Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What a difference a day makes ....

.... 24 little hours..... since yesterday- this is how my patch looked today!

Snow came from nowhere, extremely exciting for kids, beautiful to look at. But I hope my veggies survive!

Monday, June 20, 2011

My New Winter Veggie Garden

I think its about time I showed my new veggie patch- it is still very young and new but showing lots of promise! I picked this area as it receives sun most of the day and is very sheltered. Our back garden is much warmer than the front (open to wind) or side (shady) which is important in our cold climate. The colorbond fence at the back and the shed to the side make a little microclimate, which I am hoping will equate to more food in less time!
We roped in my in-laws to help while they were staying here (hey, no such thing as a free lunch eh?!!) which made things take shape pretty quickly. We used whatever materials we had for borders- some timber offcuts and old timber posts, short star pickets and even an old sign was cut in half! Hopefully one day they will be replaced with handsome hardwood sleepers, but for now I was happy to just get something to hold the soil in. A few bricks are makeshift 'steppers' so I can get in to the middle without crushing the plants.

My helpers and the newly filled bed.
Only these few herbs were plants, the rest raised from seed.

The main patch is a raised bed as the garden is kikuyu lawn, which truly is like digging into carpet. Much easier for quick results was to put down cardboard and thick newspaper layers (to block the grass growing through), then heap up with around 30cm deep of good soil. We bought our soil in from a local nursery and it is a rich mix of animal manures and mushroom compost, a specific product for vegetable beds.
The main bed pictured here is 6 metres long x 1.2 metres wide, and used about 2/3 of the 2 cubic metres soil we bought, so cost around $70 to fill. I think it was worth doing for the quick results and less back-breaking for us :-)

....and yesterday, starting to look a lot greener

So what did I plant? Well here in the Blue Mountains winter choices are pretty limited for this season. I chose things that we will actually eat, that don't take a lot of room and that work in our climate.

English Spinach
Curly Kale
Tuscan Kale
Italian Lettuce
Broad beans
Sugar Snap peas
Massey (shelling) peas
Snow Peas
Broccoli (Di Cicco)
Broccoli (Romanesco)
and various herbs- parsley, thyme, oregano, lemon thyme, lemon balm, coriander

English Spinach

Trying to coax my peas to find the string!

Each has its own section, but given that I had my kids 'helping' some of the the seeds were broadcast thickly rather than sown in rows, such as the curly kale which germinated fantastically, possibly because a whole packet of teeny tiny seeds was spilt! I'm working on the permaculture principle of having no gaps to block weeds :-)

I have used no fertilisers other than a couple of waterings with diluted worm juice from our worm farm. I think the soil has enough goodness to last quite a while.

Curly Kale- enough to feed the street!

We will certainly not have enough to feed our family, (unless we live on kale!) but even supplementing our shop-bought groceries is a great start. It is a great on-going project for the whole family, our kids have learnt so much and now get really excited when they see the huge fat worms in the patch because the soil is so good!

Leeks in recycled poly-pipes to blanch the stems

I have just started another section as well, up to the shed, to plant my garlic and potatoes into, but I will leave that for another post.

Happy gardening!  :-)

Propagating Rosemary & other lovelies

OK, this must be one of the easiest gardening tasks I've done. I know it is supposed to be easy, lots of people have said that, but I never propogated anything before so it was a first for me.

I started with a bunch of rosemary bought from the local fruit and veg store for $2. I cut the tips off 8 stems to roughly 8-10cm or so, (the rest of the stems were dried for kitchen use) removed the leaves up to about the top 2-3 cm (I don't really do exact measurements!) and dipped then ends in some honey before popping them all into a plant pot of seed raising mix.

The honey apparently does a similar job to hormone rooting powder- it encourages roots to form. And seed raising mix works better than normal soil because it is fine and well draining (although a coir peat/compost/sand mix can work well too).

That was done a couple of months ago and I'm very pleased that all the cuttings have taken and are growing happily. 3 of them have only small roots and so are still in the 'mother' pot (!) but these 5 were very vigorous, and were planted into their own pots last month. I placed them in front of the veggie patch and when I moved them yesterday I found the roots were coming out of the bottom and growing into the garden!!!

small but strong- these have roots out of the pots~!

Now I have the happy task of finding permanent homes for my new plants. 2 of them have gone near the back door, close to the kitchen.

I also have some hydrangea cuttings taken from our last house before we moved, they have also taken very well, I think I have around around 6 out of 8 survived, using the same technique.

Dizzy with my success (!) I am also trying lavender propogation, from a big overgrown lavender I bump into every time I walk out the back door (I don't mind though, it smells incredible!) I want to ensure it lives on before it the mother plant gets a severe haircut!