Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I just couldn't help myself - I had to plant something

With the days getting longer and daytime temps slowly creeping up it is difficulty to be patient and wait for the warmer nights to put some seed it. I just had to do something yesterday so I put in some trays of brassicas - cabbage, brussels sprouts, mustard etc.

My broad beans are starting to set pods so I am hopeful that they will be able to ripen them before I have to irrigate them in the hot weather. I will then be able to put something else in the beds, or, I might just experiment with cutting them back to the ground to get them to bear again. I think it will depend on the weather as far as that goes. If it gets too hot they won't set new pods.

My Italian root cabbage is starting to flower, the stems are getting on to 2m tall which I didn't expect. They will look striking when in full flower.
I am impatiently waiting to get seed to start getting these out into the general public. They are soo tasty that I think they will take off.

Here are some trays of brassicas that I sowed yesterday. I chose them because they are most likely to put up with the cold. I will really have to wait to sow all the other seed.

The beds of white beetroot were in a block where I have decided to let some silverbeet go to seed so I figured that it was much easier to transplant the beetroot than the larger silverbeet plants. These will get planted at the new seed block tomorrow. I chose 40 of the best plants and the rest I left to go to the next market in a few weeks.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Potential drought and pics of newer stuff

Sorry it has been a couple of weeks since I last posted. Most of you know that it is the slow time of the year and there just isn't that much to talk about, so I have been saving it up, lol.

It is almost the end of August now and although it has been cold and we have had a few days of drizzle, it is scary that we have had so little real rain. August and September are the wettest months of the year here and if we don't get some real rain to top up the subsoil next month we will be in a bit of trouble.
The river and the dams are still low and it is beginning to get worrying to think of the dry time ahead till this time next year. I just hope that we get a decent amount of rain next month.

 I have laid out quite a bit of dripper tube on the new seed block but still have a few thousand dollars worth to go before mid November. I just hope it doesn't get so dry I have to start using it before then. The plumber is coming out in the next couple of weeks to install the backflow device which will be another chunk out of the budget but has to be done.

I will be starting to put in some trays of seed in the hothouse next week to plant out in Oct.
 I have just potted up my mauka seedlings and will put in some more seed shortly. They will be ready to plant out in beds when the frosts finish.

I am really looking forward to growing these and tasting the roots.

I noticed this morning that my few native parsley plants are starting to put out flower stems. It is a bit early but at least they have survived the cold winter so far. Native parsley is a succulant plant found on Australian beaches and dunes that tastes exactly like 'normal' parsley.

I found last year that it sets plenty of seed that germinates readily so I might grow a bed of it for seed later.

My precious Ulluco plants are growing strongly and putting out lots of runners. They are getting too big for their pots so I will plant them outside when the frosts finish in early October.

I feel blessed to have a couple of plants and hope for great things from them if they survive the summer.

Alhtough we haven't had much rain the soil is damp enough that there are plenty of worms. This is a great sign.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

They're all telling me it's spring

With the temperatures creeping up a degree or two it is starting to feel like spring although it is still two months till our last frost day.

 I am going to two local spring festivals next month so I ordered a banner to put on my stall. I will be selling seeds.

I am so happy with it. The quality is great.

My brassicas are all putting up flower stems. I have kohlrabi, Portuguese cabbage and Italian root cabbage in and they will all be flowering shortly.
I dug in a bed of flowering Asian cabbage today that I didn't want seed off and that will help the soil as a green manure.

Can't wait to start planting, in fact I have already started with planting all my tuberous veggies at the new block.

Last year I had a problem with mite damage in a couple of garlic beds but this time there are only half a dozen plants in total which are stunted and sick. I am happy about that.

This bed is going well but some of the other beds on D block are so tall that you would think they are nearly ready to dry off for harvest. I hope it doesn't dry out too early this spring and then I am going to have a great crop of garlic.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

First warmish day, time to get to work

We finally got a warmish and sunny day today and I was champing at the bit to get some work done. I sprayed some weed and feed on our weedy lawn, went to the tip and got some rolls of old rabbit wire to put around the fences to keep rabbits out, and also fertilised all the garlic beds.

Whew, I am exhausted. It doesn't take much work to tire me out at the moment, I could blame it on age but it is really that I haven't been doing any work at all over the last couple of months and I am unfit.

My yacon has started shooting early so I took a heap of planting tubers out and planted a 40m row of them at the new seed block.
While I was at it I also planted out all my last years oca seedling tubers to assess them. All that planting took up half the day.

I had to get the yacon out but the ground is still full of weed seeds and running grass runners so I will be struggling later in the warmer weather to keep the weeds and grass under control in those rows.

