It’s Hot down at the Plot

Do you know the musical “Annie” where she sings “The sun’ll come out tomorrow”?  Well, I’ll be singing that for the next six months as I work my allotment in the heat. The mercury is rising here in Brisbane, Australia.

29° Celcius today and 32° tomorrow, same as last Wednesday, and we are only in the first month of spring. We are yet to hit the high humidity of summer.

So that’s the challenge over at the allotment. I try to get over there before it gets too hot, and I had to pack up the tools at 10am yesterday.

So, I arrived there early yesterday morning, wielding The Seriously Big Fork, dug up a couple of old woody broccoli plants who had fed me regularly for the last few months. And I dug up a few utterly exhausted silver beet (chard) that had also produced like mad all through our winter. The silver beet may have been exhausted but they still provided my dinner as they valiantly pushed up the last of their bright green leaves before I did the kind thing, dug them up, and moved them reverently to the compost heap.

IMG_3211

Now THAT’S silverbeet. This pic was taken a few months ago at the height of the harvest.

Now that is what leaves me humble as a gardener.  Those few plants I had removed were tiny seeds just a matter of months ago and had provided me with so much food for my dinner plate you wouldn’t believe.

I still have plenty growing in my allotment. Some more silver beet and broccoli, plenty of Cavolo Nero black kale, plenty of kohl rabi, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, lots of robust curly parsley, thyme, oregano, spring onions, and the whole of my garlic harvest which will be ready in the next few weeks. The leaves are just starting to die off.

I’ll drive over to the allotments early again this morning and do a bit more. As I clear the ground I’m digging in organic fertiliser, compost, and blood and bone ready for new planting.

Happy gardening.

The allotment is looking rather spectacular

If you never want to speak to me again I quite understand. Dear reader, it has been eleven months since I last blogged.

I haven’t been lazy, I’m still in love with my allotment and at the moment it is looking wonderful.

You may have noticed, I said ‘allotment’ singular. I gave up my second allotment during our last long hot summer, it was hard to keep up regular watering with no rain and regular 35 degrees celsius temperatures. So now I have one (tiny) eight square metres plot but it’s keeping me in vegetables and herbs. Take a look.

IMG_4316

The netting in the background is to keep the fruit fly off my tomato plants. I bought a mozzie (mosquito) net from the local op-shop for $2 and used that. Worked a treat and I’ve been eating tomatoes for weeks now. And they taste like tomatoes should.

IMG_4311

This season I scattered my veggies to confuse the pests. No straight rows and no ‘beds’ of the same veggies. Just a hotch potch and it seems to have worked. The ‘brides’ on the right of the picture are my netted tomato plants.

IMG_4318

Just an overview of my tiny plot. The bricks are the beginning of my little pathway through the allotment, long since disappeared under the foliage.

IMG_4329

This season I’ve also used flowers interspersed with the veggies to confuse the pests. That’s the theory anyway. It seems to work. With mixing the veggies up and adding the flowers I’ve had a really good harvest – and not too many ‘lace’ leaves.

It’s lovely to be back. Thank you to Sue over at the farm for giving me the push to revive my gardening blog.

I have a certain interest in another blog you may like to check out.   Happy gardening.

There’s greens in my bucket dear Liza dear Liza

Regular readers will know that volunteers meet every Wednesday morning at Beelarong Community Farm where I have my allotment. We get together and work in the community garden.

We are having lovely weather this week and as we arrived at 9am the sun was already warm enough for me to remove my jumper, T-shirts were the order of the day. Remember we are in winter here until the end of the month.

The community garden is looking wonderful and it’s a time of real abundance.

The first thing to do was the harvesting before the sun got too hot. There was more silverbeet than you could poke a stick at so I started with that.  I had a couple of bucket loads in no time. Doesn’t it look healthy.  You could live to be a hundred if you eat enough of that wonderful stuff, full of minerals.

buckets of silver beet/ chard

My friend Zu, under the protection of her sun hat, tackled the Asian greens and lettuces.

