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Growing local

Spring is just around the corner.  My garden is bursting with flowers and I am planting more!  If you have roses, make sure you go out there with a strong spray and hit those aphids - I discovered that all my new growth was covered even though, from a distance, it looked exceedingly healthy.   I'm trying to let the lady bug population explode in response so am avoiding pest oils etc at this stage.  Plus, I just planted sunflower, zinnia, allysium, cosmos and marigold seeds throughout the roses so it will be added incentive to remember to go out and water the emerging seedlings.  Here are a mix of flowers from the garden today.

I'm now at the stage as a gardener where I am giving propagation and seed saving a go.  A couple of months ago, I tried some dianthus, statice and mixed succulants.  I had once or twice tried propagating before with limited success with cutting powder hormone.  As I have an abundant supply of honey I decided to give that ago ->THEY WORKED!!!  So today, I am trying to propagate some more dianthus and a pretty geranium that I have growing.   The other pot, I'll keep growing a bit longer until plants a bit bigger. 

I am now harvesting various mints, lemon verbena  and pineapple sage from my tea garden.  It is great as I am drinking so much more water now and it is something I look forward to at work.  If I forget my little batch of herbs, lucky for me the school garden has a patch of mint that I go and get.

Speaking of the school garden, Dave recently posted a school harvest clip that I was very envious of but our little school garden had a fairly decent harvest last week too.  All the kids went home with a posy of flowers (massive snapdragon spikes, cosmos and pansy's) or a little bag of vegetables.  Every 4 weeks or so, I make them something that uses garden produce.  A couple of months ago, I made them a chocolate zucchini cake.  When I asked who wanted the zucchini, they asked me to take it home and make them "that cake with the zucchini in it from last time" :)  I'm thinking at the end of the year, I'd like to print them all the recipes and send them home with a little pack of seeds... We'll see how busy I am at the end.   We are going to try and start some melons and pumpkins next week.

In terms of my garden harvests, we have plenty of beans, eggplants, lettuce, celery, passionfruit, pawpaw, banana's (AGAIN!!) Lemons, spinach, coriander, parsely, and spring onions at the moment. I was really excited about the first mulberries on the tree until Phil's mulberry photo put me to shame :)

My Bloody bees are going nuts again.  I am so busy, I need to restring their bars but I haven't had time and as such they are coming out of the hive again.  Next weekend I promise!

The other thing I managed to get done this weekend was to clean out one half of the hippeastrums lining the path, recompost and mulch them.  Still have to do the other side but hoping with the little extra TLC they will be putting on a fantastic show come October and the garden visit.  One last photo before I go.  I wanted to show how well the rhubarb is going.  This is the sydney crimson from Daleys and even though you can't see it in this photo (taken at night with flash), the stems are vibrant red! I won't be buying from Diggers again though.  Their rhubarb (big boy) along with some other varieties of alpine strawberries all died on me.  I have been far too disappointed with their plants lately.   Have NOT had this problem with anything I've bought from Daley's.

Well that's it from me folks.  Happy gardening :)

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Comment by Susan on September 4, 2016 at 19:13

Hi James, Bees have swarmed I think :(  Oh well - not so urgent to get in there with the new bars now.  I'll leave the new queen alone for a while to make sure the hive is coping before I'll go in again.  Restringing is really easy - just lay it straight across the middle of the bar and paint some melted wax onto it. 

I just wish kids were more into it Phil- Don't blame them though, at their age, I had very little care factor about gardening.  Though it is just astounding how much they don't know.  I had them planting so shallow, roots were exposed, seeds piled in really close to each other, blasting baby seedlings and being dismayed when they washed out of the soil. 

Comment by Phil on September 3, 2016 at 10:24

Wish I had gardening as a subject at school. I ended up doing it myself at home in the back corners of my yard where my parents didn't notice (or at least tolerated my attempts).

Always plenty to do in the garden especially now you are getting into propagation Susan. Spring is the best time of the year for the garden IMO with everything putting in new growth.

