Friday, November 15, 2013

Vegetable transients

It always amazes me how much my garden changes from year to year, season to season, month to month, even day to day. I love watching new seedlings pop their first little green heads up through the soil and then, BLINK!, there's suddenly a plant in front of me.

new watermelon seedlings

Some of my tubs perform better than others, but it remains unpredictable. Water repellant sandy crap can suddenly transform into moisture laden soil with the addition of loads of compost and manure. But some years even lots of compost doesn't seem to work and a particular tub under performs whilst another brims with vege goodness. I've never really got the hang of proper crop rotation, or writing down what when and where I plant things, but I'm not overly bothered, because I kind of work on another philosophy.

I love the higgledy piggledy nature of my vege tubs. I like planting a mixture of different plants in each tub, and try to steer clear of monocultures whilst embracing chaos instead. Since I never write down what I plant I am continually surprised to discover new plants when the seeds germinate. And this confuses unwanted guests too: something might eat one plant but not know its sister is hiding over in another tub.

So there is logic behind the chaos. Confusion has its merits.

cucurbit tub
This week I'm watching pumpkin and zucchini plants thriving in the bed that was growing broccoli this winter. I've also got cucumber and carrots beginning. The carrots will no doubt have multiple legs due to the extra compost I put down, but I'm OK with that, they still taste the same. There's a grape vine in this bed too, but it's been sorely tested over the last 12 months and has put on very little growth. However, now that this tub has become a super tub, the grape is looking up too.

lonely little asparagus spear
The asparagus has been rather disappointing this spring. I put a lot of effort into regular watering and feeding and haven't been rewarded with thick stalks yet. They are getting there, but it may be yet another season till I'm producing a reliable crop. Patience...

Geraldton tomato plant
I have been purchasing heirloom tomato plants off Freddie at the Farmers Market, including Black Russian and Romas, and last week acquired a "Geraldton tomato" plant. This is the original hardy plant that market gardeners grew here from the 1940s until the Vietnamese immigrants introduced newer hybrids in the 1970s. Apparently it crops for a good 3 years!! Hopefully I can collect seed from it to propagate some more plants.

The eggplants don't look happy, in fact they look a little bug infested, so I'm pretty close to pulling them out despite them only being in less than one season. They should produce for at least 2 seasons, but the hot weather here seems to stress them too much causing them to succumb to disease quickly. I guess I need to learn this lesson and just rip them out after their first fruiting.
tiny capsicum

lettuce everywhere
Lettuce is growing everywhere - the product of lots of seeding from last year's crop. I've many plants that have bolted already so I'll be spreading around a new lot of seed pretty soon. Same with parsley, though the wind seems to self seed without any assistance from me.
onions I think

I've noticed some healthy looking stalks in one of my tubs. I know I've sown onion and garlic in various places but without notes to tell me where, I'm not sure exactly what this is. I'm hoping it's not more chives - just got to wait for the green shoots to start browning off and then I can lift and see. How exciting!!

One little okra plant germinated. I've planted a few more seeds so here's hoping for a better crop than last time. I'm still not sure what time of year I should sow them, because no plant climate zones exist that accurately account for our weather. Geraldton does not share a climate with Perth, yet all the planting guides lump us in with them. Maybe there is a reason to write notes after all....

okra seedling

I bought some oranges last weekend, because it's time to harvest rhubarb. Cooked in orange juice it's delish!! So glad one corm has survived for me to enjoy the fruits of my labour.

rhubarb prior to harvest

In the water tub the kangkung was hibernating over winter, and slowly being squeezed by algal weed. That's now scooped out and a watercress plant is shading most of the surface. A few more weeks and I should be harvesting my first kangkung for the season. The watercress makes a lovely filling for an omelette. Can't wait till I have a proper water garden when I can try growing even more edible plants.

mini water garden

It was 41 degrees last Sunday! The first serious plant burn off day. Up went the shade cloth and the rest of the week has been much milder. But there'll be many more hot days to come, and the less heat stress my little veges have to deal with the better.

Meanwhile there's a tyre wall to finish.....

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