My vege garden has taken a backseat to raising our new baby over the last few months. However, a couple of hours clearing out the overgrowth and preparing my beds for autumn has renewed my interest and provided much needed motivation to make time again for my green thumb.
Growing for our kitchen and pantry is so rewarding, as is seeing the joy on my son’s face when he spends time with me enjoying the sights, sounds and sensations of the great outdoors. Who knew the rustling leaves of a cabbage tree could be so entertaining or touching a sturdy broadbean seedling could make him squeal and giggle? (Sorry seedling, but I am sure you can withstand it better than your more fragile cousins!)
With bouncer chair in hand, son and I spent an hour or so in the garden whacking away flax and other tree branches that had encroached on the pathways. Now we can walk around in the dewy morning without getting ourselves wet!
The unruly pepino and cape gooseberry needed restraining, so I tied them up against the fence and away from the garden path (I will tackle their much needed pruning another day). The same treatment was given to late-sown heirloom tomato plants, so that their little green tomatoes have a chance at catching some afternoon sun and ripening.
With the overgrowth and sprawling plants tamed, I could then walk my way around all of the garden beds and pull out the weeds that had made their home in my nice soil. Thankfully they were few and far between, so the job was quick and easy. With the beds weed-free, I dug in a few bags of compost containing well-rotted chicken manure, aerating the soil with my trusty fork and topped it all off with a nice long watering. This provided moisture at depth to encourage good root growth from my new seedlings.
The canes that I had pulled out earlier were set up in a new area of the patch, and pea seeds and bean seedlings were planted at their bases to squeeze in another crop before winter. Broadbean seeds were pushed down into the replenished soil of their growing cage and broccoli, mixed lettuces, beets, pak choi, spring onions and dwarf barlotti bean seedlings were carefully planted out. Radishes and carrots were sown directly and have already sprouted up well.
A few days later I dug in Yates Gro-Plus blood and bone throughout the bare spots in the vege beds and side-dressed the plants. This organic fertiliser provides nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – essential nutrients for growing and encouraging micro-nutrients and worms. Be sure to dig it into the soil to make it difficult for animals to detect and eat it.
Back at the potting bench, trays and trays of recently sown seedlings continue to grow big and strong: basil, coriander, beetroot, radicchio, dill, Chinese broccoli, cavolo nero, mini cauliflower, baby leaf spinach, cabbage, rocket, silverbeet, broccoli and cos lettuce. As the climate is still warm and my bench is quite sheltered, these little beauties are being raised outside of my hot house cabinet and so should transfer well to the garden beds when the time comes.
Now that my garden is back in order, I am back to my usual early morning routine of inspecting it before breakfast. The joy of sizing-up the changes is made even greater now that I have a little someone else with me, wide-eyed and totally interested in watching and hearing about the activity going on around us.
Currently on my TO DO LIST:
- Compost tomato bed, berry bushes, asparagus bed and grape vines
- Stake up raspberries and blackberries
- Find out how to prune the pepino – and possibly relocate them
- Sow more seeds for autumn and winter crops
- Harvest and freeze silverbeet for soups and stews
- Find out how to prepare grapes and strawberries for winter
- Water and turn the compost