Autumn in the garden

The weather the last 2 days (and continuing on into next week) is a last hurrah to Summer. Well, I’m hoping it’s the last one. The weather has been lovely and Thursday was nothing short of sensational. 25 degrees, light breeze, lower UV index which means I was outside enjoying the sun and I didn’t get burned! πŸ˜€ I plowed through washing and hanging 8 or so loads of washing, moved the chook grains into our new storage area (6 bags of 20kg each, 1 bag of oats at 25kg and another which is probably 15 now plus a probably 40kg bag of barley) and the kids and I with some clever maneuvering and a trolley, moved a rather heavy reclining couch in there too. It’s cleared the way to allow us to store our big delivery of redgum and Martin’s hard harvested stringy-bark and other woods in our smaller shed out of the weather. We started moving that but needless to say, by that time I was completely stuffed so the wood was left for another day and someone elses muscles to groan over.

Yesterday was another mighty fine day although there was some cloud teasing us and making us hope that there might indeed be some rain on the way but there was not. Good news as far as I achieved much but bad news as the Autumn hasn’t brought us much more rain that the Summer did and we are in desperate need of some precipitation. The grass that awoke from its drought induced slumber a few weeks ago is most disappointed at the fickle nature of rain in this neck of the woods and hasn’t grown in weeks. I’m desperate for it to do so as there isn’t enough to feed a rabbit for a week let alone the plans I have for this green stuff over the coming weeks.

We did however make great use of the wonderful weather and after a trip to playgroup in the morning we came home and had some lunch, popped Orik down for a late nap and then the older kids and I hit the gardens. I built 1 garden bed frame (corrugated iron and wooden corner posts make a raised bed πŸ™‚ ) then cardboarded under 1 I had finished a while back and the new one, lined the bottom of 1 with the dried corn cobs and husks from the big corn canning run a few weeks ago and the other was covered in a nice layer of fallen poplar leaves. It will be interesting to see which bed does better. I then started digging the soil out of our carrot garden bed which, apart from harvesting a few radishes from, was pretty much a failure. I think that’s more on behalf of the fact that it’s hard to grow carrots as they can’t be mulched and they need constant moisture whilst they are coming up, something that is nigh on impossible to do outside, without a watering system in 30-40 degree heat. A few came up and struggled mightily until I cut my losses, transplanted the few seedling that had survived into the greenhouse and left the bath bed fallow. Yes, I know you can’t/shouldn’t transplant carrots but I figured it was worth doing anyway even if they don’t survive (which most have) or grow all wonky and lame roots. I couldn’t just pull them out after the hard struggle they’d had. And I’m too tight to waste them anyway. πŸ˜‰

Corn cobs, leaves, silks and failed corn plants in a hugelkultur style base. Hoping they absorb a heap of water and also rot down to provide nutrients for the plants and worms.

Corn cobs, leaves, silks and failed corn plants in a hugelkultur style base. Hoping they absorb a heap of water and also rot down to provide nutrients for the plants and worms.

So, the soil from the bath bed has mostly ended up in the bed with the leaves or all over the place after the assistance of 2 small people who, if I had added water would have been walking talking mud baths. Nice one kids. πŸ˜‰ Once I’d finished there I remembered that the spud boxes (large apple crates) were sitting pretty full of the most divinely composted lucerne and sugar cane mulch and horse manure. I dug into the soil, turned it over and was greeted by a rather large collection of fat worms. Seriously, this particular spud box (the others weren’t so impressively worm-filled) was like densely packed high rise apartment worm living. I’ve only ever seen more worms in one place inside a worm farm! It was insanely wormy. πŸ˜€ Imagine all the castings and worm wee in that soil! I still want to get a worm farm for us here but in the mean time it looks like I have had one anyway. πŸ™‚ I dug out all the soil (and worms) into the trolley barrow Martin bought me to tide me over until we can fix the wheel on the other barrow and lugged it down to tip into the garden bed. That 1 spud box filled the first bed and the other 2 less densely wormed spud boxes filled the second veggie bed which has the corn cobs on the base. Again it will be interesting to see which bed grows best. 2 veggie beds ready for planting. πŸ™‚ I’m trying to decide if I plant them with an allium (garlic, onions, leeks, etc) or broad beans and I am leaning towards garlic to be honest. The broad beans are nitrogen fixers so they will draw nitrogen from the atmosphere and enrich the soil in their beds as they go as well as keeping and using what they need. The garlic or onions or leeks will profit greatly from the rich soil. I guess I’ve answered my own question there haven’t I? lol I might see if I can get some onion seedlings today as mine haven’t done so well and some more seeds to sow direct too. Reading Gavin’s post on growing onions has definitely been an inspiration here. Thanks Gav. πŸ™‚ I did forget to get a photo of the beds finished but they don’t look much different. Just filled right up with rich dark compost. πŸ™‚

And leaves in the base. Hoping they too rot down to feed both worms and plants.

