Previous months in Brisbane, Queensland
With Gavin & Paula Atkinson
Stress on the vegetables is pretty good for this time of the year.
That's because we're currently having the coolest summer since about
1962. A few of the tomatoes are getting some worms in them.
Sowing this month: climbing beans, pop corn, watermelon, capsicum,
Harvesting this month: beans, carrots, shallots, spring onions,
beetroot, sweetcorn, celery, tomatoes, capsicum.
As we move into the last month of summer it's time to reflect on
how are garden is going. The summer, with the exception of a few
38 degree C days has been pretty refined. Humidity is hardly a problem.
The only problem we're having is fruit fly (I think). We keep finding
little white grubs inside our soft skinned vegetables and fruit
eg tomatoes, capsicums (bell pepper) and also to a lesser extent
in our raspberries. It just goes to show that next season we'll
have to take some preventative organic measures, like fruit fly
traps and bagging, to better protect our crop.
We've got no major sowing plans for February. This month we expect
to be harvesting beans, carrots, shallots, spring onions, sweetcorn,
celery, tomatoes, capsicum.
Time seems to be going by so quickly lately. Probably had something
to do with February being such a short month... even with the extra
one day in 400 years!
Both Paula and I recently had a cold which put a dent on things
in February. I hate having a cold in summer... except it doesn't
really feel like summer here. The days are a constant 27 degrees
celsius, overcast and not a drop of rain (although every day the
weather bureau stupidly predicts showers for some strange reason).
And now that it's officially autumn (fall) nothings has changed.
I've ripped up a few vegies which have gone past their prime (lettuces,
corn, etc). The tomatoes are still pretty sluggish. Lots of little
grasshoppers everywhere (have to go around and pull their heads
off). The carrots we keep harvesting are great - lovely size, colour
and taste - our best carrots yet I'd say! The beans are going well
I've set some goals for March (let's see if I can make them!):
Clean up our raised garden beds and rip out the grass that's
managed to creep in;
Sow a few lettuce seeds - we'll chill them in the fridge and
sow them. By the time they're maturing the weather should be
right and hopefully they won't bolt;
Transplant some tomato, rockmelon and watermelon seedlings
that sprouted in our compost in our ornamental garden;
Mail order some more seeds, a Chilean Guava plant and a few
organic pest control devices;
Prepare for some major changes in the garden for April as part
of our crop rotation;
And add a few more pages to the site. The plan is to add an
extra vegetable profile, the first fruit profile, a new feature
article and prod my web hosting friend of mine to get the chat
facility up and running! I'm also hoping to improve the linking
into some of our partner's web sites.
Well another month escapes us. It doesn't seem long ago that I
promised to myself to add more pages to the site. 30 days later
I only got one new page up. Work (as always) gets in the way again.
It kept me out of the garden a fair bit, but luckily last weekend
I got out and started weeding our raised vegetable beds and fruit
I also went crazy ripping up the old and rather past their prime
celery. The fennel also got pulled up. Our Blue Lake climbing beans
also met their maker, but I've sown some more seeds to keep us in
The weather for March was wonderful. Warm but not humid. And as
we technically hit mid autumn (fall) - it couldn't be could it?
- we've gone nuts sowing seed here there and everywhere. I've sown
seed for Rouge D'Hiver and green mignonette lettuces, Long white
streaked eggplants, capsicums, Gross Lisse and beefsteak tomatoes,
and also some dill and gourmet basil. We'll just have to wait and
see to before we know what germinates and what doesn't.
Plans for April? Hopefully nurture these little seedlings. I think
I'll also severely trim or pull up the old tomatoes. It'll also
soon be time to start thinking (and maybe doing) something about
starting a crop of green manure. This will boost the nitrogen levels
naturally in the soil by growing legumes in the old corn/melon/cucumber
bed. April will also be the month we harvest all our carrots and
spring onions - and then resow.
And if I'm lucky I'll actually get around to adding more pages
to the site.
I've copped a few emails from online gardeners complaining about
our lack of a chat facility. I know, I know. I keep "chatting"
to my friend who helps run the server we're on. The software isn't
cheap and this site hasn't yet reached a stage where it pays for
itself. So, you'll have to be patient. We'll get there someday.
Maybe not soon, but sometime.
April has come and gone. It never did turn out the way I planned.
I came down with a nasty virus in mid April which took me out of
the garden for the rest of the month. The up side to this was it
gave me time to write a couple of feature articles and also a profile
I did get the time to plant some potatoes and rip up half of the
old tomatoes and in early May the rest will go. I also moved some
of the strawberry runners as they'd been invading the tomato bed.
May though is the month for my crop rotation. The temperatures
are dropping and winter is just around the corner. The legumes and
brassicas will move into the old tomato/capsicum bed. The rambling
but unproductive watermelon vine will get ripped out and a crop
of winter green manure will be sown in its place. And it's also
time to start sowing carrots, parsnips, onions and garlic into the
old bean bed. The seasons change and everything moves around.
On the web site in May we're planning a feature article on composting.
Our fruit profile poll is going strong and will determine what the
next fruit profiles on the site will be. Things keep getting added
and hopefully our site is getting closer to showing how easy it
is to organically grow your own produce.
We went crazy in the garden back in May. Ripped up the old remnants
of the bean raised bed and the old corn/watermelon bed. In their
places went row upon row of carrot seed, garlic and some catch-up
crops like lettuce and silverbeet (chard) seedlings we'd grown from
seed. I also sowed some onion seed into little containers. The idea
is we'll transplant them as we harvest the lettuce, silverbeet and
pak choy (sowed that too).
We pumped some wonderful home grown compost into these beds (great
timing as we'd just written a composting
feature for the site). Obviously our compost bin doesn't generate
enough heat to kill all seeds. We say this as we got literally hundreds
of little lettuce seedlings growing in both beds. They'd come from
some old lettuce that had bolted which we'd composted. Anyway, we
had the heart breaking job of thinning out the vast majority of
them. Still we left about 20 seedlings which should fill in some
In the old watermelon bed we sowed some green
manure. This is just seeds of lupins, woolly pod vetch and barley.
It'll hopefully pump some nitrogen into the soil and will get dug
into the soil in a few months to improve it'd organic nature. We
couldn't believe it'd grow so quickly! May had been pretty warm
up to the last few days. Day temps were hanging around 24C (75F)
and around 15C (59F) at night. Temps in Brisbane (as has the whole
Australian east coast) feel dramatically in late May-early June.
Winter is here!
Luckily before temps started falling we were lucky enough to sneak
in some climbing bean seeds which are growing pretty strong. We're
still harvesting carrots, spring onions (which just keep getting
bigger and bigger) and the odd capsicum (bell pepper). We've got
basil coming out of our ears so we might make some pesto in the
next couple of days. Our raspberries started making more fruits
(which is very surprising) and we've noticed that our strawberries
have also started flowering again (very odd).
June will be a quieter month in the garden. Depending on how some
broccoli seed went, we might transplant them to where our scraggly
capsicum and tomatoes are. Not much else happens around this time
This month there'll be some big changes on our site. In June you'll
see our search service go live. This will search through our whole
site to make it even easier to find the organic gardening information
you're after. I've also given up on my ISP friend finding an easy
and cheap Chat software solution. So we'll be using Egroups
to set up a chat facility, discussion centre and maybe even newsletters.
I'm also planning to write a little about raspberries and blueberries
this month. But that's enough from me, you should be inspired enough
now (hopefully) to get out into the fresh air!
