Monday, November 8, 2010

Playing catch-up – again

Rain falling, dodgy back playing up, the poppies haven't quite finished blooming. I had stacks of excuses for doing nothing out in the garden. And then the little garden genie who whispers in my ear said "your garden will look like crap around Christmas time if you don't plant something this weekend, you know". Genie was right, time to play catch-up, time to cut some corners, too.

Step one, pull out all poppies, all brodiaeas and all weeds. That's the first muddy three hours taken care of. Next, dig in one large bag of aged cow manure, plus some dolomite lime, plus blood and bone. Till soil to fine, crumbly tilth. That's the next hour or two taken care of. Very unwelcome back twinge in the mid-afternoon, time to stop gardening and go shopping.

Here's the 'cutting corners' bit of the plan. Instead of growing everything from seed, I just bought a stack of seedlings. Pam thinks vegies are a bit boring to look at, so she lobbied for flowers. I like vegies, so we compromised on a potager. On the vegie front I'm growing leeks, Lebanese eggplant, capsicums, Jalapeno chillies, plus some red-stemmed scallions that I sowed into punnets as seed a few weeks ago. Pam's flowers are all simple little annuals: maroon gomphrenas, yellow and gold marigolds, white salvias and orange rudbeckias – all colours which work well in our dazzling Aussie summer sunshine.

By Sunday lunchtime everything was in, then I spread around the lucerne mulch. Each little bed has a mix of flowers and vegies. Not pictured is a third bed with the eggplant and leeks, in case you're wondering where they are. It's next to where I'm standing to take this photo, and it joins the basil patch which is loving the wet weather.

Finally, everything is watered in with a seaweed solution. This stuff, Seasol, is one the most misunderstood products in gardening, but I guess that's because it's a bit technical to explain.

Lots of people think it's a fertiliser, but it's not. It doesn't contain plant food. Instead, it's a natural soup full of goodies for the soil, which plants love (and worms love too). It's better described as a 'soil conditioner', and that means it has lots of beneficial soil micro-organisms which, most important of all, help to promote the growth of plant roots. And so, I add Seasol when planting littlies, to get their roots growing and to help them settle into their new home. Another example of a soil conditioner is worm juice from worm farms. Great for plants, but not really a fertiliser.

When it comes time to feed them in a week or two, when they look like they're starting to grow well, then I'll give them a liquid feed of something else, such as a fish-based plant food, or Nitrosol (which describes itself as 'liquid blood and bone') or something else that's essentially an organic liquid food.

And so hopefully, Huey the rain god will help my cause. Now, your instructions are as follows, Huey old chap. Gentle soaking rain every third night would be lovely. Lots of sunshine during the day. And none of those heavy downpours which trample all the little ones. Gentle rain, please, and in steady doses. If you let me down I'll have to water the garden myself, I suppose.


lotusleaf said...

Your gardening chores seem like mine. It is a good idea to plant veggies with flowers. The seaweed concoction seems to be interesting- we don't get it here.

Lanie at Edible Urban Garden said...

As I read this, Huey the rain god is certainly smiling on you! 15 minutes away in Rozelle it is teaming rain, so I am sure that it is raining in your neck of the woods too. The thought process you describe sounds eerily familiar. And I too, got out in the muddy soil and pulled out old veggies, put in new ones...thinking about how it would all look on Christmas day! Wonderful post Jamie - and beautifully written as usual.

patientgardener said...

What a productive weekend you have had. Would you like to pop over here and sort out my allotment? I shall be planting flowers with my veg as I am of the same mindset as your wife

Kris said...

How fun to watch some littlies grow over the next months while here in Ohio we're girding up the beds before the snow flies. (I, too, use 'soil conditioner' and fish-based liquid fert and swear by them!)

I look forward to reading warm and sunny posts on your blog while I, on the other hand, shovel snow off my driveway. :-D