A gardening short holiday

melb6

I’m not sure if gardening and holiday are usually in the same sentence…. They are for me! Over the next 3 days I’m off to the Melbourne International Flower & Garden show held in the Carlton Gardens and the heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building.  For 5 days from 25 – 29 March the gardens will be blooming with plenty of attractions for visitors like me, some of the things I am looking forward to :

  • Award winning displays
  • Boutique garden displays
  • Children’s gardens
  • Great hall of flowers
  • Diggers club

I am taking my camera and notepad and will have lots of news to share with you all.  I am sharing some photo’s courtesy of their faceboook page, a teaser of what I am looking forward to seeing.

Is anyone else going?

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What is the best seed raising mix?

Beans up in 4 days

Beans up in 4 days

Over the years I have tried different seed raising mixes mainly commercial ones they all look a little different but germination has mostly been the same.  I have been using a homemade mix that has been working well for me and thought I would share it.  Using this my seeds are sprouting really very quickly faster than in the commercial mixes I had been using.

  • Peat   – is coir fibre which I buy in a compressed block add water and let it expand.
  • River sand – or sandpit sand as it is commonly known and sold by the small bag.
  • Mixture is 1:1

Keeping the seedling alive!

This year I am determined not to allow my seedlings to dry out so have devised a plan….

  • I decided to use a wicking like method so the seedlings don’t have to fully rely on     me for survival.
  • I went to my local floor covering store and bought a smallish piece of felt underlay.
  • cut this out to sit on the bottom of my heated tray.
  • The seed trays I use have cut outs in the side and some in the bottom so that moisture when needed is drawn up from the bottom of the felt.
  • Make sure the felt is always moist not too wet or the seeds stay wet and wont germinate, this has happened to my spinach so I have had to re-seed.
  • I have been checking daily and none of my trays have dried out.

So far so good as they say!  I will let you know if I come across any other problems with this method.

Another quick share are these seed watering heads, I love them!  They screw to the top of an old plastic bottle. I Got them from Diggers the spray is gentle and fine and they don’t disturb the soil  and blast your seeds.

seed watering heads

bottle top waterer’s

What seed raising mix are you using for your seeds?

Autumn…. a welcome relief in the vegetable garden

carrot in seed

Carrot and lettuce in seed for saving.

Autumn is my favourite time in the garden, I can stay outside all day on the weekends digging,weeding, planning and planting, still with a hat on but I don’t have to worry about getting sun-burnt even with sunscreen on!

What I am harvesting from the garden in March:

  • still getting a few roma tomatoes
  • cucumbers, my favourite is the mini muncher
  • bush beans
  • capsicums
  • eggplant – it has just started producing
  • rhubarb
  • beetroot
  • herbs – basil sweet & thai, oregano,thyme,rosemary,mint
  • chillies

Seeds I have planted:

  • Broccoli –  red spouting, De Cicco
  • Mini cabbage
  • Lettuce – freckles & heirloom mix & cos
  • Peas – purple podded dutch pea
  • spinach – bloomsdale
  • carrots
  • Pak choy
  • Poppies
  • Primula
  • beans – sun baby, sex without strings – description from an old seed catalogue reads

“sensuous and tender, the golden curves of this dwarf butter bean are available to all –  with no strings attached.”

To do this month:

  • Remove some Kikuyu from 2 beds for autumn planting
  • Add compost to the beds
  • Add some lime to the beds for the brassicas
  • Do a summer/autumn prune of the fruit trees
carrot in seed

Beds for de-grassing

Perfect time for carrots!

Carrots sown now make good growth and slow down in winter so they can be harvested a few at a time.  Two things to remember about carrots:

  • They love light sandy soils
  • Spread Complete ‘D’ in shallow holes 5cm away from where you have planted them about four weeks after seedlings appear, not at sowing time as high nutrients at germination causes the roots to fork.

Thanks to Malcolm Campbell from 891 talk back gardening Sunday morning for that tip!

I hope that you have had an amazing Summer in the garden and are ready to welcome Autumn. How is your garden going this month?

Seeds or Seedlings…. that is the question

I love seeds, when you see that first show of life, a little green head poking out, for me it is one of the most exciting things!

This time of year in both hemispheres of the world fellow gardeners and bloggers are getting their seed fixes.  I have seen magnificent seed charts, read a great story about obsessive seed disorder (O-Seed-D) and spent hours deciding what seeds to plant myself. All that time I have spent deciding and looking has made me late in planting the seeds I need for my autumn/winter harvest.

