Saturday, 2 January 2010

Adding fertiliser to the garden; and the hardiest of vegetables, silver beet.

Today is the first day that I've been able to do much in the garden other than protect it from the heat.  Today is about about 24C and I am sitting on the verandah (no electricity in the kitchen yet) and adding the latest photographs from the garden.
By this time, I should have been harvesting much more than I am,  but having been away at the critical time for the vegetables,  things are a bit behind schedule.  It's interesting that I have much less trouble with earwigs now though... perhaps I need to have a backup plan for those pests and plan to plant some vegetables later next year as well.  Our summer season, as well as being hot,  is quite long.  It might influence plants that prefer increasing or at least longer daylight hours,  though many of those that grow near to the equator can't afford to be "daylight length" sensitive.

This morning I have prepared another small area for seed planting.  I have added some compost, trace elements and some "humates" that I've been experimenting with.  These are from Lawrieco and I learned about it through a friend who grows wine grapes.

The new patch is right across the back behind these two patches of herbs and beans etc.  I need to get some gypsum for the new patch also.  The soil has been baking in the sun recently and won't even get wet so far.
Next,  I have been adding some stinging nettle fertiliser to the bigger plants...  this is the same lot that I made back in June, though it's been added to and taken away from so many times that it's more like the old man's axe that has had several new heads and a number of new handles, but it is the same axe that he's had for years!  This batch has had an assortment of weeds added to it too and by now it looks and smells pretty wierd...

... it's pretty dark.  Here is a little bit, undiluted in a small icecream container...

I mix it in a bowl.  This is my old washing up bowl that sprang a leak a few weeks ago....

The fertiliser is diluted to about three times the volume and I have added about 20ml of seaweed fertiliser also.  I added trace elements when I planted the seeds,  so I shouldn't need to add any more.  The bowl is here beside the eggplants and ready to go.  (The bowl has quite a slow leak,  and any that ends up on the ground here doesn't really matter any way!)
And this is how easy it is....

They all get a cup full or so, except for the tomatoes as I'd like them to be a bit more stressed now... and start producing tomatoes!  The tomato plants on the left (below) are the ones that looks a bit sad when I arrived back in Kapunda during the November heatwave,  so as soon as that was over,  I gave them a bit more food and they produced plenty of leaves...

...now, a few weeks later and hungrier,  they are beginning to flower more...

... and produce some fruit! (This is a gross lisse.)

I have been looking carefully to see what each o f them is doing... and found a quirky plant.  This next one is leafy bush of a roma variety....  they usually have very complicated looking leaves.


Right next to it is another one,  supposedly the same, but with very much more simplified leaves. It looks more like a potato plant.  Tomatoes and potatoes are closely related,  so I suppose that makes sense.  These are two of a group that I bought at the local nursery soon after I arrived home in November.

The fact that they are so varied might mean that they were open pollinated and therefore, a bit variable... I always think that that might ake them a bit more resilient... we'll see.
The beans that looked so odd with their leaves pointing up to the sky (avoiding the sun) a couple of days ago are looking more "normal" today.  They are about to climb up my stakes by the look of it also...


Once again,  silver beet (Swiss chard) is the hardiest leafy green vegetable of them all...

This is a self sown plant among the potatoes and is doing very well, despite the recent row of 40C+ weather.  I usually give seeds of these plants to people who want to start growing food.  They produce plenty of seeds, so I always have some.  They germinate and thrive with very little attention and as long as they get some water (even the dishwater) they will produce plenty of vitamin B and folate laden leaves all year round (even in a pot on the balcony!)
When all else fails we can have potatoes, silverbeet and eggs for dinner... as long as the chooks are laying!

Recipe....
Chop and fry an onion in olive oil in a large pan.
Peel (maybe) and slice potatoes thinly, and add these to the onion.  Fry gently until the potatoes are nearly cooked.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Add sliced tomatoes (or bottled ones in the winter) along with the silver beet leaves and any herbs that you'd like.  (Even a little bit of left over salad can go in here.) Put a lid on and cook gently until the leaves are tender.
Add two eggs per person, beaten and pour over the vegetables. Cook until the eggs are set.  (You might need to lift some bits up to let the egg run under it if the pan is deep.)
Sprinkle this with chopped parsley (or coriander or basil, depending upon the season)  and serve it in the pan.  (No picture, but the next time I make this,  I'll add one here!)

Later... I have been moving furniture around my house... all good,  but I hurt my back.
My last resort was to a glass of wine....

... and this is my drawing for today... haven't missed one yet (two days down and 363 to go!)



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