Zu with the Asian greens

Zu with the Asian greens and lettuces

The harvest was destined for the share table together with herbs, limes, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, beetroot, broccoli and more. It was shared amongst the volunteers at the end of the morning.

Happy gardening.

First planting of the year – and sweet potato greens

At last. The first planting of 2013 over at the allotment. We’ve had some good rain and the daytime temperatures have dropped to a lovely 28c degrees so hopefully the weather will be kind to my little seedlings.

Much of my allotment has laid fallow and under a thick layer of mulch for weeks during the worst of the summer. Recently I have been over there feeding the soil. I’ve dug in heaps of organic fertiliser, rotted manure, blood and bone, and liquid fertiliser from the horse ‘poo’ barrel at the farm.  I should have the happiest worms in Brisbane in my little patch of dirt.

It was lovely to lift off the sugar cane mulch this morning and find the soil so beautiful and friable.

The first seedlings

The first seedlings, curly parsley and mignonette lettuce

You will see from the photograph, if you notice the little labels, that I cheated a bit. I will be sowing seeds and raising my own seedlings but my impatience reared it’s ugly head this morning. After all, that’s what Bunnings nursery department is for. So I took myself over there. I bought little punnets of silverbeet, curly parsley and that pretty green mignonette lettuce.

A small punnet each may not look like a lot to gardeners in the UK who tend to have much larger allotments but once they spread out they’ll soon fill the space up.

Parsley, lettuce and silverbeet planted

Parsley, lettuce and silverbeet planted

I finished the job with a good dousing of Seasol liquid seaweed to help the seedlings get over the shock of transplanting and then put the mulch back around the plants.

Over on the other side of the allotment the sweet potato which seems to cope beautifully with the extreme weather we’ve been having is really flourishing. You can see from the holes in the leaves that the grass hoppers have been having a nice feed off them.

Incidentally, on the subject of sweet potato leaves I have been told that if you pick them when they are young and tender they are good to eat, either raw or cooked.  I’ve been googling the subject of sweet potato greens as I write this post and there is heaps of information out there. Try this link for a start.

Mmmmm. Perhaps the grass hoppers will have to learn to share – maybe I’d like those leaves on my dinner plate too!

Sweet potato

Sweet potato

Happy gardening.

More help down the allotment

Everything is bone dry in Brisbane as we’ve received hardly any rain for two and a half months. Fire fighters are coping with numerous bush fires around South-East Queensland.

So this week my youngest grandson and I went over to the allotment and I set him to work with the hose pipe.

In a rush of enthusiasm my allotment neighbour received a watering too. I am sure she will be grateful.

Watering the neighbours allotment

Then finally it was time to harvest our produce. Jerry knows his way around a veggie patch and soon set to pulling up beetroot and carrots to be grated on our lunchtime salad while I set about gathering the lettuce and silver beet.

When I’m harvesting climbing beans the ones right at the bottom of the plant tend to get left (all that getting down and up and down and up …) The secret of success is to find a little person who is nearer to the ground. Even looking at his back you can see the concentration.

Harvesting the climbing beans

We left with heaps of sweet young beans – as well as the ones we nibbled while we were picking.

I’m so lucky to share days like this.

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.

Healthy Veggies

Good morning from Brisbane. I cannot believe that it has been ten days since the last time I blogged.  This doesn’t mean that I havn’t been to the allotment. Far from it. There is plenty happening over there during this wonderful growing season.

I have made a lot of effort to improve the soil with compost made at the farm, and farmyard manure. Here is the result. Beautiful healthy vegetables, a joy to harvest, and wonderful eating.

Silverbeet

I’m just taking another look at this pic – what am I doing with a clean thumb nail? – I must just have arrived at the allotment.

Mint grown in a pot sunk into the ground

I love this common mint. It’s not common to me, it’s vigorous enough to take over the suburb if it wasn’t restrained in a pot. Brian at the farm helped me remove the bottom of the largest plastic plant pot I could find.  I dug a big hole and buried the pot leaving about 7 centimetres sticking out of the ground. It was then ready to take the mint runner. This was months ago, and it has really worked. The roots are restrained and I just snip around the edge of the pot if the mint threatens to invade the rest of my allotment.

