I sit here, exhausted! And boy does it feel good. 🙂 I am well ready for bed though.
Summer has finally arrived in my garden as far as crop are concerned. The jury is still out on the weather here at the moment but I’m just glad to know that at least some part of my world believes it to be Summer. We had 39°C last week followed by 34°C and then just yesterday Martin was contemplating lighting the fire again (it’s our only heating) as it was a balmy 13°C outside! Still and all, it’s time for tomatoes. I mean really, it’s now or never and well, I just hope we don’t get another New Years Day frost as reported a few years back.
So this morning my garden looked like winter. There are 2 leeks still in the garden (I’m waiting for them to flower so I can collect the seeds), garlic everywhere and broccoli over a metre tall and covered in seed pods. Another week back and there were broad beans still growing and flowering. It sure looked wintry to me. This afternoon though it looks like a summer garden, or almost. 😉
We started off by harvesting the 2nd half of the garlic. When about ½ the leaves have died down it’s time to harvest. Well, ours weren’t quite half died down, closer to ¼ but it was time none the less. With the garlic out I was able to bury some fish and plant out more sweet corn on top. Fish i hear you say? Linne, one of my readers assures me this is another part of the 3 sisters companion planting cycle of corn, curcurbits (watermelon, pumpkins, etc) and beans and I had planned to get my brother to keep the carp he caught (can’t toss them back by law here) and then follow this next year but nature and a foolish mistake I made provided me with another source of fish – all my pond fish died. 😦 So, armed with stinky fish in a bucket, trowel and seeds, the kids and I planted the fish in deep holes and corn on top to fill the holes where the corn had failed to germinate. Beans were planted at the base of the germinated corn and all watered in with some worm wee.
We then harvested the last bed of garlic and planted it out with pumpkin seeds. A fallow bed in my garden means a great big kitty litter tray for my cats so despite the fact that I should rest the bed for a while between crops, we got planting. The pumpkin seeds (yeah I already have over 70 pumpkin seedlings up I know) are of a tiny little one I bought from an organic store in Daylesford and I have no name for it but it might be jumping jack or wee be little or some such but either way, it was cute and 2 would serve a family of 4. Pumpkins, like spuds also seem to do a good job in turning average soil into very rich feeling soil in my experience so I’m happy to have loads of pumpkins planted. I have plenty of people whom I’m sure will appreciate a pumpkin or 2 come autumn (assuming I get a harvest of course).
Once that was all done it was onto the broccoli. We planted purple sprouting broccoli in punnets back before we even move up here and I planted them out before we moved once I had a garden bed in place. The cabbage moths all but destroyed them! 😦 I also saw no sign of a harvest so I left them there, miffed and disappointed as to why they hadn’t flowered. I left them there until winter, purely because I just couldn’t face the failed crop pull out thingy. I went out one day determined to cut my losses and use the bed for something else and lo and behold it was covered in beautiful sprouts of purple broccoli heads! We’ve been harvesting for probably 5 months now, less and less this last month as it warmed up. Many of the sprouts bloomed but it didn’t matter as there were hundreds more to harvest. 🙂 It’s prolific and delicious, raw or cooked. Every time we hit the garden Jas goes looking for more to pick and demands instant gratification should he see any purple. 🙂 He eats it raw! D Even the odd yellow bloom or two won’t deter him. It became a beacon for the bees when it was in full bloom too and then, as the purple sprouts kept on rolling in, I refused to pull out the plant as I hoped to collect the seed.
Today however, after a month of little to no sprouts and with the plants and seed pods finally beginning to yellow and die (just) Jasper and I picked the very last pathetically small sprouts and then harvested the seed heads. I have a LARGE poly bag full t the brim of broccoli branches laden with seeds only needing drying out. It’s almost a commercial harvest amount of seed I reckon! Not bad at all considering the garden bed is 7’x3.5′ in size or about 2m x 1 give or take. 😉 Due to lack of storage space to dry them all I’m going to spend an evening in the next few days (hopefully) bunching up the seeds and tying to strings or something easy and quick so I can hang them in the shed, along with the latest batch of garlic, to dry. 🙂
The broccoli bed was one of the few beds occupied when we added the raised beds. I added in the border and nothing else in there so, with Martin roped in to dig and barrow, we filled up the rest f the bed with compost, delivered courtesy of a dear friend Lynda and finally I planted out my seed grown tomatoes! 😀 I can’t tell you what varieties as I labeled poorly (read not at all) and to be honest, I don’t really care. We will pick and eat what looks good to pick and eat and bottle the rest. 🙂 Big, small, good for bottling or not, it all works well for me in a jar. I also popped in 5 capsicum seedlings I had and some parsley and then a thorough watering and powerfeeding and mulching and we were done.
