Seeds…ahh

When I looked back at my notes from seed season last year, I saw that of the 25 tomato seeds I planted only 10 germinated and none of the chilli seeds germinated.  I only planted heirloom seeds last year and was hoping for a bumper 2015 tomato year, in fact it was the worst year in my planting history!

I think we gardener’s are the eternal optimists,  a new season brings fresh hope of bumper crops and past failures are just that, in the past!

This year I have been better at sowing and getting my seeds to germinate, what’s different this  year I hear you ask?

  • I did my first sowing 27th July a whole month earlier than last year.
  • Purchased all new seed from Lambley in Victoria.
  • Set up a misting system in the green house.
  • Used my heat mat for all Chillies and Capsicums.

I am super happy to say that all of my tomato’s & capsicums have germinated, the new tomato seeds from Lambley are  hybrid F1, I chose Elmo a mini grape and Roma masai a roma, 8 of each, from what I have read they have good disease resistance which is what I wanted after last year.

 

Harvesting

I didn’t plant any significant crops over winter so most of my beds are ready to be planted out, I have been harvesting lettuces, beetroots, carrots, coriander, parsley.

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Sowing

Plenty of seed sowing still to be done:

  • beetroot    10-14 days to germinate
  • carrot         14-21
  • beans          7-10
  • chives        10-14
  • coriander  10-14
  • dill               10-12
  • lettuce         6-10
  • pak choi      7-10
  • peas              7-10
  • rocket           6-10

Jobs to do and events to go to

Keep on top of weed management, which means don’t let any weeds go to seed!

In Adelaide Sat 24th Sept the Seed freedom festival is on again at the market shed on holland St. here is my review from last year it was fantastic.

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Adelaide again, the happy patch community garden is having their spring fair 17th Sept.

I am hoping to go to both so might see you there.

If you are on Instagram or twitter say hi, I’m gardeninghands I would love to see your gardens.

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Thanks to the girls from Garden share collective, Kate and Krystie who each month encourage us to share our gardens and what we are growing.

 

 

 

November garden update

November has been a month of mixed weather and very little rain, like my fellow gardeners in South Australia I have been doing a lot of watering.

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The flowers in my spring garden are slowly fading still giving me a beautiful display though, my buddleja davidii royal red is coming into blossom, the perfume and tiny flowers that make up the flower head are stunning.

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I was late in planting my main summer crops so most of them have only been in the ground for a month.  All of the tomatoes this year I have grown from seed and are new varieties, I’m really looking forward to the harvest this year, new tastes, shapes, colors and sizes. I am planning on planting some more tomatoes in January  for a late summer/autumn crop.Below are the varieties I have planted.

  1. Cherokee Purple
  2. Brandywine
  3. Black Krim
  4. Mini amish paste
  5. Pink bumble bee
  6. Black cherry

I’m making a greater effort to supply my family with lettuces, I don’t want to buy any salad greens ever again!  I have  a dedicated bed set up, installed the brown dripper hose with 150mm spacing’s which makes for intensive planting, made a seed frame which will allow seeds to germinate in a protected space and the shade cloth keeps the ground moist for longer and lets the water through gently.  The bed is covered by white shade cloth which gives 50% shade, this will be on permanently over the summer.  So I think I have all the bases covered to achieve this goal!

Harvesting

Lots of rhubarb, the last of the celery, strawberries, beetroot, my first mini chocolate capsicum,some basil and lettuce.  Herbs – sorrel, thyme oregano, dill. With the promise of much more to come

Planting

I have bush beans in and want to grow a tall climbing bean so will have to get onto that. Lots of different lettuces.

To do

Keep on top of regular seed planting, I have a couple of beds which I will change to the 150mm dripper hose and like most gardeners in the southern hemisphere, get ready to net the fruit trees.

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Thanks to the girls from Garden share collective,who each month encourage us to share our gardens and what we are growing.

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My spring garden

My garden has been looking glorious, I did a lot of work in winter, pruning, weeding, fertilizing and have reaped the rewards this spring.

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These photos are from my Mediterranean garden which is out the back, it’s the first part of my backyard with a low fence that separates it from the vege garden, it’s really to keep the dog out.

I have developed this garden to be heat tolerant and picked plants that have low water requirements, I have irrigated this area with the brown dripper line and try to only water every 10 days in Summer.  I mulch heavily and choose Forest Mulch from a local company called Jeffries, Its fine grade, natural looking mulch, full of composted organic matter that conditions your soil as well as reducing evaporation.