Being the middle on winter you'd think things would be pretty slow
in our vegetable patch. But it's actually been a little busier than
we'd have predicted.
The old tomato-acid lovers bed is looking the best it's looked
in ages. With a bit of kelp and neem oil spray the tomatoes and
capsicums are forming beautifully - of course with no fruit fly:
not that you'd expect it at this time of year. The blue lake pole
beans keep on climbing in this bed too. And we just planted some
Our bed of green manure is growing strong and looks very lush.
The carrots are still tasting great and should keep on 'till early
September when the corn goes in. And in the other root crop bed
- best termed the baby root crops - the carrot, garlic, pak choy,
silverbeet and the many lettuce seedlings are growing strongly.
We've also just sown some parsnip seeds.
In the fruit garden our strawberries are flowering and setting
heaps of fruit. The coffee tree is covered in dark red beans ready
for harvesting. But the rest of the fruit garden is very quiet -
although we can see the blueberries are starting to bud up.
July will be a steady as she goes type of month. Nothing major
planned, nothing major expected. And spring is only a couple of
July's been a wonderful growing month even though it's the middle
of winter. In fact my vegie patch hasn't looked healthier!
We've had a typical Brisbane winter. Not only is it a nice day
time temp, around 23 degrees C (about 73 F), and cool (but reasonable)
nights, temps falling on average to about 8 C (46F), we get absolutely
no rain. I haven't been watering too often either, but evethything's
going fine. The traditional westerly winds of August should be arriving
reasonably soon I would've thought. That dries a lot of plants out
so I must remember to keep the water up to them. In fact the recent
weather has been so lovely that the other day I was out painting
the fence next to the garden. Had to get it ready for the passionfruit
vine we bought two weeks ago. We also picked up two exotic fruit
trees - the Ceylon Hill Gooseberry and White Sapote. CHG is meant
to taste like a blueberry. We got the only type of white sapote
that doesn't need a cross pollinator (Dade) which saves a bit of
space. It's meant to taste somewhere between a custard apple and
apricot (and was it peach? Can't remember). Anyway sounded like
it was worth giving it a go.
Our first crop of green manure is ready to be dug in early this
month. It grew so quickly - we couldn't believe it! The great part
about it was some compost I'd previously dug in as sent up some
tomato seedlings. So I'll put some plastic drink bottles cut in
half over the top of the tomatoes to protect them as I dig in the
green manure. Elsewhere in the garden our bean pole is starting
to get beans. Our old tomatoes and capsicums are getting a second
wind and the little broccoli seedlings are slowly growing. Of course
we've still got fully grown carrots and lettuces coming out of our
ears. Lots of activity in the root crop bed as carrot and parsnip
seedlings get going, while the garlic is also pushing along. Our
strawberries are still flowering, and are now forming fruit. The
blueberries are also starting to flower. And the Meyer lemon which
I moved to a sunnier location is about to flower, and better yet
its leaves are starting to return to a normal green colour (instead
We're going to do a little experiment with our raspberries. We've
got 4 canes. I'm going to cut 2 canes to the ground and leave the
other ones. Hopefully this will give us an idea on what method works
best for our Heritage raspberries which we can implement next year.
Lot's of fertilizing to do in the month ahead too as we start preparing
We're also looking into moving our site to another web host to
improve service. That should happen in August too. The search and
discussion area we set up isn't working as well as we'd like. Our
new hosts have got some better solutions for us in these areas too.
Things have been busy so we haven't had the time to spend in the
garden. During the weekend's Paula's been dragging me out to paint
our fence and retaining wall. Good news is 90% of the fence has
been prepared and had two coats of paint (so it's finished!!) -
only one small section remaining. And our retaining wall has been
prepared and had one coat. So hopefully soon I can return to my
little vegie patch.
The weather for August here in Brisbane has been the usual - westerly
winds that dries everything out - so constant watering is important
(at least I haven't neglected this duty). Other than the winds the
days and nights are pleasant. The winds should go in the next week
or so if they follow their usual patterns. And then it's time for
spring!! Or so I hope, otherwise I won't be a happy camper. Heard
on the news the other day that the last eight months in Brisbane
has been the driest on record since the 1920's. Crazy stuff.
I've already noticed some of our seedlings are growing stronger,
and our lemon twig and mandarine tree are starting to blossum. I
think our mandarine tree is getting big enough now (about 4 feet
tall) to give it a go making fruit. Last year we pulled off the
little baby mandarines to put the plant's energies into growing
bigger. I'm hoping the development of fruit will pull down the branches
a bit more and make the tree bushier.
Our avocado tree (which is very very mature - perhaps too mature)
is flowering and I gave it recently some dolomite lime to help the
flowering and setting process. Apparently at this time of the year
they also need Boron - problem is I don't have a clue on how you
do this organically! If
anyone knows please tell me!
Our blueberries have some wonderful bell shaped flowers and look
cute. They're also starting to get fresh growth which is good for
next year's season. I've also spotted the start of two new raspberry
canes - so I'll watch them patiently.
We also recently moved our lime so this month we'll watch to see
how it recovers.
In the vegie patch itself the broccoli seedlings are getting bigger
and our pole beans keep on pumping out little green nutrious packets.
The old capsicum is still hanging in there and is ladened with fruit.
Our small tomato and capsicum seedlings are still that - small.
Hopefully the warmer weather will bring them on. Same hope applies
for the sweet corn, zucchini and cucumber seed I sowed the other
And we still have so many lettuces it's not funny. The silverbeet
is growing well as are the carrot and parsnips, and the garlic and
So that's our garden at the moment. Any plans? Nothing other than
watering, fertilising, harvesting and hoping it continues to grow!
We went for a week's holiday in September, but when we got back
to Brisbane and couldn't believe how much our garden had grown.
The snow peas were busily thrusting away from the soil, the tomato
seedlings had boomed, our little capsicum seedlings had got that
little bit bigger. The rockmelon and watermelon seeds I'd sowed
had germinated and already were growing their true leaves. And all
the root crops were doing well. We pulled up three All Seasons carrots
last night, although they were still baby size (we'd finished our
supply of excess carrots from winter's harvest). Brisbane is still
bone dry. We haven't had any real rain to speak of since the start
of the year. Weather bureau predicts no substantial rain until December.
In the fruit garden things have been really moving along too. Our
blood orange started blossoming and has had a lot of leaf growth.
Still not big enough though for it to bear fruit under its own weight.
The blueberries are forming up reasonably well. And we harvest a
good half dozen of strawberries every morning at the moment (which
helps make breakfast interesting). We've been getting a few mummified
strawberries though of late. I think this has to do with the fact
that the berries are forming on "children" plants which grew as
runners from "parent" plants. If you see any of these furry disgusting
berries make sure you pull them off and put them in the bin. Otherwise
the disease spreads to other fruit. And guess what, our ice cream
bean (which no kidding has grown about a metre and a half in twelve
months) looks like it's about to form flowers. Sweeet.
We did have some failures though this month (other than the mummified
strawberries). Our climbing bean plants, while they're still pumping
out pods, have now got some kind of disease. That usually happens
to them after a while anyway. Should still have another good month
or so from them before we pull them up. The other disappointment
was our sweet corn. After sowing Snowgold seeds, which didn't germinate,
we tried sowing Eight Cob F1, which only germinated once. So I tried
again this morning. Must water them more regularly in this weather.
