Just when I ought to have been getting my spring planting organised, I’ve been preoccupied with heading off for permaculture training – more on that later!
Raised garden beds have had a quick sprinkle of seeds for a few more leafy greens before they get warm enough for the solanum vegies. The white cabbage butterflies that seemed to have gone on holidays are back as if they just know. So vege-nets will need to go back on to protect those babies. Potato plants are really firing now – almost too fast for the woolly bear caterpillars, but it’s still worth catching and squishing them as they are such voracious eaters. I’ve just planted asparagus crowns, as deep as possible in a wicking bed, with their tentacles spread over little mounds of soil at the bottom and lots of compost and some chook manure mixed into the backfill soil to get them started. I’ll much with seaweed for both trace elements and a touch of salt, since they are partial to a little seasoning. Red Russian kale is making marvellous kale chips – this plant was self-sown, is remarkably caterpillar-resistant, and has provided protection for the early volunteer tomatoes – but the more hooked I get on those kale chips, the more kale I wish I had planted!
[Recipe: tear up clean, dry kale leaves into ‘chip’ sized pieces, toss them in a splash of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, spread out in a single layer on oven trays and bake about 5-10 min on 125C till just crispy. Sensational!]
And now it’s time to get organised for all those wonderful vegies to grow over spring and summer. Some, like beans, corn, zucchini, melons, gourds and pumpkin, would prefer to wait until the ground is warm enough for sowing directly in the soil. While you wait, sow beetroot, carrot, chicory, chives, coriander, corn salad, radishes, dill, endive, fennel, artichokes, kohlrabi, mustard greens, lettuces, parsnips, parsley, potatoes, rhubarb, rocket, silverbeet and its friends rainbow & ruby chard, snow peas, spring onions and turnips.
If you have any time and energy left after that lot, clean out some punnets or trays and sow seed under cover for basil, broccoli, cabbage, capsicum & chillies, celery & celeriac, eggplant, leeks, NZ spinach (Warrigal greens), tomato & tomatillo.
Self-sown sweet peas are now halfway up the fence and flowering. These are not only beautifully colourful and fragrant, but they make terrific pea straw mulch in summer when they’re finished. They pop up in many other parts of the garden these days – I either pull them up and transplant them to the fences or nip them off when I’m ready to use them as mulch, leaving the roots in the ground for nitrogen.
Compost worms are feeling spring coming on… it’s either that or the tons of coffee grounds in their diet, but they are having a breeding frenzy. Not only in worm farms but in Mum’s many compost bins. Chooks that have been off the lay should get back to work shortly (especially if they get hold of some of those worms!), and wild birds are busy gathering materials for their nests too.
Planted a beautiful multi-grafted cherry tree (Stella and Lapins) – an optimistic whim in the face of our ever-warming seasons, but one tempered with a little low-chill tolerance. And transplanted a couple of pear trees (20th Century nashi and Corella), again relatively tolerant of the warmth here.
Many stone fruit growers will be spraying now (at or just before bud burst) with various copper compounds to help prevent or reduce incidence of leaf curl. Of the most common treatments – copper oxychloride, cupric hydroxide and Bordeaux mixture – only the latter two are acceptable within organic systems and all may have harmful effects on bees, soil and worms. To reduce adverse impacts, spray when the weather is still and before blossoms have opened, and lay down ground sheets to reduce infiltration into the soil. Also maximise sun access and ventilation around trees and water strategically (e.g. drippers under mulch) to reduce lingering humidity during the growing season. Many choose not to spray and find that their trees still bear well in spite of leaf curl.
Invasive grasses have gone nuts here again… a reminder to plant out the gaps amongst the native ground covers (e.g. strike some cuttings from the creeping boobialla next autumn) and to slash and re-mulch over the grasses before they set seed!
I’ve been off over the horizon to NSW for some great permie upskilling with Milkwood’s Nick Ritar & Rosemary Morrow….relished the varied landscapes along the way, camping, sharing with and learning from a very skilled and experienced batch of fellow students from many states and diverse backgrounds. And it turned out that when the forecast says rain over there, it really does rain!!
Since returning, we have held a very successful Home Beekeeping presentation at Enliven Cafe in Brighton.
Diary dates coming up:
Saturday 20th September – Home Grown Hand Sewn market at Bellevue Heights Primary school – catch Nadja’s Garden stall here 9am-3pm with fresh seeds for spring, Pip permaculture magazine and more…
Thursday 25th September – regular stall at Organic Corner Store Glenelg North 9am-1pm
Saturday 27th September – Seed Freedom Food Festival at the Market Shed on Holland in the city, 10am-4pm – join me for an Urban Permaculture workshop, along with many other workshops and speakers. Video address by Dr Vandana Shiva, appearance by Jude and Michel Fanton (Seed Savers network) and much more… gold coin entry. Oh yeah, the AFL grand final is on too apparently…
Sunday 5th October – Basic Home Irrigation workshop at Warradale – email firstname.lastname@example.org to book. 2-4pm, $25 including printed notes and hands-on practice.