I couldn't work out why I was so excited it was 1st July, then I checked my 'Sow What When' calender and discovered that Tomato seeds can be started in July in cold regions (so long as they are protected from the frost). So plant seeds I did. I contained myself to 20 seeds in two punnets on my kitchen window sill. When they sprout, I will plant another two punnets, and so on until it is warm enough to start them outside. These seeds are special to me, they are my first ever attempt at tomato seed saving and they are of the variety 'Amish Paste'. This year I am only growing this variety as I have hundreds of seed (I say that now, but just you wait till I go through my next seed catalogue )
I also planted out some stunted beetroot seedlings (about 40 of them), ditto the Mesclun seedlings (but only 6 or so), about 80 onion seedlings (only 300 more to find spots for!) and 5 pak choi seedlings.
I FINALLY planted the thornless loganberry and thornless blackberry at the base of the bottom arch. I also planted the Denise blueberry. We've been having problems with our other two blueberries not growing. Apparently this is because the are not planted on mounds to promote good drainage, so I now have two raised (I was too lazy to raise the last one, maybe tomorrow...)
And then my hubby came home from Warburton - the only place in the world to get decent sausages from - and had he purchased an Almond (3 in 1 variety) tree. This was to go in between the strawberry patch and the Kiwi vines, but a buried concrete slab put an end to that, so it is now further out from the strawberries and into the lawn.
*Note: The horrid blackbird DOES like flower seedlings! GRRRRR!! Funny, last year I had all these problems with snails, and now I seem to have jumped that hurdle, only to be knocked in the shins by a tiny little bird (who leaves nasty little red pippy poos as it's calling card...)
*EDIT: And on ANOTHER note: I ordered a cookbook today from Amazon called 'The Beverly Lewis Amish Herritage Cookbook'. It has among other things a preserving section.
**EDIT: Yeah - another one! I found my first snowpea today - YAY!!
Bob escaped and dug up all my flower seedlings amongst the currants and asparagus. I'm too scared yet to dig around to see if she also ate the asparagus crowns - they are due to be big enough to eat this year, after two years of waiting, we just may end up with none I also made a hot house frame from some black piping we had scored ages ago from a mate. I'll put the pineapples in this once we have covered it with plastic.
I covered the new hothouse with plastic today. I also cut the bottoms out of 4 polystyrene boxes. I got this idea from the Earth Garden forum. Basically, I will stack the boxes two high, fill with chook poo, potting mix and saw dust mulch (to keep the snails out). Then I will start some pumpkin and melon seeds off in the hot house, once they are big enough, I will plant them out into these boxes. The height and polystyrene will insulate the vines and hoepfully give them a real good headstart Of course, at the end of the day we realised that the hens had reached through the fence and were happily consuming the polystyrene and watching with glee (chooks are evil!) as the dirt ran out the bottom. A big sheet of tin put a stop to that.
Bob escaped this morning and dug up the rest of my flower seedlings. I threatened to roast her slowly with all the onion seedlings she also dug up. Not to mention the lettuces and silverbeet she ate....
Bob escaped again and demolished close to everything. I could have killed her there and then on the spot with my bare hands. Instead I clipped BOTH her wings back severely. I managed to save some beetroot and three lettuces (she thankfully attacked my meclun mix and not my main lettuce bed), but all my onions are gone and we ate plenty of carrots for tea last night. For some strange reason she left the silverbeet seedlings alone, chickens LOVE silverbeet, maybe she was just waiting for them to grow a bit into a hearty meal size, or maybe it's just because she discovered the potato patch and chickens love baby spuds even more than silverbeet...
Our fruit trees are starting to swell. I can also see the pink at the ends of the Cherry buds that will burst into flower in Spring. Last week a woman on the radio said we were in for an early Spring because her apple trees were starting to swell. So only time will tell. There are still some leaves left on our Kiwi Fruit vines, which means it really was a mild Winter. It looks like it's shaping up to be another dry, hot Summer then. I just hope we get a LOT of Spring rains to compensate for this.
My Amish Paste seeds have sprouted, out of 20 seeds, I have 19 seedlings. So for my first batch of saved tomato seeds that's pretty impressive - even if I do say so myself So I have removed the plastic bags and they will hopefully thrive on our north-facing kitchen window.
Oh deary me! I'm starting to get Spring Fever!! I suddenly feel as though I have left my summer seeds too late (I haven't, if anything, I have planted too early). So this is what I planted today:
*Into a polystyrene box I put potting mix and a 1cm layer of seed raising mix and the following seeds: Moon & Stars Watermelon, Decorative Gourds, Eggplant, Hellfire Chilli mix and Naples Melon
*Into seed trays I planted: Lettuce (Red, Green, Great Lakes and Cos), Beans (Dwarf Butter, Magic Bean mix and Borlotti), Nasturstium, Moonflower, Night Scented Tobacco, Morning Glory, Delphinium, Calafornian Poppy, Motherwort, Corncockle and Chinese Forget-Me-Not
*In Situ - Pak Choi, Beetroot, Carrots (seed saved from last year) and Leeks
Pak Choi, Silverbeet, Brocolli (a stray seedling I found in a flower seed tray), Lettuce, Coneflower and Onions
Bob escaped AGAIN today. Her new name is McNugget. Although this time it was my cat's fault, as she had pushed through the Qld gate and left a gap for Bob to slip through...
