parsley

Winter garden + pinot – marigolds still in bloom too, sage not as happy

That is all for now!

Finally this is a painting I have been working on every Sunday for the past 5 weeks ūüôā

Looking out the door at my old flat in Flemington

Garden of Plenty update next week!

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ok let’s go!

So last Sunday Jess and I put on our best gardening gloves, hats and scarves and braved the cold to dig up the weeds at our friend’s place and plant some winter veggies!

Before

After

And no the cardboard didn’t work but possibly if we had left it longer?

More before and after pics:

(Sorry Jess!)

Can you see the massive rhubarb plant in the background? YUM!

SO we planted potatoes, broadbeans, spinach and onions (in addition to last week’s garlic dill and parsley)

After using a hoe to dig up all the weeds we planted our veggies, watered everything fairly deeply with Seasol – a seaweed based “dynamic plant tonic” and covered the soil with sugar cane mulch. I actually covered up the onions and beans but Im sure they will pop through the mulch, right?

Seasol smells sooo fishy and gross and as it was cold and raining we got it everywhere. But apparently it’s just the thing for planting veges and planting out or repotting seedlings¬†http://www.seasol.com.au/

Just checked the seasol website and apparently peas are also a good winter veggie. might be a bit late though.

Going to leave the garden until next weekend then go up and check on everything and give it another seasol watering. Dont expect beans to come through for 10 to 14 days and not sure about the potatoes … just did some internet research ¬†(which probably should have done before planting) which recommends leaving the seed potatoes until they grow shoots before planting. I can’t remember if ours had shoots or not but they are in the ground now so it is too late! Takes at least 15 to 20 weeks from planting to harvest, a few weeks for the potato to sprout. This website¬†http://www.backyard-vegetable-gardening.com/fertilizing-potatoes.html¬†recommends fertilising 2 weeks after planting with a special fertiliser with¬†potassium and phosphate levels that are higher than nitrogen levels. Interestingly,¬†Seasol is apparently not a fertiliser by definition as it contains only very minor quantities of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium and the potassium and phosphate levels aren’t higher than nitrogen (N 0.10% : P 0.05% : K 2%).

Seasol claims instead that it contains a synergistic range of natural compounds from 2 types of seaweed which promotes “stronger, healthier root growth, thereby reducing transplant shock, encouraging tougher, healthier plants and increasing their resistance to diseases which attack the roots.¬† It also enhances flowering and fruiting capacity and improves seed germination rates.” Let’s see how it goes! Otherwise, according to http://www.backyard-vegetable-gardening.com/fertilizing-potatoes.html¬†I will have to get a 5-10-10 NPK mix, or apparently an 8-24-24 NPK mix is also ok. (N= Nitrogen, P= Potassium, K= Phosphorous)

Another alternative and natural option could be Comfrey Tea according to this website http://www.bettervegetablegardening.com/fertilizing-potatoes.html:

FERTILIZING POTATOES WITH COMFREY

Comfrey tea is a very good liquid fertilizer for fertilizing potatoes, and if you have a supply of comfrey leaves at your disposal is as good as any commercial product available. Fertilizing potatoes with comfrey will provide the crop with an excellent source of potassium and trace element. Its leaves contain 2-3 times more potassium than farmyard manure.

When using comfrey for fertilizer, there are two methods you can use. With either method, avoid using flowering stems, as these can take root.

Using comfrey at planting time

Dig out the trench a little deeper than normal and put 1-2 lb (.5-1kg)of wilted comfrey leaves per 1 foot (30 cm) of row in the trench. On top of the leaves put 2-3 inches of dirt, then the potato. Cover the potato as normal. Comfrey leaves can be put on top of the potato bed at any time in the growth cycle. The amount is only limited by your supply.

To make a comfrey tea-brew

Put 14 lb of comfrey leaves in 20 gallon bucket with a tap on bottom. Leave to brew for 4 weeks. Drain off and use for side dressing the potatoes, or at planting time.

Refill the bucket with water and use the 2nd brew for side dressing the rest of the garden. It is a great general garden tonic. Don’t throw anything away. Use the residue by spreading it out on the garden or in the compost. Every little bit counts, even the slimy stuff.

Thanks for that advice, better vegetable gardening, might just have a go at this!! Now where to get comfrey from in Melbourne, any suggestions?

Plenty of Noise

Apparently that is the name our friends Karl, Mike and Paul have named their flat up the road (on Plenty Road). They are lending me their vege beds as alluded to in the last post. I’m pretty sure the plants won’t mind the noise.

The lovely Mike (left) and also lovely Karl (right). (Paul not pictured.)

As I mentioned earlier today we were going to prep the garden beds and see what we could plant, but we waited a little late to get started and it was getting dark… Jess and I managed to plant some garlic bulbs, dill and parsley seeds in what looked like an old concrete washing tub (a friend who lives a few suburbs down actually still has one just like this in her laundry) and we have placed some cardboard over the garden bed to try and kill off some of the weeds. We will go back next weekend to prep the soil properly and I will probably bring some straw with me next time as the weeds were out of control!!

Garlic on the left, dill and parsley on the right

Dodgy looking garden beds with cardboard experiment to kill the weeds naturally

Note the HUGE rhubarb plant thriving in the top corner there. I’m really looking forward to next weekend when we can get some more work done!

Meet Terry

I know it’s been a while, but it’s a very cold Autumn here in Melbourne so far and there is not much planting to be done. ¬†Since my last post all the leaves on the trees in Melbourne have turned yellow, then orange then red then brown … and have fallen off. I meant to catch it on film but never got around to it. I have misplaced my camera battery recharger and so the camera is out of action for a bit until I can find it!