Hopefully that'll fix the problem. Plus mulching. Must do that soon,
especially as the weather heats up.
Other than that, I need to slash and dig in my last crops of green
manure. Plus I need to build a proper trellis for the snow peas,
rip out the old capsicum (which had grubs in all its fruit - reminder
to self: spray neem oil and kelp on my crops!), get rid of some
evasive grass... it never seems to end!
We've added a hints and tips section to the web site which is updated
every couple of days. I've been drawing them from the site, particularly
regional advisor's suggestions, and also tips from visitors to the
site. Also we added an organic pest and disease control article
too. Hope to do a further follow up to this one in the next couple
Things have been so busy of late that we have hardly a chance to
think about gardening. The best I've recently done was a quick sowing
of some Gold Bantam sweet corn seeds. I must admit I'm getting a
bit miffed about my corn this year. I've tried on two successive
occasions to grow some super sweet corn and have only had one germination
(which I've since ripped up to avoid cross pollination in varieties).
The rest of the garden is actually looking good as we've had some
rain and the odd shower over the past fortnight or so. They're even
predicting a possible storm this afternoon (Yeah!)
Our strawberries are starting to slow down their production runs.
I've been happy with how they've gone this year - a good handful
of fruits for breakfast each morning. Although we've probably lost
about a third or so to disease or the little mini slugs we seem
I ripped up the old beans during October and have planted some
more. Our rogue Amish Paste tomato (and some other type of tomato)
are growing well and I've been spraying their fruits (when I can
remember) with a neem oil and kelp spray. Seems to be working well
- hardly any tomato grubs yet. Our snow peas are now flowering and
broccoli is slowly growing, although I feel by the time the edible
flower stalk is ready it would've quickly bolted to seed because
of the then summer weather.
In the actual tomato bed it's a bit of a ditto from above. Our
little capsicum seedlings are growing very strongly. Tried sowing
some eggplant seeds early in October but it looks like they haven't
I've already talked about our dud corn in the corn and other gross
feeders bed. Our melon seedlings (which I sowed as seed mid-late
September) are growing great. I might have to soon do the heart
breaking duty of thinning them out. And because things have been
so busy (and therefore neglected in the garden) I've only done a
half hearted job of digging in our green manure.
In the root crop bed everything seems to be growing really well
- carrots, onions, parsnips, garlic. Although I do need to rip out
the lettuces which have bolted to seed. The silverbeet is also growing
well in this bed.
In the fruit garden our ice cream bean tree is flowering for the
first tree. I still find this plant most amusing. Also doing a flowering
first is our lime. Our coffee plant is also flowering profusely.
And the avocado tree is growing its leaves back. But the best news
was after taking a chain saw to the avocado 18 months ago it now
has about 100 mini avocados covering it. Super yeah!
Well, what's been happening our way?
Not too much. We haven't had much of an opportunity of late to
spend in the garden. Most of our time seems to be pulling out crazy
lettuces that are three feet tall and have bolted to seed.
We really need to get out and mulch the garden. I keep saying it,
I keep putting it off. But we've really got to do it!
We've got a number of tomatoes and capsicums, but as usual, we're
getting a few grubs. Had to get out the derris dust the other day.
I'm still surprised that the snow peas are going well. Plus the
beans have kicked into production. Still no sign of broccoli heads.
Will have to watch that one!
We're getting a number of turkish melons forming, and our little
zucchini and corn plants are growing strong. The carrots, parsnips,
garlic and onions keep on going.
I've resowed some pumpkin seeds - let's hope 2nd time around works!
We're getting a number of raspberry canes coming up now, and our
blueberry production line (which was very limited this year) has
shut down. We're also getting a second burst of flowering with our
citrus plants. Obviously the lack of water a couple of months back
postponed a lot of the flowering. And we're over the moon with our
avocado tree which is covered in close to 100 fruit around the size
of 20 cent pieces. Very exciting!
The month ahead? Weeding (does it ever stop?), mulching (will I
ever do it?) and watering (got to do this if I want a decent harvest!).
So it's a case of steady as she goes!
Hopefully I'll also get around to eventually finishing off my pests
and diseases 202 article and put up the new messaging area.
The weather here is hotting up. It's now a pretty warm regular
32 degrees C at the moment (90F). Just the type of weather for my
2 weeks away from work on holidays (although a few degrees lower
might've been better).
I'm actually pretty happy with how the garden is holding up. All
the root crops are grooving along, as are the strawberries, although
their second wind seems to be waning. We're getting the odd raspberry
too, but I expect things to get a lot better in a couple of months
time as summer ends and autumn starts.
Tomatoes and capsicums are tracking ok too - which is odd for this
time of the year. And as I haven't picked our beans for a while
they're starting to get as long as some of my carrots! Positively
serpentine at the moment!
Our melons aren't doing to well. They got powdery mildew about
6 weeks back. I regularly sprayed but didn't seem to catch it in
time. Same problems for the zucchini, although it's standing up
a bit better to the mildew. At least the corn is growing strong
- knee high now, and with male and female flowers.
I keep having problems with a small little patch that I tried
sowing melons in back in October, tried pumpkins in November and
still no luck. So I've sowed melon seed again a few days ago. They're
up now with their baby leaves. Let's see how it all works out.
Our little avocados keep getting bigger and bigger. We've lost
probably about 20 to the winds, but there is still so much left
it's not funny.
Well that's about it from me. I don't see much happening for me
in the garden. There is lot's to do - weeds and grass to get out
of the beds, but I had a little accident on New Years, so I'm now
hobbling around on crutches - mostly bedridden. Hope your New Year
celebrations were better!
Well after a couple of weeks of being on the mend I'm now almost
100% after my New Years altercations. Don't ask. Let me just tell
you it involved a small amount of New Years Eve alcoholic beverages,
a deceptively shaped street curb, a hospital and crutches. Good
enough now though to get back out into the garden!
In the last week or so I've relished getting back into the garden,
although I've had to generally only do things early in the morning,
or late in the afternoon.
I laid out some compost under our lovely big avocado tree, pineapple,
orange and mandarin. Then a nice thick layer of sugar cane mulch
to prevent the compost being cooked and dried out. I'm starting
to feel really positive again. I've been neglecting the garden of
late. Just this morning I gave almost all the remaining fruit trees
a liquid manure drink (as well as the corn). Then it was time to
cook up another brew. Ditto the compost as I raided our ever-flattening
heap to fill our rotating bin.
The avocados are now getting a reasonable size. Probably about
half the size of a PC mouse. Other fruits are also forming, including
3 Indian guavas, and a good couple of dozen chocolate pudding fruits.
At this time of the year I wished I was like every other man and
his dog and had a mango tree in my backyard. Maybe in a few years
time... or maybe not, seeing they get pretty big!
More fertilising planned ahead for Fun February.
We're also getting some baby citrus fruits on our mandarin, lime
and cumquat. The strawberry run is practically over, as they now
start putting their energy into making more runners. Except now
I have to pull all of them up, otherwise the runners will invade
my vegetable beds.
We started getting these weird blacky-brown bugs around our climbing
beans during January. Couldn't really tell if they were getting
up to no good, but seeing they didn't appear to be beneficials they
got a dose of pyrethrum. Only seen a couple more since. I now sneak
up to them with a pair of scissors. They now get to experience what
it's like being in two parts.
