Donna's Garden - 14/06/10

The mustard and marigolds in the nematode bed have grown heaps in the past month and look to be ready to use as green manure - is it best to chop and drop, or should it be dug in?


After a lull in planting anything, finally am starting to see some results from my direct in bed plantings out the back. I made holes in the mulch, but the naughty chooks keep getting in and scratching around and covering the poor little seedlings so every few days I am forced to go and gently uncover them again :) I didn't label anything - at the time it was plant or write labels so I figured I could figure it out as they grew. There should be a huge selection though as I know there parsnip, turnip, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, kohl rabi, carrot etc - next months blog should hopefully help me identify what came up.


The specialist seedling tray didn't work very well for some reason - I will be buying some better quality seedling raising mix, this was just a coir block - ironically I prepared two long pots at the same time and thickly sowed lettuce and mizuna which are going great guns.


The frangipani bed also has some seedlings coming up, again I can't remember what but think there was some mustard and lupins as well as a few others.


The fruit trees are doing pretty well despite a few minor problems, with the exception of the poor fig tree whose leaves have about ten different problems - hopefully as they are decidous they will fall soon and next year will be a lot better if I pump it with seaweed and bugs. The best growers so far are probably the paw paw, pepino (although suffered dreadfully last summer from being stung by moth/ fruit fly - will cover this year with mosquito netting I think), avocado, almond, guavas and bananas. I took the labels off the guavas (china pear & thai white) so I will label the photos with the type so I don't forget. The poor thai white guava had a twist tie label which cut into the wood a fair bit, hopefully it doesn't let any fungal infection in and heals properly.


The herb bed is going really well, and a lot of new seedlings are starting to grow bigger although hubby is still not allowed to harvest them yet - coriander, dill, fennel, italian parsley. Will have to try again to get some of the mexican coriander started as I don't think they came up or the normal chives.


I have planted a whole heap of chicken seedlings in the clothesline bed and they are starting to grow, think there is millet, sorghum, wheat and a few others. The idea is that I will successive plant and always have some green and some seeding to give them as a treat.


The cubby house bed had some late planted snake beans which I cut off and left to decompose, and as it was looking very empty and dry I tried to transplant a few of the mustard/ marigolds from the bed next to it for a bit of green manure. I really need to pick up a whole heap of lucerne bales and add more to all the beds, top off the piles of compost laying around to help decomposition and put at least one bale in the chicken run for them to sit on - hopefully next weekend!


The front new garden is doing well, and finally the banana pup has produced a new leaf (IM had given up and wanted to rip it out and try again). I pruned/ decimated the two passionfruit next to this bed and dumped them on the top as a mulch and will cover it will lucerne when I get more. Amazing that they are still green as that would be at least three weeks ago now... think that is what finally helped the banana pup as it now gets a bit more sunlight.


The big bed has self seeded cherry tomato growing almost to the top rail, almost ripe millet for the chooks/ seed, garlic, eggplant (didn't get around to potting one up) some sort of peas (had problems getting them to come up - this is the third time, and now have no idea what kind ended up growing). There was another tomato that I think is likely to be self seeded principe borguese which is for drying, it was sprawling everywhere and we picked it up and put a trellis around it so hopefully that works to contain it a bit better - I am slack at staking and tying so hopefully this option will be a winner, in summer I could also throw over mosquito netting for fruit fly if it works.


In hindsite all my beds should have been green manured the first growing season and would be a lot more productive by now - but at the time wasn't willing to 'waste' the beds by growing non productive stuff - duh! Think this is the most important thing to do when you have poor soil and not much money. In addition to building up the soil, I was amazed by how much more moisture the plants create and act as their own living groundcover - the nematode bed is lush and green, moist black soil while the one next to it is dry and degraded as it was almost fallow with little mulch for a couple of months - yet they both got the same amount of water (rainfall only).

Anyone in a fire ant area interested in growing pepino let me know as ours is doing well - they are related to the tomato and very easy to strike cuttings from as they have those little root nodule things on the branches and you just have to dump a handful of soil on them where they touch the ground - in fact the initial plant had about five branches that had done it by themselves which I have relocated to the old blueberry bed along the driveway - planted heaps thinking that I would lose a few but of course all took and are now growing really well despite the neglect they get there with no water and poor soil.


I have now been a member of Brisbane Local Food for two years, and ithas been an amazing journey, thanks everyone for your support, help and friendship during this time and I look forward to many more years as a part of the BLF family!

Note there is a separate blog for my chickens as they have just started to lay and I figure deserved their own this time :)
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  • I've heard about vinegar for spot spraying broad leaf weeds but you would have to be careful that it doesn't affect the pH of your soil.
  • I had a dreadful infestion of wandering jew and cobblers pegs on the acreage (last house). I would be interested to hear if your mix works.

    My current house does not have this issue and I am ruthless if I find either.

    Dogs are allergic to Wandering Jew also - gives them a rash on the belly.

  • It's not easy to find the time, especially with a young family to look after. I often have to get out there in the dark in the morning to water as I often leave so early. I'm 55 and still working on getting watering systems established lol! I have my fingers crossed that it doesn't take you this long. I now feel more urgency to get these things up and running but no longer have the physical capacity (or a handy bloke around with a box of tools - I want one with an on/off switch who folds away in the cupboard until you need him again) to do it myself. All I can do is find useful tradies out there who will do it for me for the best price.
  • It is very high on my list of priorities to get a watering system in, then I can have it automatically water (from the tank) an a rotating basis of one garden a week or something... Just have to find the time to install it, with a GV this weekend it will probably have to wait *again* :)

    I have had a bit of success those weeping hoses (we have two) and I just coil it around two beds next to each other when I plant out seeds and turn it on for an hour when I get home ... of course remembering to turn it off is a bit of a problem, should get a timer. Once the seedlings are established I move the hose to a different bed/ area.
  • Donna, I understand what you mean re: green manure, I have the same problem ~ Not to mention my mum would not want to see me chopping down and digging in healthy leaves that could be eaten or could flower..
    On your page too about not enough time to look after them despite I already spend most of my weekends on the garden. I have read that it's best to do like 15 mins a day than a few hours on the weekend.. but it's so hard on the weekdays.. so obviously there's a lot of set back.. I spend more money on growing things compare to the amount I harvest, but hoping that will change soon :)
  • You find out by doing, Donna ;-) and doing includes making mistakes - from the mistake Queen of Deception Bay :-)
  • Thanks Elaine, good to know about the fertiliser - although I am gradually, after a few stuff ups, figuring out that I am using *way* too much... obvious symptoms include forked carrots & excessive leaf growth on a lot of things. It was just in my head to keep fertilising them to make them healthy, obviously after the amount of books I have read I know better - but still sometimes can't resist chucking some more on - doh!
  • Great blog, Donna :-) The fig ... don't worry over the fig, they are as tough as ... a deciduous tree so it's looking ratty this time of year. They are home to some sawfly larva and these chew the leaves around. Come spring, hit it with the seaweed, EM and some Potassium, but go easy on manures and composts since they are dry Mediterranean plants, too rich is probably worse than too poor - and drainage must be perfect.
  • It is great, I find it very satisfying despite the fact I am a pretty slack gardener and often don't get time to look after them properly and have had a fair few setbacks.
  • It's so pleasurable isn't it Donna :) Always new things to learn, new things to grow. I just love having my garden back after the drought.
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