Ok, so I've put in the elevated garden beds - 3x 4Mx1Mx60cm. The idea of these being that they will be easier to garden as I get older and find it harder to bend over, the soil inside will end up deep and rich and the dogs can't get in! I'm very happy with the beds I bought from KISS Products and will put in a matching rainwater tank as soon as $ allows.
The beds were delivered around the beginning of December 09. I asked quite a few people how I should orientate them and ended up facing the long side north/south. I have been attempting to fill them since (it's now April).
Thought about buying a huge pile-o dirt and shovelling endlessly, and once upon a time I could have shovelled all day no trouble, but no longer an option due to aging body and lack of space to keep the pile-o dirt (my car would have had to sit out in the open - not good in our area where people come around at night and smash windows).
So, I cadged my mower guy into bringing me bags of grass all summer, bought horse poo, buckets of ground rock (granite and basalt) for minerals, chook poo from the neighbour, lucerne bales ($!), straw bales (even more $!). Down at the very bottom is the rough stuff out of the giant sugarcane mulch bales I bought from a charity run.
I reached the top of the beds numerous times but of course, the composting process ensured the levels went down quickly. In the end (this month, April) I ran out of planting patience, bought some bags of garden soil (easy for me to bring home in the car and cart into the back yard) and planted seed and seedlings. All my vege seed has come from Diggers - some of the seedling came from Bunnings (won't do that again as not very good quality) and some from a nice young man at the Caboolture markets ($2 a punnet and very healthy).
I've been a gardener for decades, won awards for best new garden and best native garden, but I know virtually nothing about vege gardening apart from a few spasmodic attempts at this and that throughout the years which weren't very successful. I have read a fair bit, asked a lot of questions and attended a permaculture training session at Northey St. The more questions I asked about what I should plant when, the more confusing it all got (plant according to your local climate, not the instructions on the packet). The more gardening forums/sites I joined the more I realised how much I still have to learn and how conflicting others opinions can be.
I do live in SE Qld and it's still warm plus the beds are generating heat from down below as they compost. So I decided to just go ahead and plant whatever took my fancy! Nothing to lose but a few seed if it didn't work.
Seed planted is:
Carrot "All Seasons" - the only seeds not from Diggers
Sweet Corn Sweet White F1" - two plantings the first direct into the soil, the second into Jiffy pots first
Rockmelons of the world mix - includes Yellow Canary, Bananga and Ananas - into jiffy pots first
Pea "Sugar Snap" climbing
Silverbeet "Five Colour" mix
Tomatoes "5 Colour Heirloom" mix - includes (Red) Snack, Black Russian, Little Sugar Yellow, Green Sausage, (Orange) Tigerella
Capsicum - Sweet Mini mix - bite sized yellow, red and chocolate
Pumpkin "Delicata Mini Sweet" - a non running type with green and yellow striped skin
cucumber - Lebonese
zucchini - yellow and green
The level in the beds has dropped once more but the plants seem to be all doing well. Especially the zucchini which has had a bit of grey mould on some of the leaves. I removed these immediately and it doesn't seem to have spread. These are already forming little flower heads. The cauliflower from Bunnings were pretty sad when I bought them and have never really improved. Now they have been attacked by some tiny green caterpillar. The ones bought from the guy at the Caboolture markets are still healthy and hale.
I have also planted quite a few flower seeds around the edges. I read it somewhere and it seemed like a nice idea as I love colour and flowers in my garden, not just produce. I've planted pea flower and nasturtium seedlings but the rest are seed: heartsease, alyssum in various colours, swan river daisy in "blue star" and "summer skies", marigold "oranges and lemons", candytuft and cornflower "polka dot".
I'm having the garden club over next weekend. Let's hope there's no hail storms between now and then!
I check the beds each morning at dawn and give them a water. Amazing how they manage to mostly dry out during the day. The dew at night makes them look moist again in the morning. If I wasn't home on holidays and checking them during the heat of the day I would think they were remaining moist from the morning water.
