August Garden Guide

 

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Spring onion bottoms get a second life, planted in a new Asian veg patch.

Reflections… It’s been a week spent between home in the ‘burbs and visiting the hills… remembering my teens when the frost and fog of the Adelaide Hills were an essential part of winter, missing the lush landscape and wildlife, while simultaneously feeling relieved and grateful as a gardener to have flat ground, fewer pests and weeds and a much warmer winter down here on the plains. Funny how much difference a half-hour drive makes to our local climate.  Continue reading

Posted in Food, hanging out in the garden, herbs, manure, markets, native plants, planning, planting, propagating, raised garden beds, seedlings, seeds, soil, trees, vegetables, winter | Leave a comment

Not the July Garden Guide (or ‘The Ugly Fruit’)

We made it! We’re past the winter solstice and the days are getting longer again. But the good news pretty much ends there, because now the proper cold sets in and only the diehard gardeners are still at it. I’ll get to what you can still plant, but first, a short rant.

Being a lazy gardener – therefore one who is much more inclined towards perennials than annuals – I have a garden that produces a lot more fruit than vegetables. The same is true of my Mum’s garden and many others that I visit. But because most trees produce a lot of fruit all at once, it is all too easy for much of it to get wasted. The great thing about winter is that fruits don’t go off too quickly in the cold (perhaps not quickly enough, if you’re keen to ferment them!) – but they can just slowly turn ugly in the fruit bowl while you’re busy dipping toast in your soup.

So I just want to take a moment to appreciate the ugly fruit, and how well it supports our family.

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It’s not just my photography, these specimens truly are unattractive. Even worse if you had seen their skins all over. The grapefruit is spotty; the mandarin hiding up the back has a scungy top where it was ripped off the tree; the passionfruit has a blackening, gangrenous calyx; the persimmons are dull and crusty-headed (can anyone relate at this time of year?), the kiwi is wrinkling, and the guava, frankly, nearly went into the compost when I discovered its underside was mouldy. You wouldn’t buy fruit like that. Oh, and the pumpkin? It’s been stored on the laundry bench for months, and we’ve been chipping away at it for a couple of meals each week for the past three weeks as well as sharing it with friends – it was that big. (BTW, only two items here came from our own garden, although many others have been flowing out of it – because it’s much easier and friendlier to be cooperative than to be utterly self-sufficient.)

But here’s the silver lining – or should I say the rainbow lining. Continue reading

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June Garden Guide

What a frosty start to winter! Here’s hoping this means good fruit set for all the cool temperate fruit trees this year.
HARVESTING

All sorts of goodies have been turning up around here lately – some seasonal, some surprising – as we swap and share with family and friends. Treats have included quinces, late figs, silk bananas, a few stray passionfruit, astringent persimmons (I’m still waiting weeks later for these to ripen…) and delightfully tender young spinach. The chooks are laying well, so a kind of vego Eggs Benedict has been popular (poached eggs, steamed spinach and blender hollandaise on toast or English muffins). There are a few limes left, and we’re starting to pick mandarins and oranges, while the lemons go all year round.

It’s easy to forget that lettuces and coriander grow so well at this time of year, since we often associate them with summer eating, but throw a few seeds around and you might be surprised at what happens! Self-sown parsley is popping up everywhere between pavers.

PLANTING

The soil has been well watered and is starting to cool down. Here’s a reminder about planting bare-rooted deciduous fruit trees: prepare the hole wider than it is deep, loosen the soil below, and do a drainage test – especially if you’re on clay soil, and even more so if you’re planting trees that are sensitive to wet feet – add gypsum if poor drainage is a problem. Add good compost – but particularly to the backfill soil and around and beyond the drip-line of the tree, where most of the feeder roots will grow.

If you have deciduous trees to be transplanted, use a sharp spade to cut around the rootball, prune the top to keep the tree in balance, and feed with seaweed extract to stimulate new root growth, then transplant it in 6-8 weeks so that it will have its new feeder roots ready to grow in the new position.

Plant locally native trees, shrubs and ground covers, with mulch or weed matting around them, and protect from grazing animals if needed.

Veg to plant this month include artichoke suckers, asparagus crowns, broad beans, carrot seeds, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, kale, leeks, lettuce, peas, radish, rocket, silverbeet, spinach, swede, turnip and watercress, seed potatoes, garlic cloves and strawberry runners.

MAINTENANCE

Compost autumn leaves and old mulch, or throw them to the chooks who can pick out the insects and mix their manure into the carbon-rich materials for faster composting.

