Early planting out tomatoes...

09 October, 2016

I couldn't help myself.

Here in Melbourne we've had a couple of days of some sunshine, so I got a bit overexcited at the weather finally turning a little bit spring like and I planted out some tomato seedlings from their current safehouse of the polytunnel.

Traditionally in Melbourne the time to plant out your tomatoes is the weekend before or after the Melbourne Cup. Which is about a month away. I don't care, as I've always planted out my tomatoes earlier than that date.

However I'm not totally foolhardy. I tested the soil in the wicking beds which I am devoting to tomatoes this year. The soil was not cold to touch (which is often the case with raised beds where they heat up earlier than regular ground level soil) but in fact pleasantly warm, so I felt the tomatoes were unlikely to get too rude a shock coming out of the comfy polytunnel environs and into the real world.

The raised beds got some manure dug in, then in went the tomato seedlings.

To not be totally cruel I have given them some added protection of plastic bottle covers (the bottoms of the bottles are cut off so they just get stuck into the soil around the seedlings) and old coffee glass jars so they are protected from any real cold and get a mini glass house environment to help them on their way.

This also makes labelling easy

Now I do have back up seedlings just in case this doesn't work out. But fingers crossed they will grow to nice healthy tomatoes. I can't wait for tomato season to begin. It's been way too long since I had fresh homegrown tomato.

Morning meander...

11 September, 2016

There is nothing better than a lazy morning wander around the garden, cup of coffee in hand, to check on how things are going.

Backyard wicking bed veg patch is looking ok - not height of summer luscious but also not drab winter nothingness.

The garlic is looking good, early sown Flinders Island particularly so.

Purple podded peas are starting to fill out and there are enough to provide more than just the odd garnish.
My avocadoes in wicking buckets are flowering. Not sure this will come to much as the trees are too small and young, but its nice to see.

Anzac peach half flower, half leaf.
Looks like another bumper crop of white mulberries.

The wall of broad beans is now taller than me. Only just starting to form pods now.

Self sown brassica turns out to be a purple sprouting broccoli. Welcome.

Almond crop is looking promising.

In the polytunnel there are signs of life.

The self sown tomato is ripening...

...with lots of flowers hopefully there will be lots more fruit.

Seeds of capsicum, rockmelon and watermelon are up.

Likewise the tomatoes - 25 out of 27 varieties have germinated. May need to resow the rest if they don't come up.

And joy of joys, the asparagus is well on its way.

Sowing seeds...

27 August, 2016

It's been a long time since I blogged. I've been gardening but just haven't felt the inspiration to write about it.

But now the seasons are changing. The sap is rising in the plants, and this gardener. I just had to sow some summer harvest seeds, and for a change, felt the need to take a picture and write about it.

It's nothing special. Just sowing the seed of 27 or so varieties of tomatoes, 3 cucumbers, 2 rockmelons/cantaloupes and 1 watermelon.

These were sown in the relative warmth of the polytunnel, which will hopefully mean germination. In my usual method I've plonked the tubs in trays of water which I keep topped up, meaning the seeds stay nice and moist but not sopping.

Fingers crossed that these seeds germinate well and grow strongly.

What seeds are you sowing?

Garden Share Collective: June...

29 June, 2016

It seems I at the moment I only ever get around to posting for the Garden Share Collective, and I can't be more grateful to the hosts Krystie and Kate that I have this prompt to blog.

At the moment in the early stages of winter I am in the garden less than ever, with not much to plant so it seems I only spend time to harvest. And when its cold outside I want to get out and pick, then back inside asap.

This months theme is Taste, and if that doesn't sum up a vegetable and fruit garden then nothing will.

For me, I grow my own for the taste. There are is no store bought equivalent to the homegrown tomato picked at the height of summer, or the perfect strawberry popped straight into the mouth while garden meandering, or freshly harvested carrots. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

In the food garden, taste is where it's at.

The main wicking veg patch.

Cabbages forming.

Aphid laden broccoli going to seed. How do you keep aphids from making your broccoli inedible?

The self sown tomato is just holding in there, along with leeks, celery and silverbeet.

Peas climbing to the light.

That tasty tasty veg garlic, coming along nicely.

Go self sown lettuce.

Carrots and beetroot.

The only two Pink Lady apples to set on the step-overs this year, well protected from bird attack.

What goes rather nicely with apples? Rhubarb of course!

And what goes well with apples and rhubarb? Lemons!

The front yard interplanted with edibles and ornamentals. Red amaranth to right, flowering rosemary on left, cauliflowers and purple sprouting broccoli to rear.

In the polytunnel the peppers are still ripening.

Capsicums ditto.

More apples in the orchard. These are Sundowners.


I sowed seeds of onion, kohl rabi, kale, turnip, parsnip and hamburg parsley. I don't know if I'll get anything, but I needed to plant some seeds. So I did.


This is pretty typical about now.

Veg: The last pumpkin, odd tomato, silverbeet, leeks, small celery stalks, beetroot, carrot thinnings, lettuce, spring onions, polytunnel eggplant, capsicum and one solitary lemon cucumber.

