Monday, 25 August 2008

A Tad Warmer This Week

Garden Log 24 Aug 08:

Despite 5 frosty mornings this week
things are slowly warming up...
...Sunny days with sunny spots for Ninja.

Temperatures this week:
Lowest Min -2.3C
Lowest Max 9C
Highest Max 14.6C
Rainfall 4mm

Duck Potatoes - Sagittaria sagittifolia from Green Harvest (on left) and a few Waterchestnuts Eleocharis dulcis from Cornucopia Seeds (right) went into the Bath Tub Water Garden. More Water Chestnuts were planted into broccoli boxes to be moved out into the garden later.

These have all been covered with plastic while the frosts are hanging round.

Planted Atomic Red Carrots (from Phoenix seeds) and Jerusalem Artichokes went into the non wicking bed in the Main Veg Area.
Purple Dragon Carrots, Takinogawa Long Burdock, small Jerusalem Artichokes (all from Cornucopia seeds) and Red Shallots (from Garden Express) went into the Pergola Garden. The rows of carrots were covered with planks to stop the ground drying out too quickly. Potted up the Comfrey (from Green Harvest) cuttings.

Here inside I've got Tomatoes, Kang Kong, Watercress, Zucchini, Basil and Cucumbers just poking their heads through so they're off to the window sill until they're big enough for their own pots outside in the hothouse.

Doc helped me cut up some sheets of corrugated iron to use as edging in the new wicking beds. He very bravely used the scary/sparky grinder thingy that I don't like.
Very soon he had them ready and Sunday evening we joined them together. all I need to do is dig out each bed, line them with plastic, then fill with a sandy loam to cover the drainage pipe, and top up with rich loam and compost for the compost worms to live in. Then I can add a good mulch layer and they will be ready to plant in Spring...probably about a month away give or take a couple of frosty mornings. rolleyes

Saturday was spent planting Pontiac Potatoes (bought from local garden shop) in the prepared ground in the chook run and covered securely with bread crates.
Took cuttings of Variegated Elderberry and Cedronella after cutting them back. Also a couple of cuttings from the Lillypilly that will be planted outside soon. I potted up some runners from a Pink Violet (pictured). Cuttings also from Sage, Wormwood and some Variegated Ivy Pelargonium.

Into punnets went seeds of:
Butter Swede ~ Phoenix Seeds
Cylindra Beetroot ~ Eden Seeds
Golden Turnip ~ Phoenix Seeds
Camas Camassid quamash var. maxima - a member of the Lily Family that was grown for the tasty bulb by NW USA Indian tribes according to the seed packet from Phoenix seeds.
Bush Bananas Leichhardtia australis syn. Marsdenia australis ~ Outback Chef these were planted into individual cells for minimal root disturbance when planted. I have some more of these that have been sent to me by Tully, a fellow Aussie Living Simply, that I shall plant outside when the weather is warmer.

Sunday morning was spent in a nearby town planting trees on one of the local permaculture groups members places...followed by a great thank you lunch! Yummy. mrgreen

Links to suppliers mentioned in this post:
Cornucopia Seeds
Eden Seeds
Garden Express
Green Harvest
Outback Chef
Phoenix Seeds - Address.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Aussie Seed Suppliers

I usually include links to the suppliers of the seeds I grow or the original source of them. For many years I have been buying seed from Phoenix they don't have a web site I'll post their address here and put a link to this on my Supplies list.

Email Me for a PDF copy of their latest catalogue. Scanned with permission.
They offer prompt service and a very wide range of unusual vegetable, herb and tree seeds.

Phoenix Seeds
PO Box 207
Tas 7054

Updated 10 July 2011 HERE

Updated 2012 to include link to website HERE

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Home Made Punnets

With Spring fast approaching it's time to start sowing seeds in Scarecrow's Garden. Always on the lookout to minimise inputs and re-use whatever we can, I have been re-using margarine, butter and yoghurt containers as seedling pots/punnets for many years.

Years ago Doc made a spike for me from a screw driver...he ground down the edges to form a point on a grinder. If I just use that on the underside of the containers I find the plastic splits too easily...

