Spring Gardening - hot and dry!
Sunday, 20 Nov 11 Sunny 30°C / 86°F
It’s nearing the end of spring but with temperatures rising and no rain, I’m organising the shade structures for the garden to give my plants some relief in the hot dry weeks and months ahead. The investment in time and mulch for the gardens is paying off with the soil retaining moisture and plants still pretty happy.
My nasturtiums are doing well all over the garden and have self seeded profusely. So many uses for these amazing plants. You can read more about this at http://themicrogardener.com/20-reasons-to-grow-this-amazing-herb/ and http://themicrogardener.com/how-to-grow-use-nasturtiums/.
My To Do List is ever growing and I never seem to have enough time to get through it so I’m going to have to resort to some serious ‘food bribery’ to encourage my husband to drop some of his outdoor projects in favour of mine in the kitchen garden! Only way to move them up the priority list I’m afraid. Unabashed bribery. Banana cake … in fact any kind of homemade cake seems to work and several days in a row usually gets me just where I need to be in terms of my project completion. Whatever works!
With the warmth though has come the rampant growth … from grass to weeds and pumpkins. Passionfruit vines are throwing their arms around like drunken octopuses! They’re climbing up into the nearby mango and sprawling in an untidy habit … they really need an arbor but no time for that at present so will have to be content with their messiness.
I shouldn’t complain too much as they have been flowering well with lots of bees helping them set fruit so I’m hoping for a bumper harvest. Keeping the food and water up to them is a regular task at this time of year! Watering system is definitely on the To Do List. I’m done hand watering.
In the vegie patch, there are new bean seedlings that have gone in and zucchinis are producing some yummy crops popping out new zukes almost nightly with beautiful edible flowers too.
I’ve put in 16 lebanese cucumber plants (yes we eat a lot!) succession planted for continuous harvests and been adding twine zigzagged between their 4 tepees with additional horizontal bamboo stakes to give them every opportunity to climb and maximise vertical space. It’s amazing how fast they grow at this time of year. If you’d like to find out how I make these tepees for under $1, see the instructions at http://themicrogardener.com/how-to-make-bamboo-tepee/.
We are enjoying plenty of salads with lettuces, celery, onions, cherry tomatoes, avocado, nasturtiums, herbs, sorrel and edible flowers. It’s time to swap lettuce for some of the more resilient greens for our climate now so those seedlings will go in next. Some of the crops currently planted are capsicums, cucumbers, lettuces, shallots, spring and bulb onions, herbs of all kinds, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, leeks, beetroot, rainbow chard, beans, mustard greens, ceylon spinach, pumpkins, chillis, potatoes, sweet potatoes, a variety of onions and garlic, celery and rhubarb.
I’m keen to see what fruit appears on our ‘AC/DC’ citrus tree. The graft has split and two kinds of fruit are growing – one on the original root stock and another on the grafted stock. I think we may end up with half lemon and half mandarin but I’m keening waiting for our ‘citrus surprise’!
On the maintenance side of things, I’ve been adding twine and additional horizontal bamboo stakes to the 4 tepees for the cucumbers that have been succession planted for continual harvest to maximise vertical space in the tank garden.
I’m only venturing out into the gardens in the cool of the day – early morning and evening to check on the overnight miracles like cute baby cucumbers that have been born; their tendrils curling around the twine and happy bees buzzing in for breakfast.
I’m making the most of the increase in nitrogen rich green waste available in the garden at this time of year to turn it all into compost and recycle the nutrients back where I want them … but that means building more compost bays! Not a project for hot days … Currently my dad’s here from Sydney helping me repurpose some hardwood timber crates and lining them with weed mat to make solid bays with lids.
Still on the ‘To Do’ List are more micro gardens in containers with potting mix to replenish and I’m looking up recipes for 1001 ways with cherry tomatoes.
After a bumper crop I’m making salads, sandwiches, sauces, pastas and anything I can think of to use them up. Both a blessing and a curse to have an over-abundant garden! Balance is certainly a key!
What challenges are you having in your patch?