Friday, 6 May 2016

Beautiful May and a close to the growing season

It's been a beautiful Autumn, warmer and sunnier than usual. I'm know the rain and frosts will be here soon but it's been mostly glorious weather the last few weeks and it's been a pleasure working in the garden.

It's been a sad time too though. A week ago my grandfather passed away. As well as a scholar and pastor he was an avid lifelong gardener. I don't know if I caught the gardening bug off him or off my mother or it's just in most of us to get back to earth and to appreciate where our food comes from. Still I was always in awe of the beautiful gardens and produce he produced. The last time I saw him he was showing off his lettuces and brassicas. I'll miss not having him there for his gardening wisdom, although thankfully he passed a of that on to my mum. But mostly I'll just miss not having him there.

I'm not strictly an organic gardener. For example I often use processed fertiliser to give a boost to seedlings where there isn't much soil biology to break down what's in the soil. But obviously I'm trying to make more and more of my own compost and worm castings so I don't have to buy so much bagged stuff. It's tough with limited space though - for example it's hard to just leave a bed out of the rotation for a season or grow green manure crops in it. If and when we buy a new place I'll have a much bigger patch then, but having a small area is a pro as well as a con as it's relatively low maintenance.

My second season was at least twice as productive as my first, so I'm hoping for an even better 2016/17 season.

These were the last of the big capsicums (chocolate beauty and poblanos mostly), and the majority of the jalapenos and nardellos from a few weeks ago. Nardellos were my favourite discovery this year, even though I didn't start them until summer. I'll grow several plants next year.

Last of the tomatoes for the year, mostly ripening off the vine. I have several bags of cherries in the freezer and some pasta sauce too.

And today is the last big bake up, farewell to capsicum season 2016. I still have a few chillis ripening and a few sweet banana on the bush but that's about it.

The yellow capsicums were from a store bought one, and have been until today seedless. However I found a small number of seeds in a few of the last ones, which I have kept. These capsicums were small but prolific and very sweet. I might plant some of these seeds next year and see what happens. It could be the ones with seeds are the ones that were cross pollinated and I could end up with something unexpected.

Speaking of seeds, much more so than last season I have been letting a few things go to seed and collecting them, as well as saving seeds from other things. The life cycle is always interesting to watch.

Up on the balcony these are the last few chillis still producing or ripening fruit. The caysan especially still has quite a few young chillis, and this position maximises the sun and will provide a shelter from perhaps the first light frost or two. The habanero has been harvested for the second last time. It's produced probably 150 pods this year and is a lovely looking little bush.

Not to waste the space and sun, some mini-cabbages have been planted behind. I re-used the potting soil from the chillis, with some blood & bone and worm castings added. I have written a review of the Can o' Worms worm bin and I'll be posting that soon.

Aerial view of late Autumn garden. Lawn has come back nicely. Lawn loves the spring and the autumn, does not enjoy the summer. 

All the mints are back on this tower sheltered by the entrance way, which is now receiving good sun due to the low angle this time of year. I suspect this will help them survive winter without dying back too severely, and early spring I will repot them from root cuttings.

New coriander on top. Wasn't able to grow it at all over summer really but it's enjoying autumn much like it enjoyed spring.

These herbs all getting good sun, we'll see what dies and what comes back in spring. The wall behind should provide some frost protection.

Greenhouse bed one. These were all started from seed a few weeks ago, so are not advanced. It's buk choy and brocolli, I think one is a chinese cabbage. There are also a few self seeded dill and some beetroot here. They should grow fine over winter with their cover and be ready early spring, earlier if I am lucky.I won't need the bed again until the warm season.

The second bed. I decided to put the two kale seedlings I had here as there was nowhere else. The tuscan one was pretty root bound and not happy so we'll see how that goes. The dwarf curled is already putting on flush of leaves. I did grow it last year from a bought seedling and it was nicer than the tuscan type. We'll see how this goes.

Also in this bed is rocket from saved seeds, and mizuna and spinach that haven't come up yet. When the plants in these two beds are bigger I'll mulch them.

I transplanted the red veined sorrel here next to the green sorrel from last year. This receives no direct sun this time of year, but is still fairly brightly lit and sorrel seems to be one of the few things that grows okay in shade.

Onions and rocket. Again, no direct sun here. It will be interesting to see what happens. This rocket has grown very very slowly but it is also not leggy.

Not many beans from this vine as it's also in shade but I have managed to save a few from this yellow romanesco bean and will be planting it next year. 

I plan to cut this kale back in early spring and see what happens. It's mostly been eaten by whitefly and aphids but I'm hosing them off and spraying with pyrethrum once in a while. I haven't pulled down the beans yet. I did try the ripest kiwano and it was very interesting, but I probably won't grow it again (certainly not anywhere but full sun, as it needed the whole season). I have three left I am hoping ripen a bit more before I pull them off.

The garlic is looking great, and it will have as long as it needs next spring to finish maturing, unlike next year. I have lots of parsley but I know it will not grow very quickly over winter, so it's good to start with a lot. The sweet banana capsicums will come out very shortly when the last few are a decent size (or if we get a frost forecast).

I harvested my first edible beetroot from this little pot. Absolutely delicious. There is one more of decent size in there but the others don't fill me with confidence. I'll put the tarragon on one of the shelves soon to give it a little frost protection, but it was one of the first things to come back last spring so I'm sure it won't die completely. On the right is more coriander.

Autumn fennel is doing well, I'll need to cull it down to 5 or so plants soon, then mulch the pot. The volunteer strawberry is doing nicely.

Lemongrass and blueberry. Lemongrass needs to be harvested soon. Not sure if I will try to save a few stalks indoors for next season or start with a new one.

I rotated the lemon and lime. I'll give the lime a sunnier aspect next season in the hopes of getting fruit. I'll probably give them one last potting up to a 40L.

Main bed now mostly in shade. The leeks and carrots will probably not put on much growth until next spring now but hopefully will survive the frosts okay.

Far right bed might be a better choice for biannual or perennial greens as it still gets a little bit of sun this time of year, unlike the one on the left. Then again it gets good sun during late spring and summer so is ideal for corn. It's basically an open compost bed now of the undiseased chopped up annuals, coffee grounds and leaves.

One set of the shallots have come forth. The second were a purple variety from the store. I'm hoping they shoot too. Parrots have found our last strawberries of the season and stolen pretty much all the ripe or ripening ones. These have no powdery mildew at all so I might transplant these to the balcony next year and throw the existing ones away.

Thanks for looking.


  1. So beautiful a garden, and beautiful memories of Rufus. <3

  2. I think we have all learnt something from Dad/Grandpa - gardening and otherwise :)

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Are you going to do an updated video tour of your garden?

    1. Yes I certainly will but probably not until spring. The wintery weather has arrived this week and there won't be much going on except very slowly growing greens for the next few months.

      I hope to film a few of the things I grow next season from seed to harvest too.