Sunday, September 23, 2012

Grown From Seed!

These beautiful plants were grown from seed and are my most successful flower plantings to-date. I just had to show them to you. They have begun their Spring flowers this week. And not only are they growing well, but actually self propagating! What a blessing!

Mediterranean Rock Rose - first flowers in late September
Foxgloves are setting flowers
Sage about to flower in late September
White Guara (sometimes mistakenly called a Butterfly Bush) is amazingly self-propagating itself with no assistance! WOW!

Spring also inspires the pruning bug in me! Conifers are now due to for a prune back as well as a Spring feed.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Spring Garden 2012





Blogging has taken a back seat for the last few weeks all thanks to the business of the season.

I've received a lot of questions about beginning the season so now is a great time to answer all that I can.

Starting Spring brings the clearance of old crops, bringing in the harvests, buying up new plants as well as ordering in the other garden and house renovation necessities. I'm do ALL of them, so expect lots of updates to come.

My garden looks a little emptier this week as I have begun removing the spent crops. The capsicums have had their longest run ever this year. I still have another plant that is fruiting abundantly.

Gone are the Savoy Cabbages, Baby Spinach, Capsicums, and Turnips.
The harvest continues of Leeks, Curly Kale, Capsicums, Dill, Fennel, Spring Onions and Snow Peas.
Going to seed are Curly Kale, Coriander and Flat Leaf Parsley
Still growing are the Potatoes, Spinach, Curly Kale, Pak Choy, Chilis, Rocket and Garlic.
Flowering now are Broad Beans, Peas and Strawberries (and all my neighbours'stone fruit trees)

Many of the garden beds are resting - refreshed with blood and bone, lime and manures.

I have begun the first bed of carrots. This year I am testing a different variety against the Top Weight, they are called Manchester Table. The Top Weight variety has always been my favourite and best performer, but I am inspired to try any new varieties I can get my hands on.

Due to the popularity of carrots in my family I am going to start carrot crops at different times to stagger the harvest length.

The kids have requested Sweet Corn, so I have set aside one small bed just for them. Sweet Corn do need a lot of water and very consistent water. Where ever possible drip lines should be used to grow corn, but I prefer to hand-water as I see to my garden daily. Growing Early Extra Sweet F1.

My tomato plants are going in now. I have already planted my favourite cherry tomato, Pink Pearl. The large standard tomato plant I will be planting soon is a variety called Beef Steak.


Trying New Plants

I have to try a few new challenges every year.
This year I will attempt to grow Lemon Grass, Mesculun greens, Watercress and Echincea.


Fertilising

The first month of Spring means fertilise just about everything. I say that with exception on particular plants such as succulents and Australian natives. They do need care but not of the general fertiliser type.

Feed the fruit trees now.
Use well-rotted chicken or cow manures, pellet types (such as Dynamic Lifter) or control release fertiliser granules. Fork through lightly around the base of the trees to help with the up-take, and follow with a watering.

Do not fertilise plants that are currently in flower such as broad beans and peas at this stage. Giving them a drink of Seasol (seaweed solution) will be sufficient as it will not over stimulate the growth during this period. Adding strong fertiliser during flowering time will force the plant to take the energy away from the creating the flowers to fruit and put it back into growing more leaves.

Lawns.
They need a good feed and weed right now before the weeds get any stronger. Select days that are sunny for up to 3 days in a row with mild conditions.

Alternatively, hand scatter some Blood and Bone over the lawn and water in immediately. Failure to water will cause the grass to burn, so please do not rely on the weather forecast of showers to be adequate.


Spring Transplanting

Need to rescue your strawberries and place them in a larger barrel?
The first month of Spring is the perfect month to do it.
Yes, they may be already in flower, but they can take the transplanting at this stage.
Make sure they are well watered in and all dead leaf matter is removed at the time of planting.




Cuttings

Spring is the month when the sap rises as is the perfect time for taking cuttings. I hope to post more soon about propagation of cuttings to all those who have enquired lately.


Can't wait to get sowing♥

Green Manure Trial



I am trying Green Manure for the first time this year.
Believe it or not, I sowed 'weeds' and grains.
That is exactly what Green Manure is!

But these plants are controlled and beneficial for the soil.
They deliver nitrogen and organic matter back into the soil by rotting down.

It does take a lot more time to add nitrogen to the soil compared to adding well rotted animal manure, but the results can be worth the wait.

