Posts Tagged ‘veggies’

On garden protection

September 14, 2013

When I moved from Hobart to Melbourne last year, I knew I would have had to make a lot of adjustments to the way I was used to gardening further south. The climate, the soil, pests & diseases, and availability of products will all play a part in how my veggie gardening will evolve over the next few years.

The first thing I have had to get used to is my sandy beachside soil. While this was advantageous in how easy it is to dig in & work with, as the weather gets warmer I am noticing more & more how a warm breeze can dry out the top layer of soil very quickly. I have already dug in several bags of cow manure and compost, but last weekend I took the plunge and bought some fine pine bark mulch from my local hardware shop. I noticed the plants no longer get droopy when its warm & breezy, and they already seem to be loving the extra nutrients this will add to the soil structure.

For my veggie patch, I also bought some pea straw to add an extra layer of insulation against water loss. So all around my seedlings and full grown salad veggies I put a layer of pea straw down & then a layer of fine pine bark mulch. The veggies have loved it! The carrots are at least twice as bushy as when I showed them on the 31st, and the mizuna and rocket have stayed fresh & perky all week. The birds however have also been enjoying the pea straw.

Birds. I have never had to deal with birds my entire gardening life. I was quite taken aback by the determination of these birds to scratch through every ounce of pea straw to find the leftover pea seeds and bury my tiny lettuce & dill seedlings in the process. What to do?!?

As you might have seen from the photos, I already have chicken wire around the seedling beds to keep my cats from digging them up. But I didn’t have any spare mesh to put on the tops of the cages as well. So I went rummaging in my shed in desperation one afternoon and dug up my veggie nets I bought for an entirely different set of pests (insect pests such as fruit fly & cabbage moth) and hastily draped one over my mesh cages and secured it down with clothes pegs. Its not pretty – but it works!

Garden covers

These veggie nets only block out 15% of the sunlight and still let the water and air through so they’re pretty good in my opinion. And I am happy to report the birds have stayed well away from the pea straw since I put it up!

And even though the pea straw is now all mixed in with the mulch instead of them being two nice neat layers, the plants don’t seem to know the difference. All the lettuce seedlings (2 weeks old now) have their first set of true leaves. I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited about lettuce as this year – I want to spend the whole summer eating home grown salads!

Baby cos lettuce seedlings

The mizuna also have their true leaves now, and the dill and coriander are not far behind.

Here is the “mature” side of the veggie patch:

Garden sept 14

I have harvested 2 lots of rocket this week and they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down yet, though just to be on the safe side I sowed another row of them this afternoon. If I can salvage some of the lettuce seedlings that are growing way too close together, I will fill out some of the gaps here with lettuce, because you can’t have too much lettuce.

I also sowed a row of beans today, a dwarf variety called Stringless Pioneer. I love beans, I hope they really do yield 500grams per plant, I’ll be in heaven even though I only have space for 1 row. I also want to sow some more carrots somewhere, as they take so long to mature I want to at least attempt to have a somewhat rotating carrot crop.

I’ll end tonight’s post with another poppy photo, they are just so cheerful.

photo 1(2)

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A garden update

June 29, 2009

Having issues with WordPress’s iPhone app at the moment, but I thought I would at least show you some photos from the garden today. The broccolis are getting bigger, the peas are still peaing, and the broadbeand are getting taller. I did some weeding and planting in the main flowerbeds today (plants I recieved from Diggers and Woodbridge Nursery), I’ll post some photos of those when they emerge from dormancy. And that’s all for today 🙂

A Garden Update

May 16, 2009

It was so cold & blustery outside today, but I hadn’t visited the garden for a few days so I thought I had better pay it a visit. So this afternoon the sun was coming & going between the clouds, so this would be a good a time as any to go outside.

There few a few tomatoes hanging on the vines still, but I think I am going to have to pull them out soon. Once they are close to ripening the wet weather quickly rots them and I end up throwing them onto the compost. A not-so-wonderful end for the last veggie of Summer in the garden. So it’s time for the Winter veggies to have their turn in the (low gloomy Winter) limelight.

Broadbean shoot

I sowed these broadbeans about 3 weeks ago from memory, and they have just shown up in the last few days. I guess it’s the cold that has delayed their germination, but I seem to be getting very good germination rates so I don’t really mind. I would have planted them sooner but I had Golden Nugget pumpkins here that just refused to die back like they were supposed to, and I didn’t want to damage the pumpkins by pulling them out prematurely. I’ve never grown these before so I’m interested to see if I’m going to need to stake them or not.

