November Plant

November 24th, 2010

Nasturtium

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.

the nasturtiums are the orange ones!

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!

Happy gardening!

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Bean Feast

November 16th, 2010

The harvest!

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!

bean feast!

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!

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November Jobs

November 13th, 2010

A King Parrot visiting my garden

A King parrot visiting my garden

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….

Dahlia a generous plant

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! :)

Happy gardening!

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On the Wild Side

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!

Waddles loves to help in the garden

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!

Rhubarb -for the crumble

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.

Happy gardening!

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November Gardens

November 6th, 2010

The roses are in bloom

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!

Happy gardening!

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Herbal Cuppas

October 31st, 2010

The daily brew

Going out into your garden early on a sunny morning and picking some fresh leaves for your morning brew is a heavenly experience, and if you are short of space or time for gardening, well, I think you can’t go very far wrong than to grow some herbs that you can harvest and use for a good cup of tea.

fresh lemon balm leaves

It is very simple to make a herbal tea from fresh leaves.  You just take a handful of fresh leaves and pour boiling water over them.  Cover, and allow to infuse for 5-10 minutes.  Strain and pour into your favourite  mug.   If you like sweet tea, then sweeten with honey rather than sugar as that somehow tastes wrong with the subtle flavour of herbs.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm soothes sore stomachs and tea made from the leaves has a pleasant lemony taste.  You can drink it in great quantities. There is no caffeine.

Some garden teas are more than pleasing, they are home-grown medicine.  Sage, for example, is really good for sore throats.  The minute you feel your throat getting sore, nip on out into the garden, pick some fresh sage and steep the leaves for 5 minutes.  Then add some lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey.  This tea works really well.

Well, the lemon balm tea I have just finished making is just about ready for me to enjoy on this rainy afternoon.

Happy gardening!

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Pleasure Gardens

October 28th, 2010

Waddles comes down to help

Long ago the early Romans had pleasure gardens full of fragant herbs.  Today herbs and herb gardens are regaining popularity as many more people realise the almost limitless ways they can be used to enhance our lives.  How wonderful it is to wander out into your back yard and cut some fresh rosemary to cook with your lamb. 

Aloe vera - used for burns bites stings & rashes

Herbs are used in many ways – in cooking, as medicines, to repel household pests, or simply to increase the beauty and pleasure of the garden.  So, herbs are life-enhancing.  Culinary herbs increase the pleasure of cooking and the enjoyment of eating.  Also using fresh herbs in everyday cooking can act as a preventative medicine, ensuring that sufficient amounts of necessary vitamins and minerals are included in the diet.

Lemon Balm -makes a delicious lemon tea

The majority of herbs are easy to grow, even for a beginner, like me.  In fact, some of mine seem to thrive on neglect.  Herbs don’t have to be stuck away in a corner somewhere, they can be scattered among other plants.  They are beautiful as well as practical. 

I began with a few herbs, ones I knew I would use in the kitchen.  I planted them close to the back door because I knew that I would use them more if I didn’t have to go far to get them.  When I ran out of space there, I did the same out near the front door.  The best time for planting is spring and early summer – so right now is a good time to begin your pleasure gardens. 

Happy gardening!

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In the Vege patch

October 25th, 2010

The patch

Early in March this year I planted out my little vege square with, mostly, Broad Beans [Vicia faba].   This high-protein, cool-season bean is an excellent soil improver, and can only be completely enjoyed if your grow your own.  The home grown broad bean is totally unlike the frozen variety you get from the supermarket or even the sad sort of things available fresh at the fresh food section.  You can start eating them fresh from the garden when they are small and tender, when you eat the whole pod, or you can wait, hard to do but worthwhile, until they are larger and you shell them and eat the beans inside.

the black & white flowers of the broad beans

As broad beans prefer slightly alkaline soil, I added a little lime, earlier in the growing season.  Apart from that, they are very easy to grow.  Wind can sometimes be a problem and you need to bang in some stakes and tie them back a bit, to give them some support.  It is very sad to see them lying on the ground after a strong wind.  A very sad sight!  So, it pays to take the time to tie them up to some sort of support.

Rhubarb

Of course, this is the busy time of the year for planting veges and there are many tiny plants or seeds that can go in now.  I shall be putting a few carrot seeds into the ground, perhaps some beetroot, some basil to go with the tomatoes and the tomatoes, of course!

If I can get hold of the seeds I will put in some spagetti melons, I grew them a few years ago and they were wonderful!

Still, all that is planing, what I need to do is to get on out there and do it!

Happy gardening!

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Slowing Down

October 22nd, 2010

Slow gardening, like slow food, is taking the time to savour, it is the process, not the sudden transformation that matters.  When you build a little, dig a bit, plant a little, move slowly and most importantly, don’t try to do it all at once, nature works with you.  Gardening is something you do, not something you buy.  You don’t have to spend money to have a great garden.

If you can find the right plant for the right place your hardest job is done.  The plants do the rest!  Don’t aim for a tropical garden if you live somewhere cold.  Life has enough pressures without bringing them into the garden.  Make compost and leaf piles and let nature look after your waste.  Relax a little, then do a bit more.  Soon you find yourself slowing down and enjoying the process of gardening.

Whatever you end up creating and growing in your garden, it is good to find your own way of doing it, and enjoy the process.  The garden is the one place we do not need to rush. It is a place to slow down and take it all in!  Everyone can grow something.  It can be anything, and when you grow something you become a gardener.

Happy gardening!

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October Plant

October 19th, 2010

Cymbidium Orchid

Orchids are truly beautiful plants to grow and the Cymbidiums are the most widely cultivated of all the orchid types.  They are ideal for pots and grow easily in semi shade.  As with many other plants they are easy to grow if they are in the right spot. 

They like to be kept moist but not wet.  I pour on a very weak solution of worm tea or sea weed every now and then during the growing season.  They seem to like that.  But mostly I leave them alone and every year, around now they give me a wonderful surprise with their absolutely gorgeous flower stems.  Flowers like these are what gardening is all about.

Happy gardening!

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