A bit of a drought

I’ve had a bit of a blogging drought for the last couple of weeks. That is not the only drought around here as we havn’t had rain for weeks now and my gardening tool of choice is the hose pipe.

Despite the dry weather and the high temperatures (28c degrees yesterday and we are told to expect 32c degrees later in the week) everything at the allotment is coming along nicely and keeping plenty of veggies on my dinner plate – and more lettuce than I can manage to get through.  My Drunken Woman lettuce are doing really well at the moment – the size of a dinner plate.

Here is one lettuce I’m allowing to go to seed.  Looks stunning and the red tips on the leaves seems to grow more intense as it goes to seed and reaches for the sky. It’s almost up to my waist already. (That’s not saying much though – I’m not the tallest fork in the shed.)

Going to seed

Going to seed

I spent yesterday afternoon working on my bed of Royal Blue potatoes. I have already earthed them up once but the plants are growing even taller so I earthed them up again and topped them with a thick layer of straw.  I used the straw for two reasons, firstly in the hope that I might get a few more potatoes, but also because we are expecting some really hot weather and I want to protect the plants. So really the straw layer is a bit of an experiment on my part.

Earthing up is an important part of the growing process. It involves drawing mounds of soil up around the plant. This encourages more potatoes to form from the buried stems, helps to prevent blight infection and stops the tubers turning green and poisonous. If you want to learn more about it check out this link

Earthing up

Earthing up

I’m picking peas and climbing beans now.

Climbing bean

Climbing bean

I have problems with Fruit Fly when I try to grow the bigger varieties of tomato so I’ve planted this Yellow Cherry tomato from seeds given to me by Annette Macfarlane at one of her seed saving workshops.  They are fruit fly resistant so I’m looking forward to giving these a go.

You will see that I’ve also planted sweet basil around the plant which you can just see in the photo. Sweet basil and tomatoes are supposed to grow well together. They also go well together on my plate!

If you think this photo looks like it was taken with a flash, you are right. It was the last pic I took as I was leaving last night and it gets dark pretty quickly here in Brisbane – especially when you are messing about at the allotment and don’t notice the time.

IMG_3419

Yellow cherry tomato with sweet basil

At the moment I’m harvesting lettuce, Asian greens, kale, silverbeet (chard), beans, peas, carrots and more parsley than you can poke a stick at.  Did you know that you can make a pesto out of parsley, doesn’t have to be made from basil!

My allotment space is 16 square metres so I have to make every square foot earn it’s keep but I make sure that I give some space to beneficial flowers too. Gotta keep the insects happy.

I’m growing alyssum and cosmos to attract beneficial insects and fortunately I’m surrounded by nasturtiums.

IMG_3422

Alyssum for beneficial insects

I don’t have room in my allotment for a nasturtium bed as they tend to take over but fortunately we have swathes of this delightful plant all over Beelarong Community Farm where I have my allotment so I reap the benefit anyway. Nasturtium is a wonderful plant, it attracts beneficial insects, it’s so pretty, and you can eat both the leaves and the flowers. They make a pretty addition to any salad – they taste peppery.

IMG_3404

Nasturtium

Happy Gardening

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15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sean
    Sep 09, 2013 @ 08:06:04

    Hi Jean. I’d like to chat about your blog and my blog. Thanks, Sean.

    Reply

  2. Barb
    Sep 09, 2013 @ 08:12:21

    Hello, I wondered where you had gone. Isn’t this weather amazing for plants? Just not amazing for dryness. Lovely to see your latest work, stay cool later in the week won’t you?

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      Sep 09, 2013 @ 15:38:58

      Hi Barb. Thank you for your kind words. Funny, sometimes I sort of lose my mojo and can’t think what to write about – but I still work away at the allotment. So peaceful out there, and always somebody to have a yarn with.
      The weather is just beautiful at the moment. Another lovely day today, I went over to the allotment for an hour this morning to do a bit of weeding and give the seedlings a treat with a watering of seaweed tonic. Gotta spoil them.