Pea blossom

My plan for an Autumn crop of peas is coming along nicely, with the first flowers appearing this week. Here’s hoping I get some pollination & some yummy peas in the next few weeks!

Carrots freshly pulled

I had sown a small row of carrots before I planted the cabbage seedlings (in top left corner of the photo), and, being my usual impatient self, I just planted the cabbage seedlings on top because I didn’t want to have to wait for another area of the garden to free up. But it has worked out okay as an accidental catch crop, because now that the cabbage leaves have almost started to cover the space in between each plant, the carrots are just about ready. Well, for baby carrots anyway! I have a few in there still, so the next lot I pull will hopefully be a bit bigger. I have 2 rows that are 4 weeks old also, and my last sowing (2 rows each of St Valery and Mini Round) have sprouted this week. I am determined not to run out of carrots before Summer this time!

Parsnips & carrots

Out of sheer curiosity (and also because I am terribly impatient) I pulled two parnips as well. These were sown on the 28th of January, and I was very surprised at the time because they had all germinated after only 9 days. Covering them with plastic & onion bags really works, and have used it for my carrot seeds with great success too. So these ‘snips are about 3 months old now & still probably need another 3 months! They are cool though! I’m going to grate them up along with the carrots & make some veggie fritters. It will be my first time eating parsnips so I hope I like them!!

Parsnip leaves

Here’s a photo of the parsnip leaves, which was another thing that was a mystery to me when I first started growing them. They are a bit like flat leaved parsley, but several times larger, and the stem bases wrap around the newer middle leaves – you can see this a bit in the other photo. It’s kind of cool. Carrots do this too but because the stems are narrower it’s less noticeable.

Turnips

Also eagerly awaiting my first turnip!! This is the biggest one, I might roast it, or make some soup with the winter squashes I still have. Such excitement!

That’s it for now – I’ll see what the weather’s like tomorrow after work, I might pull out the tomato plants & spread out a load of manure & coffee grounds. Seems like a long time until its going to be Summer again!

Garden Update

January 28, 2009

patch-2

I can’t remember when last I did a garden update, but I guess I should do one now since we are pretty much at the height of summer down here in Hobart. Even though the days are getting shorter, the temperatures are getting higher and we are getting up to the low 30’s for the first time this summer. You can see in the photo above, the corn are starting to ‘set fruit’ (is there a technical name for that with corn plants??), the tomatoes are huge and the onions (bottom corner of the bed) are almost ready to dig up. Under the chicken wire (where the little terracotta pots are) there is some late-planted lettuce (before it was so hot) that will hopefully give me something to harvest before it bolts. And in between all that are some snapdragons that accidentally grew there (don’t ask…).  And here’s the other bed:

patch1

Celery all going to seed (I ate as much of it as I could….), mini pumpkins (you can see one poking up over the wood), raspberries behind the nets (still producing a few every day) and you can see a tiny bit or purple in the middle of the bed, under that I sowed some parsnip seeds. I did my research and found out that they take up to 28 days to to germinate, and optimal germination temperature is 18 degrees Celsius. So I’ve sowed them into warm soil & to keep in the moisture I put a few layers of onion bags held down with wood. I have had it there for about a week & there is a few things sprouting, but I don’t know if they’re parsnips or weeds! I might have to take the onion bags off tomorrow to let them develop a bit before pulling them out (if they’re weeds).

seedlings

Speaking of seedlings, I am already planning my winter veggies. These are broccoli seedlings, they sprouted after only 4 days! That’s a record for me. Also around the same time, the Cauliflowers came up, and brussels sprouts. Still waiting for the cabbage to come up though. these will only be ready to put in the ground in about 6 weeks, it will be March by then!! They need another 6 weeks or so to build up a good framework of leaves. Then the cool weather will be here when they want to grow their ‘heads’. 🙂

tomatoes

The warm weather ha definitely helped my tomatos, I had a problem with the blossoms dropping off before setting any fruit. I think it was due to the cool weather but I haven’t looked it up. But I have managed to harvest one determined Roma-type tomato, as well as some beans & a bit of usable celery:

harvest

I had the tomato in my salad for dinner tonight & it was so delicous!! There’s nothing like the first tomato of the season. That’s all for now!

Melbourne – Too much of a good thing

September 15, 2008

The week before last I I had a short break from uni so I went on a trip to Melbourne for 4 days. In the weeks leading up to my trip I was excitedly pondering what culinary delights await me, and just thinking of all the great coffee I could drink gave me goosebumps.

