May the roof above us never fall in
And may we good companions beneath it never fall out.

~Irish blessing

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Early Summer

Strawberries fattening up in the hanging baskets, hopefully out of reach of whatever ate the last ones!

Chamomile flowers starting to bloom.

Butter beans starting to emerge.

The modest and every so pretty californian cream poppy.

Tomatoes from a Tomato

I bought these fantastic tomatoes from the market. So sweet I just had to try growing some of my own. They may have cross pollinated, so who knows what I'll get, but that's half the fun.

All I did was scoop out the pulp...

and plant it in some potting mix.

Wild Jam

We are lucky enough to live nearby some public land where german immigrants, on arriving in a new country with little space of their own, planted mulberry and plum trees. The pioneers of guerilla gardening you could say.

The elderly planters still make their way down the the parklands regularly when the trees are in fruit, so I would only ever want to take a modest amount. Yesterday I collected a bowl of beautiful mulberries...

and made some divine mulberry jam.

And today a bowl of the sweetest wild plums you could imagine.

First Tomatoes of the Season

And the winner is... the Yellow Pear. Very exciting.

November Garden

Garlic, pulled up and plaited for drying...

This season's first meal of potatoes, bandicooted from the black plastic recycling bin they've been growing in amongst layers of sugar can mulch and newspaper. I have to say it's worked well and makes them so much easier to harvest than digging them out of the ground.

Freshly dug potatoes taste very similar to store bought ones, but they have the most incredible texture - smooth and remarkably creamy. For those that think they're not worth growing, you've got to try them.

Parboiled, squashed a little, then roasted in olive oil and garlic. Yum.

The first golden zucchini from the tub experiment.

Going well so far...

The summer wine barrel. Great to be able to grow these guys smack in the middle of the courtyard where they get full sun.

Had to get the string stakes up. The November heat wave shot the tomatoes up like crazy.

Last of the broad beans. Can't wait to plant these again.

Orchids in full flower, just because they're beautiful.

Blueberries ready to ripen. How am I going to stop the blackbirds this time?

September - October Garden

It's been a busy few months, with most of my spare time devoted to getting the summer plantings going, but little time to blog about it. I did atleast remember to take the camera outside occasionally, so here are a few snaps of the recent bounty.

Garlic, just starting to put out their scapes showing that they're almost ready for Harvest...

Beautiful broad beans. So delicious, wonderful nitrogen producers, and they looks so gorgeous with their pretty flowers and silvery foliage. I wish I could grow them all year round.

Lavender 'Bee Pretty'. The bees so love it too. One of the essential Herbes de Provence. Recipes anyone?

I love the blue flowers of borage.

Spring harvest - snow and snap peas.

The last little tomatoes of last year's season. Right into October - they are battlers. These two did ripen and were thrown into a yummy soup.

The successors - Reisentraube and Black Russians, saved from the peat pots and planted in their new straw beds. Ready, steady, go!

Amazing passionfruit flowers. Fingers crossed they will produce some fruit.

The wine barrel. Said goodbye to the brassicas and made a nice new home for the new summer crowd.

Zucchini in a big plastic tub I picked up at the tip. It's very deep which I'm hoping will make up for the lack of surface area.

A bee feasting on the 'Falling in Love' poppies.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Unintentional Peat Pot Experiment

When I sowed tomato seed in late August, I used the rest of the peat pots I had, and put the rest in regular plastic seedling pots. I'd actually decided not to buy peat pots again after reading that peat is a non-sustainable resource. I did try loo rolls for awhile but found the seedlings growing in the loo rolls stunted and yellowing. Thinking it must be something to do with the chemicals in the loo rolls (they were recycled loo paper rolls, but still, I'm not sure what goes into them) I'd stopped saving those. Looks like the loo rolls may have something in common with the peat pots though, because the difference between the tomato seedlings in the peat pots and the plastic pots is extraordinary.

Annoyingly I forgot to take photos before I repotted the 'peat pot' tomatoes into plastic pots. This photo is from a few weeks ago.

