Seasons are Turning. GSC March

I’ve missed doing a post for a few Garden Share Collectives (GSC) recently, just can’t seem to make the deadline! Thanks to Lizzie at StrayedTable  for co-ordinating all of us home growers showcasing what is happening in our plots.

Harvests at the moment. What else? Tomatoes, tomatoes and yes tomatoes! I say that bit it has generally been a pretty average season. Also capsicum, cucumbers, grapes, zucchini and mini eggplant. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to planting full size eggplant. The ‘finger’ variety suits us well. There are a couple here left, centre.

Tomato harvestThe capsicum crop has been the best in years, yet I haven’t had much success with chillies that  are usually mounting up by now.

IMG_9815I discovered what an invasion of white cabbage moth on the capsicum growing in the greenhouse so a dose of Dipel was in order. Dipel is an organic pesticide derived from Bacillus thuringiensis. I’ve used this successfully in the past and I must admit I love seeing the little critters fall to the ground!

IMG_0116Yet again the value of using exclusion bags on crops as they mature has been proven. This shot shows tomatoes, some in the protective exclusion bag and one that didn’t have the protection. See how the birds ruined the tomato? Little buggers are even attacking green tomatoes this year!

IMG_0110I’ve started seed for kale, broccoli and brussel sprouts and cipollini onions. Hope I haven’t left it too late for the sprouts!

IMG_0124Time to gear up in preparation for the onslaught of autumn leaves that have already started to shed from our English Oak. This is a massive task. Will need to spread the 4 different compost piles I did last year and reset them ready to fill this year. This photo was taken last year and I love it. Quite look forward to seeing these pretty colours!

IMG_4643Head over to the Garden Share Collective and see what other gardeners are doing.

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Farewell to 2014. Hello 2015.

I must admit, I don’t really ‘get’ the hype that many have in relation to celebrating New Year. To me it is just another day, but I don’t mind any excuse to spend some time with those we love and to indulge in just a bit more food to well and truly top of the festive season.

My last weekend of 2014 was spent…….

Preparing the vegie patch to cope as well as possible during the anticipated hot spell (36c tomorrow and 40c Sat). With a camping trip coming up I like to leave things pretty well self managed as much as possible. First up was to offer the chooks some extra protection from the overhead and hot westerly sun by installing some shade cloth on the coop. I also added an extra water source that is in the shaded part of the coop to extend the water availability and it will be cooler there. Chooks don’t like hot water!

Chicken shadedBecause the summer sun is so much higher, it means the shiitake and pioppiono mushroom logs are exposed to a bit too much sun. I’ve rigged up a temporary shade cover that will do until I get a chance to make a more permanent structure (I hope). I’ve also put the plug into the bath they are stacked in to maintain the humidity to a higher level. I don’t anticipate harvesting anything from these logs for quite a few months yet, but I want to maintain the best the conditions I can. I am considering installing an automated misting system here, but it is not high up on the very long list of priorities!

Shiitake shade coverMulching of all the beds has been done in earnest. The ability to keep surface roots cool and minimise evaporation by mulching has proven to be extremely effective. I use organic sugar cane mulch just because its easy and readily available. I’ve mulched the asparagus bed, tomatoes, the potatoes growing in a bathtub, the wicking beds in the greenhouse and I will do the last couple of wicking beds over the next couple of days. The photo below is of the wicking bed in the greenhouse where I have had to heavily cut back the sweet potatoes (on right) because of their vigorous growth that was threatening to overtake all the strawberries. I doubt whether I will get tubers and as I only use the tops for greens in stir fry it doesn’t present an issue.

Sweet potato

One of the compost bins and the worm farm need a little more sun protection.  Some shade cloth and a piece of carpet should insulate the worms. They seem to hold their own pretty well if they have a deep place to dig down into.

IMG_6896This is what’s happening in the greenhouse. I’ve rigged up the gravity fed ‘auto pot’ watering system for the tomatoes (on the left). The old olive drum is full of nutrient made from an organic mix and it syphons into the pots when the water level drops to a specific point. It can go for several weeks without extra watering. There are cucumbers (yellow flowers) capsicum, lemon grass (gangbusters!) all doing well and the tomatoes I have trained along bamboo stakes have been maturing since mid November. I am now starting to harvest larger varieties which we welcome very much.

IMG_6901I planted up our camping herb planter box. By the time we head off, these lettuce, basil, coriander, chives and parsley will be a good size for adding to our evening meals. These little touches add greatly to our camping meals and saves buying large quantities that end up wasted. Not to mention how I can avoid having plastic packaging when I buy supermarket herbs.

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The exclusion bags I put over the blueberry fruit have proven to be excellent! I now need to go in and pick these luscious beauties. Some are as big as marbles. Hope the taste is big too!

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We spent New Years Eve with friends and their lovely guests and I have some interesting reports to make on the food I took to share. That will be covered in my IMK post tomorrow.