Most of this didn’t happen however, as I found myself being somewhat ‘sensitive’ to Melbourne…everything in it. From the turbulence on the flight over, to the bumpy bus ride back to the airport at the end of the trip, I was sick sick sick. I couldn’t eat anything without my stomach churning soon after, but I found I could eat grapes, strawberries & almonds without making me sick!! Yay 🙂

I love the street vendors in Melbourne, you can walk out of just about every major building and go straight to a fruiterer, or florist, or newsagent; and the staff are really nice all the time. I survived on these street vendors for the majority of the time I was there, with my grapes & strawberries & almonds.

Another foodie place I loved was the food court thing downstairs from David Jones. You can get anything & everything there; fresh pasta, seafood, fruit & vegies, imported chocolates, cheeses, cakes, breads, coffee….you name it, it’s there. I would spend a fortune there if I was able to bring it all back to Tassie!!

The first day I was in the city, I wasted no time in going to my most favourite favourite chocolate makers, Haigh’s. Being an Adelaide girl, I used to love going in after work and buying a few creams to take on the bus home with me, savouring each little cream centre to the last drop. My most most most favourite flavours are actually pictured on the home page at the moment, Rose (pink ones) and Violet (purple ones) creams. The combination is perfect: it satisfies the flower lover AND the chocolate lover at the SAME time!!! Definitely a match made in heaven as far as I’m concerned. And the little coloured spot on top of each chocolate? An acual piece of rose or violet petal, coated with crystalized sugar. Genius! So, I bought a big box of these to take with me, and I’ve been having one or two each day.

Another ‘must get’ item from Melbourne were a big bag of Pick-your-own-flavour Jelly Belly jelly beans. After being sent to the complete wrong place by a friend of mine, I eventually found them in the Nutshack in Melbourne Central, at the bottom. I was so excited!! A lot of the flavours were empty when I was there, but I still got all my most favourite favourites: Mango, kiwi, orange sherbert, lemon-lime, cantaloup, juicy pear & red apple. Notice a common theme here? 🙂 Yeah, I like my fruit. I bought a $25 bag & still have over half of them left 🙂

On my second day there I decided I would walk from Richmond (where I was staying) to the Botanic Gardens. I only half knew where I was going…but I found a group of old ladies who looked like they were going there (I don’t even really knew how I could tell…just got a vibe from them!!) and followed them 🙂 It was a cloudy day, threataning to rain any second, and I didn’t have my tripod but I managed to take some good shots anyway:

I spent a good four hours walking around the gardens, as it’s about 3 times bigger then the one we have in Hobart. However, most of the plantings weren’t really to my taste. Lots of spikey succulent-type things, tall grasses, natives & palm trees. No sweeping herbaceous borders like in Hobart, no Tulips or Hostas, only a few Rhododendrons & Azaleas, and a small Magnolia garden that the middle photo is from. I must say though, even that was somewhat disappointing…. several spindly trees half-heartedly flowering. Not like here where the Magnolia trees are gigantic & the flowers are literally clambering for space on the branches there are so many. It was nice to be out of the hustle & bustle of the city though, and there was some welcome wildlife keeping me company:

I must confess though that the trip the Gardens only made me want to go to the Hobart ones again, and I cant wait to go on Saturday when I have a day off.

Overall, the trip was okay, but I missed my garden and home cooking. Once I got back into my own home the sick feeling went away completely once I was eating familiar foods again. I had no idea my stomach was that sensitive, but there you go. My garden had come to life when I was away; my roses have all started to shoot, my clematis have just taken off, and I can see flower buds on my blueberry bushes. Yay!! Yesterday I planted my first batch of summer vegetable seeds. I am determined not to buy any vegetable seedlings this year, as I have more then enough seeds of everything, it just takes a little more effort them just planting seedlings out. For my tomato, capsicum, eggplant, cucumber, pumpkin & squash seeds, I put them under the house with glass on top of the ‘seed punnets’ (which are actually old egg cartons) to keep them warm to aid germination. Then once they sprout I will have to prick them out & then grow them on in my green house. Then, I have some clear plastic I can use as a cloche once they go into the veggie bed. After that they’ll be on their own! I also direct sowed some radishes, celery & corn, and will do the beans & peas this weekend. It’s really exciting.

Well I must go do some homework now I suppose, this post is already almost 1000 words (pity I can’t write this well for my uni assignments!). I will leave you with a photo of one of my favourite colour combos (and one of the only things that got me excited at the Melbourne Botanic Gardens) burgundy & acid green. Ciao!