Happy Father’s Day and happy day to me

Happy Father’s Day for yesterday to all the fathers out there around the world, whether or not your country celebrates Fathers Day today or not. ­čÖé Continue reading

Invaders! Plant problems and a magazine review

Invaders! Invaders! Red alert! Red alert! Red alert!

I picked off the aphid infested leaves for the chooks.

I have my first invaders of the insect kind in my garden. Well, in my gutter gardens to be exact. My gutter garden has been going great guns and we have had several harvests from the lettuce growing there. The rocket is not far from harvest either. It still hasn’t made it to its final home and isn’t even hanging up. My husband – an engineer – felt the existing hooks weren’t strong enough to carry the weight. I have to concur but it isn’t worth new hooks before we move so it’s currently resting on some chairs. So, once we move I will have some strong hooks installed and the garden will be hung up. I can’t even take it up until I am able to get up there at least every 2 days to water it either. Frustrating, as the 4 sugar snap peas planted to grow up the wires, are starting to be in need of some support.I may have to provide some temporary stakes I think. Well, anyway, as I tried to deal with Orik who was feeling grumpy and destructive due to being tired, he grabbed a lettuce leaf and tore it (no big deal as the chooks can have it) but I noticed that there was something on the back of the leaf which wasn’t up to the standard of the other leaves.┬áAn aphid! So this is the first time I have had to deal with pests in the garden. Dr Google and Pinterest are always a great help and I found this page with a recipe for a natural aphid insecticide. It is safe enough that it wouldn’t be a problem if my kids ate the leaves, although they may find it doesn’t taste so great. We would still wash before eating but I love the fact that we don’t absolutely HAVE to!

My poor sick lemon tree

I’ve had some other issues I’ve needed to look into too. My new lemon tree which I bought at CERES a few weeks back is looking a little unwell and has lost many of its leaves. Again, Dr Google has helped and I am thinking that my poor plant is probably hungry. Lemons are high nitrogen feeders so time for some grass clippings and a top up of compost I think.

Next health check is for my avocado trees. They have been grown from seed by my parents and I am hoping to be able to supply most of the Eastern Seaboard with fruit from them. My parents tree is a prolific bearer so here’s hoping they have passed that wonderful trait on to their progeny. Well, all three of the trees have some leaves that are looking pretty sick, one in particular. A quick look on Dr Google and it appears I have not sufficiently neglected my tree and I have possibly given it too much water! You have to laugh – killing it with kindness (and not very much kindness at that). Apparently they are very sensitive to change, so a car ride for 40 minutes and the loud noises that emanate from my children have probably sent they 3 dears into full on panic mode! I shall move them to a semi-rain sheltered area on my deck then leave them until the Ballan move. Here’s hoping the drier conditions and easily neglectable position will help them recover before being moved and transplanted out.

The almonds that are no more.

The fourth problem I have had to deal with this morning is more in the nature of a small child. Someone thought it would be fun to pick the growing almonds off my almond tree and throw them around the garden. I have lost several of what was a fairly prolific second crop. Last year the poor thing grew 3 almonds that never reached maturity. This year I was overjoyed and a little dismayed to realise it has like 20-30 fruit growing nicely, and all of good size too. Sadly I now have around 10 less! My dismay at the fruit is due to the fact I had assumed it was not self pollinating or able to fruit and had decided not to repot it in winter to take to Ballan. Now I have missed the chance until probably May next year, by which stage we shall probably have tenants in the house. I’m not sure yet if I will be able to take it with us, which I would dearly love to. If I can, both the almond and the apple (of unknown cultivar) will come with us. Ah for opportunities lost.

My 34th birthday has thankfully come and gone with little fuss again this year (I absolutely despise my birthday). I received a wonderful gift from my family though – a selection of gardening magaines. And it is one of these that I wish to share as I have found it informative and helpful for beginner gardeners like myself. The magazine is Good Organic Gardening and it came with an extra included called The Organic Backyard. It is, as it says, “Your complete guide to growing ┬ávegetables and herbs”. I was able to sit down, with the crop rotation information chart I found on page 26, as well as the vegies A-Z (pages 31-78) and plan out what I was planting where and with what I would plant it. Excitement much?

Carrot top seeds

Sunflowers and pumpkins

Other news to report is that our planted carrot tops appear t be setting seed! STOKED!, my corn and pumpkin seeds are doing well, my watermelon seeds didn’t appreciate being transferred into their newspaper pots so I am hoping they recover before I plant them out in a couple of weeks, zucchinis, more tomatoes (I’m hoping for a glut for canning and bottling), more sunflowers (great for the chooks to eat and hopefully we can have some for us too), tomato seedlings are all doing well in their newspaper pots although they all need a little more sunlight than they get so I have a new tray on a chair that gets moved to the sunlight patches system that seems to be helping. My mandarin is also in full bloom so hoping for a prolific first crop.

3 strawberry flowers!

My seedlings and Minnie cat watching over them

Other than that I am watching Jasper chasing butterflies, Allegra is swinging and Orik sleeping. The sun is shining and it’s a lovely day.

Another day of gardening with the kids and a convert!

What a wonderful day! We had friends come over to visit. Ivonne and Jasper are 2 days apart in age and Sandra and I attended birthing classes together whilst we were both pregnant. We’ve journeyed through our parenting together and our children are all for the most part good friends. Today they came over for a catch up and we all went out to Bunnings as I wanted to get some strawberry plants and appropriate potware to grow them in. Whilst out there the lure of planting, growing and harvesting your own food became too much and Sandra decided to get a pot and, after much deliberation, some spinach and lettuce. Considering she lives in a flat with very little access to balcony space for a pot (her neighbour has a green thumb) I am extremely impressed.

We both bought ourselves those funky urn style pots with the extra planter spaces in the sides, a couple of punnets of seedlings and plants and some organic compost and potting mix and headed back to my place. I whacked a lot of pumpkin soup in the Thermomix for a late lunch and out we went. We filled up the pots, divvied out the gardening gloves (3 children, 2 pair of gloves :(), put soil in the pots, then based upon a majority rules vote we planted out the strawberries first. With 6 side planter spaces and the large open top, I bought 2 bags of the runners and 1 advanced plant for the top. It even has its first berry on there so the children might even, if we’re lucky, see some fruit really soon. Taking it in turns the children placed the strawberry plant in the pot and helped press down the soil I had backfilled. A brief stop for lunch and on to the lettuce and spinach. We’ve planted it out very full but I reckon that, with regular side harvesting, it shouldn’t be too crowded. Worth a try anyway. We then planted out my onion seeds as I will need them ready for planting when we move and we watered it all in. I have ended up with what I think is a cos lettuce and 2 baby spinach plants (yay :D) and I sent Sandra on her way with her large planter, 1 cut down orange juice container with 2 lettuces in it and a strawberry plant in a cut down milk container. I need to go and cover up some of my onion seeds with cling film but the rest went into my little seedling raiser. It’s all stacked up onto my pallets I scored and all watered in. It has been a great day.

Seeing Ivonne’s excitement about “her lettuce” was so wonderful and her attentiveness to planting was extraordinary. I am feeling so inspired as well as incredibly satisfied about having greened my thumbs a bit more. Absolutely gagging to move so come on August 25th Auction day (praying for really nasty weather to deter anyone else from coming) and a nice short settlement so I can get my garden beds in. Only 24 more sleeps!