The Garden Share Collective: July 2014

Garden Share Collective

I’m participating in the Garden Share Collective again this month, so here’s a round up of what has happened in our garden over the last month.

gsc-trees

Our fruit trees are growing well. Here from left to right is our black sapote (chocolate pudding) fruit tree, guava (coffee tree underneath) and our tropical apple.

gsc-tropical-apple

I’m so excited to see our first tropical apple coming along well. The citrus trees are doing much better and we have had a few limes. The macadamia is nearly up to my hip.

gsc-carrots

We’ve had a bumper crop of carrots and bulls blood beetroots. We eat the leaves of the beetroot, either steamed or roasted just like kale chips. We have also had a few of our own sweet potatoes, but they are a bit stringy for my liking.

We planted in some of our seeds from Fair Dinkum Seeds, and the garlic and marigolds have come up already. The Egyptian spinach is not doing much. The coffee plants have red beans on them, but not enough to make it worthwhile harvesting yet. We got a free basil seedling from our local library on Saturday that needs planting out.

The weather has been getting cooler, so we haven’t spent as much time in the garden as I would have liked, but everything is going well.

Coming up I’m hoping to give everything a handful of rooster booster, trace elements and seaweed solution. Things will be quiet again since winter is here.

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The Garden Share Collective: June 2014

Garden Share Collective

I’m participating in the Garden Share Collective again this month (after a bit of a break), so here’s a round up of what has happened in our garden over the last month.

fairdinkumseeds

We generously received some seeds to trial from Fair Dinkum Seeds. I encourage you to go and visit them, as they specialise in hard to find heirloom seeds.

fairdinkumseeds-2

We plan on having a gardening session and planting  some of these in the vegetable beds this afternoon. Haven’t we had lovely weather lately? Perfect for gardening anyhow.

citrus

Our citrus trees are going well, but they take forever for the fruit to develop to maturity. I’ll give them some seaweed solution and potash today.

figs

Our figs are starting to develop, and I can’t wait to try them. You know I have never had fig from the grocery store, only home-grown ones. They are always seem to expensive.

carrots

In the vegetable beds, we are growing carrots and bulls blood beetroots. It looks like we are going to have a bumper crop, since Matt used the whole packet of carrot seeds! There is also some sweet potato and Egyptian spinach growing in the beds. Our chilli is going well, but Matt finds it’s not hot enough. We aren’t actually harvesting anything at the moment.

Today we are also planning on adding some mulch to the vegetable beds, and one bed, in particular, needs a top of organic matter and soil. I’ll also give all the fruit trees some rooster booster. I’m hoping to have a productive afternoon in the garden.

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The Garden Share Collective: February 2014

Garden Share Collective

I’m participating in the Garden Share Collective again this month, so here’s a round up of what has happened in our garden over the last month.

feb-zucchini

We have been harvesting black beauty zucchini (above) and a few acerola cherries (below). All the rain we have had was a welcome sight. We also harvested a suyu cucumber, but it was terribly bitter and inedible. Apparently the bitterness is caused by environmental stress, or irregular watering (ah ha!). The only downside of all the rain we’ve had recently.

feb-acerola-cherry

Some of our fruit trees really need to go in to the ground as they are out growing their pots.

feb-mandarin

We’re having mixed results with the citrus trees. I rang the nursery to see why they were forming fruits and then falling off – they suggested the citrus need a complete fertiliser. I have only been using chicken manure and Epsom salts. However with the rain, they seem to be starting to form larger fruit. Some how in my head I think they need potash, but I could be wrong. The photo (above) is of a mandarin that has taken months to mature.

feb-rockmelon

We are yet to harvest the canary yellow rockmelon (above), as I’m not sure how big the mature sized fruit is, but I’m really looking forward to trying it. The Egyptian spinach is at the end of it’s life and now producing seed pods.

Matt spent the long Australian Day weekend mowing and cleaning up both the front and back yards, so the place is looking really good (outside anyhow). I need to get some more seeds in the ground in the coming month.

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The Garden Share Collective: December 2013

Garden Share Collective

I’m participating in the Garden Share Collective again this month, so here’s a round up of what has happened in our garden over the last month.

figs

We’ve been waiting and waiting for it to rain, and finally it did! Yeah. The garden is now looking fresher and greener. Our fig plant is fruiting and so is one of our limes. The acerola cherry has berries on it and the coffee plants are just thriving in this weather.

mystery-plant-bed

We planted Egyptian spinach months and months ago, and only now has it started to come up. We must confess we didn’t know what it was when it first came up and someone identified it for us on the Brisbane Local Food Ning.

kale-bed3

Only the third bed is planted out with huge amounts of kale and behind it you can see the Egyptian spinach. In the forth bed, there are the tiny beginnings of cucumber, rockmelon and zucchini – fingers crossed they make it through the next couple of hot months.

It’s going to be pretty quiet in the garden because it’s just too hot to be outside working in Summer. So the plan is to keep everything alive for the next few months.

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The Garden Share Collective: November 2013

Garden Share Collective

I’m participating in the Garden Share Collective again this month, so here’s a round up of what has happened in our garden over the last month.

heartsee

It’s Spring time but there’s not much happening in our garden. Not one of the bulbs I planted came up! Matt pulled out all of the brassicas in our vegetable beds because the caterpillars were winning that battle. There is not much remaining in the beds, just some kale and beetroot.

lemon-tree

The dwarf Meyer lemon tree that was on it’s last legs has been revived with some chicken manure and seaweed solution. We repotted the herb garden we were given at Christmas and it’s doing really well. I was surprised, because it was planted in soil made entirely from grass clippings!

