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…….

A gardener’s find

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I was in Mr Gardening hands workshop and noticed a little tin box sitting on his bench, I’m sure I have seen it many times but today I noticed the words that had been scratched into it:

Peas 1958

Mr GH said he got it at a swap meet and it had dyes in it, he wasn’t using it for anything so I said “It’s mine now, time for it to be back with a gardener.”

I researched the tin and found out that Craven “A” is a brand of cigarette manufactured in Canada, Jamaica,Vietnam and North Korea and  were a favorite cigarette during World War II.

I have been wondering who it belonged to, were they in the war, what was their vegetable garden like, where did they live, was it in Australia?

I can only imagine….. It is lovely to be the guardian of this tin for now, someone else will have the pleasure a little later.

Are you the guardian of anything like this? Would love to know.

Garden share collective – July

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I am very happy to be linking up with a group of fellow gardeners from around the world who share what has been happening in their gardens in the last month.  This initiative was started by Lizzie from strayed from the table, to share and encourage  us to grow more of the food we eat.

It has been a dry start to winter here in Adelaide, I make the mistake of not watering enough thinking it will rain soon, or, the soil is OK from the last rain forgetting when that was.  Even with the little rain we have had the weeds have been pulling up pretty easily!!  I was chatting with my friend over the fence yesterday laughing about how much weeding we do!

Harvesting

I staggered my broccoli planting this year and have already harvested 2 big heads and have been harvesting off the side shoots waiting for the next lot to be ready.  We are not big cauliflower eaters but I couldn’t resist a purple cauli so have 1 in and it’s already heading.

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This bed of leafy greens has been supplying all of our salad greens, the red lollo lettuce self seeded in this bed and it has worked out perfectly.

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Looking forward to some fennel and peas, just noticed the first of the red podded peas, looking forward to them.

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The kitchen garden is supplying us with all of our herbs:parsley, coriander, oregano, thyme, still getting some chillies, spinach and beetroot leaves.

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Planting

I have cleared and got the strawberry bed ready for the runners in the next week or so, some more beetroot and maybe an advanced broccoli seedling.

Jobs to do

I have got a new garden gadget, a soil blocker so will be making some blocks for seedlings, stay tuned for that post.  I have a bed of perennials to prune as well and will need to spray the orchard before bud burst for curly leaf and fungal disease.

orchard pruned

orchard pruned

Thanks for having a look around, hope you have been able to get out into your garden.

An Autumn catch up

My last post was about a gardening short holiday at the end of March and you may of been thinking “Is she ever going to return?”  My apologies for my delay in getting back to you.

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I have to catch you up on the last 2 months of autumn as it has been a busy time in my garden.

I had some summer beds to clean out and weed of Kikuyu (sigh), compost and manure to spread for my winter veg, seedlings to transplant and netting to buy to stop the cabbage moth.  

Harvesting at the moment

  • Lots of greens, spinach, silver-beet, kale.
  • I have a bed which has self seeded with red lollo lettuce as well as the few I planted myself, lol…
  • Eggplants, like a few fellow South Australian bloggers we are getting a late harvest.
  • The very last capsicums and fresh chillies, I have stacks in the freezer.
  • Rhubarb
  • Broccoli, harvesting the first heads now, it’s so exciting!!
  • Beetroot
  • Lots of herbs and finally a good supply of coriander
  • Oranges from my friend and neighbor’s tree

Planting

  • I am getting my strawberry bed ready for runners a little later in the month.
  • I would like to plant some more peas and some garlic, I haven’t planted any for a couple of years due to it not storing well, but have been inspired by catching up my blog reading and seeing how many others are planting,  I might give it a try again. Krystie’s photo’s of her shooting garlic over at A fresh legacy has done it for me.
  • I haven’t grown any onions before and thinking of planting some red ones.
  • Lastly some bergamot seeds for flowers later in the year.

Jobs to do

  • I know the cooler weather is set in when I see those dreaded sour sob leaves, I have a whole bed to pull up so that is one of my usual autumn/winter  jobs.
  • I have been making a lot of compost and want to keep it activated so will be diligent in aerating it this month.
sour sobs

sour sobs

Hope your gardens are growing well and you are getting lots of pleasure being out in them.