Monday, August 15, 2011
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 (
you are more accustomed to digging through clay than sand. But basically everywhere you look in New Zealand) where , there is sand. Every backyard, sand. Every front yard, sand. The sides of the motorway, sand, sand, sand. Perth
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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