Gardening jobs – Week beginning 23rd April, 2018

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This odd Autumn weather is continuing, with warm days punctuated by brief storms. I am still picking eggplant, capsicum, and tomatoes almost as much as I was in the heat of the Summer. While I am happy to have this abundance of Summer vegetables, it is now almost May and it seems strange to be still picking eggplant right now.

One of my eggplant bushes has grown so large and has been so prolific it deserves a name. It spans about a metre across and at the moment has about ten fruit still on it (it is actually impossible to capture the full plant and all its fruit in one photo). I am hoping it will over-winter and I can keep it for next Summer. I have named it Audrey II.

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We picked 13 kilograms of pumpkins this week. I used one pumpkin to make a big batch of pumpkin soup, and put the rest in the pantry to store. We have quite a few more Butternuts and Kent pumpkins still growing on our vines, including this one just hanging around. We will wait for them to get bigger before picking them, although we could pick them at any time if we wanted to (they would just not have as rich a flavour and colour). This has been my most successful year with pumpkins. All we have done is water them. I have just let them do their thing, and they have rewarded us with about 25 kilograms of delicious pumpkin goodness so far. Considering most of the vines have popped up from the compost of their own accord, I would say they have been a great deal for the garden space they take up.

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I have had a lovely week off work, and spent quite a bit of it out in the garden (of course). Much of it was spent doing the boring tasks that have to be done this time of year: weeding, feeding, and watering.

On Monday, I spent a pleasant afternoon potting up some plants that have been waiting for me to have a spare minute, including a beautiful Cinnamon Myrtle that I bought from the Diggers Club a couple of weeks ago. This is a gorgeous cinnamon scented native shrub that can be used in herbal teas. Later I will plant it into the garden and hopefully it will attract native bees. For now, I have potted it into a large terracotta tub. I also potted up dark purple violas into a large ceramic bowl and into window boxes now hanging on our balcony.

A few weeks ago we planted up our Autumn/Winter garden beds, and while our seedlings all germinated, so did a whole lot of weed seeds. My husband and I spent a couple of hours this week weeding out grass and other annoying weeds from in between the baby plants. Now our seedlings can grow unimpeded.

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Garlic, red and gold beetroot, and rocket seedlings
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Dwarf snow pea seedlings (front); Purple podded pea seedlings (back)
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Broad bean (Crimson flowering) seedlings

After the boring part of weeding, I turned the compost, retrieving a couple of barrow loads of fresh compost for the garden, and my husband moved a raised garden bed from the front garden to the back. Thanks to my parents’ chooks, I was able to refresh the compost bin with manure and straw, and I can see that in about six weeks I will have a nice batch of compost to feed the rhubarb. Rhubarb is a very hungry plant and my six rhubarb plants will be ready for a good compost feeding by then.

We placed the new compost in the bed and planted some new seeds in the garden and in the raised bed:

  • Asian greens: Tatsoi, Pak Choy, and Shungiku;
  • Cauliflower: Purple Cape and Purple Sicilian;
  • Kale Red Russian;
  • Cabbage Mini Drum;
  • Broad bean Aquadulce;
  • Snow pea Dwarf.

I have planted quite a lot of peas and broad beans this year, mostly to fill in some spaces that would otherwise lie fallow, and also because these plants are nitrogen fixers. Some people do not like broad beans, but if they are picked nice and young they are really delicious. The peas I expect my children will eat before they ever reach the kitchen.

I have planted many types of Asian greens because my eldest daughter loves Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese food. She chose the Shungiku (also known as Chop Suey Greens) seeds and asked me to grow them for her. I have never tried them before, but like all Asian vegetables I am sure they will be fast and easy to grow.

I also planted Daffodils Erlicheer in the front yard, and had the joy of noticing the return of last year’s Spiraxis, Yellow Crocus, and Ranunculus. We are still waiting hopefully for the return of one of my favourite flowering bulbs of all time, the Pickwick Crocus. I remember where I planted it last year and can’t see any sign yet, but perhaps in a few weeks they will pop their heads up. Crocuses grow for only a short time but are so beautiful that it is worth growing them for the brief splash of beauty in the garden.

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Crocus ‘Pickwick’ – please come back!

I have one last packet of Ranunculus to plant out – that will be a job for tomorrow, along with a great deal of weeding in the front yard, which has been sadly neglected of late.

And then, back to work and the real world of 9-5 and part-time gardening.

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