There's little fruit growing on the zuchinni already, little green and yellow ones, and I notice for the first time that they have both male and female flowers. They seem to bloom on alternate days though which is a little confusing. How does the male fertilise the female like this?
There's some damage to the leaves - grey spots and dead spots. I've made up a spray which is a combination of all the recipes I've been given - has molasses, bi-carb, garlic, chilli, detergent and oil. Left out the milk bit as I reckon that would go off. Used up half the bottle this morning spraying the leaves of everything (things are chewing on the corn also). Will have to get a bigger bottle. The Samford group is coming over tomorrow so I've left the affected leaves on so they can have a look. Jason will have some useful advice I'm sure.
I planted some chilli seeds yesterday and also have some tiny ones coming up in a pot. Never thought I would find chilli this useful :S
These are the fruit trees I have growing at the moment also:
Jaboticaba - newly planted
Avocado - Wurtz- newly planted
Fig - Brown Turkey
Mulberry - Red Shatoot - recently planted
Tamarillo - recently planted
grapes - species unknown
Raspberry - Bi-centennial - recently planted
I also have asparagus growing in the regular beds. Too new to have any crop as yet. The sweet potato are prolific in their growth but I have never yet found a usable one. They used to grow huge at my last property (acreage) and popped out of the ground, so easy to find. Not here.
The avo is in the front yard, away from the dogs lol. They just love avo's and would steal any that fell to the ground. They also love strawberries - hopefully with these (mostly) now in the elevated beds I'll get some for myself! They also consider corn cobs a great treat - as good as a bone. They hoard the left over cob for ages chewing on them - has to be good for their teeth.
Photo below actually April 2010.
Had the Samford Local Growers group over yesterday which was a lot of fun. About 13 adults including myself and three little ones. A lot of people in my little backyard, but they were very well behaved :) The dogs were not happy about being shut in the carport but it worked well. No risk of them getting out when someone leaves the gate open.
Jason and Russell in particular gave good advice: thin out the carrots (! what a waste - will try harder next time to plant them more sparsely - mix with sand??), thin out the tom seedlings and replant, grape not producing needs to go!, sweet potatoes not producing need to go!, plant in groups for alkaline and acid loving - bit late for this as plants are already in and growing. All I can do is try to create the PH around the plants. I have blueberry (acid loving) and fig (alkaline loving) growing closely. I've surrounded the blueberry with Peet Moss and the fig with Dolomite. We'll see how this goes. Both are currently very healthy looking and the fig gives quite a few yummy fruit.
The asparagus are also planted around the Gooseberry which creates the same problem. Jason suggested I move the asparagus which I will try to do. I've never seen these growing as a mature plant and was surprised at how tall he says they get. I expected them to be rather ground hugging like their decorative counterparts.
The fellas pointed out that the little brown caterpillars were also into my carrot seedlings! Note to self - wear glasses when watering in the morning! Went through this morning and picked a dozen more of the insidious little b's off while I thinned the seedlings. Got my revenge by squashing them into the soil. Careful inspection of all other plants found them in the sugar snap peas, silverbeet and corn. Not in the lettuce strangely. And not on the newest cauliflower seedlings (though they have been chewed). Is Elaine's little ploy of using white banners of material on sticks working to tell the moths that they are already taken?
Photos below actually 03.05.10.
2nd bed - corn, cucumber, zuchinni, mini-pumpkin (non running type), egg plant, strawberries, parsley
Picked my first green zuchinni this evening :) Boy, did they grow quickly and the plants are covered in more little flower buds. The yellow ones seem to be taking a little longer to mature - the plants are smaller also. It's so firm, glossy and fresh! I'm going to slice it in half, sprinkle it with salt, let it stand for a bit and grill it. I'm celebrating with a glass of red :)
Everything else is doing well. The sugar snaps are starting to climb their trellis. Diane brought around some garlic chives which I've planted between the cauliflower seedlings and in the centre of the tomatoes. She also gave me some "mystery" lettuce seeds and I've sprinkled some around in the bare patch were some of the corn seedlings didn't sprout.