The last winter crop to be harvested is the potato onions and I am watching with bated breath for the tops to begin to die down. The white potato onions are looking like they’re on their last legs before beginning to die off but the brown ones are kicking along. I don’t really mind though. They’ll just keep getting bigger and the remaining tomatoes are in large enough pots to last. 🙂
Saturday afternoon/evening I had also been busy in the greenhouse. There had been a few things bugging me, both relating to wasted space. Firstly was the 2 citrus trees I have planted in there. Citrus are fussy in that they do not like anything in competition with their roots. No grass, no crop underneath, nothing. I hate it because it’s just a huge waste of space. I have planted spuds in a cage on top of that empty space and harvested a few too but it’s too hot now in the greenhouse for spuds so what to do? Firstly a very good watering and then a mulching as the soil is a little hydrophobic and I’ve found that mulch does need to help alleviate that problem. And despite loving organic gardening and doing my best to adhere to it at all times, I did use a little soil wetting agent. The purchased compost is all well and good but it just doesn’t have the rich moisture loving and holding texture of home-grown stuff. I’ve tried the powerfeed and seasol to no avail and it comes down to needs must. 😦
So, the mulch down and bed looking much tidier as well as being in better health I placed out my potted tomatoes around the top of the bed leaving the citrus trees plenty of room but at least the space is no longer going to waste. 🙂
The sweet potato and ginger bed was in much the same dry and dusty state so it got the same treatment and now looks much tidier too. The potato bed is nearing harvest time and has it’s rather untidy but nutrient rich mulch of used chook and goat pen straw which will be adding nutrients into both the soil and plants. 🙂 When we harvest the spuds I don’t know what I’ll plant in there next. Maybe some more beans? I’ll have to see what a good crop for after spuds would be that will tolerate the warmth and humidity. 🙂
The second part of the greenhouse that was bothering me was the wasted aerial space. I’ve an old kitchen wire shelf hanging in there which was moved slightly to allow for a stand to hold a small water tank and then I tried out an idea I’ve had about using old plastic pots as hanging pots. Wire threaded through the holes in the base and out the top to form a hanger and in went some soil and a tomato plant, worm wee and mulch. Then onto a much larger pot which was hung at an angle with 3 tomato plants. The plants won’t be staked and will then (hopefully) hang down in rich red and green colourful waterfalls. 🙂 It’s a lot less pleasing aesthetically than those lovely hanging baskets with coir lining or those self watering plastic jobbies but these cost me nothing except 5 minutes work each and if they work then I will be stoked and hang a dozen more. 😀
I moved around the geraniums I had potted (and neglected but still alive and even flowering) in there, chopped them up and potted the cuttings to grow more, put in my besser block tank stands and even moved the mint to a new temporary home and gave it a huge aromatic haircut. The greenhouse now looks mostly tidy, verdant, productive and I can’t wait to get back out in there and do something else in there. 🙂
In our spare time this weekend 😉 Jasper had his first archery lesson with the archery set that arrived today for him (with suction arrows), most of the washing got hung out, and we had some great time with the kids too. Jasper was a huge help to me whilst I braided up the first harvest load of garlic (6 big braids – photos to come) and then he helped me lay out the rest to dry off too. I have 1 more bed to top up (the old broad bean bed) out the back ready for tomatoes and then the broad bean bed out the front needs its crop to be planted in. I’m tossing up more spuds or zucchinis. Or something else altogether. It’s an ongoing mental debate is that one. 😉
All in all I feel like we’ve made great inroads into aiming for vegetable self-sufficiency and I hope over the Christmas/New Year break to tackle the front garden in a big way too. It’s in desperate need of whippersnippering and hardcore dock removal. There are still hugels planned that need to be built (they can wait) and the espalier bed to be built too. I don’t dare look under the canopy of grass to see if my hazelnuts and persimmon still live although I can just see the nashi leaves waving their greenness at me from behind the plantain flowers. The more formal beds out the front are yielding a harvest of nasturtium leaves and flowers, of rainbow chard leaves although it’s all bolted to seed and radishes all good to eat. There are also pumpkin seedlings, peas, strawberries, tomatoes, chives, chillies and capsicums, celery, yacon, spring onions, a few beans (the slugs and snails are a pain), thornless blackberries, raspberries and more all growing beautifully. My pond, albeit currently bereft of its inhabitants, is in colour with 2 water-lily flowers (pale pink and magenta), Ludwigia (water primrose) and the memory of the stunning violet water iris still lingering too. I am loving summer!
Ok, nearly 2500 words. Time to be quiet and go to bed. Good night hippies and Merry Christmas if I don’t post again before then. 😉