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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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.

Seed update for GSC

I often write about seeds, I did a quick search on the blog and found 9 posts that had something to do with seed buying, planting, growing, looking, dreaming….. I think you get the picture and you may have read some of these past posts.

Growing from seed is one of my greatest pleasures in gardening, I love waiting and anticipating the first sight of green from the soil.  I  decided that I would try and grow as many flower and vegetable seedlings myself this season and try not to buy any.

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I started August 20th, I made soil blocks for my fist batches, I have 2 heating mats and used these as well.  I was very happy with my first batch of flower seeds most of them germinated, I have salvia, rudbeckia, scabiosa, poppies, zinnia, corn cockle and cosmos about 40 seedlings to plant, a great success for me.

My vegetable seeds I planted at the end of August, I have been very unhappy with the germination rate. I have had to re-seed tomatoes 3 times and of the 25 I planted I have 10 germinate. Capsicums and chillies have been shocking, I have had them on the heating mat as they need heat to germinate and again have done 3 re-seeds and only 2 germinated. No chillies have come up yet, basil only 1 plant, beans super slow to germinate, no eggplants and I can see a couple of cucumber shoots only now.

I am still sowing seeds and will continue to do it weekly, I think I will have to buy some single advance seedlings to have some early crops but fingers crossed for some of the capsicums to sprout as I was really excited about the varieties I found.

Harvesting

  • Fennel
  • Peas
  • Coriander, it’s going to seed now
  • The last of the broccoli
  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Beetroot
  • Lots of spring flowers

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Jobs to do

I need to connect the irrigation for my 3 new garden beds, I bought a 50m roll of water pipe which I use to make the shade structures for my beds have a few more to make.  Get ready for early October planting.

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Thanks to the girls from Garden share collective, Lizzie, Kate and Krystie who each month encourage us to share our gardens and what we are growing. I have really enjoyed having a theme to write about, thanks girls

Seed storage – the vault

I love seeds!  The ritual I spoke about in an earlier post of studying the new catalog every season, making a trip to the Diggers shop and purchasing a few, OK lots, of little paper envelopes, you all know the ones I mean……

Once the precious cargo is home, how do you store your seeds?  I started with a couple of glass jars in the early days then an old ice cream container and most recently 2 cardboard boxes, I have divided vegetables and  flower seeds now that I have so many.

From what I have read some seed will keep for a maximum of 10 years in optimum conditions. I certainly don’t have these conditions and should compost old seed earlier but I find it super hard.  I have started sowing old seed and if none germinate I compost them packet and all. With all of that I still have lots of seeds.

I have been asking Mr. Gardeninghands to make me a wooden seed box for  a little while now and with my most recent purchases asked again and he whipped one up over the weekend.  It is fantastic!  Its light, I have been carrying it over to the green house, I can bring it inside when the temperatures are extreme and there is room for more seeds just in case…..

Would love to know how you are storing your seed?

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.

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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
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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?