You know the warmer weather is approaching when you start planting your tomato seeds. Here in Canberra, we have to start our tomatoes under cover, transplanting out after the last frost in late October or early November.
So today I put some seeds in pots for both tomatoes and basil (the two just have to go together!). I've recorded below the characteristics of the tomatoes, as best I know them from seed packets and other information. I'm going to see how the crop goes and compare it to the information supplied. Hopefully, we'll have lots of salad and cooking/bottling/paste/sauce tomatoes this season. I'm going to rely on self-seeding for the cherry tomatoes and yellow egg tomatoes...
The basil varieties I planted are: Lettuce leaf; Small leaf, ball-shaped; Classic Italian; Holy Basil and Thai Basil.
I'll keep you posted on their progress over summer.
After seeing Molly's post on soapnuts, I decided to buy some - I got mine from Eaternal. The service was terrific and the soapnuts arrived in a couple of days after ordering.
Today I did my first big wash with the soapnuts and they are absolutely fabulous! Everything came out clean and bright and the wash water went out on to the garden. I did my usual trick of saving and re-using the "suds", which further reduced the amount of water needed.
This morning we also worked out a plan to convert our raised garden beds into wicking beds, so hopefully we'll start work on that next weekend. By using the washing water to recharge the wicking beds each week, we're sure to be saving on water this summer.
Out in the garden today, I completely weeded my long herb bed and planted some of the new arrivals. Others are inside awaiting the last frost. I'll post some pictures when they grow up a bit; at the moment, it is hard to distinguish the herbs from lucerne mulch!
While weeding the bed, I also found a couple of parsnips missed last autmun. No problem, they'll make a great addition to the roast vegies we're having for dinner tonight :).
Talking to my neighbour this morning, who was also out in his vegie patch, I was delighted to hear that he had a better than usual crop of pumpkins last autumn, which he attributed to having the bees nearby. I too had noticed an increase in production, but it's really nice to have it confirmed. Our dear bee friends are proving to be very popular. Can't wait to get more.
We arrived home from the food co-op* this evening to find a fruit box full of plants awaiting us at the front door - it was my first herb order from All Rare Herbs.
Everything arrived in good condition and was solidly packed so that nothing had spilt or been damaged.
Included in the order were:
Golden Alpine Strawberry
Ammi visagna (seeds)
American Wild Yam
Woad (I'm dyeing to try this when it grows up! :))
Also this week, my first seed order from The Italian Gardener turned up. Everything was well packed and the photos on the packets have me drooling and keen to get growing, even though some of them will have to be raised under cover to protect them from any late frosts.
I'm in plantaholic heaven and there's not much chance of anyone keeping me out of the garden this weekend....
.... although, I must confess that I'm going to visit the bee man on Saturday morning to get a spare hive box, just in case the bees decide to swarm in the next few weeks. Also, I'm going to check out about getting another nucleus hive and am keen to get a proper protective bee suit (my white pyjama pants aren't really that suitable LOL!).
I'm also toying with the idea of a smoker, but it seems a bit cruel to smoke the bees and so far they've been pretty mild-mannered. Has anyone got any experience with this? I'd love some thoughts on the practicality and ethics of smoking the bees.
*The food co-op we go to is the ANU Food Co-op. For anyone living in Canberra interested in organic food, with deliveries of fresh produce twice a week, I highly recommend it. They also have a wide range of bulk flours, grains, cereals, dried fruits, nuts, fair trade chocolate, eggs, milks, breads and grocery items. You take your own containers and bags and so help to reduce the wastage of excess packaging associated with our food. There are discounts for members and workers, which make the products very affordable.
This morning, when I should have been finishing my presentation for tomorrow morning's class, I escaped into the garden. It was simply too beautiful a day to be cooped up inside staring at a computer screen.
And there was the rest of the strawberries to plant. These runners have been languishing in a dilute solution of seaweed extract for about six weeks now. They've been outside under the mega kale leaves, so they've been aclimatised. They've survived remarkably well and are now happily nestled in the beginnings of our food forest.
I planted and mulched to the accompaniment of bees buzzing, blue wrens singing and magpies carolling. It was simply divine.
So here's a couple more pictures of our fledgling food forest. The stepping stones are four pavers placed closely enough so that we don't have to stand on any plants. But in between the trees and the pavers will be solidly planted.
I've sprinkled lemon balm and borage seeds in between the strawberry runners. These will provide food for the bees, as well as herbs for me.
Elsewhere in the garden, the rocket, the broccoli and some Chinese cabbages are in flower, adding a little variety to the bees' current feast on plum, nectarine and peach blossom.
1 October 9:27am to 3 October 7:21pm: Plant fruiting annuals, apply foliar/soluble fertilisers, prune to stimulate growth
4 October 5:10pm: Full Moon 6 October 3:34am to 8 October 8:48am: Plant root vegetables and perennials, apply solid organic fertilisers, prune to retard growth 10 October 12:49pm to 11 October 7:57am: Plant root vegetables and perennials, apply solid organic fertilisers, prune to retard growth
11 October 7:57pm: Last Quarter 12 October 4:05pm to 16 October 9:30pm: Weed, dig over ground, make compost 16 October 9:30pm to 18 October 4:34am: Prune to retard growth, fertilise with solid organic fertilisers
18 October 4:34pm: New Moon 19 October 4:34am to 21 October 7:50am: Plant leafy annuals, apply foliar/soluble fertilisers, prune to stimulate growth 23 October 5:40pm to 25 October 11:45pm: Plant leafy annuals, apply foliar/soluble fertilisers, prune to stimulate growth
26 October 11:45am: First Quarter 28 October 6:46pm to 31 October 4:57am: Plant fruiting annuals, apply foliar/soluble fertilisers, prune to stimulate growth
Note: all times are shown in Australian Eastern Standard Time.
These times are taken from 2009 Astrological Calendar and Moon Planting Guide by Thomas Zimmer. It is available from alternative bookstores and environmental product merchandisers.
Rainfall at Our Place
24 hours to early morning:
Total September 2009 = 85.0mm
Total August 2009 = 34.0mm
Total July 2009 = 48.5mm
Total June 2009 = 38.5mm
Total May 2009 = 3.0mm
Total April 2009 = 81.5mm
Total March 2009 = 4.0mm
Total February 2009 = 8.5mm
Total January 2009 = 59.0mm
Today I Planted
16/9 Endive and Lettuce mix
16/9 Lettuce - Romaine
16/9 Potato - Dutch Cream
16/9 Potato - Pink Fir Apple
16/9 Potato - Royal Blue
16/9 Potato - Ruby Lou
15/9 Dwarf Pea - Greenfeast or Early Massey (saved seed)
I'm 40 something, working towards my naturopathy qualification, while juggling work and home life (partner, two step children (humans) and two fur children (cats)). Passionate about garden and self-sufficiency, sustainable living and health and well-being. Spare time - I like to cook, quilt, knit, watch movies.