Saturday, 20 November 2010

More late Spring plantings

We planted some super sweet corn seedlings today after we cut back the peas and broad beans. We used a barrow-load of compost, a tray of worm castings and some pelletised fertilizer to beef up the soil too!

We also planted some Mini Lebanese eggplant seedlings with the corn. Am hoping they'll be nice and share the composty goodness. ;) Planted them relatively close too, to see how they go in a smaller space.

It's great to see the compost exchange; digging in lovely broken down compost then filling the heap up again with old beans and peas and other trimmed off-cuts to start the process all over again.

We'll put in some corn seeds too just to stagger the harvest with a late crop.

Simon also picked up some tomato seedlings; Grosse lisse (scroll down to 'G') I think they are called. A large plant and fruit with good flavour, and for coolish climates.

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Harvests from the garden

We've been picking a heap of things from our little backyard garden in the last couple of weeks. We got a big crop of sugar snap peas - it's the first year we've tried them and we highly recommend them if you have kids; Clancy would pick and eat them at will! We also planted them close together given the small space we have for climbing veg and whilst there's a risk of mildew we did okay in fact. The crop was good too.

We picked our broad beans too. Not so many this season but then we didn't plant a huge patch as gave up the space for the peas. Broad beans were yummy with leeks and garlic and butter! We froze some too (parboiled) to make a dip with later.

We picked some small beetroots. Lovely earthy flavour - an organic variety. More to come on soon. The leeks are planted in various spaces around the garden with better results looking likely in the well-drained bed by the side fence. This area also gets regular watering so the crops seem bigger. Not huge leeks eventhough they are the Elefant variety! :)

Carrots are starting to come on as well. Small at thus stage but very sweet! I'm excited :) Clancy is going to enjoy pulling them up too!

The garlic are about to flower and wilt. Will try to save some seeds this time.

The herbs have gone mad with all the rain we've had as well. We will need to pull out the lemon balm as it's encroaching on everything!

The lime has fruited for the first time as well. It's a Tahitian lime and the limes have a lively spritzy flavour. The lemon are bursting with flowers too!

It's great to see what does well in the garden especially at this gorgeous time of year. We've had the added bonus of great rains over the last two months or so which makes such a difference.

Happy happy Spring!

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Sunday, 14 November 2010

What flower is this?

What flower is this?
Originally uploaded by margoc
Found in Phillip ACT. Anyone know what it might be? Looks like it may be native. Leaves are soft velvety grey-green. Flower is papery and mauve with small yellow stamens.

My mum thought it might be from the Solanum family (nightshades, etc), but the flower seems to come off the same stem as the leaves.

If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Vertical gardens for small spaces - part 2

I wrote about vertical gardens recently, with an idea using a hessian bag. Well, I've set it up and here are some shots with seedlings in for about two weeks now.

I put some strawberries in the top, pak choi and mini spinach around the bag between the wiring. The stake holds the set up well and the water seems to be retained well given the location is warm to potentially drying in summer months.

The soil mix may be too potent though or perhaps stuffing on the seedlings was a bit traumatic on them as some are struggling but many are bouncing back with new leaves and shoots, including the strawberries.

The hessian is a good choice I think; breathable, durable and retains moisture (like the old cooler bags!). Will post it's progress over the next few months as we head into summer.

My Mum was in town recently and went to Floriade and picked up a hanging tomato planter. I've experimented with two cherry tomatoes and interplanted these with Basil.

You are supposed to put a plant in the bottom of the hanger but I couldn't hang it high enough in a sunny spot. So we'll see how that works out too.

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Monday, 23 August 2010

Managing plum trees

One of our plum trees is in full bud with heaps of them about ready to burst!

Our second plum however seems only to be budding on one side of the tree. What could the reason be?

I posted a couple of years ago about our plum: and whilst no plums yet the trees are pretty healthy.

Both are, however, on the south side of the front garden and don't get as many sunshine hours as they could. This may explain the lack of buds on one.

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Sunday, 22 August 2010

Lemons in Winter

Just been out in the garden and noticed our Meyer lemon is looking a bit brown with leaves curling. There's no real evidence of scale or other pests so I'm guessing it may just be reacting to the cold snap we've had revelry. We feed our citrus (lemon, lime and kaffir lime) regularly with worm wee and top up the mulch too with the flooring and straw from our lovely chooks.

Hopefully the cold is the only reason! Will keep an eye on it over the week to see if anything else is affecting the lemon. Does anyone else have some simple and organic winter remedies for their citrus?

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Saturday, 24 July 2010

Connecting parents and kids through gardening

Last week I visited my friend's community garden plot with my 2 year old daughter. My friend also has a 2 year old - in fact we met in our mums and bubs group!

