Spring is definitely springing up! Garden Share Collective.

At the risk of painting the devil on the wall, I’m going to say that Spring is well and truly here and I doubt there will be any more frosts. There, I’ve said it! This past winter has been a ‘real’ winter. Very cold, lots of frosts, lots of rain and I’ve loved it! I really like seeing the seasons roll around and for the past few years there have been strange happenings such as things bursting into flower in mid June, then frost burning them off and trees  shooting out new leaves before the old ones have fallen. This year it has been a definite autumn, into winter and I hope now into spring. The daffodils are a sight to behold and they have been in bloom for a good three weeks so far. There are also irises and freesias about to pop open.

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IMG_2313One of the irises has opened its heart.

I’m not so confident about no more frosts yet to remove the frost protection, sure as eggs………………

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We’ll end up with more of this! This was a beautiful ball shaped fig, didn’t even think to cover it and it has been whacked terribly by the frost. Not sure how well it will come back but I’ll give it a bit of TLC and see.

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Then there’s the ever pleasing sight of asparagus spears shooting. I’ve already picked 3 or 4 and munched on them as I work outside.

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The broad beans were planted late but are going really well. In previous seasons I’ve found that they don’t set pods until the bees are out so I may be in with a chance yet! The wire support on the poles is working really well keeping them upright. I’ll add another layer as they get taller.

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The garlic at the end of this bed is rocketing along. These brassicas are nearly done and there are some radishes in here too that I pick and eat as I walk by. This bed will be mostly tomatoes and corn this summer.

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The silver princess gums are flowering and we love checking daily to see if the little gum nut caps are any further open. It is amazing how well the caps hold on even though the flower is in full bloom. This is one of my favourite plants!

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You could swear our keeper of the garden is relishing the afternoon sun on his face.

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As I sit in our small, front room in front of the open fire where bread is proving and we are eating the warming, spanish chicken dinner I made last night,

IMG_2376I wonder how many more nights we have to enjoy such cool climate comforts.

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I’ll try to add this post to the Garden Share Collective site but I keep stuffing up due dates   so it may just go on the FB GSC page.

 

Don’t be fooled-Winter in the garden is busy!

It’s been many moons since I last did a Garden Share Collective post. I just don’t know where the time has gone, I blink and another month has passed me by!

We can no longer kid ourselves that summer has gone (didn’t really have one), and Autumn too is racing out the back gate being replaced by what appears will be a cold winter. As the sun shines and sparkles on these icy cobwebs in the early morning I revel in the changing seasons.

IMG_0722A couple of things to share this month:

A new bed and repositioning of the spud bath. The bed beside the chook house that had corn in it over the summer has been fed and garlic is planted in it. The bath across the back previously took the spot where the stepping stones are and I have moved it to make this area a little more attractive and easier to access and use. I can now get to the worm farm and one of the closed compost bins much more easily. There are a couple of small  spaces that I will fill with bee attracting flowers. Love that camellia!

IMG_0780I must admit I love winter in the garden, the feeling that everything has stopped kicks in and you then turn something over or see the cool climate crops return a harvest and you realise just how much does continue on. The sweet potatoes in the greenhouse are starting to die off and I’m eagerly awaiting to see how many and what size sweet potatoes I get.

IMG_0838The broccoli heads are starting to form and the garlic in this raised wicking bed is well and truly on track.

IMG_0852There are a couple of plants I’ve had to put some frost protection in place for. This is a Davidson’s Plum, the other is a tamarillo that I thought I had lost last year but it came good over the warmer seasons.

IMG_0824The couple of beds that you walk through on the way into the veggie patch are slowly showing signs of the seasonal changes. The nectarine on the front right is resisting yet the yellowing plant rear left is a cherry that has just about dropped completely. There are bulbs and irises poking up through the mulch, exciting. No eggs from the free loading chooks ATM though!

IMG_0903The last of the grapes harvested and slipped into the mouth with a sigh of appreciation.

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Looking forward to having a bit of time over the next couple of weeks to plant more, tidy up and plan for the spring. I’m looking forward to reading the other GSC posts.

http://www.strayedtable.com/grow/garden-share/

 

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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Sunny Saturday.

What a bottler of a day! Not too hot, not too cold, not too windy, just right. The kind of day where you’d be nuts if you stayed inside. It was also our state election in Victoria today, which I must admit I feel very ‘ho hum’ about. I used to take my politics very seriously and stress over how I was going to vote, but these days I think they are all pretty much ‘tossers’ and put their ego well before commitment to leadership and democracy. I do feel though, that you need to cast your vote seriously or you don’t earn the right to complain. But that’s enough of that!

