Sunday, January 25, 2009

Vegie patch - now with plants!

Last weekend I finally got around to transplanting plants from the multitude of pots cluttering the back veranda into the vegie patch. And voila!

The top bed (which is the one on the left) has all the strawberry plants. I tried planting out a couple of the runners. One survived, one didn't, but the surviving plants are doing well. One is currently flowering and fruiting.

The next bed has most of the more established tomato and capsicums that I had in pots. I've also planted the basil seedlings between them. They seem to be going okay, but the leaves are going a bit yellow. Ms D has mentioned this is probably because I've mulched with lawn clippings and a bit of blood and bone should do the trick.

The next bed has some of the tomato and capsicum seedlings that were still in the seedling trays, plus the parsley and coriander seedlings.

At the end of each bed I've transplanted the pyrethrum and borage seedlings. I'm hoping these will be good companion plants and help deter bugs. Unfortunately, they're still tiny so they aren't doing much yet.

Of course, there has been one minor hitch in that the days after I planted everything into the vegie patch have turned out to be among the hottest and driest all month. I did mulch everything with lawn clippings to help reduce water loss. The smaller seedlings seem to have suffered the most. C'est la vie. I have more seeds.

However, the Cunning Plans Dept has rigged up a pretty nifty system to get rain water from our rain water tank to our garden without exposing parts of the system to unintentional "lab testing" by Hudson and Gracie (they eat hoses, hose fittings, anything really...).

The 2500L rain water tank sits down the side of the back veranda (Fig.1). The CPD then dug a trench on the top terrace to sink a pipe that runs from the tank and pops out the side of the terrace retaining wall. A length of hose then runs from the tank, through the pipe (Fig.2) and pops out the retaining wall, which is contained within vegie patch MkI (Fig.3). The hose is then threaded through the top of the weld mesh fence of vegie patch MkI (Fig.4) and at the end of the fence there is a hose attachment (Fig.5)to we can attach a hose to water vegie patch MkII. Because the tank is uphill, there is no problem with water pressure.

This weekend we bought some weeper hose to put under the mulch in the vegie patch as the main irrigation system. This will probably involve burying a pipe between vegie patches 1 and 2 so that we can leave the irrigation hose connected and just turn it on and off from the tank.

The other plants are doing well. The first sunflowers have finally opened. The marigolds are in bloom. They are incredibly cheerful looking flowers. The bonus compost tomatoes out the front appear to have both romas and regular tomatoes.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Vegie patch - now with soil!

While I know it seems a rather obvious statement that a vegie patch has soil, but up until a week or so ago, mine didn't. There was not enough dirt from the terracing to fill the beds and what was there was mostly clay and rock. The gypsum had worked a treat on the clay, but I simply needed more soil and the compost heap isn't THAT big.

So the Cunning Plans Dept went and got a truckload of soil, which was dumped on our front lawn. This needed to be moved down to the back yard. Given my feebleness it was fortuitous that my brother needed some extra cash in hand and was willing and able to do some manual labour. So he and the CPD spent a day using a small tipper to load soil into the trailer, attach trailer to tipper, drive down the neighbours driveway to the side fence of our backyard (after removing a panel of fence), dump soil into our yard, repeat. Once all the soil was moved to our back yard, the tipper was then used to transport soil to the vegie patch beds.

They also got the mulched the dead tree branches that had become overgrown with grass and weeds from sitting in a heap for so long. Plus some mowing and edging and the back yard is actually looking not to bad.

Now all that needs to be done is the edging of the ends of the beds, putting down plastic and gravel for the walkways and we'll be ready to start transplanting some of the potted vegies. I've drawn up the plans for the four beds. One will be for perennials (strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus, and garlic) and the other three will be annuals with rotating crops.

Meanwhile, vegie patch mkI is going berserk!

The corn have flowered and the first ears are starting to grow. Broccoli is getting huge, but no heads yet. There are bloody cabbage white butterflies everywhere and the leaves are riddled with holes, but they still seem to be growing okay. Carrots are still going well. The bonus compost potatoes and tomatoes are also growing fine.

We've also picked our first tomatoes! Some had a bit of blossom end rot, but that didn't really affect them. Nice and tasty and so red in the middle that the shop bought tomatoes literally pale in comparison. The tomato plants themselves have started to get yellowing in the leaves. I looked up some gardening books and google, but there are a apparently a lot of things that could cause yellowing of leaves ranging from the harmless, don't worry about it, to all is lost, please destroy your plant and the soil it grew in. They still seem to be growing okay and the fruit is ripening, so I'm just going to see what happens.