I got around to pulling up the rag-tag elements of the snow peas,
and have sowed fresh seed which is coming back up. We're harvesting
very small quantities of broccoli in the sub tropical summer, before
it can bolt to seed. Got to make sure not too many gardeners know
I planted this so late, otherwise I'll be totally discredited!!
Nah, might as well share it with the world!
I've just resown some climbing beans, and start getting serious
about raising some seedlings. I reckon it's a good time of the year
to get them started, provided they're in the shade during the heat
of the day, otherwise they'll cook so quickly.
So what shall I turn my hand to for February? Well for starters
- tomatoes. I've been having rotten luck on the tomato front for
a while now. Time to turn that around! Ditto eggplants!
What else? Some more herbs couldn't go astray - time for some parsley,
basil, and coriander. I think I'll sow a couple of more rows of
sweetcorn as the current lot is fattening up, so we should try to
keep ourselves in stock for future harvests. I think the current
lot of corn should be ready around now.
We've also started harvesting carrots. They've done very well.
Can't say the same for the garlic and onions in the same bed. Bulb
formation has been pretty poor this year. What lessons are to be
learnt here? Should try harvesting some parsnips soon for a roast
or something. Could be fun.
Last weekend I went out into the garden and went crazy. I pulled
up our old capsicum bush which has been with us for 18 months. I
think we only ever got one red capsicum on it, the rest of the time
the green fruits fell off prematurely, or had fruit fly grubs in
them. I also pulled up the broccoli which had gone to flower (surprise
surprise at this time of the year). I also ripped up the old climbing
bean pyramid and started digging in the dirt to pull up the grass
that had invaded the bed. I also attacked the strawberry runners
that had started heading into the bed (instead of staying in the
besser block border). The only vegies that stayed in the bed were
some snow peas that were an inch tall.
I then sowed some drills of Cos lettuce, mustard, pak choy, tat
soi, bok choy, mini cauliflower and mini cabbage. While it hasn't
been hot, I've been watering them each morning to make sure the
seeds don't dry out during germination.
Next on the list of beds which'll get some action is what should
be the tomato bed. It currently doesn't have any tomatoes. It is
absolutely over-run with strawberry plants. And a watermelon that
grew out of no-where (this will stay though). I sowed some Black
Russian, Grosse Lisse and Beefsteak seeds, and eggplant seeds a
couple of weeks back. Plan to transfer them this weekend after I've
cleaned up the bed. Hopefully I'll also clean up the grass and weeds
that have started taking over the bed which is reserved for the
I've also been harvesting lots of carrots of late. My garlic was
an absolute dud this year (just like last year). I think this is
because I planted the cloves too late (July). For 2001 I'll start
earlier - April, so they grow into the cool winter soil. I have
a stack of parsnips at the moment. Might have to make parsnip soup
soon I reckon. Can't think of anything else to do with them other
Also on the agenda is planting out some seed potatoes. Haven't
had any fresh home grown potatoes for about 6 months now and I'm
fanging for them. Another busy time needing to be set aside for
Things in the vegetable patch are in a state of flux. Some seeds
have germinated (carrots) but a lot of my asian greens look like
they've been chewed up way too early in their lives by small grasshoppers.
Have to watch this further.
Some of our tomato seedlings are working out, others have been
similarly chewed out. Getting some nice red capsicums now. Plus
we've also got our biggest ever watermelon on the way. I keep giving
it new nicknames every day, as I tend to forget the previous day's
nickname. Today it's "Big Bertha".
The old root crop bed now only has some parsnips in it. Harvested
all of our carrots and the other half of parsnips recently for a
soup. Also through in a
butternut pumpkin, but kept the seeds.
The zucchini bushes are going well, and our experimental pumpkin
sowing (from the soup pumpkin) have come up. Will they make it through
to creating pumpkins? Who'll know... watch this space.
We've recently harvested our Indian guavas - although they were
pretty badly effected by fruit fly. I need to look into some good
organic measures to help control these guys as they're really getting
We've also got a few acerola (barbados cherries) in the past week
And just the other day we harvested our first raspberry of the
season. Mmmm... love those raspberries.
It's been quiet fun harvesting exotic fruit which we really don't
know what it's going to taste like. The indian guavas tasted like
a big passionfruit. And the
acerola had a very bitter-sweet taste, but had 3 big seeds in each
cherry which you have to look out for.
I plan this month to sow some more asian greens, lettuce, and also
pop in some garlic cloves later in April.
A couple of weeks ago I resowed some seeds in my brassica/asian
greens/legume bed. Basically none of the tat soi germinated - but
it has now! I also "filled in the gaps" amongst the pak
choy and parsnips and put in extra half row of snow peas. The carrots
and beetroot have generally germinated well and the mustard - which
tastes and looks a lot like endive, perhaps a packing error? - is
practically exploding in size. Actually one problem we've got is
the mustard/endive overshadowing the beetroot seedlings. Last weekend
I also planted some garlic cloves in the bed. The wong bok is going
great, and probably will be totally harvested in May. I'll them
aim to sow some onion seed in its place.
In the tomato and capsicum (bell pepper) bed everything is growing
well, although the basil is now getting a little ratty. A little
over a week ago we harvested "Big Bertha" our one and
only watermelon. I'm still only half way through it but it's been
great chomping into it each day. Our Jimmy Nardello capsicum have
been fantastic. They look like long chillis (hot peppers) but taste
sweet. Only problem
with them is the number of seeds - but then again they'll come in
handy for seed saving.
The next bed along is also progressing well. We harvested a lovely
juicy zucchini the other week, and after shoving cut male flowers
into female flowers (felt a bit like a porn movie director) hopefully
we'll have even more zucchinis in the coming weeks. Our pumpkin
seeds we sowed for a bit of a laugh earlier in the month are coming
along great, and are already forming flower buds.
I really cleared out the old root crop bed back in April. There
is still a row and a half of parsnips (but for how much longer as
I eye them off for soup?) and a big bunch of silverbeet. A couple
of weeks ago I sowed some lettuce seed which I'd had in the fridge.
The idea is to "trick" them into thinking that once planted
(and no longer in the fridge) winter is over and it must be spring
(although it's actually autumn), forcing them to germinate better.
I'm also testing my hoodoo with spinach. In the past they've never
grown bigger than baby seedling size. They're already reached that
level so I'm hoping I might actually have some success this season!
In the fruit garden our raspberries are fruiting well, giving us
some berries each morning for our breakfasts. Our acerola (Barbados
cherry), which has one of the highest levels of Vitamen C recorded
is pumping up their fruits. Should ripen in the next couple of weeks.
The coffee cherries are still growing well, as are our chocolate
pudding fruit. The mandarins are getting bigger and bigger, and
a couple of them are already too big for the stems, so I'll need
to give them some support in the coming week. Out in the native
Australian part of the garden we're
also feasting on midjim berries - the native berry which originates
on North Stradbroke Island only 30 kilometres from Brisbane.
As the temps continue to drop and we officially head into winter,
Im thinking about digging up the wong bok and endive/mustard
I have growing, and sowing some onion seeds instead. Our tomatoes
are growing real well and are starting to pump up. The zucchini
keeps on going, although for how much longer Im not too
sure. And the avocados are now falling on a regular basis from our
tree. Were fast reaching a stage where we give everyone we
know and avocado and then give them another a week later, and so
on. I dont know what variety they are. The skin is yellowy-green,
it has a massive seed with not a lot of flesh. And while the taste
isnt strong, it is the most buttery avocado weve ever
tasted! Very nice indeed!
