Archive for November, 2010
November 27th, 2010
There are so many good reasons to grow your own food. It guarantees that you have access to the freshest and the most nutritious ingredients right at your very doorstep. Once you have tasted vegetables that have been picked only minutes before your eat them, you will never look back! It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to grow something from scratch, well a seed really, and I know that those broad beans now on my plate are free of chemical residues and are very good for my family. Growing your own food does save money too.
There are many different ways of growing vegetables, in containers, in ‘no-dig’ garden beds, in rotational plots or even just here and there in the garden beds that are in the back yard right now. I made a ‘no-dig’ garden bed a couple of years ago and have built up the soil over the years since. Before that I used pots, I figured to start small as I was short on both time and sunshine. Vegetables do need sun; the more the better. As a general rule, they need a minimum of six hours every day. So when choosing a position to grow your veges try to avoid things that create a shadow. I built a raised bed so the roots of nearby trees wouldn’t be competition for the veges and that has worked well.
But, you don’t have to wait until you have the ‘right’ spot or the time to make a special bed to grow a few veges – just start anyway with containers. It is an ideal option for people who are renting or for people who only have limited space available. Growing plants in containers also helps to overcome the problem of irregular shade, as pots can be moved to follow the sun over the course of the year. Just get on out there and enjoy!
November 24th, 2010
You just can’t go past the humble nasturtium if you want a bang for your buck. This little number will cover ugly tree stumps, climb up [and cover] banks or spill out in a very pretty almost dainty way over the edge of tubs or pots. It can be used as a pretty ground cover for garden beds and gives those tough weeds a bit of a run for their money. Because this pretty little piece is almost as tough as they are! They thrive on neglect, in fact if you overwater them or feed them too much fertiliser they will bolt.
Flowers come in shades of red, yellow, pink, cream and of course orange! Even if you have never planted a seed in your entire life these are the seeds to begin with. You just cannot go wrong. In fact if you have any little children about, planting nasturtium seeds would be a fun introduction to gardening and the joy of planting a tiny seed. These seeds always come up and show their pretty little flat circular leaves.
As a bonus, the flowers and the leaves are edible and look just super in salads with the leaves giving a bit of zing! A very trendy addition to any salad!
November 16th, 2010
The broad bean harvest is in full swing and we are enjoying broad beans with every other dinner at the moment. Yummy! Nothing beats the flavour of freshly harvested, home grown vegetables. Growing your own vegetables gives you far greater control over what is eaten and, in particular, the flavour. I love shelling the beans in their fluffy soft little home. Out they pop. We sometimes make it a family thing, sitting together and shelling the beans. My favourite way to cook them is to steam them just lightly – less than 3 min usually does it, then I drain them and pop in just a little butter, and then on to the plate!
Now, I am busy planting tomatoes, a little late this year because of all the rain, and also, just because, life sometimes gets a little busy. Roma is my favourite but I have a couple of new varieties to try this year as well.
Well, I am off to pick some beans! Happy gardening!
November 13th, 2010
This month I plan to head out to the nursery and buy myself a dahlia or two, some seeds for my vege patch, some mulch for that as well and some tomato plants. I left a couple of dahlias in the ground last year, but this time I think I have remembered where I put them, so I plan to keep an eye on that little patch of soil, keep it moist and at the first sign of little green shoots, scatter a few snail pellets about. Yes, I know, I shouldn’t use snail pellets but for a few little things I do make exceptions. Dahlias are one of the exceptions. The snails love the new shoots and it is a bit of a race between us -last year they won! But, this year I am determined, and I do have the advantage that I put a little stick where they were growing last year – actually to remind me to lift them, but now if I can just find the stick….
Dahlias bloom about ten weeks after planting and remain in full flower until the end of April! What a bonus! They are easy plants and very giving in the flower department. All they need is a sunny, well-drained position protected from strong winds and soil that is rich with compost and manure. Once they start growing they need frequent watering, but they hate to have wet feet. They make a terrific gift, one that keeps on giving! So, potting up a couple to give away for Christmas might be a good move too.
The roses, of course, need to be dead headed and they love a little plant food and I still need to keep up with mulching in and around them. I plan to make an attack on weeds – this is the month, before the ground hardens up, yes, it is raining now, so the soil is good for weeding! Still, I have to admit to finding weeding something I would rather write about than actually do!
November 9th, 2010
After all the wonderful rain that we have had lately the sun has come out, the soil has warmed up and the weeds have become wild! Time to tame them! How many tedious hours I am spending beavering away lately, but it is all good, it happens every year! The ducks come out and help too, the freshly turned soil just has to have some interesting little treats for them!
About two or three years ago I discovered sugar cane mulch! Around about this time of the year it is time to get a few bales and spread them about over the recently weeded areas, it is really super in the vege patch and most effective at keeping the weeds under control.
The broad beans are being harvested now and are a very tasty treat at dinner. It is a bit late, but I am putting in some tomatoes and some carrot seeds. The rhubarb is very tasty at this time of the year and gives us the pleasure of rhubarb and apple crumbles topped with a big blob of cream. Yum!! I have left some lemons on the lemon tree, so lemon delicious pudding still makes it onto the table too. Ahh, the pleasures of the harvest!
It is such a treat to have our own supply of vegetables, herbs, lemons and eggs fresh from the garden. Not only is the produce organic, it is also immensely satisfying to grow your own food.
November 6th, 2010
November in Melbourne, and the roses are flowering, the weather is warming up and the weeds are rampant! Roses and rhododendrons both seem to be affected by early heat much more than other plants. Within a few days of blooming, many of the flowers completely blow or wither, before we have a chance to really enjoy them. One way to get around this is to bring a bunch inside to enjoy them there.
But, even if you don’t want flowers inside, dead-heading is essential, because if it isn’t carried out, the plants will have much less strength to form the next lot of flowers. Roses will produce another flush of bloom during January, with a final flush during April. If you leave the flowers on, and the seedpods are allowed to form, there will be no more flowers later on in the season. You can just snap off the dead blooms, but if you take the extra time to prune back to the next healthy leaf-junction, the next lot of blooms will be quite good and the bush takes on a better shape.
Now that we have enjoyed all this lovely rain it is time for me to get very busy and active out in the garden weeding and you guessed it, mulching! Especially around the camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons for they all have very shallow, compact root systems. They tend to dry out very easily and summer is a very hard time for them. The best way for me to help them is to mulch heavily with decayed straw or spoilt hay.
So, its off out into the yard with my garden hat squished down to stop the sun & my garden hoe in hand to attack the weeds and spread some mulch!