new beginnings…


It’s been a huge week here in blogosphere. If you write a blog or read any of the big food blogs you will know what I am talking about, if not… stay tuned.
While I attempt to gather my thoughts and put them into words in a few days (along with a very special recipe), I thought it would be nice to have an Aussie garden update.

So you may remember our dilemma with our new house? The tenancy agreement was pretty damn strict and digging in a garden was never going to be allowed. We seem to have found a loop-hole. Once the trees out back were trimmed they unveiled the perfect little garden bed which up until now had been used as a dumping ground for lawn clippings and leaves. Perfect!  Once we cleared the wild blackberries, dug through a few bags of sheep manure and a few handfuls of blood and bone, our sand was looking all good to go. Yep sand. You did hear me right. It is the strangest thing to see when coming from Raglan (New Zealand) where you are more accustomed to digging through clay than sand. But basically everywhere you look in Perth, there is sand. Every backyard, sand. Every front yard, sand. The sides of the motorway, sand, sand, sand. 

I found it hard to believe that anything would actually grow in this stuff, but it has. As the weather here is way different to NZ (it was snowing in Raglan today, something I’ve never seen or heard of in my 30 years) I wasn’t really sure what I should be planting and probably should have just waited another month or so until spring arrives and summer planting can get underway. But it’s been way too many months without a garden; we were keen to get something in. So we went out and bought a bunch of seedlings (I’ll get onto growing more from seed later once I figure out the seasons here), cavolo nero, celery, mizuna, broccoli (possibly too late in the season, but worth a shot) and capsicums. Usually I’d wait until labour weekend to even think about planting capsicums etc, but the weather has really warmed up here lately with some days getting into the low 20’s already. (Sorry NZ readers, I know you are getting blasted at the moment). We bought rocket, broad bean and silverbeet seeds and they looking healthy and strong already. I like to give my little seedlings a helping hand whenever possible by using old plastic drink bottles with the bottoms cut off as a cloche. I simply place them over the littlest seedlings, pressing them into the ground a little to secure. Make sure you leave the bottle tops off so water can get in. You’ll find those seedlings will grow at a much faster rate, thanks to all that extra warmth and moisture. I rotate them around when the seedling looks happy enough, or when it outgrows the bottle.

We also bought four hanging baskets that now contain my thyme plant and a bunch of strawberry plants. They are coming along nicely and with a little bit of luck we will be picking juicy berries come Christmas time. If you are looking at using hanging baskets to grow fruit or vegetables in, well anything in really, make sure you line the base and sides with plastic (an old plastic shopping bag does the trick). This helps to retain water, rather than it all dripping out the bottom or being absorbed into the coconut fibre casing. Cut the plastic to shape and pierce a bunch of holes in the bottom for drainage. Fill with good quality potting mix, adding a little blood and bone and sheep manure before planting your seedlings. If they are hanging under cover, keep and eye on them especially in summer. They dry out so fast and I find they usually need watering daily.

Lastly, now is the time to get your tomato seeds in if you are planning on growing them from seed. Hard to imagine right now I’m sure (especially NZ readers!) but they take around 8 weeks to be ready to plant out. Ideally around Labour weekend in October. I admit I’m not feeling all that organised and am going to just buy seedlings this year, but if you are planning on planting from seed, here’s my post from last year on how to do it. And if you are in the Northern hemisphere it's the perfect time to harvest your own coriander seeds.

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  • Reply
    Anahera Moon
    August 15, 2011 at 6:02 am

    So inspiring Em! Cant wait to get my garden up and running again, its looking very sad at the moment! Yep, the snow here today has been a very strange surprise… and I totally envy you the heat in Perth!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Pigs & Bishops
    August 15, 2011 at 6:07 am

    The current Organic Gardner magazine has good information about Australia's different climate zones, and every issue lists what can be planted now. Similar information might be available on the ABC's Gardening Australia website.

    Your garden looks gorgeous. Mine's in a right state – having a new baby hasn't been compatible with gardening for me, but I hope to get some seeds going in the mini greenhouse soon.

  • Reply
    August 15, 2011 at 6:17 am

    Hey cool thanks 🙂 I actually haven't bought any gardening mags since we've been here, just winging it. But that list sounds great! Thanks 🙂
    P.S having a baby isn't compatible with many things! 😉 I just hibernated until the kids were over 1… basically.

  • Reply
    August 15, 2011 at 6:21 am

    Oh and Mel@ Anahera moon. I do prefer warmer weather, but how cool would it have been to actually see snow in Raglan?! So unfair it snowed for the first time ever only months after we left!

  • Reply
    August 15, 2011 at 6:33 am

    My poor little herbs will just have to fend for themselves until it is warm enough for me to venture out again!

  • Reply
    August 15, 2011 at 7:14 am

    Sand? :-), yes i am use to clay, but since I am not strong enough for digging I mostly mulch, a sort of a lasagna gardening really, also because in the bush there are too many insect, snail, weeds, moss and stuff, and mulching seem to be the answer :-).

    Tomatoes, I don't look at Labour day, some years was too cold and early, some years was ok… the fact is that after many years of planting tomatoes I realize that no matter what you do, there are some years that are good for them, and some years aren't. I talked with other gardeners about it, but this seem to be the rule, i.e., the mystery. So I enjoy the good years, and the bad ones… as long as I have a few for my salads I am happy.

  • Reply
    Leigh @ Toasted
    August 15, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I'm very curious about that big surprise you hinted at.

    And yep -tis a good time to plant her for sure. If in doubt, I find this website most handy:

    I feel I must apologise for the sand over here – it does sucketh.

  • Reply
    August 15, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Haha yes, like with most things they have their years… or not. Last year in Raglan was great for tomatoes, the previous two however were really really bad. It's the gamble you take eh? So worth it though 🙂 You should see the citrus trees over here this year!!! Absolutely laden. Amazing. Next year won't be so good though…

  • Reply
    August 15, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Leigh~ Oh no not really a surprise to get excited about. Really sad news actually. Google #apieformikey and you will understand. I'm waiting for Si to get home from work up north before I make mine…

    Hey cool I'll check out that site for sure! And hehe you really don't need to apologise, this sand is going to be great to grow carrots in! 😉

  • Reply
    the good soup
    August 19, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Yeah, CARROTS! I've been meaning to make a bed sandy just so I can grow some carrots that don't look like mutant mittens. Lovely to see you've found an edge to claim as a vegie garden, Emm. I know how hard it can be when you aren't allowed to garden in a rental house. I've been in that situation too many times. And in the rental homes where I have been able to garden, I've ended up having to dig out my gardens before they'd return my bond. I'm blessed to be out of that situation now and hope you will be, too, eventually.

  • Reply
    August 20, 2011 at 7:57 am

    Ha yeah well we've kinda gone backwards,in a way… we own our house back home in NZ so we've been blessed for the past 5 years, being able to do what ever we want in our garden. But here in Perth we are renting. Stoked we've found a way around it, but yes we will have to remove all signs of our garden when we move out.

  • Reply
    August 22, 2011 at 5:18 am

    Oh it puts my garden to shame, cooking & blogging has taken over my spare time this last year & it is now somewhat waterlogged & weedy!

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