The raspberries are also getting to the end of their season, but
from looking at the strawberries and their dainty white blooms this
morning, well have some other berries soon. The kumquats are
starting to turn orange but I think the mandarins will need another
month or so.
Well Julys wintry days are just around the corner. What am
I saying? Junes wintry days are already here.
Mind you, Brisbane folk really cant complain about winter
too much. No frosts and overnight temps rarely below 5C, unless
you live out in some of the western
suburbs or further afield near Ipswich, we get off pretty much scott
free each winter (with the exception of Augusts blustery westerly
The only thing that gets me down is that its dark when I
get up in the morning to go to work, and its dark in the afternoon/night
when I get home from work. I always feel the most magical elements
of the day - being able to enjoy just a few precious minutes in
my garden during daylight - have been stolen from me. But Ill
admit, even though we dont have really cold winter temps,
its pretty cold to be pottering about that early in the morning
anyway. But I better get used to it, as July usually starts bringing
the first strawberries of our winter harvest. And theres nothing
better than a bowl of cereal in the morning, topped off with your
own bumper crop of organically homegrown strawberries!
Our mandarins are pumping up and have started t get their first
twinge of orange colouring. I expect to enjoy our first ever harvest
of these guys at some stage in July. Although our cumquat tree is
covered in little orange fruits. I think Ill need to dig up
an old marmalade recipe Betty sent me once.
Weve still got avocados up to our eyeballs, although I expect
things to drop off significantly in July as most of their fruits
have already fallen to the ground and been harvested. Im a
little disappointed with our chocolate pudding fruit (black sapote).
The fruits look like theyve stopped growing. The other day
when I was inspecting them it looked like ants had set up nests
in the top of them. Some more research required here I think
In the vegie patch proper, everything is steady as she goes. The
first bed still has a number of asian vegetables (like pak choy
and wong bok), garlic, carrots and snow peas. Theres also
a rogue tomato bush, some sugar snap peas starting to grow (which
will be interesting as traditionally I hate eating peas - Paula
likes them, but Im willing to give them a go to see if the
fresh variety make any difference).
The onion seed I sowed the other week still hasnt germinated,
but thats ok as it usually takes a little while to get started.
The tomato bed is suffering some losses as plants get the odd fungal
disease as start to head down hill. After getting rid of a lot of
old capsicum fruits, the plants are starting to rejuvenate and set
fruit again. The basil continues to boom in this bed, and needs
a lot of attention in trimming the flowers off to keep the taste
sweet (and less aniseed in flavour).
The rambling old zucchini has seen much better days and will probably
be put out to pasture at some stage later in July if it doesnt
make any more fruits. Thisll leave this bed pretty empty.
But thats ok, giving them a rest for a couple of months is
good. Anyway, the tomato seeds I sowed for spring have germinated
in their little seedling trays, and will find their home in this
bed at some stage later on in August.
Im really pleased with what was the old root crop bed, which
is mostly filled with "filler-in" crops at the moment.
Yes, there still is a row of parsnips (I wonder if their taste is
starting to deteriorate? I havent eaten any of them for a
couple of months now). And after weeding the bed and giving it a
good mulch early in June, the silverbeet, now approaching two years
of age in August, has got a second wind. I find it amazing that
these guys still taste great. Finally the spinach and lettuce that
I sowed a while back are starting to become reasonable size seedlings
(about three inches in height). Sometime soon, Ill have to
bite the bullet and thin out the lettuce seedlings as theyre
very tightly compacted at the moment.
I hope your garden is coming along as well as mine. Yes, there
still is plenty of potential for work, but theres also a lot
of sitting back and waiting in anticipation of whatever will be
the next harvest in the gardening circle of life.
On another front, work has started (slowly) on the redesign of
the Vegetable Patch web site. Im aiming to make it run a little
faster, and hope to rewrite some of the feature articles and profiles.
Nothing radical, just making things a little quicker to load, and
easier to read. But I expect this will take a good 2 or 3 months
to get around to completing.
Charlie the wonderdog stinks at the moment. Recently I went out
and fertilised a lot of the vegie patch and some of the fruit trees.
This involved creating a mulching layer of cow manure, which Charlie
seems to enjoy playing in underneath the mandarin tree. So we get
home from work and he smells like
well he just smells! Should
wash him this weekend - hopefully by then the manure under the trees
will stop smelling too.
I've recently managed planting out some spring onion and broccoli
seedlings. I got impatient and couldn't be bothered trying to grow
from seed after a few dud attempts with onion seeds. I need to work
on building up a bit more gardening patience
I also weeded the lettuce/spinach/silverbeet (chard) bed and then
mulched it. I then turned my attention to the ornamental garden
at the front. We have a
camellia which we planted in the wrong spot (not enough sun and
tends to compete with grass), so I planned to dig it up and transplant
it now that it's
winter. One problem, I forgot to check for wasps in the area I intended
to move it to. So a word of warning always check for creepy crawlies
in the garden!
In August, the westerly winds will probably start kicking in, so
you'll need to remember to water the garden more often, otherwise
everything will dry out. I also need to get into the fruit tree
terraces, do a bit of weeding, a bit of fertilising and a bit of
mulching in preparation for spring. If I'm really motivated I'll
also head down to the local fruit tree nursery and pick up a macadamia
nut tree to fill in a gap.
The avocados are now almost totally finished. Last time I checked
I could count the number of remaining fruit on one hand. This'll
need some major fertilising (and some slashing of the surrounding
ferns) to prepare it for flowering (again) in the next month or
Things are growing well in the root crop/legume leftovers bed.
Last weekend I checked on the carrots and garlic and they looked
like they were coming along
well. The snow peas have a bit of a fungal disease but they seem
to be weathering it. The sugar snap peas haven't flowered yet, but
I expect it to happen this month.
In the tomato/capsicum bed we're still getting plenty of these
guys - especially the yellow pear and broad ripple yellow currant
cherry-size tomatoes. The basil bush is looking like it has had
better days though!
The old zucchini/corn (from a long, long while back) bed, is getting
prepared for spring's tomatoes etc. I ripped up the old zucchini
vine the other day, and have a number of tomato seedlings that should
be transferred from their little seedling trays in August.
And the lettuce/spinach/silverbeet bed is doing fantastic and will
be pumping out lots of lovely greens in the month ahead. I think
by September I'll be in a better position to plant some other crops
(corn, melons, cucumbers, zucchini etc), but that's another month!
Well better late than never as they say in the classics. Our site
has fallen into a little bit of disrepair in recent weeks as family
events overtook day to day life.
All being well I should even be able to get back out there tomorrow!
Which is good as its now September, and officially spring,
and there is so much to do.
The vegie patch needs a good fertilising. Ive got a bucket
of liquid manure with its name on it! Then theres the fruit
orchard which is also crying for a bit of fertilising, and a good
weeding and mulching. In fact the whole garden needs a mulch in
preparation for summer to ensure it doesnt' dry out
Our blueberries are starting to form little fruit, and our orange,
mandarin and lime are in various stages of bud bloom. The lime even
has little mini-fruit on it! Speaking of citrus, we harvested our
first couple of mandarins during the week, and I do not kid when
I say they were heavenly! Weve also got strawberries coming
out of our ears! Yesterday I harvested almost 1 kilogram of fruit
(about 2 pounds) and made up a scrumptious strawberry and orange
. and a jar of strawberry and orange toffee. It now sits
in the fridge next to the failed cumquat marmalade, which is also
like a toffee. I need to spend a little bit more attention on making
sure I dont do this again!
