Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to plant we go

After a very quiet December I think I have my blogging mojo back.

If you are interested in planting according to the phases of the moon, the full moon in Brisbane today should be the perfect time for me to be sowing my seeds as advised by the e-newsletter from Linda Brennan at Ecobotanica.

The idea is that the seeds germinate and grow so much faster depending on the gravitational pull which influences the moisture level in the soil. One of the ladies at our allotments swears by it. I’m going to give it a go.

So today I’m setting out to the allotment to plant my English Spinach and Tatsoi, seeds gifted to me on Christmas Day.

IMG_2020

If you are interested in finding out more about planting according to the moon cycle you can check out this link.

Happy gardening.

Much Mulching

Plenty happening over at the allotment today.

The weather is warming up again so I made an early start over at the allotment at 7:30am and I harvested what was left of the kohl rabi, flat leafed parsley and giant endive before clearing the ground. I added manure and blood and bone before using the ‘Big Fork’ to turn it all over.

I hosed over the whole allotment and covered it with sugar cane mulch which should hopefully see me through the worst of the summer, keep the weeds down and keep the moisture in the soil.

I will be planting zucchini in the foreground, where I cleared the ground this morning.  I have already planted melons, dwarf beans and cucumbers but they are only just emerging as tiny plants so you cannot see them in the photographs.

Here is the allotment from the other side. I still have plenty of silver beet, Cavolo Nero and curly leafed kale.  In the foreground a row of Freckled Lettuce and the potatoes growing in the orange bags. Still a few weeks before I can harvest the potatoes.

Below is my first climbing bean of the season. Should have a nice handful for dinner by the end of the week.

I have lots of these Freckled lettuce, better eat them pretty quick as once the weather heats up I’m expecting they’ll bolt. Silly really, we can grow lettuces in Brisbane in the winter, but in the summer when we all want salads – lettuces bolt!

I finished the heavy work by 9:30am which was good because Linda Brennan from Ecobotanica arrived at the farm to give us a workshop on growing “Fruit in Pots”.

Tatiana and Linda at the workshop

While we were walking around the farm and snipping clippings from trees to propagate we came across this cute little fellow. Look closely and you’ll see the tiny tree frog sitting on a kafir lime leaf. If you know the size of one of these leaves, and you see that the frog is sitting on one leaf without it drooping, you can guess how tiny it was. No bigger than the first joint of my thumb.

Happy gardening.

Pests and diseases

Linda Brennan gave a great workshop at the farm this morning about organic gardening. We spent an hour walking round while Linda honed in on the pests and diseases that were attacking our vegetables. She then told us how we could deal with them organically.

She also covered ways to improve the fertility and health of our soil.  Linda packed so much information in just one and a half hours.  Next Monday she will be back with another workshop “Fruit in Pots”.

We waste no opportunity over at the farm to put the kettle on, and today was no exception as we sat around  after the workshop drinking tea and chatting. Nobody was in a hurry to move off.

Then, in a wild burst of enthusiasm after the workshop, I went over to my allotment and spent a fascinating (my tongue is in my cheek) time pinching off caterpillars and 28-spotted ladybirds.

I think ladybirds are the cutest thing and it’s a revelation to me that there is actually a ladybird that causes so much damage to my leaf vegetables. They were having a wild old time on one of my potato plants sucking and chewing and munching and whatever else they do on their path of destruction!

I like to end on a happy note so I took the camera out and captured this sunflower growing in Lindell and Andy’s allotment next to mine. The birds are going to love those seeds when the sunflower matures.

Happy gardening.

The gardener, at the allotment, with a hose pipe

The hose pipe is the tool of choice at the moment.

After two months without rain we’ve had a little rain recently but it has hardly touched the surface so my main job at the allotment yesterday was to give it all a good watering.

The potatoes growing in the bags are coming along nicely, lots of green tops (if that counts for anything) and I gave them a good hose down. Then just to check I opened the little ‘trap doors’ in the side of the bags and the soil was still bone dry.  The hosing seemed to have no affect beneath the surface. How is that?

We need a good downpour.

Having said all that I am having a good harvest so Mother Nature is doing a good job.

Here is what I have in the allotment at the moment.  The aforementioned potatoes, carrots, kohl rabi, parsley (curly and flat leafed), mint, giant endive, freckled lettuce, curly leafed kale, Cavolo Nero Italian kale, leeks and garlic which should be ready to lift in the next week or so.  And I’m awash with silver beet. Which is good because I never tire of it. I just steam it, nothing fancy, and ‘down the hatch’ as they say.

I planted six zucchini seeds a few weeks ago but only one has germinated. I planted six seeds with the idea of choosing the two strongest as that would be enough for my small allotment.  So I still need one more, as I have now lost a couple of weeks I may just buy a seedling from Bunnings.

The big decision now is what to plant for the summer months. The weather will be hot, many days over 30 degrees celsius, and high humidity so we tend to suffer with mildew. (The plants, doh!)

The good news is that Linda Brennan from Ecobotanica is coming to the farm on Monday morning to hold a workshop on organic veggie growing and I’ll pick her brains as to what to plant to get me through the summer. Linda will be giving advice on organic pest control which I am particularly interested in having sacrificed my red cabbages to the caterpillars recently, and it’s almost impossible to grow a tomato at the farm without it being stung by the fruit fly. She’ll also look at the soil and give us general advice on how to improve our harvest.

I’ve been to Linda’s workshops a number of times, she is a mine of information, and I always learn so much.

So that’s the news today.  I’m getting so much pleasure from my little plot, despite the dry conditions my little plants soldier on – except for the baby beets and I have to say their days are numbered unless they lift their act!

And because I can’t resist getting the camera out when I see a nice healthy veggie plant – here’s a silver beet for you.

Happy gardening.

Growing Healthy Fruit Trees workshop at Beelarong Community Farm

Linda Brennan from Ecobotanica gave a great workshop at Beelarong Community Farm yesterday morning. This was the second of two workshops entitled Growing your Own Fabulous Organic Fruit “how to choose, plant, fertilise and prune”.

People were encouraged to bring along any diseased plants or fruit from their garden – there was no shortage! – and Linda started the workshop giving sound advice using organic control for the various pests and diseases.  My offering was a sick looking leaf from my cherry tomato plant growing on my allotment. Black Spot was the problem and wettable sulphur was the answer. Thanks Linda.

This was a sick paw paw. Most of it’s problems were fungal.

I could show you photos of plenty more sick fruit but it’s all a bit yukky. You get the drift.

Linda then took us into the orchard at the farm and instructed us in the art of pruning. A great emphasis was given to hygiene and the importance of cleaning your tools completely after use, so as not to spread pests and diseases. Here is Linda in the yellow and blue top instructing us in the correct use of secateurs when pruning.

This is one photo I couldn’t resist. We are all looking at the fruit tree ready for pruning, just look at the concentration on the face of our smallest gardener.

It was a terrific morning. Linda is doing lots of workshops around Brisbane, some for children during the school holidays too, so It’s well worth checking out her website. http://www.ecobotanica.com

Jerry Coleby-Williams

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