We lost a couple of fruit trees this month with the lack of rain and heat. I think they were mostly lychees which a colleague had warned me that they were too fussy for Brisbane’s hot weather. I did grow them from seed, so it was sad to see them wilt and die.

Matt was given a gardening kit for his birthday and it was made up of two narrow tin pots for the windowsill. Unfortunately the combination of the tin being too hot and the coir bedding material meant it needed to be watered every day. The lettuce ended up pathetic looking and only the dill is doing really well. Matt has abandoned it as a failure.

Here’s hoping we get some more rain so we can revive the garden this coming month. I am planning on planting some flowers in the outer garden and some drought-hardy vegetables in the vegetable beds.

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Waiting for rain

hose-tmba

We have unfortunately not had any decent rain for two and half months. Last week it was overcast with big gray clouds and we were hoping that it would fall in our backyard, but the most we got was 3mm on Saturday. Recently we have had beautiful Spring days with the hot sun beaming down.

I’ve been wanting to plant some more seedlings into the garden beds but I’m postponing that until we do have a decent soaking. Mainly because our water tank is now dry. Matt decided to empty it, as he thought that might help clean it out. Also the garage roof has collected lots of dirt from the nearby vacant block of land.

Fortunately most of the plantings in our garden are based around tropical or native plants, which survive through periods of hot and dry weather. Even the native grasses are starting to look a bit weary, and the grass is starting to brown in parts.

Only a handful of the bulbs that I planted have come up.

Sowing beans and peas to add nitrogen

seed-packets

Our neighbours next to the vegetable beds are going to pull down their old asbestos-filled house and build a new one. We have a make-shift fence between us at the moment and with an energetic dig-loving tiny dog we’re hoping they build a new fence soon.

We’ve put our plans on growing things in the vegetables beds on hold. I get a little paranoid about being 100% organic and at one point I wanted to cover the beds with tarp so the building dust and crap doesn’t drift over the area. I’m hoping the new fence will block some of it.

Anyhow, I’ve been sorting through my seeds and discovered several packets of beans and peas that have ‘expired’ and need to be planted. With a nothing-to-loose attitude, we planted them out on Sunday, just after it had rained almost all of Saturday.

It’s amazing how the soil quality differs in the four beds. The bed which previously had potatoes growing in it is packed with worms. We wonder if it was the additional cow manure that has made the difference.

As the soil was thoroughly wet, we didn’t pre-soak the beans and peas, as sometimes recommended.  We planted in a random fashion Cherokee Wax bush bean, Rattlesnake bean, Blue Lack climbing beans, Lazy Housewife bean, Purple King climbing bean, Scarlet Emperor runner bean, Snake climbing bean, Scarlet Emperor runner bean, Telephone pea and Massey Gem pea.

I’m not too bothered whether we get a harvest or not. My motivation for planting the beans and peas is to fix nitrogen back in to the soil and help rejuvenate it. So in this instance they are serving as a cover crop.

We going to focus on setting up the food forest in the next few months. I’m madly saving for my chickens and bees.

Matt also installed our new worm tower and trellis system from Birdies Garden Products. A big thank you to Birdies for the lovely surprise.

The Herb Robert has self seeded and is now growing amongst the undergrowth of our native border. I dug up some oregano and mint with roots and replanted them among the bottom of the natives. Now it’s starting to feel a little more like permaculture.

A sunny break

sunflower-sml

Isn’t this weather just gorgeous? And an extra long weekend is super sweet too.

Welcome to all my new readers who may have found out about us from our article Sowing Seeds to Success on Green Journey –  – A big thank you for all the hard work by Tom and Anne.

A warm welcome also if you have come across from the Permaculture Research Institute‘s website. I’ve recently written two guest posts for the website: Seeds from the Kitchen Cupboard and The Permaculture Path to Sustainability.

Enjoy the rest of your time off.

Chaos in the cosmos

Our early gardening attempts were a little chaotic. The year before we got a water tank and things started to look up. Our gardening methods were still very ad hoc. We managed to grow plenty of passionfruit and pawpaws for friends. There were lots of tiny tomatoes under the hot water system that we didn’t even plant!

We grew a gorgeous small French melon and a bitter eggplant, both in a pot. We also harvested half a dozen or so meals of very stringy purple beans and bunches of herbs.

We grew too much bok choi that bolted in the middle of a month of eating European based dishes for the Euro Cup and Plate. We eventually made spanakopita out of several plants (although I know this sounds incredibly sacrilegious!)

The borders of the garden were littered with handfuls of companion flowers, including poppies and cosmos, for the insects.

I am starting to feel a little more confident about our recent attempts. We are following a plan at least. Although, after some number crunching then calculator searching, we worked out that we are 0.4% of the way on to our target! Time for the melons and pumpkins to start taking over the garden.

I keep getting bitten by mozzies so luckily there has been plenty of rain recently and we haven’t had to water. Our corn got blown about in the storms and it’s now taller than BigM. The bean leaves have spots on them – I haven’t worked out if this is harmless yet. We picked our first pumpkin under the roses. It didn’t get planted there, so it probably grew from the compost I used to fill in a ditch!

The last bed is still half empty, and the third bed is a quarter empty. I replanted a few more make up seeds in the spaces. I discovered that the Italian seeds I bought at a deli in the Gap had expired in 2004, which might explain why they didn’t grow. I also pulled up the Aqua Dulce because they stopped at about pencil height and looked unhappy. An undetected pest was eating the leaves. I always thought Italian seeds would do well in our weather, but apparently it’s not to be.

And then I found a red back spider with an egg sack in our compost bin. Matt saved the day and bashed both to smithereens.