Fruit: Apples, lemons, rhubarb.

To do:
  • Hiburnate
  • Prune fruit trees to reshape as needed
  • Hope for enough chilling hours for the apples and stone fruit
  • Chop back grapevine and tidy asparagus beds when the plants totally die back
  • Keep feeding the garlic for big bulbs
  • Plant out the tulip bulbs in the fridge

That's my June garden wrap up. How is your garden doing?


11 June, 2016

At this time of year there is not much happening in the home garden. Excitingly however, there is plenty happening in the not too distant bushlands.

After doing a mushroom foraging workshop last year I was hanging out for autumn and all its 'shroomy harvests, so we could put these skillz into practice again.

Given there has been a good deal of rainfall of late, and seeing many an instagram post of 'shroomy harvests, it appeared the time was right to head out bush and see what we could find.

We were not disappointed. This was what we picked in the first 10 minutes.

While I like Slippery Jacks, they aren't my favourite mushroom. I much prefer Saffron Milkcaps, so I went off in search of more of those.

Luckily a bit further along there were plenty to be had (as well as the odd young Slippery Jack that I just couldn't pass up).

There were plenty of not-to-be-picked mushrooms, which we admired from afar.

After maybe an hour and a half gentle wander up the road and back we came home with three baskets that looked rather like this.

The Saffron Milkcaps will be cooked down and then bagged and frozen, while the Slippery Jacks will be dehydrated into a delicious porcini-like dried mushroom.

That should keep me in 'shroomy delights for a little while yet.

Garden Share Collective: May...

30 May, 2016

Once again its time for the GSC - a great time each month to think back on what's been accomplished in the garden, and what is still left to do.

Again this month time in the garden has been sadly lacking, but happily that is about to change with me getting a bit more of my garden time back.

This month's theme is 'leaves' and I think that is just about all that is in the garden at the moment. The majority of the veg is leaves (think lettuces, silverbeet, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spring onions and leeks, and the stem/leaves of rhubarb and celery) with only a few fruiting plants holding on or coming to produce.

So where is the garden at now?

The old summer planted 'Pink Girl' tomato is still (amazingly) flourishing.

I spy a few forming tomatoes. They may not make it through to full tomato ripeness, but I'm glad to have them.  I may actually get around to trying fried green tomatoes.

The self sown tomato is still producing cherry toms too.

The purple podded peas are up and starting to climb.

The lush leaves of beetroot and carrots, plus weeds, bely their too small to harvest produce. But soon their day will come.

The broad beans are growing taller and even starting to flower.

And in the polytunnel, I'm very happy to say I've got a couple of actual cucumbers from the late sown experimental seed. The plants are very diseased with almost constant powdery mildew despite regular milk/soap sprays, but at least there have been a few cukes.


Onions and garlic, just this weekend gone. Not much else is on the agenda now.


Veg: Tomatoes, eggplant, capsicums, cucumbers, spring onions, pumpkin, silverbeet, broccoli, leeks, beetroot, carrots, lettuce, radishes.

Fruit: Apples (Woodbridge Winter Pippin and Sundowner), raspberries, lemons, rhubarb (technically a veg, but in the culinary sense a fruit).

To do: 
  • Start up some of the strawberry runners in wicking buckets.
  • Have a look at the wicking bucket trees and maybe repot some into larger containers.
  • Hibernate inside unless absolutely necessary to be out in the cold and wet.
That's all for me this month.

Don't forget to check out other people's GSC at Krystie's or Kate's.

Onions and garlic...

28 May, 2016

I'm back! Finally I have a bit of time to get into the garden.

And as soon as I did I got out the seeds to plant something. At this time of year, that mean onions and garlic.

So I went out to the previously bean bed and cleaned out the still-going-but-definitely-on-the-way-out climbing beans, and under those I found some onion seeds that had germinate from what I had sown in the bed earlier (I can't recall exactly when) in the year.

So those got replanted out a nicely spaced intervals.

Onions are one of the easiest plants to transplant. Just place on parted soil, then flick over a bit of dirt and water in. Never fails.

That left plenty of space to plant out some more onion seed. Three rows and a generous scatter of onion seeds are here.

I sowed a white variety called Contessa and a red variety called Long Red Florence.Why grow boring brown onions when they are cheap and easy to buy.

Both I've grown both of these before and they do pretty well.

Next up I needed to plant out the remainder of my garlic cloves in my garlic experiment.

I had previously sown about half my cloves of two varieties (Flinders Island and Italian Red) around mid March. The remaining half got stashed into the fridge to see if a bit of extra cold would make any difference to the finished product.

Here are the remaining halves, carefully matched with the previously planted out stash of cloves for size so that won't be a confounding factor.

The remaining cloves got planted out adjacent to the well growing plants so that feeding and sunlight will be equal.

I'll be keeping an eye on these as I've heard they don't like to be too wet, but they also don't like to dry out. They are well fed with manure and will get additional feeds of worm wee I get from a friend with a worm farm. (Thanks Mike!)

Damn it feels good to get my hands dirty again!

What have you been up to in the garden lately?