Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Where did the time go?

I see with some surprise that it's been nearly four months since my last post. It's not that there has been nothing to write about: I've just been too busy in the garden to write about it ...

What a great spring it's been for veggies. In our garden, particular success stories have been Florence fennel, red cabbages and Barletta early onions. Regular spring rainfall has helped greatly.

I first tried growing Florence fennel a couple of years ago, with disappointing results. The plants bolted to seed as soon as the weather warmed up, and the bulbs were tough and bitter. This year they have been huge, succulent and sweet. I put this down to generous watering as soon as the bulbs started to form (early September onwards) and plenty of balanced fertiliser (chicken manure pellets in this case). The fennel was grown in a no-dig bed which is rich in organic matter and has good moisture retention.

Now of course I'm itching for the spring veggies to be finished so I can get the summer crop started. (The trouble with a small garden.) Tomatoes have already gone in (Tommy Toe and Amish Paste). Capsicum seedlings have gone into 45-litre 'grow bags' from Diggers (1 plant per bag). This worked really well last year, using a 50:50 mix of organic potting mix and my own compost.

My eggplant seedlings are still tiny, at the moment they're still in peat pots in the cold frame, but going on past experience, they'll shoot up as soon as they get in the ground. I just need to harvest those last few leeks first, then I'll have room for them ...

When I first started growing tomatoes, capsicums and eggplant from seed, I had a definite inferiority complex, comparing my puny seedlings to the verdant monsters from Van Loons. Experience has since taught me that my home-grown plants soon catch up, and I get to grow the heirloom varieties I want, not whatever I can get from the nursery.

I also have one unusual eggplant - Louisiana Long Green - that I overwintered. I gave it its own mini-greenhouse made of some Solarweave (tough woven clear plastic) wrapped round a metal frame. Hope it crops as well as last summer.

The wicking bed has performed well. It didn't turn into a bog garden, so I must have got the drainage right, and on the few hot days we've had so far the lettuce and coriander have stayed perky. The only problem - way too many salad greens! They all bolted once the weather started to warm up, so now they've been pulled out and composted.

Wicking bed mid-November

I've filled the gaps with lemon grass, chervil, Vietnamese mint and Thai chilli. So my salad bed is turning into more of a herb bed, oh well.

The in-bed worm farm seems to be working well, and I'm now finding worms wherever I dig in the bed, so they must feel at home.