So, I’ve been looking up what should be done in the garden and apart from prepping soil (which I don’t really have the need to do) the things that can be planted in Autumn are:

Now is  good time to plant green mulch. This consists of clover, fenugreek, mustard and some other plants which are really good at putting nutrients into the soil. The idea is you plant them for a month or so over winter, then two to three weeks before planting your spring crops you get a spade and chop the plants up and dig them back into the soil and let them act as a green mulch! Pretty easy.

So I planted my silverbeet and carrots and they are coming across nicely.  Have also got a new phone with a good camera so will take pictures tomorrow in the daylight.

In other news some friends of Tim and I moved around the corner about a 5 min walk away and they have two or three vege garden beds out the back of their rental property which they have no interest in using. And have offered them to me to use! Presumably they will tax the results, but if they are in charge of watering them Im sure that is just fine!

So off to Bunnings I went today to pick up supplies. As I said, there is not much to plant right now but I did pick up some all year round potato (Otway red and Australian variety), broadbeans, garlic and onion. I also got some green mulch seed mix. In addition I got a soil Ph testing kit as I dont know what kind of soil they will have in their garden. Clay, most likely, but in order to properly prep the soil I need to know how acidic or not it is. This should be a fun experiment! Looks like Tim and I will be planting these tomorrow or Monday, so pics should follow soon.

In addition to these things I got a little carried away and made a new friend…. and by that I mean I bought a Fig tree and named it Terry!

Terry the Brown Turkey Fig Tree

After potting Terry into this terracotta pot using terracotta pot and planter mix (hence “Terry”) I realised the pot had a crack in it ūüė¶ not happy. But that gives me an excuse to go back to ¬†Bunnings again tomorrow I guess!

Don’t be worried that he has no branches, he has been pruned recently and is supposed to look like this. The lower branches of figs are pruned to shape the tree in the way you want and to encourage fruit growth from what I have read.

Anyway Terry is a Brown Turkey edible fig variety, and lots of internet sources say that fig trees grow really well in pots because they get out of control if the roots aren’t bound up. They prefer all day sun, warm conditions and as they are deciduous they loose all their leaves and hibernate/are dormant in winter. The Brown Turkey is a “prolific fruiter” apparently so Im quite looking forward to how old Terry the Turkey grows!

Some of the information about figs I have been reading:

http://gardenworld.net.au/gardenworld/2010/03/fruiting-fig-trees-in-pots.html

http://www.veggiegardeningtips.com/tips-for-growing-fig-trees-in-containers/

http://www.homelife.com.au/gardening/projects/how+to+grow+figs,5314

Apparently once they are established figs don’t have many problems, only need feeding once a year after the first frost in Winter and need pruning about the same time once a year. It will take about two to three years for it to establish and grow fruit, but I think that is a worthwhile wait! ¬†Might have to bring it indoors if it gets too cold but I think our deck is probably sheltered enough.

I also pulled up the last of the purple runner beans (still growing beans but not to full size) and planted 6 garlic bulbs in its place. I re-planted the rosemary into its own pot to encourage it to grow and heavily trimmed back the mint which was waterlogged from all the rain (don’t recommend using self watering planters outdoors when it rains a lot!) and had died back a bit.

Well that is all for now, will post pics of prepping our friends’ garden and planting the winter crops when I remember most likely!

stay warm xx

Autumn is here!

So Autumn is typically not a time for planting. My gardening books tell me you can plant cabbage and garlic, but its mainly a time for harvesting stuff you grew in spring and summer, and preparing the soil for next spring.

The leaves are starting to turn red on our street

However, Yates seeds promises me that “all season carrots” can be grown all year…

so I pulled up the last of the purple beans in one pot to plant some autumn carrots

first bean harvest

second late purple bean harvest

last lot of the late bean harvest frozen and waiting to be eaten!

So the carrots have been planted and next I planted some italian parsley as the last lot went to seed and had no useful leaves, given it is a biennial plant and it had reached its second year. I have also planted some silverbeet although not sure how it will cope. supposed to plant up until March and so I am a but late. However, it is still reasonably warm (Friday was 30 degrees! Today is about 18 degrees and it is supposed to be in the early 20s all week) so will see how we go.

I also had a check of the front yard to see how the plants the landlord planted were coping… lets just say not well. There does not appear to be very good drainage or sun in the front yard and quite frankly I dont know what to do about it. The dutch box hedge the landlord planted has really struggled to stay alive…

and on closer inspection I discovered our water connection has been leaking… who knows how long for! might explain our high water bill this quarter

and its leaving quite a soggy mess in the garden too.

Well now I have some free time waiting for my seeds to grow I thought I would start another project of the indoor kind…

and now I think its time for a cuppa tea!

Late bloomer

So I had all but given up on my beans and a while ago I pulled them all up, except the purple runners. They seemed like they wanted to flower a little bit more so I left them to their own devices. Today as I went to plant my new rosemary plant, I realised I had a dozen or so purple beans growing!! They don’t look quite ready to eat so hopefully they get bigger before the winter really arrives. I did try one and I have to admit it wasn’t that tasty…

Late Bloomer!

New rosemary

My chili plant is still going strong and we have had bags of chili from it! By basil plants are huge now and going strong too, the celery still has lots of leaves but the stems have never fattened up. It will be good for soups in winter I think.   The mint is ok but i had to do some serious pruning today. It is definitely time for some new plants so I have to read up on what to plant and if my plan of beetroot, carrot and spinach is ok.

And now… seeing as I dont really have much garden news as i am yet to get around to my autumn garden projects here are some pictures of my neighbours flowers:

so watch this space for the autumn garden!

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Happy new year! (chinese and roman)

This gallery contains 12 photos.

It’s been a little while since I last posted, and I apologise. But I have been too busy having holidays, working and spending time outdoors to be on the computer updating the blog! So what’s new? BEANS! While Tim and … Continue reading