Monday, September 30, 2013

Planting, and weeding, it never stops

Sorry, forgot to take the camera out so no pics today.

This morning before the rain it was pleasant and warm so I got to and pulled and dug out all the beds of finished brassicas. I pulled off the leaves to put back into the oil and threw the stems over the fence to the sheep next door who now think I am a wonderful person and a great friend.

I planted a bed of snow peas and a few trays of assorted seeds - sunflowers, tomatoes and choi. I am going to be very busy spraying all the melon and pumpkin seedlings with soap spray every few days as the numbers of earth mites has not abated, in fact they seemed to have increased. I am starting to think that everyone in Australia has sent their mites around to me. Not happy.

Tomorrow is the fist of October so I will be sorting all my melon seeds and starting most of them in trays. I usually just plant them in the ground but the mites will make that impossible this year. I really should slow down a bit and spread out my planting or I will have the same problem that I had last year with all my melons ripening in January when the markets have a holiday.

If it is not raining too much tomorrow I will dig out all my spent kale plants and maybe plant my kurrajongs in those beds.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Nareen produce swap

It was a fantastic day for the swap today, sunny and mild, and it was probably the best swap I have been to. There were lots of people there and a fun atmosphere.

For those who don't know and who haven't been following my blog, a produce swap is a social occasion where people come to bring fruit and veg, or home baked goods, jam, plants etc and swap them for other peoples stuff. No money changes hands and it is a great way to catch up with other people you haven't seen in a while, meet new people to the area, chat and waste time or grab some stuff you need. I love them. I love to sticky beak on what other people are growing.

Anyway, this swap was so much fun. It was like a piranha feeding frenzy. There was so much great stuff bought that everyone was frantically swapping for an hour, exhausting but great fun. I think everyone was ecstatic at their hauls.

I took some bunches of carrots, mangel wurzels and some assorted vegetables left over from the market yesterday as well as a dwarf bearded iris in a pot. I came home with a great haul of a dozen eggs, three trays of cakes and slice, a big bunch of fresh flowers for mum, a red cabbage and two strawberry plants.

Some other towns swaps are done differently with everyone placing their stuff all together on a table and then picking up what they want from the pile but I prefer the way ours is done, mainly for the bartering feel and discussing the produce with the cooks or growers.

When I got back I did a heap of preparing beds for the seeding that I will be starting in the next few days. With the amount of work I am getting done there will be nothing for my new helpers to do when they get here on the 17th of October. Just kidding, there is always heaps to do, lol.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hamilton market today

Apart from the cold and a bit of rain the market was a success as usual. I sold out and had a great time. It was very busy with lots of stalls and, as I had feared, I lost my table place in front of the fire so I was placed in a marquee instead. I hope I can get back to my indoor site later but it is ok as it doesn't take customers long to learn where I am.

 This pic was taken as I was setting up. I took lots of coloured carrots as well as two colours of celery and a heap of mangels which fascinated everyone.

After the market I got stuck into sorting the breeding stock from one of my carrot patches. I was delighted to find a heap of ringed carrots which I will save seeds from. Don't they look fabulous.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Awww, I got a thank you card

A couple of months ago I gave some asparagus plants to the Sacred Heart primary school for their kitchen garden. Today I got a card in the mail signed by all the students.

Another little school I like to help is the Merino Primary school. A few years ago the school started on the Stephanie Alexander school kitchen garden program and built a great kitchen and food garden. I think they have recently lost the funding so are struggling to keep the program going themselves which is difficult for such a little school with no money. It is the money to pay the teaches for that time rather than anything else that is most expensive.
I have had a look around and love what they have achieved and the students really enjoy growing food and cooking it. I wish every school was on the program.

Nothing to do with vegetables but this is what I am eating as I sit and type this.
Cook the bread on one side under the grill, then layer on banana, bacon pieces and cheese, then grill till the cheese is golden. It is delicious, but then anything with bacon on it is delicious.