I have found that by heating the tip of the spike it actually melts the plastic creating a clean hole and no split.
The heat source I use is simply a candle in a tuna tin. After a few minutes I find the spike end is hot enough to put about 8-10 holes in each 'pot' without re-heating.

This procedure needs to be done outside on a breezy day as the burnt plastic no doubt is giving off nasty fumes that I'd rather not be breathing in.

Also keep all this equipment, the spike, the candles
and the matches away from young children.

Because the holes are in the base of the 'pot' it's best to keep them in a mesh tray to allow for better drainage...not flat on the surface. You could add a few holes at the bottom edge on the sides if you have to keep them on a flat surface.

If you don't eat foods that come in these plastic containers ask your friends for garden club the folks know I'm always planting up something and give me their containers by the bag full. mrgreeneekrolleyes

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Moon Planting

A very brief explanation for Peggy from Organic Growing Pains blog.

Moon Planting follows the phases of the moon.
The chart I use is available as a calendar each year and is produced by Thomas Zimmer. I have been using these charts for over 10 years and although I have tried other methods I have gone back to this one because of it's convenience and it seems to work for me.

Basically it follows the phases of the moon:
The first week of the waxing moon plant Greens - plants grown for their leafy harvests.
The second week up to the Full Moon Fruiting - plants grown for a fruit yield.
* Seeds of these plants can be grown in either Greens or Fruit planting Moon phases:
Annual Flowers, Hay, Cereal Grains & Oil Seeds, Cucumbers, Melons, Leeks and Shallots.
The first week after the Full Moon the Roots - plants where the harvest grows below ground. This is also the time to plants all perennial fruit plants, vegetables and herbs. It's also the time to take cuttings and divide plants.
The second week after the Full Moon is a non-planting time. A good time to get stuck into the weeding, compost making and bed cultivation/preparation.

One rule to remember is not to plant during the 12 hours before and 12 hours after the change of the moon phase. New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon and Last Quarter. These phases are often shown on calendars.

Within those planting times there are days when it is better to plant than others. This is where it can get confusing so a good chart becomes invaluable. To help with your planting I'll post the dates from my chart for each month on my side menu for a while so you can trial this planting method if you so desire. Please keep in mind that this is an Australian chart and the dates may be slightly different due to time differences. There should be similar charts available overseas...

There are other charts and lists around like Brian Keats' Antipodean Calendar that uses the Sidereal zodiac (see here for more info) and other bio-dynamic gardeners who plant all their seeds two days before the Full Moon each month and transplant with the New Moon. Like the list Deb puts on her Garden, Kitchen and Veranda Blog. These have different planting times so perhaps you'd like to experiment and try those. wink

The Thomas Zimmer Astrological Calendar and Moon Planting Guide (pictured above) is available in Australia from Warm Earth who also sell the book Easy Organic Gardening and Moon Planting by Lyn Bagnall that explains Moon Planting in greater detail and also has planting times listed.

Both the Brian Keats Calendars and the Thomas Zimmer Moon Planting Guides are available in Australia from Green Harvest.

Another helpful gadget for bloggers (or other web pages) is the Moon Phases Current Moon Box also on my side menu it's free and a great guide to just what stage the moon is at any given time.

I hope I haven't confused you too much, Peggy but I find this method of Moon Planting actually helps me to organise my planting times. There are times when it still isn't appropriate for planting on the right days such as a heatwave or severe frosts forecast but I can generally work around the dates given. confused

Edited on 7 Sep 08 to add the information at *

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Jonquil Time

Garden Log 17 Aug 08

The flowers of late winter
and early spring occupy places in our hearts
well out of proportion to their size.
~Gertrude S. Wister~

Temperatures this week
Lowest minimum -2.3C
Lowest maximum 9.2C
Highest maximum 13C
Rainfall 2mm

The Moon Planting Chart said that the 14/15th was right for planting Fruiting seeds, so I took the chance to get going with some early spring planting.

