Monday, 22 August 2016

One week until Spring! Final winter update.

Gearing up for the long awaited spring season. We had one week of nice weather two weeks ago but it's been overcast or raining since then. Today the sun came out a few times so I made the most of it.

Tomato and eggplant seedlings.

Capsicum and chilli seedlings. These are all by the window on a heat mat. I'm thinking I might not need as many hots as the razz overwintered and I still have a lot of frozen chillis, so I might try to separate one of the other varieties and use both if multiple seeds germinate.

Up on the balcony I have finally transplanted new pak choy starts into these pots. I'll see how they go with two rather than one in the pot on the left. This variety gets quite big with huge leaves but is delicious, I think I like it even more than than the green stemmed one.

Very proud of these mini cabbages which are now forming heads. They've grown entirely during the Canberran winter. We'll see how root bound they get to see if I can go full size next year rather than mini.

Aerial view of the garden. My hose broke and it's too wet to mow the lawn.

The razzmatazz chilli has survived winter uncovered on the balcony. I'll give it a light prune and repot it when it warms up a bit more.

Beets - there's actually a tomato volunteer in there too, so it looks like these will actually germinate in unheated balcony greenhouse in late winter. I have no idea what it is, but I have a soft spot for volunteers so I'll probably find somewhere for it. I try not to add tomato seeds to the compost.

Chinese broccoli left, giant red mustard and red sorrel right. Some things haven't come up yet, might need to re-sow when it gets warmer.

Beets, spring onions and leeks behind. I think it was lettuce on the left but it appears the seeds are no longer viable. Those tiny sprouts aren't lettuce but some kind of weed.

Very early basil - these were germinated in the same greenhouse upstairs.

Downstairs now. These volunteer strawberries from the fennel pot have been transplanted to these troughs destined for the balcony edge. I don't know if they are temptation or from store bought, we'll see how it goes. I'm planning to use black fleece with cutouts rather than mulch as the straw kept blowing away in the wind and I suspect it gave the strawberries powdery mildew. It should do a good job of keeping the fruit off the soil and keeping the soil from drying out while letting rain through.

The two whiskey barrels. This is last year's parsley so I suspect it will flower this year. When the garlic is done I'll probably plant squash and zucchini in these pots.

The mints and lemon balm have all been repotted.

New peas. The old ones rotted or just didn't thrive and I started again.

Broad bean and last year's re-sprouted celery. I'll pull the celery out when it starts to flower. I'll probably plant cucumbers here after that.

Miner's lettuce doing really well in total shade.

Sorrel starting to show some more life too. There hasn't been much to harvest over winter.

Last season's rocket survived winter and is now flowering, there are also onions here but I don't think they'll produce bulbs, I will leave them in there to flower and see if they divide and then I can replant those. There is also volunteer corn salad from last year. 

In the first of the two covered beds the broccoli di ciccio has formed heads. They're a bit loose but I think this is normal for the variety. I am looking forward to eating them as I have never had fresh broccoli before. Should keep providing me small florets after that until this bed is replaced with corn closer to summer.

Underneath are some beets that were sown in winter, looking good. Tatsoi and self seeded dill. Dill loves this time of year. I transplanted a spinach here too that was in with the shallots but it'll probably bolt or die.

This bed is full of life. I didn't amend either of these beds before planting, I just dug them over good. Looks like I unlocked a good amount of organic matter. On the left is mizuna, then rocket, tuscan and blue curled kale, wombok on the right. This is the first time I've really grown rocket to a huge size like this, I guess that's what I get for trying to grow it in the warmer months. It's a lot milder like this too. There's also a spinach somewhere in there and some beets at the back. There are also some mystery plants, I'm not sure what they are but they don't look like weeds.

The blue curled kale is very sweet from the cool weather with juicy stems. I will definitely grow more in future.

Chives and tarragon. All died back in winter but they are now coming back. I didn't repot them, just topped them up. I am hoping the chive clumps expand decently.

Lemon and regular thyme and coriander. I gave the thymes a cutting back and then topped the pots up and they are recovering well. It's really too early for coriander so they aren't really thriving but it was worth a try.

The oregano didn't die back much over winter although it was looking a bit ratty. I'll probably just let it grow. I don't think I need both as they taste pretty much the same to me, so if one fails to thrive I might replace it with something else. Marjoram in the middle was cut back and is looking a bit sad but I'm sure it will recover. It self seeded on the ground below so I have transplanted that seedling into the pot. The bees absolutely love it.


Long suffering prostrate rosemary actually looking good. I will try to hold off harvesting it and give it a chance to grow. I have another rosemary bush type that I'll probably plant out somewhere.

I have started a new sage plant but they haven't germinated, I might need to try again as it warms up. The old one was just too woody and pest eaten to keep.

Coriander again on the right. Shallots, strawberries which have died back and spring onions. It's a bit early for these to be growing that well but they should pick up soon.

The benefits of worm castings - this kohlrabi plug had its own personal helper!

The kohlrabi starts have been transplanted into these two 25L pots, should hopefully be ready by the time I need them for tomatoes. Last season I think I fed them too much and the foliage got out of control, so I'll see if I get the same bulbs this year without the huge leaves.

Main bed is getting more and more sun every day. The carrots, leeks and turnips have until November when I'll be planting all my eggplant, larger tomatoes and capsicums here. I'll sneak in some radishes and other quick crops in the meantime.

Small head lettuce.

Leeks, carrots, tatsoi. I've filled the spaces with radishes.

The rainbow chard survived winter. I expect it will start to bolt soon. They really need more sun but hopefully I can get a few meals out of them in the meantime.

The waste bed has been breaking down nicely, I put some more scraps in there and then covered with leaves again. It will be a while before I am planting potatoes here, probably October.

I have given serious consideration to removing both the side beds, mulching them with tanbark and using them as more container garden space like the north facing window instead. The reason is invasive roots from what's growing on the other side of the fence as well as tree roots just seem to deplete the soil quickly. We'll give it another season though and see how it goes.

Early spring pot lineup. I have pruned the lemon and lime and topped them up.

I will try to give the lime more sun this year to encourage fruiting and bees to the tiny flowers.

Some of the bulb fennel ready to harvest. I overplanted this with 6 plants, I think 4 in the future, but they have grown well over winter. I have to keep it well watered now though because it's drying out quick with all that foliage which tells me the root system is going to be extensive. I might harvest 5 and then leave the last one to bolt to collect the seeds.

Pruned lemon tree, raspberry which is just starting to bud, blueberry.

Trying peas in a pot. I hope they are done by November at which point I'll probably grow cucumbers in here.

Blueberry looks pretty sick compared to this time last year, but there are lots of new leaf clusters behind the old leaves. The bees are visiting often I am still hopeful of a good harvest from it. It actually flowered at the right time, last year it was flowering late autumn which was too early. I probably won't need to cut it back after this season.

Minutina. I tried a few blades but it didn't seem to have much taste, hopefully it will improve as it gets bigger. It's supposed to have a nutty taste.

Well that's all for today. It won't be long until we're enjoying the spring weather and things will be growing all over the place. I'm looking forward to the insect, lizard and bird life returning too (not so much the pests though).

Thanks for reading.

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