Next doors avocado is in full flower but ours isnt.
An off year? Or more likely Ive neglected to fertilise it
properly. Looks like another job for a chook manure and dolomite!
Weve got yellow pear tomatoes everywhere at the moment which
is fantastic as I love these sweet guys. But its the broad
ripple yellow currant tomatoes that are the sweetest youve
ever tasted, and theyre just coming into season now. The rest
of the vegie patch is growing well - the carrots, garlic, beetroot,
and spring onions are doing great in the root crop bed. As are our
sugar snap peas which is the first time weve grown these guys,
and theyre doing so well. Will I be converted to the darkside
and actually eat peas with my dinner - stay tuned to find out!
Elsewhere in the garden, the capsicum keeps on going (and going
and going), and we have so many rouge dhiver cos-style lettuces
at the moment! Still got lots of silverbeet (chard) and a little
spinach (which needs fertilising to green-up). The broccoli seedlings
are doing well too and keep getting bigger.
And if Im really lucky Ill do my best to sow some seeds
of zucchini, cucumber or pumpkin - maybe even corn if Im lucky!
In fact being spring almost anything goes. So I better go and get
my hands dirty - again.
In the past month I can see the wonders of spring. But I'm wondering
more about how well it could really be if I actually spent the time
and looked after the garden a little better. There's still so much
weeding, mulching and fertilising that needs to be done at this
time of the year. Hopefully this weekend will be a turning point.
At least I hope so!
Our citrus trees (or twigs for the lemon) are all in flower and
have the most beautiful fragrance. I've also noticed the Ice Cream
Bean is about to start flowering this month. Wish the same could
be said about the avocado which looks like it's taken a year off
after going crazy the past 12 months. Some of our chocolate pudding
fruits (black sapote) have ripened.
We mixed them in with icecream for a wonderful taste sensation.
The blueberries have set and probably need a lot more water to plump
up. And of course there is still so many strawberries at the moment
it's not funny!
In the vegetable garden, some sections are coming to the end of
their tether. The snow peas and sugar peas have both managed to
get a bad case of powdery mildew and will get the pull this weekend.
The pak choy I sowed only about a month back has already started
to flower, so the next stir fry we make up, they'll get harvested.
I sowed some carrot seed about a fortnight back. It always take
a while to germinate, but I'm a little worried that perhaps the
seed bed might have dried out. After all, we've hardly next to
no rain for close to 6 months. It's great having sunny winter,
and now spring days. But a little rain would go a long way for
us gardeners! The rest of the root crop bed is doing well - carrots,
garlic, spring onions and beetroot are all getting progressively
The old tomato bed (which still has a couple of plants as they're
still fruiting) is also doing very well. The capsicums (bell peppers)
are looking like they're getting a second wind. This is good as
these guys seem to take so long to get around to fruiting. The
broccoli in the bed is also doing well, but could do with a liquid
manure fertilising - again this weekend beckons. And the lettuce
seed I sowed three weeks back looks like it needs thinning.
The new tomato bed is doing very well. After initially a very
slow start (must have been reading the "How to Behave Like
a Capsicum" book) our Black Russian tomato seems to have got
its act together. It's growing progressively bigger. And the Grosse
Lisse tomato seedlings I bought from the shop are still all accounted
for (nothing's munched them yet).
Still no sign of the basil and parsley which I sowed from seed,
but this will take time. The Yellow Pear tomatoes in this bed are
getting a little tired. Will keep an eye on them.
Finally the winter "fill-in" bed which until recently
was reserved just for lettuce, spinach and silverbeet is coming
along like a house on fire (and similarly would probably be coming
along like a house on fire full of petrol tins if I got my act together
and fertilised). I sowed a fortnight back some sweet corn seeds
(which have germinated well) and also some other seeds. I love
my watermelons, and have gone with Moon and Stars. I've also sowed
some whacky asian Horned melon (which I don't have a clue whether
it'll be worth growing or not) and some Black Jack zucchinis. The
last couple of seasons I've let my zucchinis grow all over the place.
This year I'm going back to my gardening roots and will be growing
it vertically up a stake. Main reason for this (other than reducing
the risk of powder mildew) is my soon to be lack of space in this
The only other vegetable bit of luck is my compost heap which has
sprung up about a dozen viable pumpkin vines. They're growing strongly
and have already started flowering. Did the old porn star director
trick the other morning (male flowers stuck into female flowers)
so hopefully these'll turn into pumpkins.
So as you can see it's all very busy at the moment. And the amazing
part is nature is doing most of this with very little help from
me (apart from the watering)!
So what's been going on in the garden lately?
Our chocolate pudding fruit tree (black sapote) has started forming
the next season's flowers. The other week we finished the last of
its fruits. How would I describe the taste? It is chocolatey, but
in a mild kind of way. And you have to mix it in with custard or
ice cream. Too bland otherwise.
Our compost pumpkin vines keep growing and growing. I think the
pumpkin it must have germinated from must have come from Sydney
during Mardi Gras as all it every seems to do is produce male flowers.
I think I've had 3 female flowers (out of about 30), and only one
has fertilised - into a pretty impressive pumpkin I admit!
A few weeks ago I actually made it into the fruit terraces for
about 3 hours. It was bliss. Ripping up the weeds, fertilising,
mulching. Ahhhh.... it was great. Wish I could say I've been able
to do more of this lately, but no such luck.
The citrus trees are pumping up their mini fruits. Still got a
fair number of strawberries but I expect the harvests to slow considerably
The root crop bed needs an overall - old pea trash and pak choy
that has gone to bolt need to go. And the thirty lettuces or so
that have also bolted to seed need to be ripped out.
The tomatoes, after a promising show a month ago, have started
becoming stunted. Ahhh, is this the Grosse Lisse curse that I seem
to have? The Black Russian isn't doing very well either.
Lots of coriander that has seeded needs to get the heave-ho.
The corn is slowly growing, as is the zuchinni and melon seeds
I sowed. I think everything is going so badly due to the lack of
Yes, we got one solid day of rain in mid October, but it's still
not enough after months of nothing but sun. Will it rain this month?
I really hope so.
Will I get in the garden to rip up all that rubbish and weeds -
hoping, but not too confident!
So whats happening in the garden at the moment? There is
still the odd cos lettuce that hasnt gone to seed, but I know
by the end of the month Im going to have to do that one thing
all organic vegetable gardeners dread in the summer having
to actually pay for a very average lettuce at the shop.
I cant believe that our strawberries are still going. Theyre
now onto their third wind not enough to make jams, but its
still strawberry time on the top of my breakfast cereal each morning.
Our avocado is flowering still and has put on a lot of extra leaves.
I dont expect it to fruit the coming season. By fertilising
it too late, the flowering hasnt coincided with next doors
avocado. Thems the breaks!
Our coffee plant has finished its flowering and is now putting
its efforts into making tiny little coffee cherries. Our raspberry
canes have started shooting lateral growths out, with a couple already
producing flowers (a bit early I thought!) The acerola has been
pumping out some great tasting fruit. This is its second year of
producing and they taste sweeter and less tart than last season.
Out in the compost heap, there is no longer a compost heap. Im
not kidding the back of my backyard is all just pumpkin vine now.
It just keeps growing and growing and growing. Got a few more pumpkins
too for good measure.
