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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.!!

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