Long time since the last update. Had a decent winter season but we've been busy growing something else - our first child. Have still had a little time to get the garden together for the year while on extended leave from work. Despite all the usual media hype from a few unseasonably warm days early in spring, the rest of spring has been exceeding mild and not many consecutive warm sunny days, so it's been a bit slow going but it's coming together now.
First thing's first though, a bit of a rewind...
Early in the season, I dug out the main bed to line it with geotextile fabric between the gravel and soil layer. The two smaller beds were done last autumn. The best thing in hindsight would have been to line the ground underneath the bed with it (including under the edges of the bed), then add gravel layer, then another layer of the fabric, but it's too late for that now - not unless I want to pay some landscaper a fortune to do it for me. So this has to suffice and fingers crossed it keeps out most tree roots. Even if it's a fool's errand it will keep the soil and gravel layers from mixing too much, which is still worthwhile as I was getting more and more stones each year from digging over the beds.
If you look closely you can see many greedy tree roots (probably some from the hedge too). I'm kind of wishing I took this opportunity to rake the gravel to one side and try to line underneath too, but oh well.
Three layers in total, overlapping. If roots do come up the side through path of least resistance they should be relatively easy to sever.
Finished! Back and shoulders ache just from looking at it.
Here's how the garden is going as of early November. Added a few pavers to make getting across the lawn easier without walking on it, and also as "temporary" places to put pots (at the moment two Florida F1 dwarf tomatoes and the blueberry).
The blueberry was loved to death, not sure what it was exactly but all the blooms just died probably from one or a combination of anti-fungal sprays I was using to combat rust, or perhaps over-fertilising. It was overdue for a cutting back so I gave it a heavy one, hoping it'll now have a good long season to rejuvenate for next year. Shame about no blueberries this year (in truth, this is not the best variety for our climate) but hopefully as you'll see below, the raspberry crop will make up for it.
Just out of shot I have my usual assortment of small troughs above the worm bin, two shallots, two spring onions, two lettuces and one pak choy. Speaking of pak choy I let two go to seed, a purple variety and another variety I started from a purchased seedlings back in autumn that I really liked because the leaves tore cleanly from the base. Let's hope they are true to type. I've noticed the smaller native bees in particular love brassica flowers so it's been good to have something for them. I have some bolting cabbages I might use for the same purpose before they get composted.
Radishes have been squeezed in here and there too, unfortunately the ones I was most looking forward to trying, "Watermelon", bolted right away despite being planted in very mild weather. I'll try them again in Autumn. I'll let a few go to seed because I've heard the seed pods are tasty and I am getting low on French Breakfast seeds.
New arrangement of the pots along the window, with 4 x 40L at the rear (including the two citrus) and 4 x 25L in front. One of the things I wanted to do this year with the layout is not have any tomato plants touching. I realise that disease is going to spread in such a small garden regardless, but hopefully it won't be like wildfire.
The smaller strawberry tub were all volunteers and have produce some really lovely strawberries, the existing "Temptation" strawberries in the larger self watering trough aren't much good though, so I'm thinking I'll compost those and then transplant the ones from the smaller trough to fill it when they start producing runners.
In the pots are my lemon and lime trees (the lime is flowering like crazy this season), Bullshorn, Jimmy Nardello and Marconi capsicums, Borghese and Blueberry tomatoes.
This is the new raspberry bed which was constructed from the two west facing side beds with the addition of a frame and wire trellis, and the potted raspberries were transplanted here in very early spring. They've done really well. We've got many more blooms than was possible in the pot they were in last two seasons so we're hoping for a decent amount (and hopefully the ants that spoiled so many last season will stay at bay).
This bed was also lined with geotextile fabric. I am also lining pots with it, mostly as a filtration measure to keep the saucers cleaner. Worms can still squeeze their way around.
In front are the Red Gauntlet runners that were propagated last season - although I am very disappointed with this variety too. Small and bland, at least so far, I'm wondering if they will improve now they have decent space. If not they will end up going if I get a decent amount of runners from the volunteer strawberries (probably sprouted from composted store bought strawberries which nevertheless taste infinitely better when grown at home and are much bigger). As usual I have more volunteer strawberries coming up all over the place but it's always a lucky dip.
Bottom right are two grow bags of potatoes (Sebago and Royal Blue).
Bottom right are two grow bags of potatoes (Sebago and Royal Blue).
This is the east facing fence. The peas and garlic will be gone soon, replaced by beans and cucumbers. I'm trying the Kiwano again this year too. Along here I am also growing another Principe Borghese tomato, Jalapeno (overwintered and already flowering) and another Bullshorn. Broad beans haven't done well this year, strangely they did a lot better in the native hard clay soil. I don't think I'll grow more than one or two plants next year if any as the space is better used by more peas. Speaking of peas I think I overdid it in the troughs with three rows, so it'll be two next season with a little more generous spacing.
In the whiskey barrels we have some beans, dumpling squash (to climb), crookneck squash, purple podded peas and lettuces. Also a new pot of swiss chard (bit disappointed with the variety of colours I germinated this year) and lettuce.
The mints are doing well but are starting to get shaded by the angle of the sun, the lemon balm needs repotting badly and have been infested with spider mites that survived winter. Fortunately the tiny black ladybirds that eat them also survived and I think I'll have a good supply of them this year to save my cucumber, bean and other spider mite attracting plants.
This is the main bed. There are a lot of Borage, Marigold and Heartsease volunteers, as well as shiso and Thai basil I am pulling like weeds.
In each corner are tomatoes (A nice medium red variety saved from supermarket, San Marzano, Sweetie and Red grape) as well as one Florida F1 dwarf. In the front are three capsicums (Chocolate Beauty, Poblano and Cubanelle).
There is also yellow squash and zucchini in this bed, two corn plants (I had planted ten, but I think I went too early and they rotted), a couple of Okra and two eggplant (one each Black Beauty and Tsakoniki). Also three Kohlrabi that I am hoping will be done soon as they are shading out summer crops.
Originally I tried to plant parsnips in the centre of the bed but they didn't germinate, probably seeds too old, thinking this area of the bed is hard to reach so it makes sense to have a long harvest once crop there. Instead I will transplant leeks there once they are big enough. I also had some bean volunteers I am thinking of pulling or transplanting but we'll see.
There are also radishes and a few new types of flowers in the bed (Salvia, Nasturtium, Corncockle, Alyssum).
In the two smaller beds we have a mirror planting, one tomato each (Tigerella and the large Yellow one I loved last year), one eggplant each (again, one BB and one Tsakoniki) and two capsicums in each bed (in this case, Yellow Marconi and Anaheim and Bullshorn and Shisito in the other). Each also has a Lebanese cucumber, some more flowers and basil. The beds won't be mulched until they really need it in summer.
Herb tower. Some things desperately need re-potting it's just a matter of finding the time!
On the second row left is a basil plant that was overwintered and has given me plenty of basil early in the season with no bitterness. Don't believe people who say it can't be done! This was done on the balcony in an unheated mini-greenhouse.
Speaking of the balcony, we have a kale plant destined for downstairs (then again I haven't had any cabbage aphids or whitefly attack it up here, so it might be the best place for it) and this year's chilli / small capsicum varieties. We have an Anaheim, Razzmatazz (in its third year), Caysan and Jalapeno (both overwintered) and two Shisito, a new variety I am trying this year.
That's all for now, hope your gardens are going well!