Sunday, September 27, 2015

Market, first seedling iris, and native orchids

I am just back from two days at a market at the tiny town of Apsley. I had seeds and tuberous veg for sale on my stall and sold nearly $400 worth. I camped overnight in my marquee and had the entertainment of a great local rock n roll band in the hall last night. The band was so fantastic that I went to the door and bought a ticket even though I didn't go in because I was still being entertained by them in my swag. In two weeks.
I have another two day market in Horsham which is said to be a very big festival. I just hope I have enough seed packets to sell.

 Two years ago I hand pollinated a couple of my mothers bearded iris flowers and ended up with two pods of seeds. They were pretty fancy coloured flowers so I was hopeful for some interesting seedling plants.

The first seedling opened its flower on friday. It is just a dull dark purple but the next one that will open maybe tomorrow is lighter so might be a more interesting colour. There are a couple more plants with buds about to open but so far they look like basic dark flowers like this one.

I got 26 plants so I am hoping that some of the later ones will have a lot more colour.

It is so exciting to have your own seedlings starting to flower and each day I rush out to see if there are more buds with colour to see if they will be different. What fun, I think I will pollinate a few more this year.

On the way back from Apsley I decided to stop and take a picture of some of our Australian native orchids. The ones you find in this part of the country are nothing like the large and fancy orchids that most people are familiar with. OUrs are tiny and delicate and grow on the ground.

Some of our orchids are pretty ugly and named after insects that the flowers resemble - like gnat or mosquito orchids adn they don't even look anything like orchids, but many of the dozens of types you find around here are colourful and interesting.

Here are three that I found just a few steps from my car, a pretty pink, a light purple and a donkey orchid (one of my favourites) - it looks like it has donkey ears.

Our native orchids come in many colours and types.

If any Australians are reading this post I heartily recommend that you visit a little place called Mt Monster, which is between Bordertown and Keith in SA. It is a tiny bit of bush on the top of a hill that has the highest concentration of orchids that I have ever seen. In September you can look out at the ground just carpeted with all colours of spider orchids as well as a huge number of others. A 10 minute walk will allow you to see at least a couple of dozen different sorts. Mt Monster is the only place I have ever been where I have seen a fire orchid out in flower. That place is absolutely amazing.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Update and a few more spring pictures

Well, I nearly have all the dolomite spread on the seed block, and as I expected I will have to get more. That will have to wait though as I just can't afford it right now. I seem to have plenty of beds left unseeded for the corn, beans, tomatoes and capsicums so there is not too much of a hurry. Although I have a few tomatoes popping up in the hothouse the nights are still too cool to plant them out yet.
I have planted most of the pumpkin and melon seeds that I am sowing this year because they seem to be able to cope with the very light frosts that we may get yet. With our warmer than normal days this year we haven't had hardly any frosts this winter.

Next weekend I am having a stall at the Apsley spring festival. It is a two day event which is a bit strange as it is only a tiny town in the middle of nowhere but the sites were cheap so I thought I will give it a go. I will be selling seeds and tuberous vegetables like potatoes and oca.

If it goes well I should be able to afford some more drip tubing, but if it doesn't go well there is the Horsham spring festival two weeks later which is another two day event which should be much better.
Anyway, it will be a good rest from the garden.

 My one lotus plant is starting to wake up and has popped up its first leaf. I really hope it flowers this year.
I love eating lotus roots and maybe they will grow to eating size this season.

The asparagus is popping up also, and this year the feral neighbourhood cats are mostly leaving it alone. Last year the cats kept eating off the tops of the new shoots.

Even the water chestnuts are saying it is warm enough to shoot. I have an extra two baths for them this year, though I do have to plug up the hole on one which I better get to soon so I can fill it up.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Work, work, work - spring time!!