Took advantage of the Herb Show at the Mt Cootha gardens today. Quick in and out. There was a lot of extraneous stuff there like soaps and heat bags, but plenty of herbs to make it worthwhile.
Mushroom plant Rungia klossi
Society Garlic (pretty variegated plant)
chilli - some red variety un-named
Chilli - Purple Tiger
Ceylon Spinach - red and green stemmed varieties - climbers
Also bought some kind of lacey leafed salad plant with a bit of heat in the flavour. No idea what it is now I'm home.
Also planted out some ginger rhizomes from the fridge. May or may not grow!
I have cropped quite a few zuchinni, both yellow and green, and eaten them in various ways - steamed baby ones, grilled, in an omelet. Very pretty to look at and fresh, but lacking the flavour of the ones I buy in the shop which is so disappointing.
Also cropped some of the silverbeet last night and had steamed for dinner. Always love this one.
Everything else is doing well but now the cold weather is setting in the growth does seem to have slowed. Might be my imagination.
The zuchinnis, especially the yellow ones, have now many baby fruit on and I've picked another green this morning. The plants have had a lot of mildew which got out of hand when I was working longer hours this week. A milk spray did not remedy the situation so I cut all affected leaves off.
The cucumber are cropping and delicious - slightly yellow inside. The lettuce and rocket are wonderfully yummy and pretty to look at. I've had a couple of great salads using these and bits of the various herbs now growing topped off with a balsamic and olive oil dressing and added avo and tomato.
The tomatoes are growing really well and so healthy looking but no sign of flower yet. I've bought some frames from Bunnings to give them support.
The snow peas likewise are growing tall, about 1m now, and very healthy, but no sign of flower. The carrots look fantastic - all lush and feathery. Too small for crop. The second planting of sweetcorn needs to be removed as they just aren't doing well. The first planting are only about 1m tall but getting flower/silk developing. This is a sweet white variety and maybe they just don't grow tall - must check the packet. The mini pumpkins are developing small fruit.
I have bought some seed raising mix and various punnets/trays and will start planting some of the lovely seed acquired at the Seed Savers meeting last week. Especially keen to grow the gooseberries which I remember growing wild when I was a kid.
Did buy two new bare rooted roses - just couldn't pass them up :S Highly fragrant. I was down to two after pickaxing the bulk of them out of the front yard last year as they weren't doing well through the drought.
Lovely rainy weekend - not good for getting the vast amount of washing dry......but ever so nice for sitting around in my pj's cum gardening gear while the dogs snooze on the couch.
May 2010 early zuchinni crop - beautiful but without much flavour!
May 2010 Bed 3 - lots of yummy salad items including lettuce, rocket, fennel, garlic chives, cauliflower and celery - strawberries just sitting and waiting no doubt for spring. One marigold which grew from an entire packet of seed! Corn at the far right not thriving and needing removing - "surprise" lettuce seed from Diane growing around them should take over.
May 2010 Bed 2 - sweet white corn, mini pumpkin, zuchinni and lebanese cucumber and some herbs.
May 2010 Bed 1 - silverbeet doing well, toms and sugar snap peas healthy but flowerless. Society Garlic in the middle.
A nice drizzly Sunday and the weather just cool enough to make gardening a pleasure. I took myself off to the Caboolture Markets early - there's a young man there now who sells the most gorgeous healthy seedlings by the punnet for $2. Not sure how I'll fit them in but bought some Radish (Mars), more mixed lettuce, mustard greens, French Beans (dwarf), Asparagus and red onion seedlings.