Comment by James Rosenlund on September 2, 2016 at 17:05

How are the bees getting on now?  I had 2 X 3 super hives in Cooktown and I used to fix damaged frames by restringing them with steel wire, crimping the wire to tension, and placing new foundation wax which was placed onto the wires and I used a 12 volt battery to heat each wire till the wax melted around the wire. I didn't realize a top bar hive had to be restrung as well.

Comment by Mary-Ann Baker on August 31, 2016 at 21:09

thanks for the seeds Susan cannot wait to get them planted ..so disappointed not to be able to see your garden in person the photos are awesome ! . will be an interesting year as we near 12 months here ! now the house is livable (not finished ) and we have fenced we can concentrate on making gardens etc ! 

Comment by Rob Collings on August 31, 2016 at 20:42

That's some pace you and the garden have there Susan. Everything's so healthy, nice work and results with the School garden.

Comment by Susan on August 31, 2016 at 17:35

Hi Mary-Ann, Thanks.  BTW I got your package on the weekend and posted the seeds this morning.  Hope they are successful for you.   Me too re work and school holidays :)

Comment by Mary-Ann Baker on August 31, 2016 at 6:23

your whole garden looks so good and especially awesome work with the bananas Susan - we had some growing but apparently they are favourite food of one of our cows - she broke a 5 strand barb wire fence and three strands of electric fence - which was on and ate the suckers and the sugar cane that had just been planted near the dam ...Also so very sorry we wont be able to get to your garden visit Susan have a family commitment that day - so looking forward to reading the report and seeing more photos ! Also cant wait for the school holidays so I can really get into the garden and work wont interfere !!!!

Comment by Susan on August 30, 2016 at 20:38

Hi Roger, you'd be welcome to them.  Bring a crow bar and dig one of each type up when you come to the garden visit (I've tried to dig them out myself with no success)  I don't know why mine do so well - they rarely get watered or fertilised but they do get any runoff from the driveway and I cut and drop all the banana's after they fruit.   Consider it pay back for the fig :)

I actually don't have anything against Diggers and their prices -> to me, I'm quite happy to spend money on something of quality that's rare and I fully expect to pay a premium to companies who keep and provide these varieties-> they need to be supported and of COURSE they are there to make a profit, they don't do it out of the goodness of their heart.   For example, very happy to drop close to $100 for a multigrafted low chill cherry tree from Daley's and I trust them that I'll be delivered a quality product and as such, they have received huge amounts of business from me.  I also talk about which trees I've bought from them as I also believe in promoting them to other like-minded people because they deserve to remain in business and earn their money.

  My issue with diggers is that the quality that I would expect has been lacking and I no longer trust their company to deliver.  Plants are arriving dead or very weak looking and when I pay a premium, I expect much better.  Even the argument that they've been raised in a colder climate doesn't phase me.   The products should still arrive looking healthy and they simply don't. 

Sorry guys, I'll end my rant now.

Comment by Roger Clark on August 30, 2016 at 8:09

Susan,

Another interesting and informative blog. You seem to have mastered the art of growing most things, but your bananas in particular, just seem to be powering along. I have not had much success at all in growing them lately, and will have to put some thought into where and how I am growing them. Do you ever have any spare suckers that I might be able to swap for something of a gardening nature? Maybe some horse manure, or a couple of pomegranate cuttings?

I understand those that don't like the Diggers operation, the prices they charge are very steep and it seems to me that while they have their heart in the right place regarding their organic philosophy etc., they seem to be too keen on making money and ignore the fact that most of the people who grow organically are not wealthy. I do however like the range of seeds that they have. I am keen to try different types of (for example) good tasting tomatoes and pumpkins. I like info that they have on the varieties, and while some may prove to be only suited to cooler climates than ours, I have already tried and liked their Amish Paste, Rouge de Marmande, and Green Zebra's. This Spring I am going to plant a lot of different Pumpkin types in my TRAD/ horse manure mounds. I have already tried and have had success with Dutch Crookneck Pumpkins, and hope that some of the others are as prolific.  

Comment by Sophie on August 29, 2016 at 15:52
Susan, this is magical! I also stopped Diggers - while I enjoyed the excitement of a new catalogue, I did not get much luck with the seeds. Have had excellent results switching to Eden Seeds and Green Harvest.

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