IMG_1644The plot is great and my friend is just getting started; mulching, composting and planting some winter broad beans and peas. Her son is also helping out and has his own little section of the plot. As we planted and raked, we talked about meeting others at the community garden and the space itself having lots of potential to set up small groups and workshops - especially a kids space!

IMG_1645We asked ourselves, what about a community garden playgroup to bring kids and parents together? There's such a thing elsewhere, like Macedon for example,

Some of us have small children who now, after three years of going to ‘veggie club’, know each other and really look forward to gardening. My four year old is so keen if I mention I am going to do some gardening he gets very excited.
Also, the Braybrook Community Gardens and Playgroup Victoria run a permaculture set up too, which looks awesome!

I did a bit of a search for such things around Canberra but so far, I can't find anything online. Is there such a thing? Does anyone know of a community garden space that playgroups may use or parent groups use as a meeting place? We'd love to hear about your set up if so!

There's been some great moves in setting up kitchen gardens as part of the curriculum in primary schools - Stephanie Alexander's program is very popular, for example. But what of younger kids and their parents?

Wouldn't it be great to hook in to both a parents group AND a shared gardening experience?

Designing a vertical garden for small spaces

I want to try out some vertical garden techniques in our backyard, to make more use of some of the precious sunny spots, especially behind our garage (the back of which faces north). So far, we have really only made use of trellises for peas and beans and corn stalks to support beans and the like - but there is certainly more we can do!

Some of the resources I've found so far make use of trellises, which is a great idea, but I'm kind of looking for something that's more like the vertical garden wall concept that will suit non-climbing plants too.

Here's what I had in mind:

1. Fill a hessian bag with composted soil and water crystals.
2. Stake the bag through the middle and also wrap with chicken wire to give the bag itself some structure and longevity.
3. Stand the bag next to the shed wall and sceure witht he stake and some wire ties (this should stop it tumbling into the garden bed itself).
4. Soak the bag through ready for planting!

This part of our garden is very narrow so the idea of growing "up" means we can hopefully produce more in the small space. The one concern is the amount of reflective heat from the garage wall (being metal), but I'm hoping that the soil/compost filled bag will act as its own insulation to a degree.

It's an experiment, so we'll see how we go! For now, here's another system you could try, from Instructables - very neat idea!


Now to think about suitable plants! Hmm, maybe herbs like coriander and parsley and some Chard, lettuces, strawberries, and more!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Surviving the white cabbage moth

I've been watcing the Brassica seedlings we put in about 2 weeks ago and have been meticulously removing the white cabbage moth eggs from the leaves.

Some companion planting guides suggest Dill is a good companion which attracts a wasp that feeds off the moth eggs. Zinias also attract ladybirds that can keep the eggs down too.

Green Harvest suggests some organic remedies too, but handpicking is most effective I reckon!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Experimenting with coexistence

Have set some seeds for winter crops as per earlier post and now looking at various ways to ensure seedlings survive with the chooks foraging around.

This row of leeks is covered with some chicken wire. We'll see of it's too open for the chooks.

We also have some leftover guttering mesh which, whilst not too tall, could be effective as well. This would be good for individual seedlings like the broccoli.

Also about to put in some beans and broad beans against the fence. This should replenish the soil after our summer crop of corn.

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Monday, 8 March 2010

Getting ready for Autumn vegetables

Originally uploaded by margoc
Sowed some winter veg seeds today, making th emost of the last bit of warmth before Autumn really hits us! :o)

Elefant leeks and Di Cicco broccoli (from Yarralumla Nursery), lettuce and Chinese celery (hope it comes up - the seed is a bit old now), and spring onion.

Loving this rain too!

In safe(r) hands

No this is what it's about!

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In safe hands

This is what it's all about!

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Sunday, 7 March 2010

Ants in the garden

Have noticed two ants nests in garden beds where ants are nesting between the sleepers. I did a search and looks like they might be Carpenter ants or so it says on the ACT TAMS website: "Sugar or Carpenter Ants (Camponotus species) are 5-15mm long, they have orange/brown bodies, black abdomens with an orange/brown band and black heads. They nest in decayed moist wood or sometimes in the soil. They feed on dead and live insects, honeydew, household waste and are attracted by sweet food. These ants do not sting and rarely enter houses."

Don't seem to too much of a problem but I think we'll keep an eye on them for now.

Pic of Sugar/Carpenter ants nest in our garden.

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Saturday, 6 March 2010

Introducing Marmalade and Sunday Rose - Isa Brown Chooks!

Please say hello to Marmalade (the first out of the box) and Sunday Rose! They are 20 week old Isa Browns, ready to lay.

We picked them up from the market first thing this morning and they already seem quite at home in their yard!