A Day of Quiet Bliss – Day 29 NaBloPoMo 2015

It was very overcast and quite humid in Hobart most of today. Although I was supposed to go to an event nearby, I decided to stay home and potter around the garden. The girls were very pleased because this meant lots of extra treats for them and they rewarded me with eggs as usual. Boudica Bunny is also eating enormous amounts at the moment and all the babies are out and starting to get the hang of this eating solid food caper.

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I potted up more basil, chillies and Green Shiso (Perilla fruitescans var. crispa), a wonderful Japanese annual herb, which I primarily use in stir fries and salads. I’ve grown it in the past but never had such a fabulous strike rate as I did with this year’s seed supply. It’s looking wonderful and already has that unmistakable flavour and aroma. I find it likes a rich potting mix and lots of warmth for quick growth, similar to basil.

And then there was the completion of half the “corner of shame”. This is a classic before and after situation.

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Before

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After

Admittedly, we’re only half way there but that’s a lot further than we were a few weeks ago!

After removing the worst of the perennial weeds, I put some dolomite limestone over the area and covered it with several layers of cardboard.  Then we laid some cotton mats, donated by family members, that were old and worn and heading for the rubbish tip. (I think half our garden is recycled!)

A thick layer of coarse sand went over that and it was topped with some well composted native bark mulch, which I’ve found considerably less acidic than pine bark mulch. We did the same thing behind the chicken house and I’ve planted two Australian Tea-Trees (Leptospermum sp.) there to provide some extra wind protection for the ladies who lay.

The weeds will grow back – but not as quickly or as vigorously as they have in the past. I want to plant a couple of English Lavender here in the next few days and I’m planning to put netting or shade cloth above the fence to give a little more height for growing climbers in tubs and privacy both for and from our neighbours. Next spring, this is the likely spot for my beehive, angled in towards the garden.

I also finished the garlic crop, which has been curing inside the last two weeks. It’s now cleaned up, the tails have been clipped and it’s in three plaits, hanging off the laundry/kitchen door. It’s quite a decent amount this season, considering I’ve used and given away at least half a dozen or so heads already – and there’s more in the ground that needs pulling!

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Tomorrow is back to music work and teaching, the beginning of my birthday week, first day of my next university semester and the last day of NaBloPoMo – and I’m picking up my birthday present to myself tomorrow too 😀

 

 

Friday at Last! – Day 6 NaBloPoMo 2015

Well, it’s finally the end of the week, and I’m bushed! I was supposed to go to a gig tonight some friends are playing but I’m just too tired. Tomorrow, I’ll be out in the garden again and cooking a family dinner – my son’s coming over.

One of my jobs tomorrow is dealing with some of the seedlings I’ve grown in the last month. I love sitting in my greenhouse, listening to music or audio books while I work. It’s very relaxing.

With small seeds, such as chillies, herbs, salad greens and any brassicas (cabbage family, such as kale, broccoli and mustard greens) I use a three stage process.

First, I plant the seeds in punnets, keep them moist in the greenhouse and wait for the magic of new plants to happen. It’s silly but even after all these years I still get a thrill when I see new plants starting 🙂

New vegetables!

New vegetables!

Secondly, I prick them out from the punnets into cardboard toilet rolls and let them grow on in the greenhouse until the roots are showing, which encourages downward root growth and eliminates transplant shock – one of the biggest killers of young seedlings. I didn’t realise until recently that this isn’t common knowledge! I cut the rolls in half first, which makes a perfect size for me and it doubles the number of  mini grow tubes I have for the season. I’ve found that plastic trays from my few supermarket purchases are great to put the completed seedling tubes in, making them safe to carry around the greenhouse and the yard.

All recycled and ready to go!

All recycled and ready to go!

The cardboard is just the right thickness to take up and hold moisture without falling apart immediately and I use a fairly compost-rich potting mix that holds together reasonably well. Like a lot of repetitive jobs, there’s a rhythm I get into when doing this. Perhaps it’s the musician taking over but I find this really relaxing. It takes practice when doing small, delicate seedlings but the best tip I can offer is go slowly – there’s no rush. Also, keep a permanent marker handy and I recommend marking the plant name and date on at least one if you’re doing a tray of the same thing. I also keep a garden journal next to me and write down what I’ve done in case something happens to obscure my one labelled tube.

Shungiku - Garland Chrysanthemum just done

Shungiku – Garland Chrysanthemum just done

A few days before I want to plant them, I take the trays of rolls out and let them harden off under a tree. The final stage is planting the seedlings still in their roll in the garden bed.

With big seeds like corn, beans, peas, pumpkins and zucchini I mark the first roll and loosely pack however many I need in a tray. Then I use a pencil or stick as a dibbler and put the seeds in and cover them. The snow peas and beans in the photograph below will give you some idea of the wonderful root growth and size of the plants.

Ready to go in the ground

Ready to go in the ground

These have been out hardening off since Tuesday and will be in the ground tomorrow 🙂

In the meantime, wherever you are, have a wonderful weekend and take care ❤