I have been busy every day hand spreading dolomite on the seed block, then digging it in, and then planting it. My muscles are sore and I am so tired - and there is still so much left to do.
With the unusually warm weather continuing and no sign of our winter or spring rain the soil is dry so I will have to start irrigating a month early. y water bill is going to be huge. I hope it will be worth it.

Here are some rows spread but before it is dug in. I am over half way through the dolomite heap and I am thinking that I might need to buy some more to finish here as well as put on the beds in my other blocks.
The grass is just beginning to germinate and I was intending to spray it out before planting but with the early spring I have had to start sowing so I will have to cope with the grass and weeds as best I can. It is going to be a huge job this first year but it will get much easier after that.

I have had to make room in my hot house for seed trays so the young ulluco plants and tubers have been planted out in the ground.The produced quite a few small tubers over the winter while I was babying them through the cold that I think I will have a heap next winter as long as they can put up with the summer heat.

I am so excited to have these plants, and the mauka in the next pic that I can hardly hold myself, lol.

Like the ulluco, these small mauka plants have also had to go out. I have some more seeds in so I should have a few more to plant later, and I have kept a couple of plants back to grow in my shadehouse in case they don't take the summer.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Got my soil test yesterday

I received my soil test yesterday for the new seed block. Wow, I knew the soil was bad but it turns out is even worse and much more acid that I thought. Basically, if you took a pot of washed river sand and placed a spoonful of vinegar in it, that would be similar to the soil on that block. It is surprising that even weeds can grow on it. There isn't even hardly any micro nutrients in it - just a lot of aluminium and iron which is toxic to plants under these conditions but will be fixed if I can get the PH up to at least 6. At the moment the PH is around 4.5

First thing this morning I went to my local farm supply store and ordered 4 tonnes of dolomite to be delivered tomorrow (hopefully). At least that will help with the lack of calcium and magnesium on the first hectare until I can afford more. I will still have to add a heap more fertiliser high in micro-nutrients which are low to non-existent, and I also have to add a lot of nitrogen.

It is only three weeks till planting so I have to start work immediately to even have a chance of growing anything.

The dolomite will arrive tomorrow hopefully, but since I have a lot of irrigation pipe laid out I can't get it spread by truck so I will have to spread it all by hand, one bed at a time. That is going to keep me very busy till the end of the month *sigh*. The wheelbarrow is going to get a solid workout, as well as my back.

I am so glad I got this test done so I can fix problems before they start otherwise I would be struggling to get plants growing and no know why. It is definitely worth it.

In the mail today I got my new soil sieve with three inserts. This will make some seed cleaning much easier.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Spring has definitely sprung

Well spring is definitely here. My sister reports that she already has pumpkin seedlings popping up in the garden from last years dropped seeds and temperatures are looking scary - they are predicting two days of 25 C next week. We shouldn't get those sorts of temps till November.

I tipped out my two precious ulluco plants to take cuttings of them and happily found a few pretty tubers so I did a good job getting them over the winter. I wish I had remembered to take my camera out to get a couple of shots of them. One plant has bright red tubers and the other has yellow tubers with red spots. I will have enough plants growing to be able to test them out in a few growing conditions over the summer to see what suits them best.

I don't have any interesting pics for you today so here are a couple of shots of some of my seed stash. I keep my seeds in a cupboard in the coldest room of the house. I haven't bothered getting a fridge for my seeds because I grow and replace them regularly so they don't have a chance to get stale.

I use a lot of honey jars that I buy wholesale as they come in a range of useful sizes and stack well. I will have to get some new shelving as I have run out of room and some seed is being stored under my bed. I think I am turning into a seed hoarder - I just can't stop buying interesting seed.

My trays of seeds that I planted earlier are germinating well and I can't wait to get them out and growing. I think I might sow my cucurbits early too to try and get them growing well before the soil dries out as we have had very little rain and I am afraid the hot weather will start early.

We have not had as many frosts as usual, just cold days so I think I can risk it, I will hold back some seed just in case though.

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.