There's a number of different shops where it's unsafe to leave me unsupervised. Bookshops are one. Garden centres are another. The wonderful thing about books is of course that there's always room somewhere at home for yet another book, even if the shelves are chockers. However, in a small garden like mine the competition for space is fierce, and there are precious few vacancies for impulse buys.
So these days I'm more likely to come home with a new packet of seeds. They don't take up much space, they're cheap, and I don't have to plant them straight away, either. And that's why my old biscuit tin in the garden shed is crammed with a ridiculous number of seed packets. It's only a minor vice, I tell myself. And besides, every now and then I sow some seeds, just to make my little foible seem like respectable forward planning, which it's not.
Seeds of lettuce, silver beet, shallots, spinach and coriander were sown four weeks ago in a motley collection of leftover punnets and other containers.
The lettuce won the race to be first seeds up after the big Saturday sowing. The following Tuesday they set a blistering pace in the ideal autumn conditions.
Unfortunately, I became very busy with work since sowing the seeds back then, and the little seedlings just grew and grew, thanks mostly to the steady showers of April. They were not quite neglected, but almost, and definitely were ready to be transplanted this weekend. This is a little pot of what are called 'shallots' here in Sydney, although others might think of them as green onions or scallions. Anyway, they're the long, straight, thin oniony things that are white in their lower third, green at the tops. A good row of these is now in the ground.
Similarly neglected and well overdue for thinning, this mixture of baby lettuce looks pretty. While some of them are destined for a friend's garden, there are so many I've popped a few in a pot for myself as well.
Ditto the coriander (cilantro or Chinese parsley) plants. There are too many for my friend's little patch, so I potted up a couple for myself as well. Coriander is at its best as a winter herb here in Sydney. In summer's heat it bolts from leafy to seedy far too willingly, to the point where growing it in summer is a bit of a lost cause unless you're collecting the seed. Plants raised now, in May, when things are cooling down, can last happily leafy for a couple of months in our mildly cool version of winter here in Sydney.
In another spot in the garden a little patch of lettuce, English spinach and pak choy is progressing nicely. At around this stage it's a good idea to sow some more pak choy seed, as these plants will be ready to harvest in about three or four more weeks. And, miraculously enough, I've remembered to do this!
The cute willow tower which served me well as a frame for climbing beans last summer is back in business, this time as a frame for climbing peas. I've chosen a dwarf variety which will reach about 60cm tall, so says the seed packet. In summer I made the mistake of believing that the climbing beans would obediently listen to their seed packet and stop growing at the 1.5m mark, which is the height of the willow frame. Honestly, those abundant beans would have climbed twice that height. So, I figure, even if the dwarf peas go berserk, surely they won't outgrow the frame? Time will tell.
Thought I'd slip in a photo of a lemon flower, given that I'm blogging about new crops. Sure, it's a slow crop, but lemons are lightning-quick compared to my last crop for this blog...
My slowest crop of all, but I think I can report some progress, that is if "it hasn't died yet" can be regarded as progress. This dramatic looking chap is a pineapple plant that is now eight months old. That means I probably only have another 12 to 18 months to go to get my magnificent crop of precisely one pineapple. I've raised him in the time-honoured fashion of planting the top of a shop-bought pineapple (did this last spring) into potting mix. It took a while to do anything but progress has been good in the last three months, with a spot of light feeding helping things along. Sydney is about 1000 km south of the ideal pineapple growing climate, but I've been assured that it will produce fruit, just more slowly than its brethren further north, in subtropical Queensland.
It's so nice to get out into the garden again! The autumn weather here in Sydney is the nicest time of year in our fair city. The mornings might be a bit cool, so too the evenings, but the days are lovely, around 20°C a lot of the time. We've had above-average rain in April and the soil is in great condition. It was so frustrating to be tied up with working on weekends, madly writing my allotted 25,000 words as part of a book project into which I was conscripted. All that's over now, praise be, and so I can get back to what weekends were designed for – gardening in this beautiful climate!