Also bought a good sized yellow dragon fruit cutting for $15. The gent had all three - red, yellow and white - cuttings on offer but the yellow is supposedly the best flavoured (and most expensive). I have a red plant coming from Daleys shortly.
Did fit them in by removing some of the perennial's (parsley, egg plant) from the veg beds and putting them into the main beds. They're looking a little sulky at the moment but hopefully will improve after a good water and a few days of rain. Tucked the onions around the cauliflower and removed the pitiful corn plants (transplanted 3 of the better ones into the good corn bed - who knows, may produce).
I've finally cut back the grape vines. Couldn't bring myself to remove the one given to me by my now dead client, which has never shown any desire to crop. Will give it another year to prove itself :S
Planted various seeds into seed trays - gooseberry, yellow passionfruit, dragon fruit (from a delicious red fruit brought home from the fruit and veg shop today - curious to see if they grow), Euro Spinach, watermelon (Stars and Moon), Angled Luffa - the last three from seed given to me at the seed savers meeting the other weekend.
I've noticed that the Rocket growing on the north wall of Bed 3 aren't growing as well or big as those getting more sun on the other wall of the same bed. I suspect the side of the bed (volume has sunk considerably) is shading the plants from the sun and causing decreased growth.
I've planted some garlic cloves given to me at the Samford meeting yesterday. These are planted all around the brassacas along with the red onion seedlings and chives. The cauli's are still growing well but still very immature - no sign of a cauli.
Now that winter has started (dawn around 6.30am) there are no longer any caterpillers on the plants. I suspect summer will bring back the bugs. Have quite a bit of mildew on the zuchinnis, pumpkin, cucumber vines - I'm removing the affected leaves every few days. I've made a seaweed spray (per Anthony's suggestion) and sprayed the leaves over the weekend.
The tomatoes look fantastic! Big healthy plants now developing flowers. These are grown from the heritage seeds bought from Diggers. Really looking forward to these.
The Euro Spinach seeds are sprouting in the seed trays. None of the other seedlings are coming up yet. I have a pot full of little healthy Monstera deliciosa seedlings grown from the fruit I bought some weeks back. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monstera_deliciosa
I've found a nice little shadehouse on Deals Direct for about $40 delivered and will use this instead of the table under the Wampi. Birthday gift from Clare :)
Planted the red Dragon fruit plant and two Yakon plants from Daleys. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smallanthus_sonchifolius
Very pleased that dinner last night consisted almost entirely of my home grown salad items (with fish) and fruit from my garden (soursop) for dessert :)
Naughty me - there's photographer shadows in each pic lol.
12/06/10 all three beds. Custard Apple back left and Lychee right - in between is my asparagus patch and gooseberry bush (along with some gingers and other things). To the left of the CA is Yakon, Tamarillo, chillies, egg plant, Pepino and further along a mulberry, Pink Shatoot.
12/06/10 bed 3 - getting a lot of use out of the salad items - find I LOVE sweet fennel in salads and rocket on a ham and salad sandwich.
12/06/10 Bed 2 - the corn is starting to silk up. I've had quite a few zuchinni and lebonese cucumber. I keep the zuchinni well tidied and remove excess dead plant matter plus any mildew affected leaves.
12/06/10 Bed 1 - the silverbeet is delicious. The toms are going great guns and getting flowers. No disease at all no doubt due to it being winter. The snow peas are starting to flower also and the carrots are doing great - have eaten one tiny one :)
I've decided on putting in a dwarf maccadamia - spread is only 1.2m and height to 3m. One is coming from Kendalls Farms - very nice helpful people. Yet to decide on exact location to plant! Either in the centre of the round area which would be an exact fit, or remove sooty palm and other nasties from corner of yard. This would mean sharing the crop with the neighbours! Leaning towards the round area - but would it shade the vege beds too much from the northern sun?
Also on order are some laminated polypropelene grow bags at $9 each (cheapest I've seen around) x 4 and half kg each of 4 varities of seed potatoes - Nicola, Pontiac, Kipfler and Ruby Lou - from Garden Express. These bags can be reused for several years and should pay for themselves.
