Spring at last,

Today is warm and blustery, typical for spring in Canberra. Before the expected cold change hits this afternoon I took the opportunity to plant some cold tolerant seeds out. This included beetroot, lettuce, kailaan (a brassica) and snowball turnips.

I have tucked them away in a plastic bag, to make a mini-greenhouse for them.

A quick update on the chicken greens – as you can see below they are growing away nicely. Time to plant out some new trays.

And a final picture from my spring garden. Daffodils and jonquils against a backdrop of wattle.

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Gone to seed

Hi! It’s been a long while since I last posted because we were traveling overseas. Since we’ve been away spring and even an early dose of summer have seen most of our veggie garden leap from edibility to seediness.

Gone to seed, Red Mustard, sorrel, carrots etc, November 2014
Gone to seed, Red Mustard, sorrel, carrots etc, November 2014

The asparagus has yielded it’s last spears, at least our house sitter got the benefit of most of them.¬† The peas are producing lots of pods, but it’s not obvious whether we can encourage further podding or will have to make do with the current yield.

The peas are podding beautifully.
The peas are podding beautifully.

The strawberries have struggled with the early hot weather and the berries have literally dried on the plants. At least with this past weekend’s rain I’m sure they will come good again.
We have been pleasantly surprised to find that both our perennial mountain yams that we put in last year have actually done what they should have and are re-sprouting. One had started growing before we went away and it’s already making it’s way into the lower branches of a nearby wattle tree.

Mountain yams, off their support and into the tree.
Mountain yams, off their support and into the tree.

The other has only started re-growing in our absence, but I’m thinking that we may need to provide an even higher support for it to climb on. Hopefully this means we might get some useable tubers this year.
So now we look forward to some major pulling out of old plants and planting summer crops of tomatoes, beans and corn.

Seed saving?

It’s in our shed, perhaps our darkest¬† gardening secret, a massive collection of pre-loved, left over, surplus to requirement seeds. Blame frugality or whatever but I have real trouble throwing out old seeds even if they are past their use-by date. That is until a few weeks ago. The revelation came when I was listening to one of Gayla Trail’s Whatcha Growing podcasts. Gayla was confessing she had also shared the same tendency, but with one clear explanation, she was able to change her dark habit and I am also a changed gardener.

Just short of a quarter of a bucket of out of date seed!!!
Just short of a quarter of a bucket of out of date seed!!!

What changed? A plant scientist pointed out to her that just because a seed could germinate didn’t mean it would make a healthy plant. Indeed old seed will most likely produce dodgy or low viability plants, a state which seems to be obvious to any pest or passing disease.

So we began a major clean out (see results above). Maybe I haven’t changed completely because we didn’t chuck the seeds in the bin. Instead we decided to use them as a green manure in the area where our chooks have been undertaking soil renovation.

After the chickens, this part of the garden needs re-seeding.
After the chickens, this part of the garden needs re-seeding.

Believe me this part of the yard was completely covered in grass before we let the chooks in. This should also be a warning to anyone who thinks chickens look good roaming around the garden unsupervised – have you seen what strong digging claws they have? The chooks are now off rota-tilling another section of garden, where the polyhouse normally lives.

Having spread the seed on the ground and raked it in, we just waited for the local Crested pigeons to come along and have a feed. Oh, what a surprise! the Crested Pigeons have arrived.

Half an hour after seeding and the pigeons have arrived.
Half an hour after seeding and the pigeons have arrived.

Despite regular visits the pigeons haven’t eaten all the seed yet. Indeed with several bouts of rain in the past weeks what’s left of the seed is actually sprouting.

And what was the oldest seed we had kept? Several packets of herb seeds from 1997 – now that’s bad.