Ida Gold ~ home saved
Tigerella ~ Phoenix seed
Italian Heirloom ~ Phoenix
Yellow Tommy Toe ~ Diggers
Sunrise ~ Phoenix
Pink Ponderosa ~ From K on the ALS Seed Swap
Roma ~ Phoenix

King of the North Capsicum ~ Phoenix
Apple Cucumber ~ Phoenix
Italian Non-Acid Cucumber ~ Cornucopia
Luffa ~ Phoenix
Queensland Blue ~ Pumpkin Phoenix
Tromboncino Zucchini ~ Cornucopia
Perennial Sunflowers ~ Phoenix
Strawberry Spinach ~ Phoenix (2nd planting)
Ceylon Hill Cherry Rhodomyrtus tomentosa ~ Phoenix
Chinese Date Ziziphus jujube ~ Phoenix
Pigeon Pea Cajanus cajan ~ Cornucopia

I know that's a lot of seeds but it's very early for planting yet and these are tucked up inside next to the fire to beat the nasty frosts we keep having. If they all grow I'm going to have fun trying to find somewhere to put them all for the next month or so before they can be planted out. smile

Last week's Greens seeds have started to germinate and others will need potting on this week...looks like spring is coming very quickly in Scarecrow's Garden...I just hope the frosts know that! rolleyes

During the week I hoed over the soon to be planted Potato patch in the chook run and covered the area with some yummy chook compost from their pergola's better than the other compost that I'm spending each weekend turning. neutral

Doc is starting to dig out the area for the new chook house over in the Main Veg area because it has to have a concrete floor (local council requirement). The soil from what was Bed 2 is still very good so he has shovelled it into the bathtub in readiness for planting that up with Duck Potatoes and Water Chestnuts.

A bag of Cow manure has been added and a shadecloth lined crate put in for the Duck Potatoes, so I can keep them separate.

Hoping to get some fine, warmer weather this week to catch up with some of our outdoor jobs. cool

See these links for Growing Requirements for:

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Cold and Wet

Garden Log 10 Aug 2008:

All was silent as before -
All silent save the dripping rain.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow~

Temps for the week:
Lowest Min -1C
Lowest Max 8C
Highest Max 12.9C
Rain: 19mm mrgreen

Planted this week:
Tatsoi ~ Diggers Seeds
Sucrine Lettuce ~ Phoenix Seeds
Phacelia ~ Phoenix Seeds
Butternut Lettuce ~ Phoenix Seeds
Strawberry Spinach ~ Phoenix Seeds
Mustard and Rocket seeds from Seed Savers
The following were planted inside:
Watercress ~ Cornucopia Seeds
Kang Kong ~ Phoenix Seeds
Purple Basil ~ Phoenix Seeds
Sweet 'Genovese' Basil ~ Green Harvest

Planted those 2 Sweet Chestnut trees in the old chook run and the Bosenberry and Loganberry with Strawberries into the wicking bed I made last week. They were planted just in time for some good rain.

Filled up more wicking beds this time with the old water tanks that Doc cut up for me to use as edging.

Plastic in hole; filled-in with sand with the hose buried; tank on and topped up with good soil and compost. Now for some mulch and some compost worms. These should be just right for spring planting.

I love the way the broccoli just keeps on going after you pick the main head. If I give it a dose of liquid feed now it should keep on producing until the weather gets too hot and it runs up to seed!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Lactuca sativa

Latin Name: Lactuca sativa
Family: Asteraceae
Soil: Rich well drained soil.
Sow: Most of the year except in extreme heat or cold.
Spacing: 20-30cm apart depending on variety.

Lettuces are a favourite salad green which with careful attention to their growing requirements can be grown most of the year. Successive plantings will maintain healthy growing plants that remain sweet. Here in Scarecrow's garden they need plenty of shade and water during our long hot summers.

Their optimum growing temperature is only 20C and they struggle with our temperatures up around 40C. Loose leaf varieties are most successful and allow constant harvesting by picking off the side leaves.

Liquid feeding with seaweed solution promotes healthy strong plants without giving them too much nitrogen which can make them too lush and prone to insect attack.

