Monday, 3 August 2009

Washing day

It is sunny and less cold (I can't say it's warm yet) today. I have the washing hanging on the line and I've been out to see how the vegetables are going. This is important... depending upon the weather, I don't always get out there to see what is happening until after coffee, but I think that it is important to check the plants and vegetables each day. Today it had to wait until the washing was done. I looked around after it was all hanging out there on the clothes line.
A number of people have asked me lately where to begin with a vegetable garden. I know that the usual answer starts with the preparation of soil and materials. This is important, but if any corner of the garden is reasonable (if it grows weeds) then it's a good idea to dig it up, and plant something edible, aong with a handful of "blood and bone" fertiliser. Soil preparation is important, but it's good to actually get something growing and whenever I have meved house, I have usually begun with potatoes. These don't need a lot of care and as long as the soil is reasonable (if the weeds are doing well), and you water them (even with the shower or washing up water) you'll get some potatoes that are edible. I have grown good potatoes in Newfoundland, Saskatchewan, California, Canberra, Brisbane and now in Kapunda.
It is such a good feeling to eat food that you have grown yourself (and it tastes so much better) that most people are instantly hooked... then it's time to go on and learn the idiosyncracies of the particular soil and an assortment of vegetables.

The trip around the garden each day is useful for working out what is ready to eat, or to weed... or what pests are around or even interesting sights and sounds....
This morning are the first of these little pink flowers (I have forgotten their name... I should remember!) that are the first sign of "spring" as far as I'm concerned. These are self sown, an come up each year in the same area... there are lots of the plants around this year, but only a few flowers so far... in a few days, it should be spectacular.
I remember writing about planting seeds in the spot where the cauliflowers had been... here is the next batch of coriander, just up. One can never have enough coriander. It grows quite quickly once it gets going, but it also "goes to seed" quite readily also, and so it's necessary to plant a succession of crops. Once it goes to seed, it's good to collect plenty of it and plant it bit by bit as soon as the parsely season finishes... late autumn or early winter, once it rains.

I put some mulch around the bay leaf tree. This poor little tree (below) is several years old (at least 6 or 7 years) and is still quite small. Last summer it cooked in the long patch of hot weather... it was more than 45 degrees (about 115) for two weeks in a row, and a number of trees died. This dear little thing survived, despite its cooked leaves and I'm getting it ready for yet another summer.
Right down the back... behind the chooks.... and the usual rows of vegetables.... from the left, the edge of the broad beans, coriander, garlic, onions, my steps, mulched potatoes (these started in a trench that I could run water into), garlic and the edge of the artichokes...
In a few weeks, the coriader will flower and produce next year's seed. The garlic will be ready to dig up once the plants die off, about Christmas time. The onilns will be ready to eat as "spring onions" soon, and later, when the rest die off, I'll get some brown onions under the ground. I'll pick the onions strategically to leave space for the bigger bulbs that will come later. The potatoes will flower later in the year too.... at the same time as the tomatoes flower... and once the tops die off, I can dig those up too. The artichokes will produce their "globes" at the same time as the broad beans (spring) and then I can cut those back to leave plenty of room (and sun) for the garlic that is planted around and among them.
Once all of that is harvested, it is time to cover the soil with a thick layer of straw to protect the micro-organisms in the soil... the fungi and bacteria that I need to "farm" in order to get organic material and minerals into the soil. It's the soil that needs the care and the vegetables can take care of themselves.
Walaking back up towards the house, I heard a rumbling noise in the distance... it's a plane... probably on it's way to Perth. We don't see many of these. I must be getting really strange to be taking photographs of such things!
The lavender is flowering too. I have several kinds. This is called Sidonie, and it was bred in Australia. The bees love it.These are chimney pots that are placed over the celery. In fact I have six plants of celery, and only two of these pots, but they'll make the celery grow taller (trying to get to the light) and more like the stuff that you buy in the shops. The rest will be more bushy, but since I usually use it as flavouring in either soups or stew or whatever.
Here is the first of the fennel... tomorrow night's dinner?
... and a beetroot, getting fatter by the day.
Beetroot leaves are beautiful looking also... and good to eat.

I have mentioned this particular plant (below) previously. It is the broccoli plant that survived last summer without water and after the broad beans died off. I left the beanstalks there, and I suppose those helped to protect the dear little broccoli plant. the reason that it was there was because I had thrown all of the "old" seeds out among the beans, thinking that they would be good mulch/fertiliser when I dug it all in. Well, this broccoli plant survived and went on to flower.
Here are the tiny "sprouts"....
... and the flowers....
... and finally seed pods.
I'll save the seeds from this plant. It may be that it is more heat restitant than some other broccoli plants. Perhaps it will be no better, but it is worth a try. I wonder how many other people in the past have saved seeds with this in mind in the past.

A cabbage... dinner tomorrow? with fennel? and beetroot?

Right across the yard, the rocket (arugula) is blooming among the weeds. It now grows wild all over the place here. It tastes good, especially when it's really young. This is how I hope to have my "horta" plot growning by next year.
I'll go out soon to see whether the washing is drying well enough. My hope is that I won't have washing hanging around the kitchen day after day!
I do need to do some "whipper-snippering" around there though.

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