I have been buying seeds like crazy since I have been bored and idle so hopefully a few days of work will get that out of the system, especially as I really need that money to go into my drip system instead.

I hate this time of year as every sunny day gets me in the mood for sowing seed but I know it is way too early yet. It happens every year at this time. Watching all the deciduous tree coming out in flower really doesn't help.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Agronomist visit and mauka seedlings again

It is still too cold to go out and do anything so I have been doing some tidying up and not much else.
Yesterday I was visiting a friend over in the Mount who grows fresh vegetables and while I was there his agronomist called. I was mentioned and I spoke to him and told him what I was doing so he made an appointment to come and visit me this morning

With no-one else locally to talk to - my local agronomist is experienced in grazing and large scale cropping, not what I am doing - it was really good to find someone who can not only supply me with some of the things I need cheaper, but also has advice that I can use as he has more experience with small acreage fruit and vegetable growing.

He gave me some advice on some of the problems I have been having with my dripper system and is going to come out and do a soil test in a couple of weeks a lot cheaper than my local guy.

Wow, it is so nice to discuss things with a guy who knows what he is talking about. He will definitely be my go to guy in the future, and it is handy that he travels through Casterton twice a month on other business so he can drop off stuff I get from him as he passes and that will save a lot on freight.

I now have 4 mauka seedlings up and although they are a bit slow at germinating in the cold I will plant out another tray tomorrow.

I am not sure if I have already discussed my reasoning for planting them in winter before but I wanted to give them as long a growing time as possible to get them to a decent size before the heat of summer hits.
They are a cold weather plant so I assumed, rightly, that they would not mind the cold too much as long as they didn't freeze.

Monday, July 27, 2015

'Lost crops of the Inca' seedling news

As many of you know if you read my blog regularly I am trying to grow as many of the 'Lost crops of the Incas' as I am able to in my area. Some like Jicama and cocoyam (Xanthosoma sagittifolium) just haven't made it because of my climate or their taste but here are a couple of my new ones that I have grown from seed.

 Another very, very rare tuberous plant - Mauka (Mirabilis expansa). Two seeds have germinated so far. Sorry about all the snail pellets in the picbut this plant is reputed to be very tasty to snails and slugs.
 This plant produced thick roots that are tasty but not as tasty as the water they are boiled in, I hear.

They may not do well in my hot summers but I won't know unless I try.

My couple of extremely rare Ulluco plants (Ullucus tuberosus) are growing fairly well. It is winter so I am not dissapointed in their growth. I have started leaving them outside at night now since the days are getting longer.

They produce colourful little tubers like little new potatoes. This is the bigger plant.

I noticed a week or so ago that this oca seedling from last season has started shooting even though it has been so cold and frosty. All the other tubers are tucked up nicely in their pots ready to shoot when the weather warms up but this one is a bit impatient, not even bothered by the frosty mornings.
I didn't have a 'potential' tick next to this one when I was evaluating them but that might change now that it seems to like cool weather.

One to keep an eye on for people in cold climates perhaps. We will see.

This has been the coldest winter that I have seen in my life here. We have had enough cold hours now that many deciduous trees are budding out and flowering. It might be cold but with the expectation of a 'super' El Nino this coming summer I am not complaining at all. I really hope the summer will not be as hot and dry as they are predicting.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Getting the irrigation system up

With the cold weather stopping all my other work I made a start on my drip irrigation system on the new seed block as soon as we got a nice day.

 This is the fertigation set-up with a venturi fixing. This is an easy and cheap way of running liquid fertiliser or liquid fish or kelp soil improver through the drippers. The piece on the left will have a tube fixed on it that operates to draw up the fertiliser through a vaccum caused when you mostly shut off the water with the left tap and divert the water through it.

It has no moving parts or electronics so is easy to maintain.

My main cross pipes are 3/4 inch rural poly and the 13mm dripper tubes are attached to it. The main line that runs the length of the 6acre block is 1 inch rural. I would have gone with a larger diameter but that is the size of the pipe coming from the supply so that is what I am stuck with.Although I finally found a place that sells the right joiners for this set up it really doesn't work well and I will have to seal the attachments with UV resistant silicone to stop leaks. There has to be a much better way but I can't find it.

Most people use the softer low pressure pipe but with the distances I am working with I decided to go with the rural pipe instead.

I have just completed all the left hand side and when I can afford the next thousand dollars woth of dripper line I will start on the next. I don't know how much I will be able to afford after that and before spring planting in october. Even if I only get these two lines done it will be a good start anyway.

My Portuguese kale is starting to show flowering stems. I never understand why this plant is called kale as it is a true cabbage with true cabbage taste. It is also called Tronchuda kale.