Monday, October 31, 2016

Lots of spring working, digging and planting

While I was writing this post yesterday evening the house was shaking under gale force winds. I was just typing that I hope the power doesn't go off while I was writing... then it did. It didn't come back on till 3am.

Anyway, we have had some fine days so I managed to get a heap of work done. I had a few tonnes of lime delivered so I started putting that out - by hand in buckest. Whew what a job. And the soil is finally form enough to work so I have been digging heaps of beds. I am exhausted at the end of the day.
Although the nights are still cold, only around 3-4C I have started putting in my corn, and replanting the cucurbits. I just can't wait any longer.

Compared to last year at this time my soil has come on marvelously. It actually has some body, and heaps of worms, it is also much darker in colour than the pure sand that it was. It is amazing what a year can do when you get the ph to an acceptable level and add heaps of organic matter.

Many people may not agree with my way of adding the organic matter but it has certainly worked. I originally let all the grass and weeds grow to a good height and then sprayed it with Glyphosate. All the masses of underground runners from the running grasses (couch and buffalo mainly) rotted into the ground, helped with a good rotary hoeing.

Then I laid down all the corn stems on the beds that I grew corn in and they rotted down quite quickly too. I am just amazed at how many worms there are now. When I started I could barely find one. I think raising the ph level was great for the worms as well as the veggies.

I got this broadfork made by a local metalworker> it cuts down time with digging, doesn't damage worms, and makes things easier. The only downside is the weight. I might get the next one made with wood handles. At least it is building up my arm muscles, and better on my back as there is no bending.

I am very happy with it otherwise.

I thought I had lost all my Chinese yams in the swampy conditions but I notice this one shooting in the raised bed I had a couple in last year. At least I will be able to build up numbers again.

It looks like I still have at least a couple of every root crop that were in the ground over winter so I can build up again. I might have to raise some beds for the root crops just in case we get another very wet winter/spring.

Here is a very overcrowded clump of seed raised bearded iris that did not get separated. I may have to ask around if someone wants to come and take them away. Hmmm, but they are very pretty.

It looks like only two of my hosta plants survived the wet. At least I can separate them next season to make more. Most people don't realise that the new uncurled leaves are tasty.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Seed drying room taking shape

Now that we have had a few dry and ,almost, warm days, I have been able to get out and do some bed digging and replanting the cucurbits that were hit by frost and cold nights.

 Here are eight of the 10 surviving broad bean varieties I put in this year. I still have a few more to try next year but I didn't have enough room to stop them from crossing I I have to wait to see what they are like.

There is a variety of pod shapes and lengths, from little two seed pods to the longest pods on Grano White. I only have a few plants of some of them so I will not be able to taste them. Next year should be much better.

They are very late this year but it won't be long before some of them will be ripening.
 My new seed drying room is starting to take shape with the concrete floor going in this morning. It is in the back half of our two car garage - The room will be 6m x 3m, a good size for my business as it is now.

I am really pleased with the floor and the builder should be coming over in the next couple of days to give me an estimate for building the dividing wall. I am going to try having a go at the insulating and lining myself.
After it is lined and painted I will have to buy the shelving and dehumidifyer unit to finish it off.
I couldn't go another year trying to get seeds dry using various rooms of the house, at least having this drying room will be much more professional, as well as making it easier.

With a truck load of lime coming tomorrow and my van going in to see why it is overheating I am going to be totally broke this time next week.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Camo Oakheart lettuce, new shed and more

It looks like we will finally get a week with little to no rain so I am taking advantage of it to make a start on my new seed drying shed.

It might shower tonight so I just took down the shelving and placed the relatively rain proof items outside. Tomorrow I will bring it all out. I put an ad on the local Facebook group to try and get someone to help move the heavy cupboards outside but so far no-one has replied.

The man who is doing the cement floor will be here sometime next week so I have to have everything out by tomorrow night, and hope it doesn't rain in the meantime.

They are still small but I am very pleased with my new 'Camo Oakheart' lettuce seedlings. They are beautiful with all sorts of colourations, much more beautiful in person than this shot shows.
I can't wait till they get bigger.

It is hard to find pictures of this variety from Wild Garden Seed so I will have to take my own, but it also great sense of anticipation.

 My seedling bearded iris are coming out now. I must do more hand pollinating this year. They are so much fun to grow from seed. It is a two year wait to see what you have but it is always a surprise.

At long last some of my poor garlic plants are starting to make scapes. Everything is so late this year with the cold, wet weather so I don't think I will be digging them until Christmas this year.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Talbot market and arracacha propagation

With the cold and wet weather back again I was happy to escape to the markets over the weekend with my seed stall.