Main pests are slugs and snails which can destroy seedlings overnight. During wet times we often go out into the garden at night armed with gloves and buckets to collect snails and slugs and have a scrunching time in our rubber boots. When the bodies have dried in the sun they make great treats for the chooks but shouldn't be fed 'live' as they form part of the intestinal chook worm cycle.

At the moment I've recently planted:
Rouge d'Hiver Lettuce~ Diggers Seed
Green Cos Lettuce ~ DT Brown
These 2 are Cos types that grow long upright leaves growing in both winter and summer. The Rouge d'Hiver are red-brown coloured and said to be slower to bolt in summer.
They are best grown quickly for crisp, juicy leaves and should be planted every 2-4 weeks for a continuous supply.
Red Coral Lettuce ~ Eded Seeds
A non-hearting lettuce with a frilly leaf with red edges.
Sucrine Lettuce ~ Phoenix Seeds
A French variety with crisp sweet loose heads of green leaves.
Butternut Lettuce ~ Phoenix Seeds
Is a long standing, loosely leaved lettuce with round, light-green leaves.

Seeds germinate best at temperatures below 25C and in warmer weather germination is helped by placing the seed in the fridge for a few days before sowing. As these seeds require light to germinate it's best to only lightly cover them and keep them moist.

Companion Plants:
Strawberries, Beetroot, Carrots, Shallots, Cabbage Family, Radish, Marigolds
They are fairly friendly plants so I intend to pop them in all sorts of shady spots around the garden...they are good for a quick crop as other things grow too.

Organic Vegetable Growing by Annette McFarlane
The Australian Organic Gardener's Handbook by Keith Smith
Companion Planting in Australia by Brenda Little
Seed packets and catalogues where my seeds were purchased.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

It Was Supposed to Rain

Garden Log 3 Aug 08:

But we only had 2.5mm sad
Lowest minimum temp was -2.6C
Lowest Max 9.7C
Highest max 17C

The Senposai Brassica X rapa
is budding up and starting to flower!

My seed and plant orders have all arrived now...including 2 Sweet Chestnuts, a Pomegranate, 2 Olives, Red Shallots, a Bosenberry and Thornless Loganberry from Garden Express, it took longer than expected to arrive and they sent a freebie pack of bulbs for being patient...and to think I was about to send them a reminder email. wink

My Green Harvest order arrived and included some West Indian Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) and Qld Arrowroot (Canna edulis), some Comfrey cuttings as my plants suffered badly in the heatwaves of late summer.
I'll make a bed up for this Comfrey and cover it with shadecloth and pipe some grey water to the plot. Then I'll be able to cut the comfrey for mulch, liquid manure, and compost.

For the new Brambles I've decided to trial a wicking bed in an area of the Pergola Garden where not much would grow. I found out why when I started to dig the area out. Many large roots from the nearby Eucalypt, the same one that has damage the pond that is in this garden. I chopped my way through them and Doc attacked the biggest one for me.

The plastic at the bottom of the Wicking Bed (see links below) should slow those roots down. I've built the bed up with a mix of loam and aged manure and topped it off with the contents of two of the wicking boxes where the Cauliflowers have finished. These still had the compost worms in the mixture and I reused their feeding tubes from the boxes too! This bed will have a shadecloth shelter built over it before summer hits.

In preparation for planting I have the Chestnuts and Brambles soaking in buckets of rainwater with seaweed solution in them. The holes for the trees were dug and filled with rainwater during the week. They are going into the Old Girls' chook run in the shelter of Tagasaste and Acacia trees.
They won't mind our cold winters but they may suffer in the heat of summer with the strong North winds. They will be well sheltered in the middle of the Chook Jungle.
The Olives - Manzanillo and Picual have been potted on, until our frosts end, before being planted out in the front garden.

Lots of Everlasting Daisy and Lettuce seeds have germinated...I'll be potting them on into cell trays this week.

In preparation for the coming spring plantings I've harvested some nettles and chook manure in buckets and filled them with rainwater. These will sit in an out of the way spot for a couple of weeks, with lids on. After that they should be ready to dilute to a week tea strength for feeding the new seedlings as they grow on.

Click the links for more information on:
Wicking Beds
Making Liquid Fertilizers
Poly-Shade Structures
Growing from Seed


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