Tag Archive: season


Autumn Pickings

egg 1

Now well into autumn – the hype and lustre of the summer garden has, for now, completely gone. My free time has been spent weeding, starting off the winter seedlings and clearing out all the dead summer plants. Although this is usually a “down” time in the garden, it can at times be disappointing compared to what the garden looked like and the harvests I had in summer.  Despite this, I have been encouraged and comforted by the continued small harvests throughout autumn of my eggplants (which have been a huge success) and capsicums.

I know the glory of these plants also won’t last, but for now the weekly harvests of supermarket sized eggplants seems just too good to be true! These have also far outdone any of my previous attempts at growing these veggies and have helped fill in the gap until the winter harvests start.

 egg 4 egg 5 egg 3 egg 6 egg 2 cap 1 cap 2

I think the verdict is finally in on my seedling experiment (see previous posts: breaking the first rule of blogging and seedling experiment update) and now I know what to do in years to come. I’d love to show you a photo of the winning tray – which by far was the tray kept under a sunny window, but I can’t as the tray was so successful most of the seedlings are now out in the garden! Instead here are some healthy looking tomatoes, all grown from seeds from the winning tray and even starting to form fruit.

"Sweetie" tomoatoes

“Sweetie” tomatoes

"Florida Basket" tomatoes

“Florida Basket” tomatoes

"Tommy Toe" (left) and two "Sweet Grape" tomatoes

“Tommy Toe” (left) and two “Sweet Grape” tomatoes

Verdict 4

As the spring weather heated up – I did move this tray outside into full morning sun and then back inside at night for protection, which seemed to work well and the seedlings thrived.

Also a very big thank you to Rosalind (of Just Another Beer Blog) who recommended I try small shallow trays rather than just ready-to-plant paper pots. At first the tray was half demolished by snails in the greenhouse, but after I moved it inside the seedlings have grown really well. Particularly the eggplant seedling – I have never been able to grow eggplants from seeds into full size plants before! Now I know for the years to come how to make it happen – thank you!

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Eggplant seedlings growing

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Eggplants currently out in the garden

I’ve had a couple of chilli and capsicum seedlings growing – but they have been quite small and are growing a lot slower than the tomatoes and eggplants. Hopefully they’ll get big enough to plant out soon.

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Chilli and friend

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Capsicums

As for the control tray that was left outside open to the elements – I have planted out a couple of tomatoes from this tray, but that was really all and they haven’t thrived like the others. As for the greenhouse seedlings – it was a complete disaster. I have planted out nothing from this tray, and they barely grew after germination. Once slightly warmer weather during spring kicked in, despite leaving the door open during the day and watering daily, all the seedlings died.

So I may not be the best salesperson for greenhouses or paper pots – but at least I’ll be enjoying my very own tomatoes and eggplants this summer (and still hopeful for capsicums) – all grown from seeds. But I won’t be getting rid of my greenhouse just yet – because apparently I’m not the only one who uses it…

verdict 9 Verdict 10

The Garden In Spring

Although most of the spring bulbs have now gone, the garden is still looking pretty lush and inviting thanks to the spring rain we’ve had. The nasturtiums are looking great, but as they’ve started to take over most of the garden I’ve had to cut them back a little. All the summer veggies are growing well, including zucchinis and beans from seeds and a couple of tomatoes I bought as seedlings. More and more of my own tomatoes from the seedling experiment have been planted into the ground and continue to grow well which has made me a lot more positive about small seeds. I may end up with a lot of tomatoes at this rate – but that only makes me want to plant more! The capsicum and eggplant seedlings are still a bit too small to plant out, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they’ll make it in time for summer (and sneak in a couple of more advanced seedlings while I’m waiting – hopefully they won’t notice).

It’s been a month since I started off my seedling experiment (see previous post – breaking the first rule of blogging), but given the small amount of growth I wish I’d started a month earlier. By far, the winner at the moment is the seedling tray that has been kept inside under the window. The seeds germinated over a week earlier than the other two trays (greenhouse and “control” outside) and the seedlings are now visibly larger as well. A few tomatoes have even been large enough to plant out into the garden, which already feels like a success compared to last year.

Tray 1: kept inside under a sunny window

Tray 1: inside

Tray 1: inside

Seedling from tray 1 planted out in the garden

I was surprised that the seeds in the greenhouse tray took so long to germinate, but I think despite watering them daily they were drying out too much. After moving the tray to the middle shelf (rather than top) they seemed to do better. That was until snails found them…. I would have thought this tray would have been the safe one! But alas, having basil seedlings growing in there too – snails devoured the basil and a few of my other seedlings at the same time. Nightly snail checks over a week found a new snail in there each night, so I’ve moved some of the seedlings into the inside tray to keep them safe.  The seeds in the tray left outside (open to the elements) germinated around the same time as the ones in the greenhouse and growth has been at about the same rate. No snail attacks as of yet, but a few seed pots were obliterated by what appears to be a cat attack. Well I did say they were open to all elements…

Tray 2: greenhouse

Tray 3: outside

Tray 3: tomato seedlings (quite small compared to tray 1)

While I will still be updating on the progress of the three trays, I think I have already discovered why I have been struggling with small seeds – I bought a greenhouse. Two years ago I had a lot of success with small seeds, but I didn’t have the greenhouse then so I would move the seedlings outside during the day, and bring them inside (sheltered from the cold and snails) each night. The seedlings loved the attention and thrived. Last year I bought a greenhouse and grew all my seedlings in there. While it made sense to me at the time, the temperature fluctuations (even when keeping the door open on hot days) was obviously enough to stop the success of my small seeds.

