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.

 

 

 

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.

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

Mondays vase, spring Irises

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While at the Melbourne garden festival in March this year there were a couple of the big bulb tents, I must of been in each of them for about 45 minutes agonizing about what to get for the front garden,I didn’t have a plan so had to wing it.

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In today’s vase I have cut some of the Irises I put in, an oldie but a goody the dutch Iris blue magic.  I bought a bag of 25 and planted them in clumps, they are all opening up now and I love how you get the double flower on the single stem.

Thanks to Cathy for this wonderful idea of filling a vase from the garden and sharing it with each other.

The greenhouse review – September

I started sowing seeds the last week of August, I have a heated mat in my workshop where I started the first tray of flower seedlings and have now moved them to the greenhouse.  I started them off in the soil blocks I made and they have continued to do well, the block are half coir which helps with retaining moisture and not dry out too quickly.

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Grown from seed

  • Rudbeckia –  Indian summer
  • corn cockle – ocean pearl
  • Salvia – blue monday
  • Scabiosa – mixed
  • Borage
  • Zinnia – red spider
  • Poppy – jelly beans
  • Cosmos – sea shells
  • Calendula
  • Orlaya
  • Lots of tomatoes and capsicums when they sprout!!

My biggest challenge in the greenhouse is the radiating heat, we are only 2 weeks into spring and I have noticed that my newly sprouted seedlings and trays waiting to sprout have been drying out and have to be watered twice a day which is tricky.

The entrance of the greenhouse faces north and will be shaded by the apricot tree when it comes into leaf the same with the  western side, it’s shaded by the nectarine, there is a fence on the eastern and southern aspects. This weekend just gone Mr GH. has made 2 removable shade frames to help reduce the amount of sun and we have removed 2 panels in the western wall for more ventilation.  The largest panel is on the western side and one for the roof, we used white shade cloth which is 50% UV block and being white it reflects the heat.

I am really looking forward to seeing how it reduces that radiating heat over the coming months, making it possible to grow seedlings for longer in the greenhouse.

Every month Julie hosts a review of her greenhouse and invites us all to share what is happening in ours, thanks for having a look.