Tomorrow I will be busy gathering stuff for the Hamilton market on Saturday. I don't have a huge variety to take but I will pick a heap of mangels, carrots, celery, rat-tails, parsnips and stir-fry mix.
The little girl from next door is coming over to help. They are city people who moved here as the father is a doctor and doctors from overseas (they are from pakistan) are encouraged (forced?) to do some training in country towns before a permanent place in the cities. I hope they stay when his contract is up as they are really nice people and he is a great doctor who is already getting a good reputation around town. They just became Australian citizens last week which is fantastic.
The girl is only eight and has no experience with gardening but she is showing some interest so I will certainly encourage it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A bit sore but happy

I am paying the price for yesterdays hard work, especially after lounging around all winter. I am a bit stiff and sore, especially my bum muscles. You don't realise how much you use those muscles until they are hurting from work.

 My deciduous seedlings are coming awake. I was surprised to see that the first of the American Pawpaws (Asimina triloba) to wake up are some seedlings from 'Grimo'.
I bought these seeds on ebay last year then after I paid for them I kicked myself because they were coming from Canada so I though they would need much more cold hours than we have here to come out of dormancy. I was wrong it seems.
I have half a dozen seedlings in this pot and a few seeds sown directly in the soil in my orchard block. I am impatiently waiting till they get big enough to fruit.

I have half a dozen purple sweet potato cuttings waiting to go out in the ground. In a week I will be fairly confident that we will be over our worst frosts and they can go out.
I am still a bit cynical about he weather as we haven't had the spring frosts that we normally get. I know mother nature is just trying to trick me.

 Here are a few of the plants that will be big enough to go to the Ladybug Nursery in Hamilton in a couple of weeks.
I will be offering a half dozen types to start in the collection then add a few more each month as long as things go well. I will be trying to drum up some customers for them on Facebook so they keep my range.
My first plants in the range will be: Horseradish, American groundnut, oca, yacon, Jerusalem artichoke and Chinese artichoke.

I am getting some others ready for the next few months - perennial leek, coloured silverbeet ( my pastel range), red and white alpine strawberries, Precoce D'Argenteuil asparagus (the best variety around in my opinion) and rhubarb. Later I will have some quandong, yam daisies and Chilean guava to add to the range.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Getting busy, it's good to come inside

Whew, I am sitting here eating a bowl of ice-cream with peanut butter mixed in (I love this combination MMMmmm) and enjoying a bit of a rest. It was a beautiful day and I spent all day from 6am out weeding, except for a trip into town to fix up a bit of business and a one hour nap after lunch.

I have half a dozen beds of poor golden shallots that were covered with weeds so that was the first job. The bunches aren't as big as they should be because of weed competition but that is the price I have to pay for my lazyness.

I have had a small experiment happening for the past three years where I plant the seeds from one cob of my black waxy corn to see how much inbreeding depression I can achieve but this variety is defying me.
Corn is very susceptable to inbreeding depression where if you inbreed them they become unhealthy, infertile and stunted.
I had decided to stop the experiment because I just wasn't that interested but I found a cob today that had been dropped last summer and had sprouted so I planted the seedlings again.
Generally to avoid depression you should save seed from 50-100 individual plants of corn.

I notice that my walking onions are starting to put up stems already. Great because I always have people wanting them.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Such a busy weekend - going to Ceres in Melbourne

I know, I know, it has been many days since I have posted... but I have an excuse.

I was going to post on Friday but went for a drive and ended up at some friends house in Heywood. They told me about a bus trip the next day to visit the Ceres environmental/urban farm project in Melbourne so I just had to ring up and find out there was a spare seat on the bus, luckily they could fit me on. It was funded by our local council or something so I didn't have to pay a thing which was perfect.

Anyway, then I had to make a rush trip around to the Heywood op shop so I could pick up some clothes because I was going to have to stay a couple of nights with my friends. Luckily they were having a sale, all you could carry for $5. I picked up a couple of nice warm jackets as well as a jumper, pants, t-shirt and stuff. Perfect.

At Ceres they had a heap of stuff to look at. Here is a vegetable stall with a good range of their fruit and veg. They have a market on Saturdays so more perfect for me, lol.

 They have done a lot of work and there are many areas with good paths lined with food plants and herbs. It was actually busier than these pictures show.
 Here is a picture of part of their little market garden.

Part of the Ceres area is made into tiny allotments for city people to grow vegetables in. This is an extraordinary area and everyone has scrounged anything and everything to make fences for their ellotments. It looks like the more weird maze you can think of made of all sorts of rubbish. I was both fascinated and repulsed by it at the same time.
I will never worry about my messy blocks again, lol.