I have loosely modeled this area on the gardens at Diggers and Lambley who also have nurseries and locally a great nursery in the hills called Tupelo Grove where I have purchased my plants over the years.

The plants I have chosen have to look good to me, flower, be perennial, come from similar climates where the temperatures in summer exceed 40 degrees and have little rainfall.

  • Helianthemum – a small spreading ground cover which loves the sun I have about 6 of them, lemon and pink.
  • Salvia snow white
  • Achillea moonshine, green-grey feathery foliage which produces flat heads of yellow flowers.
  • Perovskia blue spire again with grey foliage and purple flowers from Iran.
  • Buddleia royal red, for the butterflies.
  • Salvia Nemorosa – Lubbeca, clumping  with fantastic blue spire flowers I have about 8 of them.
  • Scabiosa or pinwheels, again for the butterflies, they are great filler plants.
  • Cerastium – a grey ground cover with small white flowers this is in the foreground of my photos.
  • Agastache – this is one of my favourite plants, the pink flowers last all spring and summer.
  • Penstemon, i have a couple of red ones.

Behind the fence – orchard and vege garden

I thinned out all of the fruit trees, looking for where buds had grown multiple fruit.  I still do this when I walk past if I think they are too close together or a branch is hanging low.

I pulled out all of the winter crops, broccoli that had finished flowering, of the 6 mini cabbage I planted I harvested 1 the rest were eaten by caterpillars or didn’t form heads.  I have harvested some monster beets and lots of rhubarb and netted the strawberries leaving out the huge borage bush at the end of the strawberry patch.

I am only just planting my summer crops, they have been waiting in the greenhouse, I am super late!  We have been building a new fence out the front which has taken all of our time, it’s close to being finished just needs rendering and some posts which are out of my area of expertise so I’m free to go back to the garden, yay!!

Hope your gardens are growing well and if you’re in Adelaide, some rain finally!!

Seed Freedom Food Festival a review

Adelaide is very lucky to have a group of people who are passionate about sharing and educating  us on our basic human right to save seed and grow our own organic food, working with the Earth and not against her.  This is the premise behind the Seed Freedom Festival and on Saturday 26th September I attended the 2nd festival held at the Market Shed on Holland in Adelaide.

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The Market Shed on Holland is as the name suggests a huge market shed, a perfect location for the festival.  It started at 10am and being in the city on a Saturday which is also market day, I gave myself an hour to drive in and find a park.  I parked on South Tce under shade and had a short 5 minute walk in.

The area in front of the main building was a feast for the eyes, there was a stage for live music, a garden tool swap area, lots of good food for sale, booths for information on permaculture & bees, stall holders selling plants, seedlings and seeds all this before I even got to the big shed!

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The signposting and decorations were magnificent, the first thing I saw was a big welcome sign and the information area, I grabbed a timetable had a quick look at when the workshops started and had a look around.

There was a huge seed swap, I had made up some seed packets to swap of saved seed and some diggers seeds I had, I haven’t been to a seed swap before, it was a lot of fun! I went up there 4 times during the day and each time found something new, I came home with 4 new packets of seeds, 2 new chillies, purple ruffled basil and turnip seeds.  There were hundreds of packets of seeds on the table it was a great sight.

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My next stop was the food swap table, I took in a big bag of lemons and some herbs and exchanged them for half a dozen eggs, again there was plenty on the table to choose from, silverbeet, seedlings, flowers, eggs, oranges, a huge variety of winter surplus from peoples gardens.

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There were 3 workshop areas, all signposted very well and with plenty of seating and good audio so hearing was no problem.  Over the day there were 20 speakers, all of the workshops were free and the speakers like everyone who organized this fantastic event donated their time and expertise.

I wish I could of gone to all of them, they were either 30 or 60 minute workshops with the opportunity for questions and time to chat with the speaker at the end, below are short summaries of the ones I attended:


  • Backyard permaculture – Nadja Osterstock. Nadja spoke about the principles of permaculture and gave practical examples of how they would work in your backyard.

