Saturday, 16 July 2016

Winter half way mark - countdown to Spring 2016

One thing that makes coming back from holidays bearable is to get back and see what's happened in the garden while you were away. There always seems to be a huge growth spurt due to not checking on the garden every day.

Even this winter, no exception. There was a bit of wild weather while we were away so I was a bit worried, especially about the lime tree which has blown over a couple of times. On return we lost one greenhouse cover but everything else was okay. This was the kale/rocket/mizuna bed but everything seemed fine, only the tuscan kale looked a bit worse for wear. All the brassica crops have put on a growth sport while away, and the large leaf buk choy has begun to bolt. So I harvested two for last night's dinner and the last one for tonight's laksa.

A nice bunch, grown entirely during winter (okay, I think I direct sowed these very late autumn). I'll have to start some more because these grew fast and were super delicious.

Common mint finally taken a big hit from the frosts - although possible it was from drying out too. It's a very root bound pot and this is under cover so gets no rain. Chocolate mint and the mystery mint below and lemon balm seem okay. As the mystery mint (grown from a garnish) has a leggy growth habit and doesn't really taste much different from my other mint, I'm not going to repot it. I'll dry what's left early spring and use the pot for something else. 

Parsley loving winter, garlic not doing much for now. There's even self seeded chervil bottom left which germinated during winter and seems to be growing just fine.

Peas not doing much. I sow some more next month. What I might need to do is put strings down from the trellis above for them to climb initially as they don't seem capable of doing it on their own.

I also have some self seeded coriander coming up from the cracks between the bed timber and the footpath. I have no idea if it will survive or not but I'll see what happens. There's also a chocolate mint that got down there via runner, so I'll have to take care of that before it takes over the garden.

The celery stubs haven't been killed even by heavy frosts, providing useful leaves and small stems to harvest.

Broad beans not quite trellis height yet but getting there.

Onions, self sown corn salad at the end.

Miner's lettuce getting bigger.

Shallots look good for an early spring harvest. Lettuce all bolting and will need to sow some more soon. Something pulled out the spring onions (or tried to) but they seem to still be alive, will likely put some more growth on soon. I think I'll mulch this pot.

Winter grass looks really good, could even use a mow. I need to spot treat the oxalis though.

Edge of the bed now getting some direct sun again. Leeks doing fine, lettuces getting a little bigger. I transplanted some tatsoi seedlings here too to fill in some gaps, now it's going to get a bit of sun.

These carrot seedlings not doing much. Got them in pretty late. Will probably have to wait for spring.

Proof you can grow some decent radishes in Canberran winter even in full shade. Of course, they cease being a quick crop - these have taken two months to get this size. I sowed them sparsely though - could probably have afforded to plant 3 or 4 times as many.

This in-place compost bed is breaking down nicely, should be ready for potatoes mid spring.

Chard - surviving. I'll start more from seed soon ready for early spring.

The citrus looking much better at this point in winter than last year. One because they are bigger and stronger, two I think the position is a bit better. Have not lost that many leaves. I am still going to give them a good pruning early spring. Fingers crossed for limes this year!

Minutina is super slow growing. I think the pot is massively overplanted too but I can always thin.

Blueberry still looking a bit spindly, has now flowered. Which is later than last season so I might even get fruit from some of these if I don't cover it. Bees finally have something to visit in the garden again, but it's not much.

Bulb fennel looking great. I remember these have a pretty huge taproot so perhaps I overplanted a bit, I think there are 6 in this 25L pot. Volunteer strawberries look nice and will be transplanted next month.

The first is my cutting grown rosemary which I finally up-potted. It has prime position here top of the herb tower also but not expecting much growth until spring. The second is the original prostrate rosemary.

 I have access to several nearby large bushes of rosemary, so I don't really need to grow my own. They sure take some time to get established.

Over to the brassica greenhouse beds. You can see the large leaf buk choy has been harvested (surprisingly shallow root system) leaving the two green stemmed ones which haven't bolted yet (I haven't harvested them at all yet).

The broccoli in the back has gotten quite tall, no sign of florets yet (which is good, as they'd be very small at this stage).

Beetroot and dill in here also, looking not too bad.

Where the buk choy were I have planted some tatsoi seedlings.

The mizuna and rocket have finally taken off and I now have many large leaves. The tuscan kale got blown over (it was always a bit leggy due to my negligence at seedling stage) but it should be okay now, if not I'll stake it.

I have transplanted some wom bok here too.

I think that's a self seeded basil which has indeed survived many a heavy frost.

Outdoors kale from last season.

The oak tree on our strip has finally lost most of its leaves and as a result, we have a bit more sun coming through.

Up on the balcony, the chillis are still alive. Can't believe I still have access to fresh chilli in July. Sure, they're a bit pale and the plant doesn't look that happy, but there's even some new growth on it.

Habanero looking much sicker, but it's still alive. I think it actually dried out while we were away. I don't really need it to survive as I was planning to skip habaneros this season but we'll wait and see.

Mini cabbages starting to form heads. Some dirty grey aphids got into one of them, so I'll give them a spray every few days until they are all dead.

Well, you can germinate basil in an unheated greenhouse in winter in Canberra. But it doesn't grow much beyond that. Still, it might give me a slightly earlier start this season.

So that's our garden, mid winter. It's still cold outside but when it's not raining, the days are bright and sunny as you can see. It won't be long until I am starting the spring and then summer season seedlings. I am not expecting the long El Nino fuelled season we had last year but still excited about what I'm planning to grow, many new varieties of capsicum, tomato, eggplant, corn, beans and so on, and I'll try to grow a few more flowers this year too. I'm also aiming to use less bagged stuff and more free stuff, like shredded leaves instead of pea straw for mulch, and I have a good supply of worm castings and finished compost.