Monday, October 8, 2012

The great garden experiment # 3

 DIY on planting out for Spring/Summer- Part 1

I've got all my seeds ready- Sunflowers, cucumbers, corn, snow peas, zucchinis, carrots + climbing beans which are going in the garden today + this past weekend. I planned on planting out during the week but our little family got headcolds and we have been recuperating slowly.
I planted six bulbs of organic garlic that had sprouted at my local organic grocers for $1.50 and they have been added to the garlic patch where there were gaps. The garlic has been slow growing but we have had a lot of rain and minimal sun so it's understandable that it's taking time.
My potatoes I planted in the wire cage and the three planting bags are starting to bud through the soil so fingers crossed I'll see lots of leaves in the next few days.
I put soil around the new foliage building the potato bed up with more organic compost + then covering it with a thin layer of straw. I'm hoping that over spring/summer the cage will be filled to the top as the plant grows and when we harvest there will be heaps of potatoes through out the deep soiled layers. I've been lucky some years + a failure at it others.

My raspberry canes are taking on leafy growth, strawberries are starting to produce flowers and the blueberry plant is covered with white blossoms, if they don't get knocked around in the wind + rain we should have a bumper harvest this season.
The purple broccoli and Beetroot are finished, we ate the sprouting florets in our stirfry but once it goes to seed (flower) pull it. I've been clearing the area + turning over the soil for Zuchinni's, carrots and a line of sunflowers near the window. Sunflowers always go at the back as they overshadow everything with their huge flowerheads + foliage.
I moved + filled the small water tank and it's resting near the lime tree to enable daily watering for the seedlings. Cos lettuce, leeks and spring onions continue to grow aplenty while the broad beams are flowering but no beans yet. Pea + beans by the bean runners are growing more foliage but as yet no beans. This winter season has been too wet and l wonder if it will be another year of late harvesting and little room for early spring/summer planting. I've attempted to draw up a rough grid of my garden to do the spring/summer planting but I just don't seem to have enough room - always a problem.

I thought I'd keep a running photo log + DIY on how to sew the various seeds for those that have never done it before. But taking photos can be difficult with black seeds and brown soil so I'll do my best. And apologise now if the photos are not picture perfect. I'm not fastidious on following gardening books, I do what feels natural. I also hope it doesn't bore you to death. I'm no expert but if it helps you in anyway build your gardening knowledge and skills then great. Over the years I've had many failures in planting things out, you only learn through doing it. Your garden will respond differently to the seasons, direction of the sun, amount of rainfall + how you work the ground. It's going to take time + each year it can go either way but I think you get better at it.

The DIY + update of planting:

All these vegetables listed below require full sun or at least 5-6 hours of sun a day. Lettuce, silverbeet, kale, rhubarb + herbs do well in partial shady areas.

The tomato plant by the front door is thriving and I'm being diligent to prune the buds in between the branches and take the lower leafy branches off to prevent crowding + promote fruit production. I've got 6 small hertiage Diggers plants in near the walk way + 2 more mature plants near the peas. Lemon drop, beams yellow pears, red figs and cherry romas that will be perfect for pasta salads, brushetta, salads and frittatas through out summer. I'm hoping the tomatoes Miss Two and Ads planted from seed come on and the twelve plants can go in the garden as bottling tomatoes.
If your planning on seed raising sow tomatoe seeds into a seed raising mix in a tray or plastic tub and place in the sun, water regularly keeping soil moist. Seeds should come up in 7-14 days. Transplant out into the garden when seedlings ate 8-10 cms in height. Otherwise there are loads of varieties in seedling punnets available through Bunnings and nurseries. I usually do a mix of seed raising and seedlings to ensure a harvest all the way through the season + into autumn.
The beginning of flowers and possible early tomato fruit is an exciting time. My friend Laura is going to teach me to make pasatta the Italian way this year and I'm excited to have sauce through out the winter if I can manage it. We eat a lot of pasta dishes and slowfood so it's an important staple in our household.

Companion Planting of Basil-
Plant Basil in a circle 10 cms out from plant encircling the tomato. It's a great companion to the tomato, promotes bee populations to pollenate the tomato flowers to bare fruit and you can make your own pesto for Christmas pressies + for cooking. I usually sow directly into the ground but seedlings are good too and I plant these in groups near my tomatoes.

