Weekend gardening jobs, 18th November 2023

Baby Quince

It was a stunning morning in the garden today – lovely and warm, sunny, and not too hot. I had exactly two hours to spend in the garden before a family event, so I spent time feeding the pots in the greenhouse with liquid fertiliser and planting out more of the seemingly endless capsicum seedlings I have grown from seed. I also sprinkled organic snail pellets around the patch. This is the first year I have ever had much of a problem with snails. Usually, a bit of snail damage does not bother me, but they have been really having a go on new seedlings. A new organic iron-based pellet has been released on the market. It’s not harmful to other critters, and breaks down to harmless iron in the soil.

I have also been diligent keeping up with the mulch in my front and back gardens. Organic mulch decomposes over time. I topped up the bare patches that have broken down since the start of Spring with chopped sugar cane mulch. Keeping up the mulch is critical at this time of year as the weather warms up and because it has been incredibly dry all Spring. According to the long range weather forecast broadcast on ABC radio last week, the dry weather will continue for the rest of Spring. This is not good news for we gardeners, especially those of us that do not have a rainwater tank. I have been watering my garden since September, as we have a lot of fruit trees that need regular water through blossoming and fruit set. Mulch is necessary to maintain all that good work and save water.

I threw a couple of handsful of fertiliser under each fruit tree – in the Summer growing season I try to do this each month.

Walking around the garden mulching, hand weeding, and feeding, I can keep an eye on changes in the garden.

This week I noticed baby quinces growing (above – so exciting), the Violet Queen beans have started to flower (so pretty), and I picked two Pepinos and four cucumbers already! Cukes are my garden white whale – I think I built the greenhouse just so I could successfully grow cucumbers.

Violet Queen bean flowers

I’m also happy to see that the squash and pumpkin plants I planted about six weeks ago (probably too early, tbh) have almost all survived the snail onslaught and are starting to put on some lovely new growth. I usually have good success with pumpkins and limited success with squash (the mysteries of life!) but I really hope this year that I do well with both – I love steamed summer squash with butter or olive oil and a little salt. I could eat just a big old plateful of them for dinner and be very happy! The squash plants look as good as I have ever managed, so fingers crossed!

Capsicums (Sweet Peppers)

Last year’s capsicums

This year I am growing a lot of capsicums (in the US, known as sweet peppers). I am mostly growing the long Italian-style capsicums, used primarily for frying and cooking, rather than the salad-style capsicums (although I am growing one sweet salad variety, Sweet Chocolate, which I like because it grows a lovely dark brown when ripe).

I personally find capsicum really easy to grow from seed, and more fun because you have access to more interesting varieties than the standard Californian Wonder you can buy from nurseries. However, I do have a greenhouse, so that does make it easier to grow them from seed.

If you do want to try it, use seed-raising mix in trays (I like the Yates seed-raising mix best – but it is pricey – and I also think the Seasol brand is good), and plant as many seeds as you think you will need, plus a few extra. Water well and keep damp until seedlings emerge. Keep the seedlings going with a weak liquid feed every week or so, and then when they are about half as tall as your iPhone, prick them out gently and replant them into pots to harden off. Keep them watered and fed weekly until you are ready to plant them out into the garden – or you can grown them in larger pots. They will be happy in pots throughout the growing season. Just make sure to grow them in a warm, sunny spot and keep them well fed.

For chillies – just do the same! I find chillies fruit earlier and more prolifically than capsicums though, so don’t be surprised if you find you have chillies well before your capsicums have even flowered – they are related, but chillies seem to have started their run before capsicums have tied their shoelaces.

What to do in the garden with the time you have this week

I am flat out this week! It’s deadline time for the next two weeks – so I will barely have any time in the garden – as with today, I will be carving out a set period to spend in the garden, and that will be that.

If you are like me, and time-strapped, here are some suggestions for what to do in the garden this week with limited time.

If you have an hour

Plant some seeds for Christmas giving, or pot up some seedlings ready for Christmas giving. It may almost be too late to plant seeds ready for Christmas, but you could have time, depending on what you are planting. I have had some plants growing from seed for quite a while with certain people in mind, ready for Christmas giving. I also have had some growing from cuttings. They are almost ready to pot on for giving in four weeks. I am keeping an eye out for a lovely pot to give the plant. Caveat: I love to receive plants, but I also understand that not everyone does! I have chosen these plants and the receiver carefully, based on what I know they will enjoy.

If you have 2-3 hours

Feed and water – but keep an eye on the weather. You should not liquid feed your plants if the temperature will exceed 25 degrees C, as it can burn your plants. Choose a cooler day, and a liquid fertiliser for your plant type (there are many different types on the market, including organic). It can take some time, which is why I do it on a weekend when I have a little more time to go back and forth with my two 9L watering cans. I find it is a great way to get up and personal with your plants.

If you have 4-5 hours

Then you are living the dream! If it was me, this week, I would be deadheading roses and other flowering bushes to keep the flowering flush going, hand-weeding, mulching, and choosing some showstopper pots and plants for a front door and patio Christmas display.

Unfortunately, I don’t have that time this week – but hoping to carve some out in a couple of weeks to do these jobs!

Have a great week!

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