Friday, 21 November 2014

Seed saving

As the weather gets hotter (and this year is one of the hottest on recrd yet again) many of the plants that have provided my winter meals are 'going to seed'.  This seems to imply that they are no longer of any use,  but that is far from the truth.
As vegetables and herbs form flowers and seeds,  they attract quite a crowd of beneficial insects… ladybirds and hoverflies and more.  As time goes by,  they will also produce next year's seeds.  As each variety matures,  usually by drying out ready to be dispersed,  I collect, dry sort and label them and my kitchen bench turns into a seed factory!
Here are dill, two sorts of lettuce, coriander and parsley.
Soon to join them are silver beet, kale, broad beans and some snow peas.  Seed saving season!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Earwigs

According to wikipedia, there are about 60 soecies of earwigs found in Australia.  I don't know which one I have here… or even if they are all the same species.  I do know that they are plentiful during the spring in most years though about every three years their numbers seem to peak and the damage is enormous.  
Adult earwigs survive over the winter and by early spring,  the young, which look like small versions of the adult, are hiding under every loose rock, board, straw or inside flower buds or leaves.  I have heard that they do no real damage, eating only damaged plant material.  I don't believe this.  They do eat fresh new vegetables (at the moment it is zucchinis) that are perfect in the early evening and half eaten by mornng.  The eat leaves from leafy plants, silverbeet flowers, carrot leaves, potato plants, parsley flowers, holly hock flowers… though those are just the favourites… there are more.
Numbers build up each year to a peak every 3 to 5 years and then the numbers "crash" ready to begin the cycle again.  This year is a peak year!
Last night I went out to see just how thick they were… and they were everywhere…  these photographs were taken at about 10pm as the earwigs were feasting on the parsley flowers…

I have used all kinds of traps, feeding the captives to the chickens, but even buckets full of the little critters don't seem to make any dent in the population.  
They are a considerable niusance,  but I am not resorting to poisons that I wouldn't want to eat myself.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Still going after all this time

There's been quite a gap since my last post, but life has a way of getting in the way, just when you thought it was all going well.
Spring has been as unpredictable as other recent ones.  We have had almost no rain and a few very hot days… the warmest so far has been about 40C.   The winter vegetables have finished, and even some of the springtime ones (broad beans and artichokes) stopped producing after the very hot days.
The ladybirds are back,  though I haven't seen any white spiders yet.
 Currently I am picking plenty of herbs and leafy green vegetables, the first of the next broccoli crop, green beans and I am well supplied with potatoes, beet and carrots,  the chickens are laying regularly and I eat well.

 It is the time of the year when the cactuses are flowering in several parts of the garden and the air is well perfumed most mornings.
It is also the season for seed saving… at least for those plants that produce in winter and "go to seed" as the weather warms up,  but more of that later.