Young Cos lettuce

Lovely healthy Cos lettuce, I just harvest outer leaves which gives me a much longer growing season.

And because I love flowers too, here is a blossom on one of the bushes growing at the farm. Sorry I am not sure what it is. But it is covered with these yellow flowers and it looks wonderful.

Yellow blossom at the farm

And this is the bush it’s growing on.

Pretty yellow bush near my allotment

A morning at Veg Out Community Garden

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit Veg Out Community Gardens in St Kilda, Melbourne thanks to my friends Wendy and Kevin Hocking. There are 145 allotments beautifully maintained. It is well worth a visit if you are in the area. If you can’t make it,  you can check out their website here.

I was impressed with the whole set up.

Some allotment holders had gone to great trouble to individualise their plots using all sorts of artwork to decorate, lots of amusing letterboxes, and all sorts of fun paraphernalia.

The whole area was full of the most wonderful vegetables just bursting with life and I couldn’t stop snapping photos of them, I ended up with 70 (I think I have a problem!).  Here are just a few.

Not a caterpillar in sight

This is about as healthy as a little lettuce gets in my opinion. Wanted to slap it between two slices of bread with a slice of tomato. (Please note, I didn’t!)

I could post lots of veggie photos similar to the ones above but it could be (dare I say it?) monotonous.  So I have chosen to show you some plots that are a bit different below.

This was a pretty little plot

A quirky design from another plot holder. It was pretty impressive, shame I couldn’t get the whole of the ‘ship’ in the photo.

Another quirky design

Like I said, if you find yourself in Melbourne and you are interested in gardening – it’s a bit different and certainly worth a visit. Better check out opening times though so that you are not disappointed.

Jerry Coleby-Williams

Sustainable Gardening in our Continually Surprising Climate

Nourishing Traditions

The Blog that Challenges Policitally Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

Allotmentals Plot 103

Allotment, garden and other stuff

myproductivebackyard

Sustainable Backyard Food Production

My Front Burner

making what matters

30 acres of sunshine

organic, sustainable and self-sufficient hobby farm in the making

Lottie Land Girl

Living the 'Good Life' the Brown way!

Throwback at Trapper Creek

An ongoing chronicle of meeting the expectations of the land...

Foodnstuff

Energy decline & self-sufficiency from Melbourne, Australia

horticultural 'obbit

'obbitry of the horticultural kind

The Garden Smallholder

A Tiny Farm In A Big Garden

Jerry Coleby-Williams

Sustainable Gardening in our Continually Surprising Climate

Nourishing Traditions

The Blog that Challenges Policitally Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

Allotmentals Plot 103

Allotment, garden and other stuff

myproductivebackyard

Sustainable Backyard Food Production

My Front Burner

making what matters

30 acres of sunshine

organic, sustainable and self-sufficient hobby farm in the making

Lottie Land Girl

Living the 'Good Life' the Brown way!

Throwback at Trapper Creek

An ongoing chronicle of meeting the expectations of the land...

Foodnstuff

Energy decline & self-sufficiency from Melbourne, Australia

horticultural 'obbit

'obbitry of the horticultural kind

The Garden Smallholder

A Tiny Farm In A Big Garden

not just greenfingers

Mrs Thrift's Simple Living in the Modern Day......Kitchen Garden, Allotment, Baking And More...

quarteracrelifestyle

The "Good Life" on a quarter acre, frugal living

Gardener Jen

Trials, errors and joys of creating and maintaining my first garden.

Our Everyday Life in Pictures

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

Exercising Septuagenarian

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

Tootlepedal's Blog

A look at life in the borders

frugalfeeding

n. frugality; the quality of being economical with money or food.

The Next Stage

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

The Greening of Gavin

Sustainable Living in the Suburbs

down to earth

Growing vegetables on one small allotment