Sunday, July 21, 2013

I'm no Costa Georgiadis or even Jerry Coleby-Williams

I'm no Costa Georgiadis or even Jerry Coleby-Williams.  I'm not even close to being a Jane Edmanson or a Sophie Thomson. Nor even a Pip Courtney,  but I do love to tinker in the veggie patch.  What started a few years ago with one 1200x900x300mm raised bed has become a bit of an obsession with 6 beds full to bursting with the freshest of veggies imaginable!   In the height of summer I have so much produce I give it away to family, neighbours and friends.  Now in the thick of winter I struggle to get enough out of it at all.  But that's not a bad thing. Winter is when I replenish the soil and build up the worm population.

I am trialling a 6 bed rotation system this year.  No two crops from the same family in a row.  Alternating root crops with leaf crops season by season yet still attempting to adhere to the principals of companion planting.  I don't use any insecticides or pestacides. I do make my own compost and I do use a mix of crushed up fish guts and seaweed as a deterrent to the white cabbage moth, but otherwise I hand pick pests off leaves and hope for good rainfall, sunny days and strong growth.  Season dependant I use chillies and marigolds to discourage bugs.  Fortunately the local possum population is not fond of broccoli or radish, so they leave me alone.

I've done a little experimenting too this season.  I planted spring onion seeds into a mini greenhouse and let them establish.  I transferred  them into a bed after a few weeks.   That same day they were planted I directly sewed seeds from the same packet into another bed and 10 weeks on the direct sewn spring onions are thriving.  The greenhouse crop, whilst older, is far less advanced.  Whooda thunkit!  So for spring onions at least I will buy seeds now, not punnets. Seeds are HEAPS cheaper and are always on hand so  I can zip out and plant a few rows instead of driving to the nursery and grabbing a punnet THEN planting!  Over time I will test that theory further with other veggies too.  

So with my 6 beds full or replenishing before a spring crop I needed to either buy more beds and get another truckload of soil delivered  OR acquire more space by other methods.  I'd like to increase the variety of plants I grow and so some extra beds are essential. The backyard here is massive, but massively overgrown.  It is just your classic quarter acre block, but I have left one area wild for native birds and animals.  Side beds are overgrown and have poor soil with neighbouring trees sucking the life blood out of them and being a mass of twisted tree roots.  The large lawn section is where I have placed the 6 beds I already have, but that still leaves me with masses of lawn to mow and realistically I could put another 6 beds in........  but then it wouldn't really look much like a backyard anymore!!  So in my quest for more space  I have acquired the use of a long narrow disused veggie bed that is divided into four smaller spaces at my sister home, just up the road.

That bed is in really poor condition!  Some worms, but a tangled mat of roots in the soil that will take me some time to clean out and build up.  I tackled one part of it yesterday and got it cleaned out and I planted spring onions to get something in!   Then I bought some blood and bone and lucern mulch.  Today I spent a couple of hours digging out what weeds and roots I could then treated the whole bed with blood and bone.  I covered two beds with lucern mulch and gave it all a good water.  I then planted garlic in the corner of the spring onion bed and tomatoes and capsicum in the far end of the bed.  The one remaining plant from last year is a rhubarb so it got a hit of blood and bone and a good water too.  It may well flourish again.

So what is a blog without images.  Heres some of the garden...... or should I say gardens!!!

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