Planning

I’ve spent the winter creating and revising my garden plan, and I’m getting pretty happy with it. I’ve read up on crop rotation and companion planting and plant families – there’s lots of contradictory advice out there!

I’m going to try square foot planting in four 2.4x1m raised wicking worm beds, although the exact spacings and numbers I’ll play by ear a bit. This year will be all about experimenting. I also have to do some thinking about sun and trellises, so they don’t shade things.

photo copy

Bed 1: Solanacae

  • Tomato (I’ll talk more about specific varieties in future posts)
  • Capsicum
  • Eggplant
  • Basil

Bed 2: Cucurbits, umbelliferae & sweet potatoes

  • cucumber
  • zucchini
  • watermelon
  • rockmelon (the melons will ramble down over the lawn)
  • carrot
  • celery
  • sweet potato

Bed 3: Brassicas and lettuces

  • Brussells sprouts
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • lettuce
  • rocket
  • radish

Bed 4: Beets and beans

  • beetroot
  • silverbeet
  • broadbeans
  • edamame
  • parsley
  • coriander

In winter, some crops will change. Bed 1 will fill with alliums, Bed 2 will get a green manure crop and Bed 4’s beans will become peas. Then everything is rotated in Year 2.

To plan my garden I used the GardenPlan app for iPad from Growveg.com, which is a really awesome way to plan a garden. It has lots of useful crop rotation tools – I just wish there was a southern hemisphere setting for the month-by-month plans!

Progress

We are making progress with our studio plans, and we might even have the veggie beds installed by November, which would let me plant out tomatoes and peppers in time for summer cropping. Fingers crossed!

Other things are progressing too – my experimental winter potatoes are looking healthy, and the garlic also looks happy, except when Dame Maggie tramples all over it.

photo 3

photo 2

And remember my succulent planter? It’s filling in very nicely.

photo 1

Impending Spring

photo 1

Spring is coming to the garden. The magnolia tree is looking glorious, and the camellia has started to put out flowers. There are bulbs popping up all over the place, and I saw the first signs of life on the bare-rooted roses and the dormant pomegranate, and the tiniest speck of a bud on the Denise blueberry. It’s not just a stick after all!

I’m harvesting plenty of lettuce, rocket, silverbeet and herbs, as well as our first Tahitian lime. Keep forgetting to take photos, though.

I also planted my first seeds for summer on the weekend – tomato, eggplant and capsicum. If the veggie beds aren’t in on time, I’ll just grow them in pots. I’ve never grown eggplant or capsicum before, so here’s hoping I don’t screw it up. I’m using one of those little plastic greenhouses, but with toilet rolls so I don’t have to fish out the seedlings once they’re ready to be planted – I can either plant them roll and all, or peel the roll off.

photo 2

Austen’s Apricots

Apricot_Moor_Park

Good news! The water people have approved our latest plans, so now we can apply for a building permit from the local council. The studio (and veggie garden) is getting closer!

I want to plant an apricot tree in front of the studio, and even though it isn’t even close to being built yet, I impulse-bought a Moorpark Dwarf Apricot at Ceres this week. It just looked so healthy and perfect, and because it’s a dwarf it will quite happily live in its pot until we’re ready to plant it (probably next Autumn at this rate).

The Moorpark is a particularly special apricot, because it gets a nod in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.

“It was only the spring twelvemonth before Mr. Norris’s death that we put in the apricot against the stable wall, which is now grown such a noble tree, and getting to such perfection, sir,” addressing herself then to Dr. Grant.

“The tree thrives well, beyond a doubt, madam,” replied Dr. Grant. “The soil is good; and I never pass it without regretting that the fruit should be so little worth the trouble of gathering.”

“Sir, it is a Moor Park, we bought it as a Moor Park, and it cost us–that is, it was a present from Sir Thomas, but I saw the bill–and I know it cost seven shillings, and was charged as a Moor Park.”

“You were imposed on, ma’am,” replied Dr. Grant: “these potatoes have as much the flavour of a Moor Park apricot as the fruit from that tree. It is an insipid fruit at the best; but a good apricot is eatable, which none from my garden are.”

“The truth is, ma’am,” said Mrs. Grant, pretending to whisper across the table to Mrs. Norris, “that Dr. Grant hardly knows what the natural taste of our apricot is: he is scarcely ever indulged with one, for it is so valuable a fruit; with a little assistance, and ours is such a remarkably large, fair sort, that what with early tarts and preserves, my cook contrives to get them all.”

I’m very much looking forward to these “remarkably large, fair sort” of fruit!