As in the iconic Aussie Bob Hudson Newcastle song where he sings “don’t you ever let a chance go by” this week I did just that. We had been advised that Vicroads were going to remove the tree on our nature strip (verge to those outside Australia), so I taped a bloody big sign around it asking the tree people to leave us any mulch and if possible the wood from it’s removal. Didn’t think anything would come of it but lo and behold- 2 great big piles of beautiful wood and a great big pile of mulch that we can put to really good use under this pin oak. IMG_6546 Bit of a work out for Mr ATMT as a fair amount of it had to be chain sawed into smaller lengths and we will need to split it into good oven sized bits at some stage. IMG_6561While he was working on the wood I began fitting the posts to our large wicking bed. As well as giving me somewhere to tie my tomatoes to (cordon), these posts also make it easy to bird proof with netting or add shade cloth when it gets too hot. I suspect that may be the case this summer! I didn’t take a photo but this is what they are like on the other beds.IMG_2297I had a lovely time ‘pottering’ around in the garden today. I picked some Elder flowers and I’m going to have a go at making some Elder Flower Cordial. I have never tasted, seen or been told what this should be like so it will be interesting. They are however the prettiest flowers so worth having just for that.IMG_6550 Elder flowersI got into the greenhouse and had a tidy up and hung racks so the tomatoes in there can be trained and supported. The sweet potatoes on the right here are going berserk.IMG_6572 IMG_6570It was nice to sit back and like what I saw in the ‘patch’. It’s really starting to look like it’s been there a while, not only the 1 year it’s been.  The garlic is about ready to harvest,I’ll do a separate post about that.IMG_6568The grapes are getting bigger,IMG_6573and the magpies tried to beat me to the hammock.IMG_6564A lovely tea of snow pea, broccoli, chicken and ginger pasta to top off a lovely day.

Off to the zoo tomorrow, I’m excited.

Thanks to Lizzie at strayed table for hosting the hookup for the monthly Garden ShareCollective.

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Garden Share Collective. Cup day in the garden.

Holy Moley, 2 posts in one night! Mr ATMT is away so I am not doing much after coming in from  the garden once it was dark. Love daylight saving, we can spend so much more time nurturing our souls watching things grow and tending to them.

This months Garden Share Collective (Thanks Lizzie), is based on how I spent the day in my garden on Cup Day, the day we usually plant tomatoes in Victoria. I only got 6 tomatoes in but it’s a start! Many more to go.

I started painting the fence we have installed around the patch. I hated the look of new treated line so I am coating it with the same stain I used on the chicken coop. Intergrain Natural Stain Charcoal. Really happy with the look and the way the greenery just jumps out with the dark backdrop.

IMG_6243 Here are the first of the tomatoes, 6 in this bed, hopefully when I pull the garlic it won’t disturb the roots too much. this variety is German Johnston.IMG_6214 Broccoli is doing really well, this succession crop is being harvested. Now, where to find space for the next lot! There are also beetroot and lettuce in this bed with snow peas that are flowering at the end.IMG_6213I planted a succession planting of snow peas on the end of this bed. Butter beans are thriving and the beautiful miners lettuce and chervil I got from Herbalicious Nursery have  (are) performed incredibly well. The last couple of leeks are on the left. I also stuck in some eggplant ‘fingerling’ which did really well last season.

IMG_6210 These are the snow peas about to from pods. Can’t wait!IMG_6207Did some tidying up in the greenhouse, planted some cucumbers in there and in the wicking beds outside. So much more to do and what I should report on, it’s so rewarding seeing this stuff grow and harvesting it.

 

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Thanks Lizzie at Strayed Table for getting all these together.TheGardenShareCollective300pix1

Well Spring is well and truly showing its face. Flowers are smiling at me, fruit trees and deciduous trees are in bud, leaves are popping and showing signs of life. Birds are sharing their joyous chatter and everything just looks clean, pretty and bursting with energy.

I’ve been picking oranges from the now very healthy tree. The broccoli and kale are nearly done but I’m still getting side shoots from the broccoli.

