Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Garden overhaul Part 2

In the main bed last spring I planted from top left corner going clockwise: spring onions, fennel (not florence, ooops), cucumbers, zuchinni, squash, assorted radishes and carrots, parsnips, perpetual spinach, lemongrass and cos lettuce.

Here's the lemongrass a little later in the season. The clump got huge but the individual lemongrass stalks didn't get as thick as I would have liked. In autumn this was transplanted to a pot to overwinter, we'll see if that is successful or not.

The cucurbits did okay at the back, but obviously I was not training them vertically and they ran out of space quickly. The squash (right at the back) was shaded out by the huge zucchini plants and didn't produce much of anything useful. The whitefly and mildew eventually got to everything. Spring onions are still producing in a cut and come again fashion. The fennel did well too, except that it was the wrong variety and there's only so much frond you can use.

My lawn looking very lush. It's a bit more scraggly now in the final month of winter, but should be fairly easy to rejuvenate in spring with some TLC. Has remained pretty much weed free with minor weeding. Need to top dress the areas which have sunken a bit too. At the back were mostly chillis. I also have a dwarf lime (Sublime) and lemon (Meyer), and a blueberry bush and raspberry in pots.

I filled over the plain dirt with these white pebbles. They've since collected a fair amount of debris. When it's warmer I should be able to blow/vac them cleaner though.

This is my herb bed in autumn. All the Mediterranean herbs thrived, except the oregano which was shaded out. It's thriving now that the plants shading it out died back over winter. Everything else did pretty well here really except the rocket which kept getting eaten by caterpillars. I'm transplanting most of these to two whiskey barrels in a few weeks though, and growing the annual stuff in pots or in the other garden beds (ie. basil around tomatoes, coriander somewhere cool and shady, borage and so on).

These two whiskey barrels will take most of my perennial/biannual herbs, which frees up the herb bed for vegies and makes good use of this space which gets good sun. I tried to grow some broccoli in them in the meantime, but rats ate them.

I grew tomatoes and capsicums in this bed last season. The tomatoes got some weird disease so I cut them all back completely mid season, the regrowth was okay and I got some good tomatoes, but some did better than others. I didn't prune or care for them properly. They also shaded the capsicums, which were stunted until I cut back the tomatoes. So I need to give more thought next season into the height and arrangement of plants that need plenty of sun.

In late autumn and winter I've grown buk choi in this bed under a greenhouse cover. Have been able to harvest many times using cut and come again methods. Now with spring approaching they are finally bolting. I initially thought I had planted brocolli but I hadn't labelled my seedlings.

On my east-facing fence I grew probably more than I should have tried growing, including beans, corn, potatoes and pumpkins. The pumpkins grew okay but ran out of room and never produced fruit before the end of the season. The corn did okay. The potatoes grew very tall, but not many tubers underneath - happy for a first effort though, they were scab free and tasted amazing. I'm going to grow them in bags instead this year.

Only got one ear per corn stalk, so they probably could have done with some more generous feeding. This was essentially red clay with only modest amendments. Will be adding much more this growing season.

I decided to plant three types of mint here, which was a mistake. It got a lot of runoff from the pots above, which I think caused "rust" spots. It (the chocolate and spearmint) also sent out runners pretty far by the time I dug it out. It was naive to think the concrete or the plastic barriers would keep it from doing so. It was coming up between cracks in the concrete which is probably not a good sign. I don't think they liked being in so much shade and only getting hot afternoon sun either. So these three are now safely transplanted and regenerated in pots.

I have replaced this with a mini-raised bed (after doing a fair bit of improvement on the underlying clay) so want to try asian greens during cooler months and things like coriander and lettuce during warmer months (probably covered with some shade cloth).

I have experimented with containers on a vertical tower. I replaced this with a greenhouse in winter, but it wasn't very sturdy when full of half a dozen heavy tubs. Some things grew well in these tubs, others clearly needed more room. Radishes with adequate spacing have done really well, as well as leaf lettuce.

I have now gone to this rack which takes less space, is sturdier and looks nicer and has room for two pots on top. I hope the powder coating stands up to the sun. I have fashioned a partial cover which will come off in spring. It's open at the back, so really just protects from lots of rain and wind. The black tubs are all being replaced with self watering pots, as these tubs would dry out very quickly in warmer months. This will mostly have herbs unsuitable for the whiskey barrels in it.

This was my garden sometime in early summer I believe.

This is my garden now, last month of winter. I grew a cover crop over autumn/winter on the west facing fence, and have now put two small raised beds over it with the slashed cover crop and partially composted leaves. I'll leave that for 6 weeks or so to break down, then top with a good soil mix. The nearer one will be a good bed for sun loving warm season crops like corn as it will get all day sun after mid-morning until evening. My goal is that none of the main raised beds have anything perennial in them, so that they can be rotated or rested/rejuvenated after each season. So I plan to plant my all my long season/perennial leafy greens like the chards and spinach and sorrel in the far fence raised bed, anything that needs a bit more sun on the east facing fence. Perennial herbs in the whiskey barrels or containers. And mixed salad container plants / spring onions / shallots out on top of the bricked area.

This is my balcony, which currently houses three mini greenhouse . I'll use this in winter to keep a few choice container plants alive, and to start my chillis, tomatoes, eggplants etc. early spring after germination. Then packed away late spring/summer/autumn so we can have the space back. Over on the edges there will be chillis and temptation strawberry, which is a kind of full sized alpine strawberry. I grew regular alpines last year and although they did okay (despite my gross overplanting) they weren't really that enjoyable to eat - too small and mushy. I might grow my potatoes up here in their grow bags once I pack away the greenhouses.

Well, I guess that more or less brings us up to speed on my nearly 1 year gardening adventure. I've learned a lot through my various failures and successes and hope to incrementally improve each year. My next entry will be about what I'm planning this season with spring around the corner.

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