Early Spring in the Garden: September

Second spring in my vegie patch and another first: a fully formed cabbage.

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What I’ve noticed after three winters in this garden is that nothing much grows in May-July here. So next year I’m definitely going to try using poly tunnels to extend autumn and start spring earlier. Things mope along in winter and take off in spring.

Vegie Patch

At the moment we can harvest cabbage, silverbeet, kale, celery (still! what a winner from last spring’s sowing), a few spring onions, asparagus,  lettuce, purple sprouting broccoli, some herbs (parsley and chervil) and rhubarb.

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If you saw my recent post on asparagus you will know I am pretty excited about how delicious it tastes and how easy it is to grow.

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The kale I planted in autumn grew slowly and then once it started growing, started going to seed. So I think I’ll plant another crop in the next few weeks and see if it lasts until next spring like I’ve read that it should. It still tastes fine to me so I can harvest what’s there. I guess it just won’t grow any more delicious leaves.

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Another first: purple sprouting broccoli. I have no idea about when to harvest the broccoli. Is this too small? It looks like it will flower if I leave it much longer.

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The rhubarb is looking good, although flowering so I suppose that’s slowing down the leaf growth. I should snip those flower stems off today while it’s on my mind.

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Coming along shortly will be a small crop of peas. I have planted peas in autumn for the past few winters and always been repaid with an early (I think?) crop. This year I was lazy and chucked them in with other crops so they have had no trellis or space. I don’t recommend this. A few have found something to climb on and are flowering but generally they look sad. Every year I think to myself – peas need air and space and yet I never really give it to them.

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So I sowed a spring crop all along this make-shift chicken fence:

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But looks like a better crop of broad beans this year. The plants look strong and healthy and are flowering well. Ooooh I’m excited.

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And garlic in a month or two (judging by past years). All six of you who follow my blog will know of my love for home grown garlic. This year I was a little worried it wasn’t growing strongly but things seem to have picked up a bit and it’s mostly looking good. A few varieties are still small and I don’t think will amount to anything….

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When did the artichokes show up last year? I didn’t pick one. This year I’m going to be prepared. There are lots of side-shoots as well as seedlings growing. I’ve read that the seedlings are usually pretty hopeless but that side-shoots are good (as they are clones of the parent).

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Evergreen Fruit Trees

I have a loquat, six feijoas (I like them a lot), three olives, and four citrus (an orange, lemon, lime and mandarin). It looks like I will get a couple of fruit at least from my loquat’s first flowering. Such an unlikely looking fruit to begin with. I only planted this tree (Herd’s Mammoth) in autumn 2015 so I’m surprised to see it fruit so soon. It’s grafted onto quince rootstock so that might explain why. I’m not complaining.

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Most of the citrus look unprepossessing but the washingaton navel orange has been a bit of a star. It grew a lot in autumn and this growth all got burnt off by the frost, but it retained its green colour and otherwise looks healthy and has lots of new shoots emerging.

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Deciduous Fruit Trees

I don’t expect fruit off any of my young deciduous trees this year but it’s interesting to see who does what and when. At the moment two dwarf nectarines are the only trees blossoming:

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My two newly planted quinces and are leafing up:

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And the apples, European plums, peach, pomegranate, fig, and cherry are yet to do much but have swelling buds. This reminds me, I need to do a post on all the fruit trees I planted this year (seven more deciduous trees, and a hedge of feijoas).

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Huon Valley Crab Apple – a large crab apple with fruit that is edible off the tree, and it has lovely red/purple leaves.

Berries

I have four blueberries in pots and one is flowering profusely. The others less so. Last year I neglected and gave up on them. They seem happier this spring for it. Weird.

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Jostaberry bushes are about to leaf up.

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Goji berries are leafing up but I noticed yesterday that the chickens are pecking off the lower leaves! Outrageous. I think I’m going to have to cordon off this garden bed. They’re eating the rhubarb and goji berry leaves and digging right down into the roots of everything. There’s a lot of chicken wire everywhere protecting the roots.

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Pests

Slaters and harelquin bugs are multiplying.

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Garden Design

I know I say my blog is about garden design but its been fairly focused on function so far. Anyway, here is my newest garden bed which is designed to give my garden some design. I wanted to create two rooms, one for the vegies at the front, and something behind that (maybe a food forest? Maybe a mini-orchard) where the chooks can roam.

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I’m planting evergreen, edible hedge along the fence line to form a wall and to give a sense of fullness and so some interest, year-round to the ‘front room’. There are now two quinces behind, and two dwarf European plums in front. The edible hedge, well. I recently found out about something called elaegnus X ebbingei (silverberry), which has berries that someone in a gardening group I’m in described as something like “almost very good”. It is drought hardy, and adds nitrogen to the soil and is easily hedged. So I’m giving it a try.  I have under planted with broccoli and silverbeet in the meantime, with peas along the fence line. I will also add some lavender and chilean guava along the edges, and I have a rosa rugosa (which forms rosehips which you can turn into syrups and jelly) and a strawberry guava tree up the end. I’m also thinking of adding a camellia sinensis (tea camelia) but I’ve already killed one so I’m vacillating a bit.

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Sowing Seeds

Eeek, I am totally failing at this so far. Only a few brassicas have germinated in punnets and I haven’t really been sowing much outdoors (although the onions I sowed in situ in July finally germinated! Remains to be seen whether they will bear onions though…).  I think maybe my experience tells me that seeds in this area need a heated mat in winter. I will try to sow some things this week. I feel like this spring and summer I really need to focus on how to germinate seeds better and more regularly (succession sowing).

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Signing out.

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