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New Year 2021

Endive flowers

Hello All Gardeners.

This Winter/ Spring we have had cool weather and average rain. This has meant rapid growth in the garden, ripe tomatoes before Christmas and zucchinis in plenty. loaded berry vines and good displays of flowers in spring.

As usual, I started the beans later than most people, putting in seeds after the Summer Solstice, December 20th. I do this to avoid rust and fungus in the area which tends to be prevalent in spring .

Still trying to get some beetroot started this season. . The stars must be against me this year. Seeds did not germinate or failed to thrive. And other disappointments included packets of new seeds which also failed to germinate. Given the good weather, I can only conclude that the seed was not fresh in spite of being within the Best By Date on the packets. By scouting around in local garden centers and hardware shops, I have discovered more brands of seeds available than usual, and I am always ready to try something new. But it is disappointing when the seeds don’t come through.

At present I am drying and packing Lucullus Silver Beet, large semi double Peony Poppy, Haw Lan Do snow peas and Telephone shelling peas, Big Big Russian Garlic bulbs, Nigella seeds, Dill seeds, and Endive. Endive makes a good addition to salads. It is slightly bitter and said to be very good for the health.

The Burgess Buttercup pumpkins are making fruit, also small purple striped Egg plants, Tomatoes ES38, too, which are small but quick to grow as they have a compact form and medium fruit. The fruit is round although slightly flattened and the colour, bright red. The skins are thin and the flavour is good, so I hope to start collecting seeds from them soon.

I was disappointed by Sweet Bite cherry tomato, recommended by several friends. It grew well, made big roots , but the fruit is very very small, and the skins tough and the flavour not sweet at all. Maybe the nights have been too cold here, as we had temperatures regularly down to 5 degrees at night, right up till January.

I am trying a bush snake bean with burgundy skin, and some Bulls Blood Beetroot and will sow Uncle Dick’s Turnip later this week.

Warragul Greens and self sown red stem Purslane are providing some leafy greens, very welcome now that the days are getting hot.

Drying herbs such as sage, oregano and coriander seeds ensures plenty of culinary flavour for the year ahead and my loaded nectarine tree will soon be ready to harvest. Drying the fruit is a good way to keep it for a long time and takes minimum space in storage.

All the best for a safe and happy season. Rose

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Summer Solstice 2019

Wow , it has been so hot. 47 degrees here two days ago! I am amazed that I still have a garden! Losses have been minimal . The biggest one was my beetroot plants that were seeding. The seeds were almost of harvestable size but now the plants are dead. I took a few of the best seeds and will see if I can germinate them in late summer.

The summer crops: tomatoes, basil, chillies, cucumbers, rockmelons, marrows, didn’t even droop and I picked Fennel flowers and Broccolini for the dinner. The Warragul Greens are good to eat now too. I have plenty of shallots-actually they are tree onions, and are also called Egyptian onions and Welsh onions and lots of garlic, which is the Russian Garlic ,-really it’s a leek plant. The Giant Russian Garlic keeps well either in the ground or dug up. Its mild bulbs are easy to cut and good to eat cooked or raw. The huge mauve pompom heads held on rigid stems two meters tall, look spectacular in a big vase. I’ll be drying the cloves of small ones and can post to interested gardeners.

The discovery of the Fennel Flowers being good to eat, was one I made by accident, as I heard a TV chef mention this. I just pick the last 15 cm of stem with the flowers and use ones that are really still buds, not open fully. lightly steamed they have a distinct aniseed flavour that goes very well with fish.

At the moment there are quite a lot of fresh seeds harvested and ready to pack, once the Christmas Holiday is over . …..

Uncle Dick’s Turnip produced well and I have lots of fresh seed it and of the Red Flowered Broad beans and Haw Lan Do climbing Snow Peas.

The following flower seeds now available: Red Flanders Poppies, Mauve Sweet Peas, Pink Perennial Sweet Peas, Imperial Stocks-mauve and pink flowers and purple Salsify (which makes an edible root that tastes like Parsnip). Salsify can be harvested all winter like Jerusalem artichokes. These seeds are originally from Jenny Hudson who found the plants growing wild along Mt. William Creek in the Grampians. Probably brought here by early settlers.

Salsify Flower
Imperial Stocks with Pansies

There is fresh Flat Leaf Parsley and Coriander too.

Some of the Radicchio from a salad mix, went to seed and now there’s a cloud of blue flowers that the bees love. The Florence Fennel is equally tall and full of flowers and also the Celery is powering along, so I hope to have both Celery and Fennel seeds soon.

In the 18 months since I moved here, there has been a vibrant change in the backyard. There are always bees , both native and European and many other insects; flies, wasps and beetles that are helpful in pollination. There are too many earwigs , some very large, and they were a problem eating the silverbeet all winter. I have been using some Derris Dust to deter them. It has to be reapplied after rain and I try to keep it away from the parts I want to eat. I tried small containers of of cooking oil, as traps, but did not find they worked very well.

The grape vines are loaded and also the old apricot tree. The new stone fruit trees have a few fruit but late frosts burnt off most of the flowers in spring. This year, the thorn free blackberries are making a small crop and beginning to climb up the wire wall of the duck yard. Progress is steady and less difficult than it was when I gardened on granite country. in Elmhurst.

Only one new little duckling this season!. Three did hatch, but only one survived. He has two mothers as there were two sitting on one nest; mother and daughter duck. I suspect that two died accidentally, because their nest was cramped in under a grape vine root. After the big hatching of last summer, when most of the little ones were drakes, my guess is that this new one is a male too. As I don’t use an incubator, it seems to me that in very hot weather you end up with more males than females hatching out.

Looks like a long hot and dry summer ahead. Lots of watering and maybe will have to put up some shade cloth tunnels if plants start to burn.

Hope your summer is safe and your harvests abundant.!!