The carrots are bolting to seed, although they havent gone
"woody" must still be young enough to taste good.
The garlic, beetroot and spring onions keep on growing too.
Weve been lucky enough to keep ourselves busy chomping on
broccoli heads in the past few weeks, due to the overcast weather.
Im sure it wont be too long before they start flowering
The tomato seedlings that survived last month are really powering
on now. Its amazing what a few good storms will do!
Our silverbeet is just as tasty as the day we started picking stalks
from it two years ago. Amazing little plants! And our watermelon,
horned asian melon and zucchini plants are slowly getting bigger.
The sweet corn is up busy powering away growing onward and
upwards, with both male flowers and female tassels visible. Cant
wait for the cobs to start forming!
I feel at times like I'm starting to get somewhere in the garden
one weekend, only to find the next weekend is written off by social
occassions, family visits and other obligations.
Fortunately I at last have a strawberry patch (Yeah!) Last weekend
Paula and I took Sam to a local fruit nursery that I particularly
like. I bought six pots of strawberries, which ended up giving me
about nine crowns (a few pots had two plants luckily growing in
I selected the same variety we grew back at our old house. Redlands
Crimson is a very local strawberry variety. It was developed about
30 minutes drive away in Redlands shire, on Moreton Bay. It produces
a lovely sweet red berry and provides a good number of fruits on
each plant. Plus it tends to keep fruiting and fruiting and fruiting.
Last season we were up to our eyeballs in strawberries from July
through to December. This year we don't expect things to be as productive
with only nine plants, but after next seasons runners go out, I'm
sure we'll have so many next year.
Our mushrooms under the house in the little kit we bought have
really surprised us. Personally, I thought they were going to be
duds. The box said that after 4 weeks or so you should see your
first mushroom. I saw nothing. Then about a week later we've got
1-2 mushrooms a day that seem to expand in size right in front of
you (minor exaggeration, but you get the idea!) After being a sceptic
of these kits, I'm now a convert. If you've never tried growing
mushrooms I'd recommend it wholeheartedly.
The potatoes have been the real duds. Mind you, what did I expect
when I just threw some spuds under sugar cane mulch and manures!
Especially as they had no eyes. I kind of did this as I couldn't
get any seed potatoes anywhere locally. They may come good later
in winter/early spring. Just have to wait and see.
No other news on the gardening front. We have grand plans to get
the vegie patch and fruit tree orchard going soon (will have to
be very soon, as in three weeks time we're heading to the Nambour
Garden Expo where I'll probably spend hundreds of dollars stocking
up on new fruit trees).
I love the Nambour Show. Particularly the Birdwood Nursery display.
They're wholesalers and you can never buy from these guys except
for the 3 days of the show. So you get to pick up excellent specimens
at below retail prices. Should try to borrow my father's station
wagon as we'll need the space!!
We're starting to feel like we're achieving things again in the
garden (although slowly!) Last weekend I planted out the strawberry
cherry guava, jaboticaba, acerola and passionfruit vine I bought
a fortnight back. I'd previously dug in some aged cow manure and
chook poo pellets, as well as some compost, blood and bone and potash.
Have also put a layer of sugar cane mulch down to keep the weeds
from appearing (that's the theory - which won't work, but at least
it'll reduce the number of weeds and make it easier to pick them).
They've now part of my ever increasing fruit orchard - I'd planted
a "Lemonade" lemon and a "Emperor"
mandarin recently too. Plus there's the nine strawberry plants in
the backgarden which are flowering and setting fruit. Lovely!
We've also got into the ornamentals again too, planting out 4 camellias
(11 more coming this weekend to form a hedge), 3 gardenias (still
got 1 in a pot), 2 brunsfellsias a princess lilly and an azalea.
Have been busy throwing out old bark mulch (looked terrible!),
pulling up weeds - especially the nut grass.... will it ever die?
- and fertilising like crazy. And why? Well it's not too far away
until spring will arrive! Sometime this August I also need to prune
back heavily the snowflakes which have come to the end of their
It's really feeling great to be getting out into the garden again!
It's all action stations in our garden at the moment. We initially
planned to put the vegetable patch in this weekend, but with Father's
Day on the way we've postponed proceedings 'till the week after.
If anything this is better for us as I need a bit of planning time
- like work out how in the world I'm going to do this! It's becoming
a bigger than Ben Hur operation!
The plan is to get a rotary hoe to churn up the grass (and weeds)
where the garden will go. Then we'll scrape this all up for composting,
before we start digging a little deeper into the soil. Next on the
plan is to start building raised beds with bricks. We're looking
again at 4 beds to allow for crop rotation. We'll then get some
organic soil delivered to fill in the beds, as well as mixing in
my usual array of goodies - old manures, blood and bone, potash
and anything else I can get my hands on! Then we'll look at putting
down some gravel around the beds. Depending on how high we build
the beds, we may or may not need a little "Charlie proof"
So big times ahead in the garden for me!
Other goings on at the moment includes lots of fresh growth on
our citrus plants - lemonade, mandarin and orange that we bought
last week - as well as the "mystery" citrus that is at
the back of our house that I hacked into during autumn. It's obviously
got the fright of its life and is throwing out all sorts of lovely
green growth and flower buds. What do we have on our hands? Will
just have to wait and see! Need to be mindful of spraying a little
bit of white oil around at the moment to ensure all that new growth
doesn't get attacked and deformed by aphids.
Our strawberry cherry guava looks like it's forming flower buds
too. Talking of strawberries - the real things - are now fruiting.
Not lots, maybe one berry every 4 days or so, but it's a start which
will be built on in future seasons. The rogue tomatoes that grew
out of the compost are growing like crazy and busy flowering. For
that matter so are a few compost generated pumpkin vines. Our potatoes
are also poking their little foliage through the sugar cane mulch.
Everything looks so promising... and it's just turned spring!!
After many months of perceived slackness in our regional advisor
column, we've at last got some things to report!
We put in a new vegie patch and fruit tree orchard a couple of
months ago, and I've got to say it's been great having a proper
vegie patch again. We got in a rotary hoe and dug the grass out,
then churned the soil with lots of manures, blood and bone, potash
and some delivered organic soil. Then we made the beds using the
principles of a no-dig garden, "reinforcing" (for lack
of a better word) the sides of the beds with sugar cane mulch to
reduce erosion. We've gone with a four bed rotation system, and
have placed a little herb ring in the middle of the beds. For the
paths between the beds, to avoid grass growing in we used river
pebbles, which are great with the drainage and really make the garden
look great. Aesthetically this is the best vegie patch I've ever
made (and you'd hope they'd be looking better after making six of
them now!). I even have plans to put a little sun dial in the middle
of the herb ring. There are still some minor down sides to my garden
design though. I've still had to keep our little low temporary fence
to keep Charlie out of the garden.
When we were initially planning the garden I wanted to keep to
my organic principles and wanted to avoid treated timber sleepers
etc, and started looking at getting raised beds made from bricks/pavers
etc. We couldn't believe the costs that were coming back - prices
starting at $2500 and upwards - and that was for just the labour!
So by going the no-dig path (with lots of digging from the rotary
hoe) we kept the costs down for labour and materials to about $500.