I wish everyone a happy 2015 and look forward to learning more from the wonderful bloggers I have hooked up with in 2014. It is such a fruitful and rewarding way to share knowledge and learn so much more than you would normally.

 

Lucky I like parsnip!

I pulled the entire parsnip crop on Sunday because I needed more space for tomatoes. I am really chuffed with the results, most are a pretty good shape and a decent size. They probably should have stayed in longer to develop some more, but, oh well…………….

IMG_6189 The oddly shaped ones will go into one of my favourite childhood foods. Carrot & parsnip mash! Just boil carrot and parsnip until mashable, drain well add salt and pepper (I like heavy on the pepper) and a good dollop of butter. Mash or give it a stick blender whizz and it’s done. The better shaped ones here will go in with the roast lamb I’m cooking from the recipe posted by Kylie over at  Town Mouse Country MouseParsnips cleanedOnly problem is that It’s hard to fit the joint and the veg into the ‘toy oven’ so I cooked the veg on the barbecue on a cast iron pot.Roast lamb Jamie OliverWorked out OK but unlike Kylie I wasn’t that thrilled with the gravy. I was having a bad day and even spilled olive oil on my keyboard while reading her recipe! Presentation is pretty ordinary too but the lamb tasted great! Our parsnips, our broccoli, our thyme and parsley in the rub.  All clean, fresh and full of flavour. This is why we do these things!Roast lambOther weekend jobs in the garden were, pulling the first of the garlic to make room for even more tomatoes. Looking great, another couple of weeks will really make it shine I think.Italian garlicThe berry house was out of control! First time I’ve been in there since the spring growth started, boy, things had gone ballistic! IMG_6173I found some baby grapes on the grape-vine. This variety is a slip grape we got from a man who used to supply Mr ATMT with winemaking grapes and it also makes a great table grape. First time its fruited so I’m a bit excited really.IMG_6175 Couldn’t see or get to the strawberries because of the growth of the raspberries. A bit of jute, a couple of bamboo stakes, some judicious trimming and its back in control in there.IMG_6178 As I was collecting the trimmings to go into the compost I realised I was about to waste a great resource-vine leaves. Fresh, organically grown and no blemishes at all. Gold! I will use these to make some dolmades and there will be enough to preserve a few as well. Glad I came to my senses before they hit the compost!IMG_6204

Not this year birdies! These blueberry plants are about 7 years old and I think we’ve picked about 10 fruit at the most. We have however been tagged as an easy target for the birds who love them. Not any more, tonight I covered several with my exclusion bags in the hope they will ripen and we will reap the rewards.IMG_6220 IMG_6236Today is remembrance day in Australia, a time to reflect and remember our soldiers from all the wartime conflicts we have sadly been involved in. The Flanders poppy is a symbol of remembrance day developing from its association with poppies flowering in the spring of 1915 on the battlefields of Belgium, France and Gallipoli, this vivid red flower has become synonymous with great loss of life in war.

I didn’t plant that variety but I did grow from Diggers seed “Poppy Ladybird” and it’s very pretty as well as fitting to watch and reflect on remembrance day.Ladybird Poppy

Lest we  forget.

The one I forgot!

In last weeks post I mentioned that in the garden I had a special thing to show but had forgotten to take a photo. I’m proud, excited and really looking forward to seeing what these taste like. I attended a grafting workshop 2 seasons ago and grafted  this cherry myself. Supposed to be a smaller rootstock so overall tree won’t get too large. So happy to see such jewels  appearing. IMG_2011

IMG_2008These exclusion bags have proven to be very handy. I’ve used them on tomatoes, mulberries, mandarins and now cherries. I have also put some on the heads of plants that are setting seed and will see how they go as seed saving bags.

Heronswood

Its been a busy weekend travelling all over the place for family functions so there’s not much to report. I did have a lovely day today visiting the historic homestead and magnificent organic gardens of Heronswood, the headquarters of Diggers Seeds.  Diggers Seeds is a company that supplies heritage and organic seeds and plants and they are active champions for seed saving and keeping our food chain free from GM produce. They have subscriptions you can pay for in order to get detailed seasonal catalogues and be eligible for members discounted prices. I wasn’t going to renew my membership but because I really like their commitment to the cause and the amount of work it would take to maintain both the gardens and property which is a vital part of Melbourne’s history, I did renew. Well worth a visit if you are on the Mornington Peninsula and worth going seasonally to see how things change through the year.

Heronswood

Wrong, wrong, wrong! In  more ways than one.

I’m sorry Mr/Ms Coles, but what you are selling as Raisins are in fact Sultanas!

Raisins that aren't

Not very impressed when I opened the packet of ‘Raisins’ to add to my other Christmas Pudding  fruit soaking in port. Lodged a complaint Monday have had no response back. I believe some parts of the world do classify sultanas as raisins but here in Australia, raisins have been big, fat, juicy fruits since I was born and I’d reckon a hell of a long time before that! Is this another example of American indoctrination that we have to contend with?

Need to rest up from a busy social weekend so hopefully there will be more to report next week!