Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Vegetable garden makeover

After a shopping trip on Saturday I was anxious to get out into the vegetable garden.  I had purchased some seedlings and soil amendments and seed starter mix.  This is the first time I have used seed starter mix, but I often have trouble with damping off.  I think it might be worse in this hot humid climate, so want to do all I can to prevent it, and losing all my precious little seedlings.  I will water them with chamomile and seaweed tea as this is also recommended.   So in the interests of full disclosure (so I cannot just remove the evidence if my seedlings die)  the seeds I planted were  Zucchini, spaghetti squash, parsley, tomato tropic, lettuce, Chinese broccoli.

Then I went out to the vegetable patch - looks different now doesn't it?


The first thing I did was remove the pigeon pea plants - I suspect they should not be kept in the garden for another season.  They were originally planted as a green manure crop, and then I thought they could stay as supports for climbing cucumbers and loofahs, but lately have been infested with stink bugs which is sign they were not in optimum health.  Praying mantis seem to enjoy eating the remaining stinkbugs.  The loofahs were picked still green and I am looking for a dry place to put them - not so easy as it is still raining every day.  I am not putting up the shade cloth as I think the soil needs all the sunshine it can get to dry out between showers. Then I cut back the asparagus - they have been mulched with seaweed, but will get a new layer soon. 
Talking of mulch I looked at the sugar cane mulch and balked at 13.00 a bale.  I see all the chemicals that most farmers spray on their sugar cane and really don't want to have that in my garden.  I often get organic hay from a neighbour but he hasn't cut any yet because it is all too wet.   So what to do?  I trimmed back my lemongrass and snipped that into smaller pieces, I still think it does act as a natural insecticide, but have no proof, just a hunch, then I mixed in some shredded leaves.  . .  that will be the mulch around my vegetables for now. 
The sweet potatoes in the back section are still quite weedy and the potatoes I have bandicooted have been quite small so they will stay for now.

   When harvested that area will grow squash, I wanted to grow butternut, but just had spaghetti squash seeds.   I am hoping that area will be big enough for squash, but they can clamber over the fence.  I also have to put the zucchini somewhere, so know that I will run out of room.  Down the side fence the long Chinese green beans are a bit slow - maybe too much rain and not enough sunshine.   In front of them I planted two eggplant.  There have been no solanacea in that bed for two years.   The ginger is starting to flower, so think I will harvest most of it and see if I can get some to winter over.  I cant see why it cannot be a perennial in this climate.

Then the big bed  with the pigeon peas removed was a blank slate.  I kept the basil, paw paw and a jalapeno chili, and then spread out some capsicum, cucumbers (at the back so that I can erect something for them to climb.. ) a few more eggplant, and silver beet.  I have amaranth popping up, but had no success with the mixed green seeds I got from green harvest. Maybe they are designed for  a different climate.  There is room in the front to add the lettuce and other seedlings when they need to be transplanted. 
During the week I had been reading "Carrots love tomatoes" and surprisingly she recommends growing tomatoes alongside asparagus.  So I got some marmande tomatoes and am holding thumbs.  I also put two along the back fence with the cherry tomatoes.  We suffer from bacterial wilt here and I am hoping the soil is so super rich now that it has been eradicated.  I  practice crop rotation, and the center bed is where I grew the tomatoes last year.  The cherry tomatoes don't suffer from it.
 

For another option I did plant a few greens into a pot next to the back door - if this rain doesn't ever stop at least I can move these out of the rain. 



So I think that is all I can do for now, other than pray that the rain moderates somewhat.
There are big changes to the herb spiral too, but that deserves a post all of its own.

12 comments:

  1. You are a truly amazing gardener! I follow a number of gardener's blogs (Catherine @ A Gardener in Progress; Alison @ Bonnie Lassie; Sue @ A Corner Garden; Annie @ Wow! That's a busy garden...among others!)and I'm so impressed with the knowledge and dedication you each have in spades full and bucket loads!!!

    I don't know if any of these gardeners follow you, but I'm SURE they'd LOVE to learn from you, too!!! I am watching intently and with great interest as you lead me through all these 'experiments' and wonderfully novel techniques. You are an inspiration!!! And your passion for your glorious garden comes through loud and clear :)

    PLEASE SEND SOME OF THAT RAIN MY WAY!!!! We desperately need some after weeks and weeks of nothing!!!!

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  2. Gosh, you have been busy. I also use camomile tea to prevent damping off. When we had an allotment and a bonfire was being made we would build it up around a long pole about 4 cm diameter and then pack the whole thing in soil leaving a gap at the bottom to stuff paper straw or dry grass to light the fire. The bonfire would burn all through the evening and next morning the whole thing would have collapsed all that’s left was sterile soil, ideal for planting seeds and no nasty fungus spores. This is the way my grandad sterilised the soil during the war. I have just started planting up my seeds flowers and veg. We have had warm spring sunshine for the past two days it has been lovely outside, but very cold at night -5 last night!
    Have a great week.
    Sue.

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  3. Compared to your raining season, we have been experience dry weather for quite some time now in my area. I am so impressed with all you have done. I can not imagine I will have the patience to cut the lemon grass into small pieces. You are a real gardener with great patience! I am sure every hard work will pay off in the future.

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  4. I've seen on the news how much rain you've been getting. Hope it calms down soon. You've given great start to your vege garden so it should be super-healthy. look forward to seeing the results of all your hard work .

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  5. Desiree,
    Thank but really I am just bumbling along most of the time and lucky that I live here where everything grows - you can definitely have this rain! I do love to garden and experiment and discovering the world of blogging has been great as I learn so much.
    thanks for introducing me to some great bloggers!

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  6. Sue,
    What an exciting way to make sterile soil - I thought about putting some potting soil into the oven, but then when I saw the packets all made up and ready to go...... so glad your weather is warming up - I cant imagine -5 brrr. You have a great week too.
    Ami,
    I found my hedge cutters snipped them quite easily. besides anything for the garden - am I obsessed? - I suppose I am! Your rainy season should start soon though, I imagine
    Missy,
    yes there are lots of little bits of green showing already, so as long as we get some sunshine I am hoping they will take off.

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  7. You are making good progress on your vegetable garden. You should have a great harvest, if all your hard work has anything to do with it! We have had pouring rain all day today, too, and it continues as I write. The weeds are doing very well!

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  8. I love reading your blog whenever I get the chance! I'm adding a couple more thai veggies and herbs to my garden and hope I can keep them alive and thriving this year!

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  9. Deb,
    I am hoping so, and lately it has not been raining during the day, although it is overcast, so I am holding thumbs. I need to add more mulch to keep my weeds down!
    Rainforest gardener,
    Thank you, well you are heading into your wet season so I wish you much success. I look forward to reports of your progress.

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  10. I am a little confused! I thought I was following your blog, but I wasn't, it was someone else's! All this time I've been leaving all these comments to someone I thought was you! How funny.

    I'm glad I found finally found my way here though :)

    Ali.

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  11. Hi Ali,
    welcome! Just looking back on this post makes me sad - the lettuce leaves were chewed away by grasshoppers yesterday - today they have one of those pop up food covers over them!

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  12. Oh no, the cheeky little munchkins :( I had ants march off with all my eggplants seeds today, I'm so silly to have missed out on the photo of a line of them marching off with all the seeds though!

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