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I started some sweet potato in the greenhouse and have planted them out into one of the greenhouse wicking beds. I don’t really expect to get a crop of tubers but the leaves can be used like spinach and in stir frys. Good little root system! IMG_5358 The broad beans are growing beautifully, but no sign yet of ‘beans’. Researching I found mention that they don’t usually appear until it warms up enough for insects to do their thing with pollination. Sure hope this little guy has done a good job!IMG_5355 My worm farm is apparently a nice place for slugs to take up residence. This is just a few that were ‘relocated’ never to return. I’m sure their offspring will though!IMG_5345 I’ve tidied up my pots, adding fresh potting mix, thinning our any dead wood and fed them. All my seedlings are doing well, tomatoes growing rapidly and the cipollini onion seed that I heard about from another blogger are up and nearly ready to transplant. Time to do some cucumber, pumpkin, beans soon and all those other summer crops. The Brussel Sprouts still are teenie weenie, don’t hold out much hope there.

First tulip opened today.IMG_5417Two Corella birds sitting in the oak tree watching down on me.IMG_5428And this magnolia says it all!IMG_5270And this magnolia says it all!

Garden Share Collective-Firsts.

Bit of a mixed bag this month, Winter can be quite depressing with the weather cold, daylight hours are short and some of the winds we have had have tested the moods of many. Rain has been incessant too, making it difficult to get out into the garden. That’s why on days like today we need to celebrate and make the most of such lovely sunshine.

Loads of firsts to report!

First baby lemons on the dwarf Eureka lemon IMG_5024 First shiitake mushroom since I set up the new dedicated spot for them IMG_5029 First crops in the the new wicking beds in the greenhouse are going well.IMG_5036First fruit on the Pink Grapefruit tree. Waiting with anticipation to see if they are pink when they ripen. Climate can effect how much colour develops, with warmer areas having stronger colour.IMG_5041 First tomato seeds planted have emerged. So far I have planted Siberian, Purple Egg, Grosse Lisse, Heirloom Mix from Diggers, Russian Purple, Money Maker, German Johnston and Tigerella, I’m yet to sow Amish Paste, San Marzano, Periforme Abruzzese, Black Krim, Big beef and Black cherry. I’m determined this year I will have a great range to do a taste test of. I am also planning on selling some to staff and passers-by. This helps cover cost of seed, potting mix etc.IMG_5052My first ever brussel sprout plant is not performing too well (I think). Seems stunted, anyone got any ideas? It’s about 500ml high, maybe that’s normal but not having grown them before I’m not sure.IMG_5027 First heavy frost came yesterday, looks like someone has put cling wrap over the bird bath.IMG_3501 First of the jonquils are smiling around the placeIMG_3521  First firing up of the wood fire stove this year. I did the big clean up of it and baked bread, osso bucco, potato & leek soup and made a lovely big pot of chicken stock. The bread I made this week isn’t my usual sourdough but a loaf my niece handed over the recipe too. It’s a basic yeasted white bread cooked in a cast iron pot. Because I had the wood fired oven on I was able to fit it in, bliss! Loaf looks good, osso bucco was delicious as was the potato and leek soup. the only things bought for all of this was the osso bucco meat, and some chicken necks for the stock. Everything else came from the garden or what I have in bulk (bread flour etc). That makes me happy!IMG_5131

Osso bucco with mash and broccoli.

Thanks Lizzie from Strayed Table for hosting the Garden Share Collective concept. Great to see what others from around the world are up to. Hook up to GSC wont be available until Monday 4th August. Looking forward to what you have to report.

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Garden Share Collective July 2014

Time to have a think about what’s been happening, being harvested and planned over the last month.

We are halfway through a school term break here and I have been going ‘gangbusters’ trying to achieve as much as I can while I have the opportunity.

Plantings

I have planted a whole lot of flower seedlings I started earlier in the year, these have been put into the bed that has a lane way running along it. A good spot for viewing flowers from the lounge room window. I have also planted some kale, leeks, divided up and planted runners on strawberry plants. I grow these strawberries in self watering pots, the plastic drum is filled with nutrient rich water and refills the planter automatically as needed. I’ll add a more detailed post about these at a later time.

Strawberries in need of TLC IMG_4605We’ve planted a few shrubs , one I’m excited about is the native pepper berry which should fill in a nice gap along the fence as well as giving us the opportunity to use the berries in cooking and it is a good for attracting native birds. I’m still working on a place to plant my peach tree! Just can’t decide where will be most suitable.

What I’ve been and plan to be doing.

