Sunday, 31 July 2011

planting and harvesting

Today I started my tomatoes. Two different varieties once again: black cherry and miel du Mexique (honey of Mexico). I threw out my sun reflector shield thingy so I'll have to make a new one when the seeds sprout. I forgot to mention when I originally wrote this, I'm using the heat pad again - the kind you're meant to put under a terrarium for lizards or frogs. However I've learned that they're powerful things, so I put a folded-up plastic crate between the heat pad and the planting tray. And on sunny days (like today), I unplug the whole thing or the soil heats up to 30+ degrees!
I've also recently decided to grow some colourful beetroot. These were bought as mixed seedlings - red, golden, and striped beetroot. I've also planted a set of golden beetroot seeds but apparently they're hard to germinate so we'll see how they go.
My firecracker chilies were so laden I went through and picked every single red chili so they didn't rot on the plant!
My snow peas in the back bed are struggling, I don't think there's enough sun for them. They're only half the size of the plants in pots on the front porch. I don't think it'll be worth growing anything here over the winter.
So even though it's winter there are a few things going on.

a hint of spring

I've been really unmotivated about the garden this winter.  It's the coldest, wettest winter I can remember since moving to Australia six years ago.  It's hard to be excited about gardening in that weather.  But today was a hint of spring to come - a perfectly sunny day with a high of 18.  How could I stay inside in that weather?

The bees were busy in my rosemary bush.
A few cyclamen plants that survived the deep shade under the fig tree are putting on a lovely show.
And the geum is already starting to put out its spring flush!  I thought it would wait a lot longer.  You can also just see the daffodils springing up behind it.
The hellebore are going crazy, look at this show!
Even Thatcher was enjoying the sunshine in front of a few spring stars.
The multigraft twig is putting out heaps of new shoots, both leaves and flowers.  That's reassuring since the last set of growth in the autumn dropped its leaves and died over winter, possibly because of the cold.  I just hope we don't get a bad cold snap that knocks out this growth too!
Which just reminds us that spring is still a month away. This week will be more sunny warmth but after that is a return to the cold.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

plans for the patio

This is our patio, home of the much-loved chiminea, the not-loved massive table (that we never use), and the small table we drag around to follow the sun in winter and shade in summer.  Last summer we decided the space just wasn't working - our sun umbrella wasn't big enough so we never actually sat on the patio, we always hid next to the fig tree where the chairs got covered in bird poo.  So we have some plans for a change - probably a covered pergola so we can get some nicer furniture and be protected from the summer sun.
But there were some necessary first steps involved.  The plants in front of the mosaic needed to come out.  Not only are they growing into the space quite a lot, but they'll be undercover and die anyway.  I planted some sage elsewhere and I already have another rosemary bush so I'll still have my herbs.
But the second problem are the cumquat trees.  They're very cute but they're right where the pergola legs need to go.  Plus they're so big that I have to trim them about three times per growing season to keep them to a reasonable size.  They intrude quite a lot into the space.
So I put the cumquat trees on eBay, like I did for the ficus trees, and they sold for quite a decent amount!  The best part was that the buyers did the grunt work to dig them out (with a bit of help from us).  Hopefully with a good trim they'll spring back to life quickly enough.  But now our patio is so empty!
Next steps are to decide for sure what kind of structure we want and sell the table, chairs and umbrella on eBay.
Once the whole space has been taken care of, I have three beds to fill with plants - the side in front of the yuccas and the two front bits where the cumquats used to be.  I'm thinking mixed perennials in front of the yuccas for a bit more screening.  I'm not as sure about the two front beds.  Maybe some more herbs or veggies, or maybe just seasonal annuals.  Annuals are a good short-term solution whilst I decide what to do.

I'll keep you posted as the project progresses, but hopefully we'll have a great little setup well before summer.  I can't wait!

what's going on in july?

Winter's a pretty quiet time in the garden, especially this year as I haven't grown many winter veg.  I did get my first harvest of kale the other day though - went into a lovely minestrone.  The snow peas are also starting to produce nicely but no pictures of them.
My Chilean jasmine is hanging in there in the cold.  It doesn't like it - it's dropped a fair few leaves - but it's also putting out fresh growth at the tips so I'm optimistic for the summer.
And finally, the first stirrings of spring are beginning - my fancy daffs are just starting to emerge.  They're still just tiny shoots so I circled it in the picture - not that you can see it anyway!
I do have some major pruning projects happening, and a complete re-do of the patio, but I'll save those for other posts.