Tray 2: greenhouse – eggplant seedling

I won’t be throwing out the greenhouse just yet though, larger seedlings do really well earlier in spring when it’s a bit too cold to be in the garden yet, and some plants can be moved in over winter to help keep them warm. For now though it looks like our house will be turning into a nursery each spring…

Have you ever forgotten about something in the garden? From holidays, to busy work schedules or simply from being distracted? Well this happened to me despite regularly being out in the garden – I completely missed that my broad bean flowers had been fertilized and beans had formed!

It was quite exciting to suddenly have something to harvest! I usually watch and wait for things to ripen similar to watching paint dry. I prefer to pick my broad beans at smaller sizes than you’d ever find in the supermarket as I find they are a lot sweeter, and can usually turn any broad-bean-hater into an instant fan. Only small harvests so far – but when I can have a small harvest every few days, that’s all I need. Now all that’s left is to decide what to cook! If you have any favourite broad bean recipes/ideas let me know.

 

A touch of magic…

Sometimes without realising it, we capture moments of magic in the garden. It wasn’t until I loaded the following photo onto my computer that I realised I had captured such a moment. I love how little things can surprise you…

The garden at the start of spring ready for an overhaul…

I have to admit… it took me a bit to find the motivation to get out this spring to do my usual half-yearly overhaul. I should be excited and raring to go – spring is here! But I found myself putting it off for a few weeks and procrastinating with bread, blogging and coffee… Don’t get me wrong – I’m not afraid of hard work – but when all the winter veggies still look so lush and green (although no longer fruiting or ready for final harvests), it seems a pity to pull them out. However once I got going my usual optimism about what the next season of gardening would create returned, and my motivation quickly followed.

I started by pulling out all the spent winter vegetables. There seemed to be an awful lot this year – I filled an entire compost bin! Then I continued by turning over all the soil and adding compost back in. As always I tend to mix up vegetables to add an element of interest (or craziness depending who you’re talking to…I prefer interest). This also helps to confuse pests and prevent spread of diseases. So far this has worked pretty well – except for the snails, they’re not fussy and eat everything…

So far I’ve planted some zucchini, bean and sunflower seedlings that I grew from seed. I’m sorry to say that I did buy a couple of tomato seedlings to put in as well,  but I still have high hopes for my seedling experiment and hope to add more of my own a little later when they are large enough and the weather is warmer.

By the time I finished all this off (a little later) with some straw – the spring flowers were out in full swing and suddenly my garden had been filled with splashes of bright colour, which helps remind me of the changing seasons and that it won’t be long before my garden is full of plants and the promise of harvests again.

Further Spring Colour

For those who enjoyed the previous spring flowers post, here are some more flowers that have been brightening my days. Summer used to always be my favourite season, but with flowers like these spring is quickly becoming my new favourite…

Parrot tulip

Ranunculus

Ranunculus

Parrot tulip

From what I can gather, the main idea of a blog is to demonstrate a passion, projects/ideas and a skill in an area you want to share with and demonstrate to others. Well I’m about to break the first rule of blogging – admit my skill is still growing and ask for help.

Here is my dilemma: apparently I’ve become appallingly bad at growing vegetables from small seeds. I know I can do it – the first year I started gardening I grew dozens of tomato plants all from seed, however over the past couple of years my ability to grow vegetables from seed into full size plants seems to be highly correlated with the size of the seed.

Give me zucchinis, beans, squash, cucumbers – no problem! These easily end up as harvestable plants at the end of the season. However tomatoes, eggplants and capsicums all seem to germinate, but grow so slowly that despite my best efforts they never get large enough to be transplanted out into the garden. I then end up admitting defeat and buy a tray of seedlings.

At first I blamed it on the brand of seeds I was using – but there’s only so long you can keep that up. So help me out – what am I doing wrong???

I’ve set up a “small seed experiment”, which I hope will uncover the solution. I’ve started three trays of seeds – one will be kept inside next to a sunny window, one will be kept in my small greenhouse, and the other will be left outside as a “control” as it will be completely unprotected from the elements…and snails. Each tray has the exact same number and type of seeds growing – a mix of tomatoes (both new and seed saved from my garden), eggplant, capsicum and chilli. I will be updating the progress of each every few weeks, and any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated so that hopefully my skill level continues to grow.

Tray 1 – inside

Tray 2 – greenhouse

Tray 3 – outside

Blueberries in flower

Well before I have noticed any change in the weather – the garden knows spring is coming. The perfect example is my blueberries which are now out in flower, displaying the promise of spring fruit.  I love the delicate little flowers – blink and you might miss them as you go past – but they really do feel like a special treat in the garden. Until the cat tears past knocking a huge bunch off… oh well, it is her garden too….