Sunday, October 28, 2012

The great garden experiment #4

A Garden Update + DIY on seedling planting.

It's spring here, the suns shinning and everything is lush and green. But it's also Melbourne so it rains and we sometimes have four seasons in one day.

We have been enjoying regular harvests from the garden of spring onions, silver beet, kale, lettuce, parsley and coriander. The coriander, kale and silver beet are all going to seed with the heat but that is to be expected.
After the planting out of seedlings + seeds over the last month things are still small in size but healthy.

I have a variety of tomato plants all at different stages of growth to make sure we have tomatoes over a longer harvest period. The tomato plant at the front door is flowering and I can't wait til the first tomatoes can be seen. I bought two more organic varieties from Ceres the other day a Principle Borghese variety that is a mid-late harvesting variety with small plum shaped fruit with tomatoes growing in clusters of 7-10 fruit on the stem. Great for salads, roasting and also to dry for sun dried tomatoes. I also bought some organic basil seedlings as l have never had much success growing it from seed in Melbourne conditions.

The two Diggers heritage capsicum plants are flowering and I planted another dozen sweet mixed capsicum seedlings in the garden together to help them survive the summer winds by growing together and I'll also use small stakes to minimize the risk of stalks breaking. I would really like to try preserving this year to ensure the pantry is full of lovelies for the winter recipes and slow cooker. I'm getting excited about learning how to make passata in the new year from Laura's family just like the Italian Nonna's make.

The cucumbers + yellow and green zucchini's are harding off in the garden to ensure they survive a hot summer. Although the cats next door dug up two of them so they were lost unfortunately. I wish l knew how to get cats to stay off my veggie patch it's really annoying. I'd like to get my revenge, I'm going to try laying orange and lemon peel and coffee grounds over the soil where l have planted the seedlings the smell might be a deterrent as l have heard they don't like citrus + I'm going to do a string line or mini teepee around each planting to deter the cats from digging. I'll let you know if it works.

Potatoes are taking on foliage growth but I won't know how successful the planting til harvest time, it's hit and miss for this vegetable.
The garlic bed is looking good but rather boring to look at with just the green leaves growing above the ground like grass, yellows naturisms at least provide some colour.
Corn is sprouting through the soil near the potatoes and I'm excited to see it take on height and use the potato wire for support. There is nothing better than corn on the BBQ with a nob of butter for dinner when it's hot and we have the opportunity to eat outside. I confess the backyard is full of weeds near the fence line and l have to do a major overhaul of the area but it's always wet out there.
The Strawberries, blueberry, lime tree, raspberry plants and broad beans are all flowering ready to fruit. We are going to plant out the thorn less Boysenberry plant to celebrate being pregnant with Tully. It'll be his plant in the garden and we should enjoy harvests for many years of the lush fruit.
The first planting of snow peas, peas + climbing beans are blossoming and we should be harvesting within the next 7 days. The second planting of seeds are pushing through the soil and growing their first leaves.

The Sunflower seeds haven't shown themselves yet except for 3 little green sprouts but I'm hopeful the garden will be full of sunflowers and native birds come summer. I planted these out early as l needed to plant my garden in a grid to ensure l had space. Having a little garden space is hard when there is so much to plant during Spring/Summer. I bought organic hertiage pumpkin seedlings from Ceres last week but haven't got a clue where they are going to go. Should have thought about that before l bought them! Perhaps in two locations away from short growing crops, hmmm. I loved wandering through the Ceres nursery seeing all the little chicks walking around amongst the plants. I dream of having my own chickens but alas l live in a two story unit with minimal garden and space.

As it's getting hotter and the garden will experience stress from high winds and heat it's really important to use sugar cane mulch or pea straw over the ground in a 5-10cm coverage to help hold moisture in the ground and ensure that when it rains water is retained in the garden and doesn't just evaporate. If you are watering, water when the sun is setting or early in the morning to lessen the likelihood of leaf burn and sunstroke of plants.

A DIY Update:

On planting lettuce seedlings:

It's important that you harden these off before planting them out in the ground. This just means putting them in the punnet where you want to grow them and leaving them for a couple of days, well watered. This helps them adjust to the garden's environment and climate and minimises the risk the seedlings will go into shock and wither. Gently dig over the soil where you want to plant them. Use the back of a hand shovel and make a hole in the soil. Place the seedling in the hole and bring the soil up to the seedling with your fingers and press down around the plant, this helps stabilise the seedling in the soil and doesn't hurt the fine roots of the lettuce plant. Water in when the sun is not high and there is no chance of seedling burn.

Planting Pumpkin Plants:

Pumpkins need lots of room to explore, grow vines and leaves and creep along the ground. I have decided that they can live near the garlic bed and also in a pot by the carport that way l can stake the vine around the other tubs and get use out of my garden while they grow. Pumpkins will grow in full sun or partial shade. They love an organically rich free draining soil mixed with manures and compost.
Whilst l bought a punnet of seedlings if you are growing pumpkins from seed it's easiest to directly sow your seed where you want your pumpkins to grow. Create a foot wide mound of soil about an inch taller than the surrounding soil. Plant 3 or 4 pumpkin seeds as deep as your first knuckle. It's important to thin the seedlings down to 1 or 2 plants.
In caring to the pumpkin patch- Pumpkins are very susceptible to hot days. Make sure you keep the water up to them on warmer days, otherwise you'll see the pumpkin leaves wilting in the sun. Feed them fortnightly with a potash and liquid manure drink or worm wee diluted 1 part to 4 parts water. The main disease problem with pumpkins is powdery mildew on the leaves (which eventually kills the plant) so avoid watering overhead in the afternoonn.
Harvesting pumpkins In 3 to 4 months after planting. Using a knife cut the pumpkin from the vine. Make sure you leave a good 4 to 5 inches (10-15cms) of vine connected to the pumpkin so it dries off properly. This minimises deterioration to the pumpkin during storage meaning it doesn't go mouldy and rot. Pumpkins can easily be kept in a cool dry place for 6 months.

A Link love for dealing with pests in the garden:
Keeping bugs from your Veggies naturally over at Veggiemama with guest blogger from Cooker and a Looker a great little blog l just found out about this morning.

Let us know about what's happening in your garden. Comment here on the blog or contact us and tell us what's in your garden, attach a link to your blog if you have one + send us some photos so we can share your gardens with others to
If you have questions or gardening tips and advice share it with us.
We'd love to hear from you.
Happy Gardening Everyone!

x Mummafox

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