Gardening jobs, Week beginning 15 September 2019

Apricot blossom

Spring – my favourite season of all – has finally arrived, and my garden has suddenly shifted from cold weather sulks to blooming, all in the space of a week.

I have not posted in a while because there has literally been nothing to post about. It has been cold (I hate the cold), wet (I appreciate the rain, but I am not someone who will run outside in it), and I have had surgery on my foot. That has taken a while to heal to the point that it is safe for me to start digging in the dirt again.

That time is now, just in time for Spring planting and for wandering around my garden looking at all the bulbs, trees, and shrubs that have decided to blossom all at once. I’m loving it.

Double pink lavender

In Autumn I gave our lavender bushes a gentle prune. Actually, I hacked them viciously with my hedge trimmers and hoped for the best. They have all come back into bloom looking better than ever. I have multiple varieties of lavender in my garden, from plain old English lavender, to the fancy schmancy double pink, white and strawberry coloured breeds that I forget the name of.

Strawberry lavender

The odd thing about all the lavenders I grow is that after a season, they begin to naturalise, and I now have about twenty lavender bushes in my yard. Now if I see a lavender seedling, I either give it away to a friend or neighbour, or I have to pull it up and toss it in the green bin. I don’t want my entire garden to be lavender bushes. I assume other people have this problem, but when I have spoken to other gardeners, they have not experienced it. I think that my particular aspect, on a west-facing hillside that has full sun most of the day, is just a happy place for lavender. Herbs in general grow well here and naturalise. I am always yanking out surprise rosemary, thyme, parsley, oregano, and other herbs that have popped up in odd spots. While I don’t mind some extras, they will take over if I am not vigilant.

Red double ranunculus
White Dutch Iris

The daffodils are almost finished, but Dutch Irises, Anenomes, Ranunculus, Star Flowers, Freesias, Harlequin Flowers, Violet Sparaxis, and Snowflakes have arrived. The Harlequin Flowers are now naturalised in the garden and in the lawn on one side, and their cousins the Violet Sparaxis are back for a second year. I am very excited to see the Dutch Iris (our first planting of these beauties this year), and our second planting of giant Daffodils and smaller white Jonquils offered a beautiful display at the end of Winter. Next year I am going to plant even more bulbs so that the Spring garden looks like a carnival exploded. Some gardeners and landscapers have rules about what colour flowers and plants you should match with others to make your garden ‘harmonious.’

Not me. I am all about all the garden equivalent of a Ramones gig.

Seed Planting for Summer Veggies

Last year it could well be argued that our Summer veggie patch was…pretty sad. Partly, it was the weather. Our part of Australia experienced the hottest and driest Summer on record. Even usually reliable crops like zucchini, chillies, and eggplant didn’t fruit, or shrivelled up in the heat before they got the chance. The only really excellent crop we had was pumpkins. So many pumpkins! We literally ate the last bit of last year’s pumpkins just this week.

Partly, though, it was a lack of organisation on my part. I was determined to grow everything from seed, and I planted many of those seeds too late to achieve the kind of crop I wanted. I definitely started my tomato seeds too late, and they really had no chance.

This year, I have started early. I purchased some seedlings, and have planted out some seeds in seedling trays to give them a head start. The plan is that by October, I will have well grown plants ready to go out into warm soil. At the moment I still have Winter veggies in the plot, so there is nowhere for any Summer veggies to go anyway, but it is also still too cold.

The seedlings I purchased (on an excelled two for five bucks sale) were:

  • Tomato Red Truss
  • Tomato Sweet Bite
  • Eggplant Bonica
  • Capsicum Sweet Mama
  • Chilli Jalapeno
  • Squash Yellow Ruffles
  • These were all planted on into larger pots in a coir seedling mix to harden off.
  • In seedling trays I planted:
    • Tomato San Marzano
      Tomato Moneymaker
      Eggplant Listada Di Grandia
      Cucumber Marketmore
      Watermelon Sugarbaby
      Zucchini Golden
      Zucchini Romanesco
      Zucchini Lebanese
      Basil Lettuce Leaf

    Some of these are going to be my final attempts at these particular varieties: Eggplant Listanda Di Grandia, Tomato San Marzano, Cucumber Marketmore, and Pumpkin Lakota. If these are unsuccessful this year, I will not try them again. It is likely they are not suited to my conditions, as with the exception of cucumbers, I have had no trouble growing other pumpkins, eggplant or tomatoes. I have a love-hate relationship with cucumbers: I’d love to be able to grow them, they hate me. I’ll try one more year and then I quit.

    I am also planning to grow Tomato Jaune Flamme, Chilli Anaheim, Chilli Devil’s Tongue, Basil Cinnamon, Pumpkin Australian Butter, and several varieties of sweet corn, chillies, and beans. I love beans and can’t wait to grow them every year.

    Sadly, I will not have much more room for anything else. We have planted asparagus, raspberries, grapes, strawberries, rhubarb, boysenberries and an avocado tree in the backyard, and are about to instal chickens. All of these take up valuable real estate. It is likely that many of the tomatoes and capsicums will have to be grown in pots this year.

    What are you planning to plant for Spring and Summer? Do you prefer to grow ornamentals or are you excited to grow some Summer veggies for your kitchen?

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