Green Manure Variety I am trialing: Mr Fothergill's Green Manure Mix


Tips for growing

  • Do not let the Green Manure go to seed.
  • Snip off the tops of the plants as they reach a reasonable height.
  • Allow those cutting to compost on the garden bed.
  • Later cut the Green Manure plants at the base of the stems.
  • Generally allow a minimum of 8 weeks for growth and 6 weeks for it to decompose.
  • Always read your packet's instructions for best results.
  • There are two seasonal varieties, warm and cold climate green manures.

Benefits of Green Manure

  • When used in crop rotation they can break disease cycles
  • Increasing organic matter, earthworms and beneficial micro-organisms
  • Increasing the soil's available nitrogen and moisture retention
  • Stabilising the soil to prevent erosion
  • Bringing deep minerals to the surface
  • Providing habitat, nectar and pollen for beneficial insects and reducing populations of pests
  • Improving water, root and air penetration in the soil
  • Smothering persistent weeds.


Cool Season green manures include:
BQ Mulch, fava bean, fenugreek, lupins, oats, subclover, woolly pod vetch. As a general guide, in areas with cold winters in southern Australia, begin sowing in early March and again in early spring; most of northern NSW and Queensland should wait until late April - May before sowing; in frost-free areas these seeds can be sown right through winter, until early August.

Warm Season green manures include:
Buckwheat, cowpea, French white millet, Japanese millet, lablab, mung bean, soybean. As a general guide sow in spring after all danger of frost has passed, usually mid-September; sow summer whenever good rainfall is expected; in tropical areas seeds can be sown right through the year whenever moisture is available.




I shall keep you posted on how well it worked for me.
My crop has just started to appear.


Update: 5 October 2012

I have snipped the green manure a couple of times. Excellent performance. Little water required.

5 October 2012
5 October 2012

Rotting down green manure crop in December.

UPDATE (December): I will now allow another month before using to ensure that all the available nutrients can be absorbed efficiently before the new vegetable crop is sown. Ideally, a longer rest time in a larger garden would be best, but turn-over time in a container garden if often considerably shorter due to the lack of room.

Please let me know how your Green Manure experiments have gone. I would love to hear from you.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Chiko Rolls Recipe


The Chiko Roll is a classic Australian icon. If you find another Chiko Roll recipe that includes Chinese five spice, ginger and soy, they have got it so wrong.

The Chiko Roll is so easy to make, with the exception of their unique crusty ends. That one IS a mystery to all of us.

Chiko Rolls are a cross between spring rolls and sheer bliss!

Ideal for using up a Savoy Cabbage. It just wouldn't be the same with any other cabbage but you are welcome to substitute to your tastes.

COOKING NOTE: Must use only Spring Roll Pastry which is available from Asian Grocers, specialty delis and some supermarkets. Do not try to deep fry filo pastry like I did one the first try. Spring roll pastry is wonderful♥



Chiko Rolls


Makes: 8+

Ingredients

2 tsp Butter
1 Tbspn Olive Oil
1 Cup Green Cabbage, finely shredded
1 Celery stick, finely sliced
1 Carrot, gated
1 Onion, finely chopped
200g cooked Lamb, finely diced (roughly one leg lamb chop)
1 chicken stock cube
1 Tbspn Plain Flour
8+ sheets Spring Roll Pastry
1 Egg, lightly beaten
Vegetable oil for frying

Method
  1. Remove the spring roll pasty from the fridge to defrost.
  2. Cook lamb in fry pan, dice and set aside.
  3. Melt butter and oil together in a deep sided fry pan.
  4. Add onion, cabbage, celery and carrot to the fry pan and cook until soft.
  5. Add lamb, chicken stock cube and plain flour to the mix and stir through to combine.
  6. Lay out 1 pastry sheet at a time, keeping the rest under a dam paper towel as as not to dry out.
  7. Place roughly 2-3 tablespoons of mixture at the bottom centre of the sheet and fold over sides to the middle and roll.
  8. Brush the end with egg to adhere the pastry.
  9. Heat oil in a saucepan. Enough oil so as to completely cover for deep frying. It is ready when you drop a tiny corner of pastry in and it sizzles in the oil.
  10. Add spring roll to the oil and cook until golden.
  11. Drain on paper towel and serve while still hot.

The original recipe is from Kid Spot Kitchen.
One of the best recipes for a traditional Chiko Roll!

This one will be a favourite with the kids!