 The Talbot market is great and too busy to get around to take good pictures. Here is a photo from next to my stall. It was still early and the bare spots were filled soon after this pic was taken.
I love this market.

Luckily we had a great day and the rain didn't start till we had all packed up.

With the wet weather rotting most of my root crops I feel lucky that four arracacha plants survived.
I tested out their toughness by leaving two outside in the ground all winter and two in my hot house.

The ones outside lost all their leaves and look very poorly but they did survive. The ones inside grew well but did get attacked by spider mites that can quickly kill these plants.

I got busy yesterday dividing my plants to build up stock.

You can see how the tops grow from these first two pics. All you need to do is break off or cut the short stems off. Each one will regrow when potted on.

 Cut off the leaves and lay out the pieces to dry for a day before potting up.

Don't worry, they are quite tough and a few days of drying will not hurt them.

Before you plant them you should cut a cross in the base. This is supposed to make each cutting grow more roots.

 Keep only lightly moist till you see new leaves and then give them a bit of fertiliser and a bit more water.

This is what leaves look like when they are attacked by spider mites. They get discoloured, yellowish or greyish spots covering them.

You must inspect your arracacha regularly as spider mites can kill this plant in a week or less.

If you ever want great growing guides for any of the Andean vegetables pop over to the website:

Bill does a wonderful job of explaining how to grow all these plants.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Broad beans and oca planting

Although we have had a couple of very light frosts last night and the night before I just can't wait any longer and have started putting my tomatoes and related plants in trays. It is late this spring but with the weather I am not going to take chances on sowing too early. If you sow when the weather is right then the later plants generally catch up with the others.

 My broad beans all have pods on now, a bit later than usual because of the weather but that is ok.

My red flowered broad beans are really late and the pods are only just setting. At least I will get some harvest off them - I was getting worried.

I lost a couple of varieties to the wet but most pulled through and are producing enough seed to replant next year.

Even with the awful wet we had I have had hardly any fungal problems with the broad beans this year. A few of the red flowered broad beans are just showing some chocolate spot now.
I don't use controls on fungal diseases on my broad beans as I only want the toughest and most resistant to survive. It has really made a difference in the red flowered ones especially as when I started growing them they would succumb to every disease and now they are hardly affected.

I have started planting out my oca seedlings from the past two years. I am sure this will be a good year for assessing them.
I had a couple of shaded rows ready for them but it was infested with a hard-to-kill running grass that made it hell last year and I can't wait until it shoots again (to respray it) to put oca there so I will shift the row covers to the new beds before it gets hot in a month or so.

I am looking forward to getting a good crop of many colours of oca next winter.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Time to get back into regular blogging

Ok, so the weather has fined up a bit and although everything is still a bit boggy I can at least walk on the blocks so I have started planting the melons and pumpkins. I have also started planting out a few more fruit trees.
Unfortunately with the bad weather so far it looks like most people are not going to get any fruit of their trees and no fruit has set. The parrots are going to go hungry this year, lol.

I have been putting a heap of capsicums, eggplants and similar seeds in trays and they will be coming up shortly. After tonights frost I will start getting the oca and other tuber crops out in the beds also.

Last weekend I had a stall at the Horsham Spring Festival. I only took half the money I did last year which was very disappointing.
The weather was fine but there were less stalls and fewer people came through the gate than last year. I hope it improves next time.

Here is a pic of the part where I was set up and you can see how bare it was.

I enjoyed myself anyway though I spent too much on junk food like always.

My mothers 70th birthday was the day before the Horsham Festival.
I made her this chocolate cake and invited a few of her childhood friends to come out to the pub for lunch. It was great.

It is not a long post but I will be out working all day for the next couple of weeks on the blocks so I will take a heap of photos and start blogging again every few days.
There are heaps of things to write about now that work is starting.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The rain is almost over *whew*

Sorry about my lack of posts but I still can't do anything, this forced idleness is killing me. The rain still hasn't stopped but it looks like it is almost at an end according to the forecasts. Everything is still a bog and I won't be able to plant much for a couple more weeks.

I have lost all my jojoba and caper bushes amongst other trees and shrubs from waterlogging.

 Just to pretty things up here are a couple of pictures of one of our 'Pinwheel' cyclamens among a heap of others on our back table. The flowers are all splayed out rather than upright like other cyclamen.

We have been growing these from seed for a number of years but it was only when I got in touch with the cyclamen society I found that it must be a mutation as no-one had heard of this flower form. I think I will have to do some hand pollinating to get more colours as we only have a couple of shades of pink.
Maybe at some point I can sell seeds of them when I get a few more colours.