      Reply

  3. greeningofgavin
    Sep 09, 2013 @ 10:02:19

    I was wondering where you had got to after your birthday post. Your allotment looks great Jean, and hope it rains soon.

    Gav x

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      Sep 09, 2013 @ 15:50:18

      Hi Gav. Thanks for your kind words. I didn’t neglect my allotment while I was carousing for eleven days celebrating my ‘special big birthday’.
      The writing suffered a bit but I’m back in the saddle again.
      Doesn’t look like we can expect rain up in Brisbane any time soon so I’ll get over there as often as I can. I’ve got some carrots just popping up their heads, and some small silverbeet and lettuce seedlings so they need a bit of special care while it’s so dry.

      Reply

  4. maria Goodwin
    Sep 09, 2013 @ 20:06:25

    Usually it’s only my veggie patch that gets regular watering but even my shrubs etc are looking the worse for wear. Those lettuces are magnificent and your beans are looking very productive. You manage to grow so much in your limited space, it’s a joy to read your updates on your allotments.

    Sent from my iPad

    Reply

  5. narf77
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 04:48:28

    Still amazed at how green and “GO!” your garden is. It rained all day yesterday and we ended up stoking Brunhilda to keep the dogs warm! The ash trees are just starting to leaf up but most of the deciduous are hedging their bets and are just buds at the moment. SO different to your lush greenness. I guess we don’t have a drought at the moment so I should count us as lucky. I dare say the beginning of 2014 is going to leave us high and dry but hey, it happens every year, we should be ready for it 🙂

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      Sep 10, 2013 @ 05:31:25

      Fran, so you are still bogged down with the rain!
      Hard to imagine that you are still stoking up Brunhilda – those doggies of yours knew they were onto a good thing when they found you.
      My garden is looking really green but I have to keep on top of the watering or the ground goes rock hard and the water won’t penetrate. It won’t be long before I have to put a thick layer of mulch over the top for the hot summer months. Last year I used a straw mulch as it’s cheap, $7 a bale from the farm, but this time I have decided to splash out and buy lucerne. A bit more expensive but it really does the soil (or should I say dirt! haha) good. Using lucerne won’t give the wallet too much of a wallop because I only have a small plot and those big juicy worms will love it. In fact they will do all the hard work for me if I feed them lucerne.

      Reply

      • narf77
        Sep 10, 2013 @ 05:41:11

        I am thinking I should plant some Lucerne myself, then I can just slash it and let it lay on the ground. A few extra bales and the worms will be A.O.K! ;). Our soil goes like rock too Jean, I think it’s something that clay subsoil does just to make us twitch. We are planting out as many of our potted plants as we can. Most of them are trees and have been languishing in their pots for years now because we didn’t know where to put them. We have 4 acres so “put” them we are! We keep looking at each other and saying “not in OUR lifetimes!” as we plant oaks next to conifers…sorry Stewart…at least you will have your own firewood in the future! 😉

      • Allotment adventures with Jean
        Sep 10, 2013 @ 10:03:21

        It would be great if you could grow your own lucerne Fran. Sustainability in action!
        I’m not sure it’s practical for me to grow it on my 16 square metres when I need it to grow food for my dinner plate. Lol

  6. MrsYub
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 11:31:51

    I have an unrelated question that occurred to me as I was reading about your fruit fly. My peaches have curly leaf again this year. I am completley baffled as to why it keeps coming back. One particular peach flowered early this year, and I was delighted. The leaves were green and healthy. No curly leaf. Then I fell sick for a fortnight which practically confined me to my bed, but I was up and about again a few days ago, and my whole tree is riddled with it! Can you give me any tips? I have tried various home made and store bought sprays and I usually resort to picking all the affected leaves off and leaving the tree looking ratty, but its a pretty big tree now, and I have two others that are nearly as big (all in different parts of the yard, not near each other), so its a big job if I’m gonna pick all those leaves off again 😦

    Reply

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