  • Traditional & sustainable fruit tree pruning – Simon Ardill.  Simon said he likes to grow apricots on a non suckering plum root-stock, satsuma is good.  He suggested take a few years to develop a good framework at the expense of early fruit.
  • Backyard Biodiversity – Alistair Martin.  Alistair spoke about the abundance of backyard produce and how to share this excess.  Ripe near me is an app  which helps gardeners list excess produce and others find it.  I have used it and can recommend it.
  • The magic harvest program – Tori Arbon. Tori spoke about being inspired by the book 1 magic square and how she has been able to start a community program using the same principles and invited us to initiate it in our own communities.
  • Small scale farming: tools & techniques – Nat Wiseman. Nat started the wagtail farm which was the size of an urban backyard.  He bought in tools that the home gardener can use to make weeding, planting seed and tilling soil easier.  He now farms on a larger scale but still uses the same tools.  He said he farms using the principles of Eliot Coleman who wrote The new organic grower.  He suggested sowing seed every week in the green house so you always have something to plant out.

In between these fantastic workshops I had a very tasty pizza from the wood oven on site, there was a lot of very good food to choose from.  Purchased a couple of seedlings for the garden, and chatted to some lovely people with similar interests.

It was a day connecting with like minded people, talking and listening about all things gardens, it was a perfect day for me, I look forward to next year and highly recommend it to you all if you are in my neck of the woods in September 2016.

Here is the link to the Seed Freedom Food Festival for all updates.

Diggers to the rescue….

Here in the burbs we get one very cold snap of weather every winter and this is it at the moment, the one time every year where there is snow at Mount Lofty or Mt. Barker is happening now.  It started last week on Thursday, the same day I received my Diggers seed annual in the mail, whoo hoo!!!  I was saved by Diggers.

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I decided Sunday was the best looking day to head over to the Diggers shop which is in our Botanical Gardens, we are very lucky to have a shop in our state otherwise it is mail order.  Every day I would re-read the seed annual taking mental notes of what I wanted.  It is a ritual for me, spreading it out over the days and then making the list on the Sunday morning.

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  • Pink Bumblee Bee tomato which won at the great tomato test in March 2015
  • A re-introduction of an Australian heirloom lettuce- yellow leaf
  • A new chilli called Maui Purple, midnight black chillies turn red when ripe

They were the only vege garden seeds I picked up they were all new releases for this year, I have plenty of everything else I need but I did get lots of flower seeds to attract more bees and other beneficial insects to the garden which I will inter-plant and I also want to do some meadow seeding.

  • Wildflowers for Bees- a mix of cornflower,dill,poppies,flax,salvia and others
  • Helichrysum an everlasting mix
  • Echinacea magic box a mixture of 3 colours
  • Borage
  • Summer meadows-zinnias, poppies,cornflower,cosmos,barley and others
  • A white corn cockle- ocean pearl
  • Salvia Blue Monday – I had to get it that was my fav song song from the 80’s
  • Rudbeckia Indian Summer- a tall variety
  • A mixture of Scabiosa or Pincushions
  • Queens Anne’s Lace

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I also visited the new vege garden at the gardens, the tee-pee like structure is a resting spot there are tree stumps in there to sit on.  The scarecrows look great and the winter veg was huge!

It was a great day out and I’m feeling excited…….

Open garden visit – Sophie’s Patch

We have a great open garden scheme in South Australia and on a cold Sunday morning I made a trip to the Adelaide hills to visit Sophie’s Patch.

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You may have seen Sophie Thomson on Gardening Australia she is one of the regular presenters or seen her in print in the ABC Gardening Australia magazine.  She and her family have made their home on a patch of land which was a former cow paddock around an 1847 heritage listed stone cottage.

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The garden’s are open a couple of times a year, this was my first visit and it was fantastic.  I can tell she has done this before, there is a schedule for talks throughout the day, stalls selling plants, beekeepers, a couple of associations providing information, food stalls and pizzas coming out of her pizza oven in aid of the local high school.

There is a comprehensive orchard of over 100 fruit and nut trees, raised vege wicking beds, another vege garden, avenues of plants suited to her harsh conditions mainly Mediterranean and native plants.  Deciduous trees planted around the house, a chook yard, beehives an insect hotel and a tool shed.

I spent 3 hours there, walked around a couple of times took some notes of plants I would like to get, took photo’s, had a chat with other visitors, purchased a few plants and had a piece of cake.  It was a very enjoyable day full of inspiration and a reminder of what you can achieve in your garden with persistence and hard work.

If you get the chance I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Sophie’s patch.