They also have a nursery attached to it that had a lot of fairly expensive seedlings and other plants to buy. I came home with another finger lime and a couple of yam daisies. The whole complex is powered by soler and they have an artistic and fascinating wind turbine as well.

The only disappointing thing about Ceres is the cost of food in the two cafes. I really baulked at paying $15 for a bacon and egg sandwich and $7 for a piece of simple slice, but luckily they had a lad cooking sausages so I had one of those.

To finish, I would recommend anyone to go and have a peek a boo at Ceres if you get the chance, it makes a great day out. They also conduct a heap of interesting courses there and I wish I lived closer to take them.
Ceres is in Brunswick East.

All in all, it was fantastic to spend the weekend with my interesting friends as well as going on a bus trip. I enjoyed myself immensely.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It has been a bit cold and drizzly the last couple of days so I haven't really done much except clear a few beds for planting. I am still enjoying these last two weeks before planting starts and the work really begins.

The broad beans are setting well at long last and although I won't have any for sale at the next Hamilton market I should have some for the other markets in the next couple of months.

My poor little Gippsland Giant broad beans are still small after struggling with the earth mites but they are flowering so I should have plenty of seeds for next year. They have amazingly big beans so should be a good seller for those who want something different.

Although the yacon is sprouting away well the rest of the tuberous vegetables are a bit slower. The Chinese artichokes (pictured), oca and American groundnuts are just popping up now.

I have some oca seeds that were sent from America that I planted a couple of weeks ago but I still haven't seen any movement. It is a bit cold I think so I put one pot of them in an electric seedling propagator to see if that hurries them up.

I an excited to get some more oca varieties.

I am so happy at the moment. I am in a much better position than I was last year at this time and although many veggies are bolting and are being pulled out I still have plenty for the markets.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Naughty me *slaps own hand*

I've been so slack on my posting that I'm surprised that my sisters haven't pulled me up on it, lol. With my new hobby taking up a lot of my spare time (scambaiting) I have been forgetting to post even though I have been getting lots done.
I have a heap of beds clean and waiting for seeds, and more when I harvest them for the Hamilton market at the end of the month.

Many of my tuberous vegetables are popping up now, here is a yacon plant. Hopefully any frosts we get from now on will be too light to burn them off.

I am still waiting for the early spring frosts but we have been lucky so far.

It looks a bit crappy but I am trying to cover some of my young, heat tender trees the way I am covering my veggie beds. It is working even if they look a bit lopsided. We had some strong winds and they were still ok in the morning.

When the trees grow a bit bigger I hope they will be shaded by nearby trees which is one of the reasons I planted everything a bit close, sort of like a forest. If that doesn't work I will just have to put up posts around them for a couple of years to keep the shadecloth on in summer.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Nearly ready for spring planting

We have had some rough rinds over the last couple of days but apart from a couple of plastic tree guards blowing off everything stood up well.

Withe the strong winds I expected some more damage to the broad beans but I planted them so closely that they have protected each other. There have only been a few blown down. None are staked but I have only got dwarf varieties in.
They are around 5 feet tall though so still a good size.

I am busy cleaning out some of the beds ready for planting in a couple of weeks. I'm glad I did manage to control myself with the planting as we have had a close call with frost a couple of days ago and maybe a frost tonight. I have plenty of time, especially as I used to start planting all my frost tender stuff on the first of December and now start on the first of November.

I am leaving the mulch from the spent plants on the beds that will have melons or other cucurbits in.

 At the moment there are heaps of aphids about and not nearly enough ladybirds so I have had to go around and do some spraying with soap spray. It works well but I do prefer not to spray at all. last year at this time there seemed to be more ladybirds than aphids.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Carrots and Sandford market

Took a few items to the Sandford market today. It is only a tiny town with a market with just a dozen stalls so I didn't take much which was good as they seemed to have forgotten to advertise it. I did sell out of my veg and a few of my mothers cyclamen but wouldn't have been able to sell any more.
It is a good excuse to get out for the day though and I enjoy chatting to people that I don't catch up with often.

My table of vegetables. The celtuce all went which surprised me but the carrots were a bit slow - they are usually the first to go, but I suppose they weren't looking the best as the wet weather makes them go a bit 'hairy'.