Musings on a Winter's day
The big advantage of walking my children to school is that I get to see the world slowly evolve around me. Today I noticed that the red branched roses are starting to sprout new leaves, and this is only a week or two after their owners had pruned them. I would never have noticed this sitting at home, and certainly not if I had driven to school. I've noticed there seems to be 3 different types of roses (in my own scheme of things ): Firstly there are the ones mentioned above that seem to have reddish branches, then there are the ones that have green branches (these also tend to be less thorny), then there are the great old, old thorny ones with the grey branches and the wizened trunks that remind me so much of the thorn bush in 'The Rats of Nimh' (does anyone else remember reading that book at school?). I have also noticed in my travels that some old trees are starting to blossom early. One huge old tree I found in full bloom, another plumbago was starting to show it's magnificent salmon display, and every here and there a tree with one single solitary bloom, almost as if the tree doesn't believe Spring is coming and has sent out a test flower.
All of this I have noticed on the signs of spring and yet in the past week we have had a real turn in the seasons. It is almost as if Mother Nature has noticed us all heralding an early season and she has reclaimed her favours. Our days have been ever so cold and wet and the temperatures have rarely reached double figures (day or night). It is snowing in Kinglake and Olinda and it feels so much like it did when the '81 drought broke(gee, I'm showing my age there ) and there was snow in suburbia. A couple of days in a row I thought we might actually have snow over us, the sky was that dark and moody, but to no avail, plenty of hail though....
Today I planted Summer seeds. I filled a polystyrene box with dirt and then a thin layer of seed raising mix and planted the following seeds into it: 1/2 a packet of Purple King Beeds, I packet of Early Extra Sweet Corn and 1 packet of 3 colour capsicum. This box is now cozily snuggled up in the pineapple hothouse (well, not too cozily, the door still needs to be fixed, so it's a bit draughty in there still). I gave my little girl two green trays filled with dirt and she happily planted a packet each of Multi coloured Californian Poppies and Globe Amaranth. These are now in the hothouse also (not that they needed to be, but she snuck them in anyway.)
I also collected seed today. I hauled the massive Zucchini plant out from the vegie patch where it had been camping out since it's vine curled it's toes up at the frost. I have never cut a zucchini this big, so I was surprised to find the flesh was very similar to Spaghetti Squash (did they perhaps cross pollinate?) and out of all the seed cavity, I got only 14 viable seeds. Hopefully I can get these going as the snails usually LOVE sucking the seedlings right out of the ground.
I collected seed from the Spaghetti Squash that has been rolling round on our front porch too (who needs a footy when you have one of these, they're as tough as old boots, and still had edible flesh inside). The amount of seed from this one small squash was much better than my zucchini haul. I have (at a real rough guess) well over 100 seeds. And considering these vines seem to be ignored by all and sundry, there are PLENTY of seeds to go around
Last, but by no means least, I collected seed from my Apple Cucumber. I had let this plant develop in the garden and then bought it inside when it's skin was quite tough. It had spent all Winter in my fruit basket but had been starting to mould and dissolve at the end the past few weeks. I have the seeds soaking in water now as they had a gel round them (like tomatoes do). Quite a few of these seeds appear to be duds though. I'll just have to wait and see....
We visited a friend who conveniently lives near the Wandin Valley Nursery. So we popped in and bought the following:
Pineapple Guava (for our friend)
2 Raspberry Canes (Heritage and Everbearer)
1 punnet of Russell Lupins
All this for around $40 too
The raspberry canes, Apricot and Lupins were planted today. I think we are starting to run out of room for fruit trees. The velcro has been put on the pineapple hothouse so finally the frost sensitive stuff can warm their toes a little more. Although I was surprised at how warm it was in there without the door, even early in the morning. The Josterberry and Kiwi vines have been pruned - can you tell Spring is coming?! I have noticed the Plumbagos are really coming into full swing now, give them another week and they will all be displaying their full bloom. Oh, and the wattle is starting to get in on the act too.
Today I received my Loofah, Bulls Horn and Califorian Red Bell Capsicum seeds from the Earth Garden seed swap! As a result I planted out insane amounts of summer seeds into poly boxes that I later put into the pineapple hothouse (which is quickly becoming too small). These are the seeds I planted: Loofah, Bulls Horn Capsicum, Californian Red Bell Capsicum, Pigeon Pea, Amish Paste Tomatoes and Amaranth.
So today I decided to plant out all those seedlings in trays to make some more room in the hothouse. As a result, there was a planting frenzy!
This is what happened:
*Parsley got planted as a (hopefully) couch grass border along the bottom vegie patch
*Flanders Poppy got planted randomly (ie/ where ever I could clear a spot) into the herb garden *Stock, Corncockle and Linaria got planted along the top fence next to the berry arch *Canterbury Bells got planted around the Golden Queen Peach
*Shallots were planted out into the top vegie patch in between the lettuces
*And finally, three stray seedlings (I'm pretty sure they're Meclun Lettuce Mix) got planted into the top vegie patch with the one stray brocolli plant that has survived the Bob onslaught
Oh, and I also planted out some Zucchini and Spaghetti Squash seeds into poly boxes that I forgot to plant yesterday