And leaves in the base. Hoping they too rot down to feed both worms and plants.

Whilst emptying out the potato boxes I found a few more undersized spuds which I’ve decided to see if I can grow over the winter but in the greenhouse. I have a vacant bed which I intend to compost in but it is a big bed so I think I might compost 1 end and spud the other. Both will be topped up as needed and can be done at a similar pace. I figure it’s worth a try and taking a second shot at a potato harvest. Either way I fill the bed is a win. πŸ™‚

Not sure if you can see but there are at least 10-20 worms int his shot. Seriously close living quarters!

Not sure if you can see but there are at least 10 worms int his shot. That’s an area the size of my hand. Seriously close living quarters!

I need to finished off the remaining beds as soon as possible too as I have my brassicas to plant out although I’m keen to hold off at the moment as the white cabbage moths are still rampant. My broccoli have been decimated! Autumn is just as busy as Spring! πŸ™‚

It was a long afternoon as far as my already aching muscles were concerned and I must admit as I sit here this morning my back is a wee bit achey (nothing that lugging a heavy toddler around at the Rural Lifestyle Expo today in my ergo carrier won’t fix πŸ˜‰ ) but it has been so very worth it. I hope to finish off the extra beds tomorrow and I think our friend Farmer Mark might be getting a call so we can buy some more compost. πŸ™‚

Here’s to making the most of these last days of a long and lingering summer. πŸ™‚


13 thoughts on “Autumn in the garden

  1. Hugely impressed with your industry…you knocked out those raised beds like a pro! I’ve started a small raised bed (about 6″) it is going to be a seedling raising area with gravel on the surface…to see if I can keep those pesky slugs (slug monsters) off.

    • LyndaD says:

      Try coffee grounds around the seedlings. Nitrogen plus it poisons the crawlies of the slippery kind.

      • Will it knock off the ‘pillars? I’ve not had any slug and snail problems whatsoever but those wretched coddling moths… Now that I have some grounds though I am more than willing to sprinkle my appallingly aphid-covered and caterpillar chewed broccoli that I have little hope of getting a harvest from with whatever organic or natural substance I can find.

  2. greeningofgavin says:

    You are welcome Jessie. Hope your onions do well. I am going to plant some broad beans tomorrow, as it has rained quite a bit today. Great gardening weather.

    I agree with Lynda. Coffee grounds will keep the snails/slugs away from your seedlings or at a pinch if you are desparate, get some iron chelate slug pellets. Harmless to everything except slimy things and good for the soil.

    Gav x

    • Thanks for the iron info Gav.
      Rain? You got rain? We saw those clouds and figured they’d taken out my dry washing on the line but nope, the entire lot appears to have avoided us which, in light of having spent the day at an outdoors expo and then having my brother and his family visit and letting 5 kids run around outside, I am grateful it held off. I will be planting today too and there is some rain forecast for the Ballarat region on Monday so here’s hoping.

  3. Linne says:

    Friends of mine have used wood ashes scattered around the bed to keep slugs away. Only thing is, they need to be replenished fairly often as rain washes them away (or they dissolve) and slugs will find a way if there is one! Ashes are good for the soil, too, but I can’t remember if they need balancing out when you add them directly to compost or beds.
    ~ Linne

    • Well ashes we have in copious quantities from Miss Ignisa. I have added some to my compost but I know they are quite alkaline (they make lye from ashes after all) so not always good. I will be ph testing my compost. πŸ™‚ I will make some anti snail trails with it though. See how it works but so far it’s been coddling moths. I’ve not seen a single snail or slug.

  4. narf77 says:

    Did you notice I got to the “R’s” today? ;). A great post full of hard work and possibilities. Steve and I have been enjoying the gorgeous cooler weather and so has our garden but like you, a serious dearth of precipitation :(. The fish farm makes a fishy gizzardy based compost that they sell for $40 a trailer load apparently. Might have to add a few trailer loads into the equation on Serendipity Farm. I am thinking about putting an ad in the paper to rake people’s autumn leaves for free so long as I get the results :). I am falling over a lot on our walks with the dogs because I keep covering my eyes whenever I see trees loaded with fruit not being harvested by anything other than the blackbirds :(. Why grow fruit when you aren’t going to use it! Wish I was brave, I would ask the owners if I could have it! Anyhoo, your endeavours make me feel tired just reading about them. Kudos to your verve and zest girl, it’s hard enough for me to get rid of my RSS Feed Read let alone head out into the chaotic mass of half dead summer rooned garden that remains. The potted plants are on their last legs, we NEED to get those small trees into the ground, more walnut and hazelnut stratifying to be done and that massive enclosure to wrap our heads (and efforts) around. We haven’t had any snails or slugs either but the leeches hang out around the veggie garden waiting to predate me when I am not paying attention…wonder if wood ash would put THEM off! πŸ˜‰

  5. […] blogged before (here,Β here, here, here, here, here, andΒ here) about our ongoing hugelkultur experiments. Hugelkultur literally […]

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