Jobs targeted over the last couple of weeks have been to spread mulch over the newly marked out beds along the back of the yard. This is what’s left (until it stops raining), rest will be spread next week.

IMG_4609 Mulch really neatens the overall look up. I had been using these beds as a dumping ground for all the soft prunings and old tomatoes, pumpkin vines etc, knowing that they would be covered soon. Now the mulch is covering this green waste, it creates a natural composting environment which will aid in developing better soil long term.

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I’ve started building 2 wicking beds in the greenhouse, already I can see how much more available growing space there will be compared to using the old bathtubs.

IMG_4600I’ve targeted next week as the time to put smaller wire on the chicken shed to stop those pesky little sparrows coming in. Only if it stops raining of course! We’ve had around 60ml in 24 hours. Glad the gutters were cleaned out last week! I also plan to move the shiitake mushrooms to a dedicated space  behind the greenhousethat’s not much good for anything else. Think it’s time to innoculate  some fresh logs soon.

IMG_4575Harvesting

We’ve had some great harvests recently. The broccoli is sensational, as is the kale. I’m picking celery, beetroot, snow peas, assorted herbs, silver beet, lemons, lemons and more lemons.  The chooks have started laying again after a short layoff. I had to buy eggs last week for the first time in 12 months, that hurt!

Had a great stir fry with most of our stuff and some kohlrabi that I bought from Thorpdale Organics. Never tried it before and it was sensational, absolute winner of a veg. Bought a water chestnut type crunch to the dish. Great chicken and veg stir fry was the result!

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Garden Share Collective June 2014

The Garden Share Collective

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Welcome to my contributions as part of the Garden Share Collective. I love the concept of bloggers being able to support, inspire, advise and educate each other in so many  areas. The following is an extract from the co-ordinator of The Garden Share Collective

The Garden Share Collective is a group of bloggers who share their vegetable patches, container gardens and the herbs they grow on their window sills. Creating a monthly community to navigate through any garden troubles and to rival in the success of a good harvest we will nurture any beginner gardener to flourish. Each month we set ourselves a few tasks to complete by the next month giving us a little push to getting closer to picking and harvesting. The long term goal of the Garden Share Collective is to get more and more people gardening and growing clean food organically and sustainably. 

Each month I will be posting on things such as planting, harvesting and jobs that need to be targeted in the coming months.

20140524_162004Planting

I find that June is more a planning than planting time. Apart from a few succession plantings and some seed for spring flowers in the greenhouse, not much is going in. I have however, today started some kale seed, I have been using far more than I thought I would! Trying to get timing right is crucial with planting things to avoid frost damage when flowering happens to crops such as peas etc. As winter starts to fully set in, the “Must Do’ job list starts to grow and just seems to get bigger.

Harvests

It is great at the moment, I seem to be able to pick lots of odds and ends to go into all sorts of dishes. Last night I posted about how important it is to have essentials at hand to make it easy to whip things up without needing to be dependant on supermarkets etc.  At the moment I am harvesting broccoli, Jerusalem artichokes, celery, capsicum, chillies, tomatoes, leeks, the occasional strawberry and autumn raspberry, silver beet, kale, lettuce, spring onion, various herbs, picked my first beetroot from this crop tonight ad of course harvesting some eggs from the chooks! I still have some tomatoes on plants in the greenhouse and I have been holding off picking so I can say “I’m still picking tomatoes in June”! The taste isn’t great, think there is a reason they are summer crops.

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Tomatoes in JuneThe ‘To Do’ List

The english oak is about half done with shedding, the pin oak out the front has just about finished so dealing with the leaves is a priority. I blow them all into one area, run over them with the mower then layer them into bins made from wire, lined with black weed mat. Layers go in with some blood and bone and lime as well as some green stuff like grass clippings. I then put some weed mat on the top and wait for nature to do its thing breaking them down into leaf mold which is a great soil conditioner. I’ll end up with 3 of these bins dotted around the yard.

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Other jobs I have tagged so far  are:

  • Sort out worm farm-take some castings out to free up one layer.
  • Plan and prepare site for where peach tree is to be planted
  • Transplant blueberries from wine barrel into garden bed, plant tamarillo into wine barrel.
  • Plant flower seedlings into front bed. Add compost to each as planted.
  • Check seed library
  • Stake brussel sprouts
  • Check for plants susceptible for frost damage and stake steps to minimise

I’m sure I will be adding to this frequently I have already thought of a few more!