Hello seedlings!  The saviors of my garden for those many times when:

  • I have been late in planting seeds
  • Or when I have neglected my seeds and they have dried out
  • Not many have germinated
  • I just need 1 or 2 more for that spot
  • They have been reduced!  I can almost never refuse a seedling in need of a loving home…

So in my garden both seed and seedling have a place, how about in yours?

Looking back at February in the garden

February, Phew glad it’s over! It’s a hard month on the garden.  My garden was in  fairly decent form early in the month and went downhill from there.  While the shade cloth frames protected the plants from the scorching heat these domes became aphid breading grounds.  It didn’t take long either, 3 days of being covered and the jalapeno leaves were covered.  A strong jet of water blasted them off and I was pleasantly surprised how well they came back and are still producing.

I didn’t do a lot of gardening this month there were no new plantings, a little weeding, lots of covering/shading and plenty of harvesting and preserving.

Is that a rat I can smell…..

Our dog is a super snooper, if she is snooping there is a rodent somewhere that we can’t see and she will do whatever she can to get to it.

she has the scent

she has the scent

This is a gardening blog why am I writing about rats?  Because as Mr gardening hands says:

“they are everywhere, don’t worry about them, they won’t come near you, they are as afraid of you as you are of them.”

I’m going to put it out there, I am frightened of rats, ok and mice as well,so when the dog starts snooping around I am on alert.  You know what I mean, heart starts racing, eye’s darting around everywhere looking for that rat that is going to run straight at me up my leg and…… I don’t know what really.  Still it’s enough for me to stand inside while I send out the hunting party, Mr GH and dog to find out what is capturing her attention. photos 136 Now this post is really a word of warning to fellow gardeners, this time last year my kitchen garden was stripped bare of it’s chilies by rats, the one’s that I shouldn’t be able to see but last year our dog and the neighbor’s cats couldn’t keep them under control because I could see them. I grow basil in my kitchen garden and around this time of year in Adelaide it’s going to seed.  I love  the leggy seed heads on the basil, so did the rats last year they were all over it, at night I could see them climbing the branches eating the seeds.  I  even found the seeds heads stored away in between some bricks on the other side of the yard, that is how much they like them.

rat re-enactment

rat re-enactment

I had forgotten about all of that until the other day when the dog was going mad around the kitchen garden, I saw the seed heads on the basil and remembered last year! Yikes, that is not going to happen again, off with their heads! photos 176

Pickled Jalapenos

photos 175

The weekend just gone temps were 39 and 41 degrees here in Adelaide, way too hot for me to be out in the garden so instead I pickled the jalapenos I picked earlier in the week.

I mentioned in my last post that we LOVE jalapenos, I had a pretty small harvest last year and we didn’t have enough to last us through the year, it was tragic.  That was not going to happen again!

I planted 7 plants this year and covered the bed they are in with the white bird exclusion netting for the first time, it has been a great success and will use it on more beds.  It has stopped the blackbirds from digging up the bed which has allowed the mulch to stay in place and do it’s job over summer, the soil has been protected and the plants have been healthy.

Ready to go

Ready to go

starting weight

starting weight

The recipe I am sharing is one I got from my mum, a family heirloom, enjoy!

Pickled Jalapenos

For every kilogram of jalapeño’s you will need the following, adjust the recipe according to the quantity of chillies you have.


INGREDIENTS

  •  625ml vinegar of your choice I use white vinegar.
  • 625ml water
  • 50g sea salt or pickling salt, non-iodized salt
  • 20 peppercorns
  • 20 mustard seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Sterilise your jars and lids immediately before adding chillies.  I boil then in a pot on the stove and take them only when I am ready to fill them.
  2. Wash your chillies and with gloves on start slicing them into 5mm thick pieces – don’t worry about being too precise.
  3. Once they are all sliced I put the vinegar, water and salt into a large saucepan and bring it to a slow boil.
  4. Start filing your sterilised jars with the jalapeños leaving a centimetre or so at the top.
  5. Drop in a few peppercorns and mustard seeds.
  6. Carefully pour the hot liquid into your filled jars to cover the jalapeños.
  7. Immediately put the lids on as tight as you can and leave to cool.
  8. Once cool the middle of the lids should of popped in, if not it means they are not air tight and I would put the jar in the fridge and use immediately or do that jar again.

NOTES

Leave your delicious pickles for at least 2wks before opening.  I think they reach their peak about 1mth after pickling.  They gradually become softer over time and best eaten within 12mths.