I've been having fun this long weekend planting up various seed and cuttings to go in the little hot house. Very easy to put together and quite sturdy for what I want. Completely mobile - I can move it somewhere shadier in summer.
Something is eating half of my Soursop before I get to them. I've bagged them (blue plastic bags) to stop the fruit falling and ruining, but this doesn't deter the animal. Bat? Rat?
Horrendously cold morning but it's turned into the most beautiful warm, sunny day.
I've taken advantage of the nice wet soil after the recent bit of rain and have planted some Euro spinach, bush beans, mixed rockmelons, Deicata Mini Sweet pumpkins, heirloom carrots, radish and watermelon (this one has a little plastic water bottle house to keep it warm) and thrown around various seed - cosmos and Amaranth.
I'm branching out to the area surrounding the raised beds. It's been 7 months since I covered this with newspaper and mulch and it's become quite nice friable soil. To each planting of seed I've added a handful of EXtra pellets.
Snow Pea flowers 26/06/10
This mornings "crop" - zuchinnis, cucumber, radish, carrots (ate the snow peas!!) 04/07/10
I've been harvesting (such a grand word for picking off with fingers!) lots of bits and pieces - lovely little carrots and snow peas, lots of silverbeet, lettuce, rocket, mustard greens, fennel tips and other herbs.
The cucumbers have all but finished. The zuchinni are finished and pulled up (vines went soft in the end and were rotting). I cropped the corn (sweet white) - seemed they weren't going to get any bigger. The little ones were delicious eaten whole while the slightly bigger cobs had minimal kernals on them.
Not sure if the poor result was due to the variety or the time of year I planted. I'll try again in summer.
I've eaten all the radishes - very nice! and so quick growing. Will make sure I plant more seedlings/seeds next time so I have more of a constant crop.
I have some bush beans (seedlings bought from the young man at Caboolture Mkts) doing very well - lots of flower. These are planted in what was the cucumber/zuchinni/corn bed so I can't go digging this all under just yet. Strawberries in there also - I'll have to figure out what to do with these as now starting to run - do I dig up and replant when I add more goodies to the used bed?
I took the capsicum out of this bed also and planted in a more permanent place in the regular beds. Will aim to keep the elevated beds for seasonal items.
I have ordered some seed potatoes from Bulbs Direct - the only place I could find still selling them after a quick search on the net. http://www.bulbsdirect.com.au/level1.asp?planttype=Produce I want to attempt to grow something a little exotic the first time. Dire warnings from members of the group that only basic types will thrive here. Won't know until I try them. Relatively cheap experiment at $7.50 for 20.
I have grow bags, compost, Xtra, old horse poo and straw to help. Not sure why I picked the Lustre as it's not a late season planting - perhaps the name attracted me!
On order is:
PINK FUR APPLE
Description : long banana shape tubers, light pink skin, cream waxy flesh, distinctive flavour. Considered to be worlds BEST salad spud, also roasting, baking, chipping and wedges. Mid-late season. Produces huge no. of tubers (more than kipfer) Moderate Dormancy
Description : Round evenly sized tubers, smooth bright white skin, shallow eyes, white flesh, excellent flavour. Especially ideal for boiling to mash & salads, also baking & roasting. Early to mid-season planting High yielding (8-12 tubers). Short dormancy, quick growing
Description : Regular large round tubers, slightly textured dark red skin, shallow eyes, white flesh with a great flavour. Ideal for boiling, mashing and baking. An Australian bred high yielding variety. Late season planting, quick growing. Medium Dormancy
Description : Oval to pear shaped tubers, smooth creamy skin with pink blotches around shallow eyes, white flesh. Delicious flavour & firm waxy texture. Ideal for roasting, boiling & baking. Medium to late season planting, medium yielding. Moderate dormancy.