And these photos are taken straight after repotting. The seedlings on the left - tall, green and healthy - are in their original pots. The seedlings on the right - stunted and pale - are from the peat pots.

Why? I don't know. I love these mysteries in gardening. Same sun, same seeds, same varieties - Reisenstraube, Black Russians and Brandywine. I keep the peat pots pretty moist, and inside a larger wooden container, so I don't think it's because they dry out faster. My husband suggested warmth - black plastic does attract and hold heat. I also noticed some millipedes harbouring in the peat pots, but I thought they only eat decaying matter so I wouldn't have thought they'd be the cause of the problem.

I'm not a big fan of plastic (see this to for one of many reasons why) but luckily Ceres Nursery in Brunswick has a pot recycling crate - where you can drop off any used pots and take whatever you need. It's always full of seedling trays and small plastic pots so I don't feel so bad about freecycled ones.

I'm hoping now that the smaller plants have been repotted they'll come good. It will be interesting to see how they progress in comparison to they bigger siblings. I'll update this post in a few weeks with a photo.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Early Spring Report

The changeable weather had me worried, but all the tomato seeds have successfully sprouted, as well as the fennel. No sign of the capsicum or melons yet. I ordered some seeds from Greenharvest, and thismorning added:

Zucchini - Black Beauty
Ceylon Spinach
Greenharvest Lettuce Mix

We harvested the rest of the Purple Dragon carrots yesterday. I should have remembered to take a photo because they're such a beautiful colour - deep maroon on the outside and golden amber in the middle. They were a mix of sizes, mostly due to some of them being a bit close together I imagine. There were some suspicious craters in some of them like they had been chewed - I'm not sure what it is under the soil that would nibble on them like that, but most of the damage was easily grated off so they were mostly a success.

Other Winter crops that have been a terrific success are the snap peas and snow peas in baskets that have provided for plenty of stir fries not to mention a quick snack in the garden.

The broccoli has also been fantastic, for after the initial harvest, it kept sprouting mini broccoli buds that we've continued to harvest.

The spinach and cavalo nero are just beginning to get to a harvestable size, but have been so easy and such a good source of greens.

What didn't do well unfortunately are the brussel sprouts and cabbages. Perhaps the combination of too little light and the warm weather at the end of winter stunted them and then opened up their leaves before they ever formed proper heads. I don't think I'll try them again until I have a well lit bed available.

Remarkably there is one ripe Rouge de Marmande tomato left on the plant from last Summer, just showing how hardy tomatoes can be.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

August - Sowing for Summer

The wonderful mid-August warmth spurred me to get the Summer sowings going in the plastic greenhouse.

Planted under cover:
Tomatoes - Reisenstraube
Tomatoes - Brandywine
Tomatoes - Yellow Pear
Tomatoes - Black Russian
Tomatoes - San Marzano
Capsicum - Chinese Giant
Rockmelon - Chanterelle
Eggplant - Listada de Gandia

Sown direct:
Beetroot - Early Wonder
Beetroot - Golden Burpee
Spring Onions
Peas - Greenfeast
Lettuce - Red Leprechaun

Thursday, July 16, 2009

July Garden

Crimson Flowered Broadbeans are flowering already, well ahead of the Aqua-Dulce, so hopefully we will have an early and late harvest.

The winter wine barrel 2 weeks ago...

and now...

The Brussels Sprout plant is growing slowly. Perhaps not getting quite enough sun, so fingers crossed.
Delicious Cavalo Nero (Tuscan Kale)

Fantastic Tatsoi, outdoing everyone else in the shady back corner and growing proudly in used commercial ice-cream containers pinched from the shopping centre skip.

Potatoes sprouting in this old recycling bin we picked up at the tip. Will try 'hilling them up' with more sugar can mulch as they grow to hopefully get a bigger crop this year.

Winter tomatoes!

Extraordinarily, the tomatoes keep on coming. Ironically it's only the Black Russians that haven't withstood the cold.

I couldn't bare to pull them out when I needed the room for the pea plants, so in went the peas with them. Snap peas in with the window climbers, dwarf snow peas in with the cherries in the baskets.