Sunday, 26 July 2009

planning for the summer veggie patch've had some very chilly nights to remind me that winter isn't over yet.  But visions of summer vegetables are already dancing in my head.  I'm planning on growing tomatoes, chillies, lettuce and pumpkin again as well as rockmelon (cantaloupe) and maybe soybeans (for edamame, steamed fresh soybeans).  Chillies take a long time to start going (last year I had a lot of jalapenos still green on the bush when it cooled down) so I've decided to start them inside already.

Last year I had woeful luck starting tomatoes and chillies from seed.  I used crap potting mix and didn't water them enough so multiple generations died and I had to go with seedlings.  This year I'm using good quality propagation mix and I know a lot more about how to take care of the sprouts.  Plus I tried a new planting method; I put my seeds between layers of wet paper towel. That way I have better control over planting depth and I don't have to worry as much about the seeds moving around when I water. We'll see if it's a help or a hindrance.

I've planted some marigolds using the same method, half with paper towel and half without. They should germinate quite quickly so I'll soon have an idea if the method is a complete disaster.  In the meantime that hopefully means I'll have marigolds in the garden withing a month or two.  I do love the bright, cheerful marigolds and I was sad when they died off in the cold.  With my luck we'll get another cold snap and the baby marigolds will die off!

pansies planted a bunch of pansies in the back beds under the new oak-leaf hydrangea, and they're finally starting to blossom!  I'm finding that pansies and violas take a while to flower from the seedling stage, but if they're anything like the violas at the front door, they'll keep flowering like crazy once they get going.  They're still a bit thin at the moment but they should really take off now.

And for your enjoyment, here are my three favourites in close-up.

Monday, 20 July 2009

signs of spring's still the middle of winter, but it's just starting to turn the corner.  I noticed the very first signs of spring in the garden this weekend.  The first was this little pale purple spring star.  The leaves have been above ground since the autumn, courtesy of my mother in law who gave me dozens of the tiny bulbs.  This is the first brave blossom to come up, hopefully there will be dozens more like it. the back bed I planted some miniature bulbs in the autumn, iris reticulata (a tiny, miniature iris) and a species tulip (small wild tulips, I can't remember which kind though!).  I was weeding the bed when I noticed a few strong shoots like this one.  I can't wait to see if it's a tulip or an iris!

There will still be plenty of cold winter days to come before it's really spring, but I enjoy finding these little signs that it's not too far off.  Now if we could only get more rain!  It should be bucketing down this time of year but we keep getting little more than light showers.  And we're heading into another El Nino year which means even more drought in the summer.  Did I mention the dams that service Melbourne are at 26% of their capacity?  I used to think a "drought" was 30 days without rain, but they take droughts seriously here.  We've been in drought for 12 years.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

winter harvests've started nibbling at the winter garden now.  Here's my first head of broccoli.  It's really small but I'm not surprised, that garden bed hardly gets any sun.  I'm happy it made heads of any size!  But you can just tell that the buds were starting to swell and I didn't want to push it, hoping for them to get bigger but ending up with flowers instead of broccoli.  So it got chopped up and thrown in the fry-pan along with some garlic chicken.  Hardly enough for even one serve, but it was nice and tasty and Tom doesn't like broccoli anyway so it was all mine!

I've also been harvesting the odd snow pea.  The green Roi de Carouby is lovely and sweet with a fresh pea flavour that's lacking in store-bought peas.  The golden-podded peas are beautiful, but they're staying very small and they were not very sweet and slightly tough.  I guess I'll try picking the golden-pods whilst they're even smaller to see if they're tender at that size, but if they're still tough they're a bit of a disappointment.