Mosaics, manures and munching

Updating progress on some recent projects in the garden.

The mosaic-edged garden bed is now in place and planting has begun. There are strawberries in the holes in the bricks and a row of mini white turnips, so sweet, that we use to make Italian turnip soup are plated in the front of the bed. TB has also planted some French breakfast radishes between the turnips.

Mosaicbed

TB has also been busy giving himself a sore back digging over the green manure bed. This now has a topping of horse manure as well. We’re planning on planting our tomatoes here shortly.

Grmanuredug

The chickens are turning out to be great at dealing with left-over or past their best veg. Here they are demolishing one of our old kale plants, already going to seed. Brassicas yum!

Chookskale

Unfortunately for us it’s not just the chooks that like brassicas. Our resident possums seem to have a taste for broccoli. I was wondering why the broccoli wasn’t producing any florets. Duh! we just got beaten to them.

Possumdamage

Morning Routine

Our morning routine is getting longer with the longer days. Apart from feeding the cat and the chickens and rescuing the odd Wattlebird that has got stuck inside the chickens netted annex – our seedlings are needing greater attention.

The most delicate seeds are on the brewers heater pad in the laundry overnight, the marginally tougher ones are on top of the washing machine. Hardier trays of plants, including my transplanted tomatoes and our Ha-ogen melon seedlings are in the garden shed. 

Our Ha-ogen melon seedlings, off to a good start and hopefully a sucessful season

Ha-ogen

All these seedlings need to be deployed out to their day-time positions. Depending on the temperature, the more mature hardy seedlings sit on the garden table. The more delicate spend their day inside the warmer and more humid polyhouse.

In the polyhouse, seedlings being grown for the school fete

Fete

We are making good progress with seedlings being grown for our friend Bish’s school fete (her children’s that is). We’re growing blue and pink popping corn, Golden Bantam sweet corn, some Warrigal Greens and lots of snow peas. St Michaels at Kaleen 26 October 5.30 to 7.30, be there early for the interesting heirlooms! 

Transplant Operation

In early August we got our latest bunch of seeds (Eden Seeds) for the new season including several new tomato varieties – Thai Pink Egg and Lecasse di Apulia, Japanese White eggplant and a pumpkin to grow specifically for pepitas, Styrian Hulless.

TB got the tomatoes and eggplants started on the heater pad, bought at from our local brew shop. One hint for helping your young seedlings, is that once they have two leaves above ground give them a dilute watering of plant food, liquid manure etc, every few days as the seed-raising mixes don’t have much nutrient in them. This will help them develop strongly. The Thai Pink Egg seeds have shot very well. The Lecasse di Apulia and the eggplants have not had a good strike rate so far, but we will try some more as the weather improves.

Tomato_seedlings

So this week it was time to transplant these little beauties out of their seed-raising mix and into individual containers. Here’s how to do it:

Get everything sorted and write the name of the seedlings on your pots before you start (obvious but every so often I still manage to convince myself I’ll remember which seedling is which – I never do).

Tomsetup

Fill each pot with new potting mix

Tomsoil

and drill a deep whole with some sort of dibber, in this case a bit of dowell. You may be surprised at how long the seedling’s roots are even at this stage.

Tomhole

When you put the seedling into its new pot bury the plant so that only about a centimetre of the stem remains above ground. This encourages root formation and will help you plants develop sturdy stems. Do the same everytime you pot your tomatoes on and again when you plant them out into the garden.

Tompot

Give all your seedlings a good water with diluted seaweed emulsion or weed tea to help them overcome transplant shock.

Tomatpotwater

Now for Canberra residents please repeat after me: I will not plant my tomato seedlings out until after the danger of frost has passed. That’s late October or even early November, unless you have a specially protected area to put them.

 

Early one morning

Not much beats the enjoyment of taking a stroll around the garden early in the day. It was a bit foggy this morning and everything was fresh from a bit of overnight rain.

Looking down the garden to the last of the nectarine blossom and a rampant green manure patch. In the fore ground a corner of the new mosaic border for the strawberry patch.

Spring_garden

The chooks pottering around their pen.

Chooks

The first potatoes growing out of the potato stack.

Potatoes

The Japanese maple unfurling its new leaves against the grey sky.

Maple

Last years kale on their ‘walking stick’ legs, going to flower and soon to make way for new plants.

Kale

Encouragement for new veggie growers – pots of seeds being planted ready for the school fete.

Seedlings

 

Letty scores a ton!

We continue to be mightily impressed by our chook Letty who has finally made it to the 100 gram mark with her latest egg (13 September). Here it is compared to two of the other eggs she’s laid.

Lettys_100

The one on the lower left is a regular 64 grams which she laid on the 12th and next to it is a 92 gram egg she laid on the 10th. The 100 gram egg is at the back of the picture.

Seems like our Leghorn is going to be a regular large egg layer as this is her 5th egg over 90 grams that she’s laid. Our other two chooks are laying consistently with our Australorp, Dot, being the producer of the greatest number of eggs to date.

It’s great having our own eggs now. Here’s a light lunch consisting entirely of home grown/raised eggs, lettuce and broccoli; and home-made products, beetroot dip, bread and prosciutto. Here’s to the backyard!

Homegrown_lunch

On the tiles

I mentioned a few post ago that major rennovations were happening again in our garden. We are going to renovate our strawberry bed. The strawberries have been in place for at least five years so it’s well past time to pull them out and replace them with new plants. We have a whole lot of runners from last year that we can use and I might even lash out and buy some ‘new’ new plants!

We are also going to make the bed larger by an extra concrete block width. Over the years we’ve found the old concrete block to be a very handy edging for our garden beds, although they do look incredibly daggy. Enter the mosaic concrete block.

Mosaics

Once in the background of someone’s blog post (which I’ve never been able to find again) I saw concrete blocks mosaic-ed and looking much more entertaining than their unadorned selves. As I already had one block prepared TB suggested that I remove the old digit and fix up another eleven blocks to complete the extended bed. Here are the currently completed blocks roughly where they will be set, but not in their final order. We will plant the strawberries in the holes in the blocks and save the garden bed behind for other plants.

Mosaics2

I’ve done the tiling for all the blocks but still have to finish the grouting, my least favourite job.

I must like doing this more than I admit because I couldn’t pass up these fantastic hand-painted blue and white tiles at the tip shop yesterday. Although these are destined for a garden table-top not a concrete block.

Handtiles