SCA potato growing instructions:
Potatoes arrived quite quickly in the post and have been planted out during the week. The King Edward are very tiny spuds, the Otway Red really big, the Pink Fur Apple look just like Kipfler and the Lustre look like regular spuds from the shops.
Bed 1 the toms are going berserk! Can't get at the snowpeas growing behind them properly but still getting some very nice pods off this :)
The toms are smothering the silverbeet and carrots. I have frames under all that growth supporting them but never expected them to get so big - now overflowing the sides of the bed. Some small fruit amongst the growth and lots of flowers.
27/07/10 What is this? Thought it was Candytuft, but now flowering and obviously not. Took a bite of the leaves and tastes like Rocket. TURNS OUT TO BE ARUGULA type of rocket. Not very nice - don't grow again.
27/07/10 Bed 3 - lettuce, mustard greens, celery, cauli (growing well but no sign of a fruit still), sweet fennel and strawberries - lettuce at far right is now going to seed.
25/07/10 Dwarf Macca from Kendall Farm. $53 delivered! Look at the size of the thing - I did expect something more advanced and they took 7 weeks to send.
25/07/10 Bed 2 zuchinni all but finished - the yellow still keeps producing long after the green is gone. The cucumber looks sad but is still producing some great fruit. Beans in foreground (non running), carrots and corn salad have been planted in the open spaces amongst the Alyssum, which are the ONLY flower that came up from about 6 packets of various seed sprinkled around months ago.
The Heirloom toms on the right are overflowing from Bed 1 - quite a few small fruit.
Potato bags in the background.
Also in background are Nasturtium, Yakon, Mini Sweet Caps, chillies, Pepino and various bits and pieces.
25/07/10 Alll three beds. Lychee in background is colouring up with new growth - hopefully a better crop this year! Framework on left of beds protecting Rockmelon seedlings, watermelon seedling behind these.
I've pulled out the Aragula which wasn't very nice (past it's prime?) and was taking up space and sunshine which were better used by more useful plants.
The toms have exploded! Now taking up the entire area between elevated beds and smothering everything else in the bed (snow peas, silverbeet and carrots). Very healthy though and with lots of little toms on the various mingled bushes (5 variety heirloom).
Here's a pic of this mornings crop of snow peas, bush beans (very worth growing!) and the last of the zucchini.
Cropping the snow peas is a bit like playing Where's Wally - looking for the green on green. Every time I think I've picked all the usable ones I find more. I'm leaving some on the bush to give me seed.
The Bush Beans (non-runners) are VERY worth growing. Very healthy little plants which don't take up much room but produce a lot of crop. See pic 3rd back for plant.
Still no sign of potato shoots. I've pulled out this yellow zuchinni as I don't like them very much and it is no longer thriving. Still waiting on anything happening with the (healthy) strawberry plants. All the herbs and other edibles in the general garden are doing very well.
I have some little mini-pumpkin, rockmelon and watermelon seedlings doing well growing in situ around the raised beds.
Now making weed/poo tea to feed to seedlings (and whatever else takes my fancy). Tub of horse poo (can also bag and hang as the floating bits aren't all that savoury to look at), Epsom Salts for magnesium, Organic Xtra, Seaweed Extract and weeds! The general consensus is that you should make up a batch and use it in full before commencing a new one, but noone can tell me why this is so. So at the moment I just keep adding. In the beginning it got quite frothy, but that has gone.
The seedlings in the hot house aren't doing all that well. They did dry out last week while I was busy which hasn't done them any good. I'm now leaving the flap open as they days are warm - had lots of winter rain in the last few days. We've had a lot of discussion about growing our own seedlings and noone seems to do really well with it. Nothing like the commercial ones which apparently get fed fertiliser all the time.
I bought a heap of Yakon from Linda and have tucked them along the back fence line. I have planted so many different things there :S might be quite a jumble when/if it all comes up. The strongest will survive :)