I decided to stop the grass from growing in to put untreated pine
around the edge of the garden. I know full well that the termites
will come along and eat it out, but at only about $14 for the timber,
I can afford to replace it over and over again, and know that I
won't have any arsenic treated timber leaching poisons into my organic
Because we got the garden in so late in the season we've been truly
blessed that summer so far this year has been so pleasant. No scorching
excessively humid conditions yet (touch wood) and a couple of good
storms too. Garden successes include the lettuce (managed to harvest
half a dozen before they started bolting to seed), cucumbers coming
out of my ears (so many that I had to dig up a pickling recipe)
and the eggplants which has been my most successful crop in four
or five years. We also did really well in the garden "add-ons"
which technically aren't part of the big vegie patch, but we'd planted
early on in other locations - broad ripple yellow currant and yellow
pear tomatoes by the hundreds (if not thousands)! Lot's of pumpkins
coming out of our ears and a good supply of harvested potatoes.
We've also got a few crops just around the corner that we're about
to harvest including sweet corn, zucchinis and some asian vegies.
Also growing well but a little while off harvesting are our capsicums,
cabbages, climbing beans and Turkish leopard melon.
But with all this success there had to be some failures. The tomatoes
we planted in the new vegie patch haven't taken off, and I don't
hold high hopes for them. They all seemed to get some fungal disease
on the leaves and have been battling hard. Fungal diseases have
also hit the cucumbers and zucchinis but haven't stopped them from
cropping. The big disappointment is the root crop bed. I sowed row
after row of carrots, parsnips, spring onions, beetroot, etc etc,
and we'd be lucky to have a dozen plants in total growing. There's
a big bull ant's nest in the middle of the bed, so I'm assuming
that the ants are tunneling along under the ground and "harvesting"
my seeds before they could get started. Will need to look into some
organic controls to get rid of them/move them on as Paula's not
crazy about all the ants nests we've got in the back yard.
We also planted a few fruit trees and plants and the passionfruit
vine, raspberry canes, miracle fruit, mango, avocado, washington
navel orange and lychee are all growing well (as is our existing
fruit trees we planted down the side of the house during winter
- lemonade, mandarin, strawberry cherry guava, jaboticaba and acerola).
Weve ripped up our old dying cucumber vines which got pretty
badly effected by powdery mildew, and the old dead tomato seedlings
that never really made it to first base. Its been a great
opportunity to start fresh as the coming months are still warm enough
here to plant more summer vegetables.
So weve popped in some sweet corn. This has been sown in
a block rather than rows to improve germination between plants (as
theyre wind pollinated). Have also popped some new cucumber
seeds into the ground, and they, like the corn germinated in just
a week. The zucchini and tomato seed we sowed still hasnt
germinated. Hopefully with time theyll poke their little green
heads above the soil.
We also bought a comfrey plant, which weve been deficient
in since we moved. Comfrey is just the best stuff to add to your
compost, or your liquid manure (a bucket of water, aged manures
and potash). The other great thing about comfrey is how easy it
is to grow more plants. After we ripped off the leaves and
through them into the liquid manure, we pulled apart the roots and
repotted them, so from the one original plant, weve now got
six growing (well none have died yet!)
When it comes to harvest time, the eggplants, rockmelons, watermelons
and zucchinis keep inflating in size. Weve also got little
capsicums and climbing beans growing. The green leafy vegetables
like cabbage, wong bok and tat soi are all growing fantastically
The secret at the moment is keeping the water, and feeds of liquid
manure up to them (and weeding, and mulching, and watching out for
pests and diseases
.) In fact its a busy time full-stop
in the garden!
Out in the garden, February brought everything we could hope for....
rain! Our rain gauge that we got for Christmas was working over
time. All the gardens around here are green and booming with activity.
The one down side to all this moisture is the fungal problems that
eventuate. My roses are getting black spot bad. Plus I've noticed
the zucchini stems are getting a bit worse for wear. We also lost
a nice big juicy rockmelon thanks to rotting and fungal issues.
Otherwise the vegie patch is booming. My sweetcorn seem to grow
an inch a day at the moment! Just the other day I harvested a lovely
watermelon which was deliciously sweet.
Have taken advantage of the weather conditions and started my planting
for autumn/winter. Sowed some drills of carrots, parsnips and spinach.
Over summer I didn't have a great deal of success with the first
of these, and historically spinach has always been a bit of a flop.
But you can't stop trying!
Also ripped up the pitiful excuse of climbing beans and have resown.
Likewise, I saved a stack of lettuce seed, gave the bushes a shake
and turfed them. Already I've got little wee lettuces spurting up.
Have also started a fresh crop of tat soi (great for stir fries).
Have tried my luck with some old tomato seed to see if it germinates.
Not holding my breath as it was a good 4 or 5 years old, but I can't
just throw it away, got to give it a chance to reproduce (even if
it needs Viagra). I've also sowed some broccoli seed - something
I've never done before as usually I'm too lazy and buy seedlings.
Hopefully this'll mean I've got lot's of activity to report come
April. Otherwise, it's a good excuse to spend a few more hours hanging
out in the vegie patch starting over again!
Just the other day I started weeding our front ornamental garden.
After all the rain we've had the past couple of months, some weeds
have started looking more like jungle vines. Managed to get about
half of it done. This weekend beckons me to finish off the job,
and then start tackling the vegie patch's weeds. It also looks like
a good time to remulch to help reduce the number of weeds reappearing.
As the temperatures start cooling down, it's also opens the window
of opportunity for when I can get out into the garden. Whilst last
summer was very accommodating, it was still too warm and sticky
to be out gardening. So now's a good time to play catch up.
And doesn't the vegie patch need it!
Normally each April is the time I start rotating my garden beds.
I find this process works well in helping to reduce soil-borne diseases
from building up, and also prevent the soil from being depleted
of nutrients. By moving around the crops each season, it helps rest
the soil too. I've already got plenty
more info on the site about this one if you're interested.
The other month I sowed a whole heap of old seed in the hope that
some would germinate. Not much did. I think the only happy campers
I had were tat soi seeds. That and the thousands of lettuce seedlings
that sprung up when I gave the long gone dead stalks a bit of a
The other great growing success of the moment are my broad ripple
yellow currant tomatoes, or better known as nuclear tomatoes. I
call them nuclear tomatoes as I'm positive they'd survive a nuclear
war. If you ever grow them they will be with you for life. Think
I'm kidding? I bought and sowed the original seed many years ago.
I then moved, didn't sow any seed, but took along compost/potted
plants. The tomato seeds germinated and started all over again.
This happened again through another move, so that now they've started
up again down near the compost bin. I shouldn't compain - they're
the sweetest and flavoursome cherry tomatoes I've ever had - plus
being yellow they look cute and great in a salad.
The remainder of the garden keeps on growing - our little herb
ring (parsley, thyme, coriander, garlic chives and oregano), sweet
corn, zucchinis, cucumbers, sweet basil (coming out of our ears!),
eggplant, pumpkins and cabbages.
Out in the fruit garden our raspberry canes are really taking off
although they're only starting to form flower buds now - which is
very odd. That should have been happening back in December. I think
the stress of the drought, and then our recent rains have thrown
the canes' reproductive cycle out the window. I shouldn't complain,
as when the berries are ripening, fruit fly levels will be very
low, so we should get lots and lots of yummy raspberries! The recent
rains have also caused a fresh round of growth in our citrus (oranges,
mandarin and lemonade), strawberry cherry guava, avocado and lychee.
And of course our passionfruit vine has gone crazy and is full of
So overall, not a bad time of the year to be gardening in Queensland!
14 October, 2003
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