Plant in places where they won't invade or affect other veggies as they can grow up to 2 meters high.
Turn over the soil and add some mulch + mix. Dig a ditch in the soil 10cms deep using a trowel or back of shovel. Scatter sunflower seeds evenly and cover with a thin layer of dirt. With the back of the trowel pat the soil down. I plant seeds in different pockets of the garden in rows along fencing, in small shallow holes near bean runners, the letterbox, or next to the veggie planting rows.
Once sunflowers come up to 15-20 cms in height, use 1-2 stakes and secure them with a garden tie. Sunflowers can grow up the two meters high so support is needed to keep sunflowers upright in heavy winds + provide seed for the local birds. Once the heads of the sunflowers come out and seeds develop on the flowerheads select 1-2 flower heads and cover with a hesian to collect seeds as they dry. That way you will have seeds for the following year.

There are numerous climbing varieties + types for pots and small areas. Be careful to read the back of seed packets. Plant these away from heavy traffic areas as their trendels can be prickly + irritate the skin.
I mound up the dirt and sow three seeds in each mound and cover gently with a thin layer of soil. Pea straw is used around the mound of dirt to provide stability + retain moisture to the seedlings in the heat of summer. 2-3 mounds = 3 plants enough for a family.

It's important to remember that Zuchinni's take a lot of room with their spiky foliage, the plant runner and long producing time. You plant Zuchinni's and Cucumbers the same way just keep in mind it's a great idea to plant away from heavy traffic areas to to ensure they don't get in your way as they can irrate the skin with their leaf foliage.
For seedlings one plant per mound. Usually three plants feed you through out the season + I have enough for frittatas, muffins, stirfry's + zucchini pickle.
For seeds- Dirt should be raked into round mounds to get the plants off the ground about 30-60cms apart if you have the room. Seeds are planted 5-8 cms deep and covered with soil. I sow three seeds per mound and then pick the healthiest plant to keep. That way you are guarnteed a good seedling that is hardened + will survive the summer elements. Place mulch around the mound of dirt to retain moisture and rainfall.
Always harvest preferably when zucchinis are small 10-20 cms long as they are soft and tender otherwise they can become woody + tasteless.

Create three high rows of dirt for planting to help the carrot seedlings to take root. Using a small hand shovel dig a shallow ditch in the centre of the rows. I mix sand in with carrot seeds in a cup and sprinkle evenly along the rows to assist with dispersing them evenly. I then cover with dirt and pat down. I usually use a seed packet per row to ensure plantings are successful then I thin them out when they come up and seedlings are 10 cms in height. Thinning carrots out is important if seedlings are too close together you get deformed + small carrots.

Climbing beans and snow peas-
Build a bean teepee or climbing frame. Either by placing 3-5 stakes in a circle and securing at the top with gardening twine. Then wind twine at regular intervals at the bottom + middle to give the beans something to hang onto and stabilize the teepee. Alternatively their are some available at Bunnings designed for this usually labelled climbing frames. Turn over soil around climbing frame/teepee. Ensure compost or organic mulch is added to soil to aerate and lighten the soil for easy sewing. Using a hand shovel or your hands make a circle inside your teepee or on the outside of your bean runner and evenly scatter seeds along your ditch. Cover with a thin layer of soil 5-10 cms in depth and gently pat down. I tend to do plantings before it rains to help things along but a light spray of water is just as good to settle the soil and moisten the layers of dirt + prevent soil from being blown away.

Dig a ditch in the dirt 10-15 cms deep and 50cms to 1 metre in length along a line of stakes or chicken wire. Sprinkle corn kernals from seed packet in the middle of the ditch. cover gently with soil and pat down. Corn requires support in rain and wind as the corn cobs grow the plants can get heavy and stressed by the weight so it's a good idea to secure them with a line of stakes in the ground and a string line making a place for them to rest against. Corn can grow up to 1.5 metres in good weather conditions and produce enough for a household throughout summer. Harvest corn when medium in size, just prior to eating to retain moisture and sweetness.

If you have any photos of your gardens please share them with us, become a member fo the blog, email me at + share it on our facebook page too. I'd love to hear from you.
If you have questions, have advice or know how to share get intouch, comment below and tell us there is always so much to learn about gardening.
If you need a planting guide for your area Gardening Australia can be a great resource.
Happy Gardening Everyone!

x Mummafox

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