Here are some carrots from an experimental be where I crossed all sorts of colours together. I am certainly getting some interesting ones out of it.
I am going to keep crossing them back just out of interest to see what happens at every generation.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Why must I always be disappointed in Diggers club?

Yeah, I do know better than to buy anything from Diggers club, they have a very poor reputation for their puny plants, but I really wanted some Burgundy Blush potatoes and they seem to be the only ones in Australia stocking them.
As I was buying the potatoes I saw that they have doughnut peaches and I have wanted one since I first tasted them last year. I know that I should have paid just a couple of dollars more to get one from a better site but while I was there....

Anyway, today the tree and potatoes came. It was a metre long box so I was heartened, until I opened the box to find a piddly little 20cm plant. I kick myself every time I buy from them and I will never buy a plant from them again - unless they have something special. Damn my impulsiveness.

Today was busy again as it was not raining though it has cooled down a bit. A frost is predicted on Saturday night so I'm glad I resisted planting most of my tomatoes and melons. I mowed the lawn, harvested a heap of swedes and beetroot for the market on Sunday, covered the cabbages with insect mesh to keep off the white butterflies, and did a heap of other odd jobs. Tonight I will have to get stuck into some paperwork that I have been putting off.

My muscles are aching the past week while I get back into the swing of work, but on the up side, I am sleeping like a baby.
What a terrible saying, babies don't sleep very well. Oh well, I am sleeping long and deep and waking up ready to bolt out and get to work. :)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Aah, it's good to get out working again

It's lovely to be able to spend all day out working again after the down time of winter.Actually, I like every season as they all bring their pleasures and challenges. The warmer weather means that I am out planting, weeding, and today, giving the citrus a dose of epsom salts to get them healthy after the cold of winter.
Of course there are downsides to spring. The main one is that everything that has not been harvested over winter is now bolting to flower so I am rushing to get some of the root vegetables picked before they go woody.

Here is one of my boxes of red mangles and tomorrow I will be picking some carrots and swedes for the Sandford market on Sunday as I know they won't last till the end of the month for the Hamilton market. Spring is when I don't have much for the markets so I have to top up with some potted plants on the tables.

At least I can look forward to the pots of seedlings popping up now. This is a couple of pots of feijoas and muntries showing themselves.

I have taken a chance and planted a few beds of amaranth today because it grows so fast that I will at least have something for the markets, and it is a great vegetable that keeps customers coming back for more when they have cooked with it.

It is nice to be able to get my coat off and work in a t-shirt, even though I shouldn't be able to yet, the fickle nature of nature. I have to say that I am enjoying this warm weather.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Surprisingly hot so I am busy planting

With these record high temperatures for spring (28C today) I have been busy getting the last of my tuberous vegetables in and have planted two beds of Chufa which is a new crop for me this year. I am so busy now that I might have to start blogging every day again - so much for my winter break, I was expecting another 4 weeks before the work starts.

 With all my work over the past year and a half getting rid of the grass in the back block it is looking pretty clear and it is now easy to weed by hand. Although it looks bare right now I will be starting to plant it in the next couple of weeks.
I have to take everything off during the winter as it usually turns into a swamp in late winter and spring but this year it was only wet for a couple of weeks and has dried out now.

So many vegetables are starting to flower now, from Brussels sprouts to kohlrabi. Here is a little patch of Ruby Streaks mizuna. I only planted a little patch for seed as I still have a heap of seed from earlier in the year.
It is very popular so I have to have a few bed coming on all the time, which means always having some seed on hand.

I have negotiated with a local store to rent a few shelves of their basement to store my seeds as it is always cool, even through the hottest months of summer. I don't bother freezing my seed as I always have fresh seed on hand and don't store it for long.
After nearly losing all my cape pepinos this year to the bad frosts earlier I notice today that some of the plants are putting out some new shoots from the base branches.

I put some cuttings away in our poly tunnel because I thought I would lose all the bigger plants but it looks like I didn't have to worry too much after all.

The warm weather shows not sign of going back to 'normal' so I might take a chance on sowing some melon and tomato seeds tomorrow. I understand that we will probably still get some frosts between now and when I would normally plant them in October but I won't use up all my seed so it will be ok if I lose them, but it will be nice to get some fruit for Christmas though. It won't hurt to take the chance I guess, and it is so hard in this weather to wait.