It’s been another month of working almost every weekend, which has meant very little time in the garden. That’s rough at this time of year, when every day seems to call out to me to spend time in the veggie patch.
This weekend, for my sanity and for the sake of my garden, I closed the computer and stepped out into the sunshine. It was lovely.
Also, very needed. The veggie patch was a bit of a mess, frankly. I had been quickly chopping off the broccoli heads when they were ready, and leaving the plants to produce side shoots, but they were also done. The garden was half full of spent broccoli plants and kale bolting to seed. The kale was a variety I bought in Tasmania at the start of the year, and it did not like our warmer Winter – the leaves were almost leathery, and we did not eat much of it. I’ll stick to the Mediterranean kales like Cavolo Nero next season.
After cleaning out the chicken coop, I pulled out all the spent plants and dug over the beds. Just that one task made the whole patch look so much better.
After digging over, I mulched with pea straw. I planted out the first eggplant of the season (Slim Jim – heirloom), and some cool pumpkins called Wrinkled Butternut.
The Obelisk (not the Asterix)
On a whim last week I bought a finial, which I used to build an obelisk. A finial is a funky cast iron topper used to build a frame (the obelisk, kinda) for climbing plants – in this case, it will be climbing beans. My husband drilled it all together for me, and I installed it and expertly tied the twine 🙂
Behind it is another trellis. Beans will grow up that as well. This year I have planted Violet Queen, Kentucky Wonder, and Scarlet Runner. I have decided that this year I will pick many a bean.
I spent a few hours pricking out tomatoes and tomatillos from the seed troughs and into pots, to harden off ready for the garden. I haven’t grown tomatillos for well over a decade. My memory is they grow like the clappers, but hindsight can be 20/20. We will see how they grow in this veggie patch. Tomatillos, or husk tomatoes, make delicious salsa when roasted.
I also planted up yet more chillies. If all the chillies come off this year, we will be swimming in them. I already have 13 in pots in the greenhouse, and dozens coming on in the seed troughs. My plan this year is to make as much chilli pickle as I can, so there is method in my madness. Mwahahahahahaha.
What to do in the garden with the time you have this week
If, like me, you have minimal time, here’s some suggestions for what to do with it:
If you have an hour: feed your fruit trees!
They are awake now after their Winter dormancy, and like us when we wake up, they want food. Give all your fruit trees some specialist organic fruit tree fertiliser, and water in well.
If you have 2-3 hours: mulch!
This season is expected to be one of the hottest and driest Springs ever. The best thing you can do if you have some spare time in the garden is mulch the soil and retain the moisture of the Winter weather, before it heats up. I like sugar cane mulch, as it’s sustainable and breaks down slowly, but use any mulch you prefer. Just do it.
If you have 4-5 hours: feed everything, and start planting!
All plants need a feed at this time of year. I use organic liquid fertiliser, diluted well if the plants are seedlings, and stronger if the plants are established. Everything is hungry and wants a feed right now, so if you have time, wander around with your watering can and feed it all. Your plants will thank you. It takes time though! I’m always amazed at how long feeding all my plant babies can take.
I’m also trying to take advantage of the warm Spring weather to plant as much as I can right now. With the soil warming up and the longer sunny days, now is the time to plant fast-growing Spring crops, flowers, and start seeds for Summer. I have basil, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, eggplant, capsicum, eggplant, chillies, tomatoes, watermelons, squash, and multiple types of pumpkin and zucchini in the greenhouse and the garden. As each plant is large enough to be potted on, new seeds take their place. And if you don’t have time, space, or interest to grow seeds, plant seedlings. Get the plants established before the really hot weather hits.