The January garden

I can’t believe it but 2014 is already 1/12th over! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Where did January go I ask you? Likely up in steam given the hot weather from the other week and again heat is forecast here to usher in February. Continue reading

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Saturday in the sunshine

The weather has been rather pleasant these last 3 or so days of Winter. I had to keep reminding myself that today was indeed still Winter. It felt more like we should have been in Continue reading

Operation Homestead: Day 22/Start of week 3

The beds are in! Garden beds that is. There are now 6 large garden beds across the back fence of our block. I am STOKED! I may have room for one more (hopefully) and I am now looking for some more lucerne mulch, preferably organic, with which to mulch them. One more load of compost to top up 2 of the beds and put in the 1 more and that may well be it. If I get a 2nd load there will be excess for friends and also some to kick start my own compost heap/keep for later when it’s time to bury my spuds again.

Speaking of spuds, I had a peek underneath the lucerne mulch in the spud beds and in all 3 beds I was rewarded to see that the spuds are growing! ๐Ÿ˜€

I had a nice chat to our neighbour over the back fence whilst he chook-proofed the back fence (those sly girls keep finding yet another way either over or under or through the fence) and he said we should be pretty safe to be frost free by Melbourne Cup weekend. For those who aren’t in Melbourne, The Cup is the first Tuesday in November. That means I can plant my beans and peas now (only the flowers are frost sensitive) and my spuds should be all fine and dandy too. If frost seems likely this week I can just bury them again which will keep them safe and toasty underground. IT’S TIME FOR PLANTING! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ And that means, those that have offered to help might just be getting that muster call soon. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Time for bed now as I have another busy day in Ballan tomorrow, but this time without my husband who is going to help some friends out. Just the kids and I. Eek! More gardening, a kitchen delivery, maybe planting some seeds and hopefully getting some trellis and sandpit sand too. I will do my best to post some photos tomorrow.

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.ย An 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 ย vegetables 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.

Radishes

Today has been a day that is more typical to Melbourne in Spring. It started the day with a major solar spill, and has been followed by rain, hail not far from here, further solar spills and even more rain. It has jumped between blue skies and deep grey overcast. It has been a frustrating kind of day to be perfectly honest. To wash or not to wash has been the question of the day.

As I mentioned yesterday, Jasper received 3 packets of seeds for his birthday; chives, sunflowers and radishes. Sunflowers are plants that don’t like transferring so we will plant them directly in the garden when we move. I plan on having some herb gutter beds along the back deck so we will plant the chives when the gutter beds are installed but the radishes, although not normally a container plant, I thought we might give a try. 3 2L milk containers cut down, some potting mix and 5 seeds per milk container and I am hoping we can get 15 radishes. Sadly, butterfingers that I am, I dropped the packet of seeds so spent 5 minutes grovelling around on the deck to pick up as many as I could find (most of them were still in the packet thankfully) and Jasper seems to have mostly forgiven me. The kids decided it was more preferable to puddle jump on the deck however, so their assistance disappeared after the “dirt digging” part was complete. I still feel better after having spent some time in the garden and I am looking forward to seeing whether we can grow radishes in containers.