Many perennial herbs need a good trim back as they have put on strong growth with the combination of warm soil and May rain. A great opportunity to make a batch of tasty stock to freeze for winter soups, to dry herbs for storage, or to share cuttings.

secateursWinter fruit tree pruning is starting – best when your trees are fully dormant and leafless. Winter pruning stimulates strong spring growth, so it’s great for shaping young trees and for renovating old trees. For mature, productive and modest sized home fruit trees though, I prefer summer pruning just after harvest. Either way, aim for the start of a long fine break so that the cuts can dry out well. Home pruning tutorials are available.

pet pics adelaide (1).pngNADJA’S GARDEN NEWS diego&mali

Custom Pet Portraits are now available to order – follow the Pet Pics Adelaide facebook page.

A great pruning morning was held in the sunshine at Brighton Primary School on June 3rd, with a small team sharing pruning knowledge and hands-on skills and getting stuck into the fruit trees in the produce garden. The fresh mandarins were delicious too!

Organic Corner Store market – our last market date before we take a July break… details below.

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Posted in courses, Food, fruit, hanging out in the garden, maintenance, markets, planning, planting, propagating, pruning, trees, vegetables, winter | Leave a comment

5-minute recipe: Passionfruit Coconut Muffins

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What do you do when your passionfruit finally ripen and the season for fruit salads and pavlovas is decidedly over? The only thing to do when you have five minutes for cooking: make muffins. This recipe is moist, tangy, moreish, and hypothetically lunchboxable if there are any left by tomorrow morning. Makes 12 small muffins. Continue reading

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May Garden Guide

DSC_6576So much for the dry start to autumn – I think we’ve caught up with our rain allocation! What a lovely time for planting, with the soil still warm enough for strong growth too.

There are a lot of bugs around though – whitefly, aphids and cabbage moth caterpillars have been causing their share of damage around Adelaide, and the prospect of a mouse plague on Yorke Peninsula doesn’t fill me with delight either. Nature sees the opportunity in abundant resources, delivering extra spiders to our garden to catch the bugs. Small native birds, nesting in prickly native shrubs, will also feast on sap-sucking insects, as will ladybirds, unless the crops have been sprayed with insecticides – chemical or natural. But mice are followed by snakes and cats, both of which also eat small birds and their eggs. For this reason I’m keeping the compost well stirred to reduce its appeal as a nesting spot, clearing out clutter wherever possible, and ensuring that the chook feed is inaccessible overnight. Continue reading

Posted in autumn, chooks, compost, Food, hanging out in the garden, maintenance, pests, planting, vegetables, vertical gardens, wildlife | 1 Comment

April Garden Guide

As expected, March this year was far drier than average in Adelaide and a couple of degrees warmer than usual, both by day and by night, setting the scene for a warmer and drier than usual autumn and perhaps even winter. It’s lovely weather for being out in the garden, but it’s not quite what our usual crops and planting calendars are adapted to! While the Barossa Valley received a sudden drenching early in the month, here in the city we just looked on in wonder as all the water sailed on by.

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The thundercloud that stopped a city – source: ABC

Below you can see a bit of what’s happening around here. (May I emphasise that these are the relatively tidy bits of the garden and that there are plenty of works in progress – not quite enough progress, usually!)  Pomegranates are just reaching ripeness – ours are edible now but the arils will keep darkening over the next month or two and the flavour will deepen. I usually smash into them with a cleaver and then pick the segments apart in a bowl of water to avoid getting juice everywhere. As a bonus, the bitter yellow pith tends to float, making it easy to scoop off. Continue reading

Posted in autumn, fertiliser, Food, food storage, fruit, hanging out in the garden, herbs, maintenance, manure, native plants, planning, planting, propagating, raised garden beds, seedlings, seeds, soil, storms, vegetables | 1 Comment

March Garden Guide

Dry summer heat has finally caught up with us. While deep-rooted trees are doing fine, some of the vegetables around here are starting to look pretty ratty after having been spoiled with frequent watering most of their lives. Speaking of ratty, those furry pests have followed the generous fruit crops this summer and are becoming a problem in many places. Best to deal with them before they settle in and multiply, by clearing up overgrown areas that provide nesting ground and disturbing their favourite highways (along fences and walls, behind stacks of wood etc.)

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Baby pumpkin on trellis

Pumpkins have rambled for miles before setting fruit, some of which now hang in inconvenient places (you know, the top of the pomegranate tree, or the neighbour’s carport…). It’s a job worth getting the garden gloves on for… untangle, unwind and relocate that overgrowth so that the pumpkins can keep growing somewhere with enough support, where they won’t get stuck between other objects as they grow, won’t sit in a puddle when it (eventually) rains again, and where they can’t wrestle precious plants and young trees to the ground with their burgeoning weight. Then trim off excess growth beyond the pumpkins. Same for melons. And give them a good drink. Continue reading

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