Garden Share Collective: 2nd September, 2013

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Planting

August in Queensland for me is about planting for summer. Our family readies the soil a month in advance for planting at Ekka time. For those of you who are overseas or out-of-state. The Ekka is the Brisbane Agricultural Show held in the second week of August. If you want watermelons, rockmelons and pumpkins for Christmas this is the best time to get them in. Mind you mine still have not come up which is probably due to a lack of water, so I am doubtful if I will have any melons for Christmas this year.

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We have also planted in the past few weeks; two more rows of spuds – dutch creams, corn, okra, more Asian greens as my others went to seed due to stress, more tomatoes – black russians, roma and black cherry. We hope to transplant the black russians in the coming weeks now that I have decided on a spot close to the tank for water. Below is a tray of seedlings still needing to be planted out, we also planted some marigolds through the garden to encourage the bees and well add a little colour.

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Disaster

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Disaster struck this month with my lovely chickens discovering their new favourite food – kale. They had been totally uninterested in the garden for months and since Roy and I have started watering the garden each afternoon they became interested in what we were doing. We have solved our problem and put up a wire fence around two of the sides to stop them from getting in to the patch. They will have to scramble through the wild bush to get through if they really want to. With only the stalks left of my kale, I have fertilized them, plucked off the last of the eaten branches in hopes they return to their former glory. Yet the chooks kept digging out one of my tomatoes which after a week of having its roots exposed with me covering them back up daily, it could just not hack it any longer.

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Like most of us we know water is really important for our gardens. Many of you have been very jealous of the lush green surroundings of my property before. However, from August to Christmas is our dry season. Yes it does stop raining in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Our heavy clay soil cracks and opens itself up to allow any  moisture to get in. While we have been getting heavy dews in the mornings which wets the plants and dampens the soil it’s not enough to keep my plants green. The last day we recorded some rain was on the 28th July it was a whopping 2mm. Now the waiting game is on, the rations of water are delivered to the garden daily, saving the lives of the summer vegetable seedlings and sacrificing the last of winter crops. Above is my potato bed, the only thing green in there is the weeds. The yellowing of the leaves is the start of death, we tried to save them as they had not flowered yet. Hopeing for a bumper crop of spuds we ended up with a lot less than expected. This also comes down to our soils condition – it needs work.

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Another issue with no rain, seedlings go into stress all my asian greens I planted out last month in my raised beds have mostly died or if not gone to seed. I have left them now to fend for themselves, hopefully spreading their seed throughout my garden for when the rains do return.

Harvesting

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We have had a bumper crop of mushrooms over the past month picking over 20 kilos of the buggers. I have hit my mushroom quota – I never thought it could happen but it has, I don’t want to eat another mushroom for some time now. We use mushroom compost in our raised beds and as soil conditioner for our heavy clay soil. Over time it breaks up the clay making our soil much more friable and easy to work. Needless to say in five years time my soil will be so good that I will be able to grow anything with ease and less water. It’s a work in progress.

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We have had plenty of lettuce with one of our lettuces self-seeding through the garden.

TO DO – SEPTEMBER

I have organised with my neighbour to come over once a week with a big tank of water on the back of his four-wheeler to give my garden a generous water. In hopes to keep the plants thriving until the rain comes. Noticing that my soil needs a lot of work in my bottom paddock I will be organising with another neighbour to get some more mushroom compost. The potato beds will be dug, turned and then covered with mushroom compost and them a thick layer of mulch. This will hopefully bring back the worms and start the long process of breaking up our heavy clay.

September for me is about water conservation, cleaning up the beds, maintaining the weeds and nurturing what is still living. We are also putting our shade-cloth back up on the garden near the shed which will be transplanted with Asian greens and lettuce – close to a tap.

What are your plans for your garden this month?

Garden Share Collective Members

 

AUSTRALIA

Linni At Home – NSW
Claire K Creations –  QLD
E Dig Hobart – TAS
Eight Acres – QLD
Flame Tree Flowers – QLD
Gustoso – QLD
The Gourmet Wog – NSW
The Life of Clare – VIC
A Fresh Legacy – VIC
The Shady Baker – NSW
Slow Heart Sing – NSW
Greenhaven – VIC
Sunny Corner Farm – NSW
Country Life Experiment – NSW
Dusty Country Road – VIC
Brown Paper Belle – QLD
Melissa Loh – QLD
Chloe’s Gardens – VIC

Clear Mountain Living – QLD

NEW ZEALAND

Our Wee Home
The Fig Tree
Frog Pond Farm
Sharon’s Patch
NZ Ecochick
Peaceful Green

 

UNITED KINGDOM

The Land Rover Owners Wife
Dale Cottage Diaries
The Garden Deli
Shabby Chick

 

 

 

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37 Comments

  1. Dang, I didn’t realise how much damage chooks could have on a garden. When we had miniature chooks, they hardly touched much in our garden, but that’s probably cuz they were far happily to scratch the mulch under the papaya and coconut trees for bugs.

    • Yes those cheeky buggers love kale. It could of been worse though, they found only a couple of spots they like the best and stuck to them. So not total devastation.

  2. I had technical issues with my update this month. Your woes I can truly relate to (no doubt because we don’ t live THAT far from each other) and the refrain this month has been how dry it has been. Moderation please, mother nature!

    That being said, look at all the potential you are planting – I do get inspired from the group and hope to be back on track next month.

    Here is to some Spring rain.

  3. We may be gardening thousands of miles apart and in different seasons, but we seem to have the same problems with hens in the vegetable garden – I’ve had to net our chard plants to save them from being stripped of leaves, and put thorny twigs around the squash plants earlier in the year when they had been scratched up once too often. Where our gardens definitely differ is in the rainfall – we’re rarely short of it here in Yorkshire! Hope you enjoy your spring garden, despite all the watering it needs.

  4. It’s amazing how different the seasons are for us! I’m at least two months away from planting the summer direct sown plants. Your garden looks great but oh so dry. Let’s hope you get some rain soon!

  5. Wow! What an impressive mushroom harvest! I can understand that you are a little sick of eating them though 🙂 I feel for you having the heavy clay soil. Our last place had the same plus gum trees and it was so so so very hard to get anything to grow. it took me years to get anything other than cacti to grow! If anyone can turn it around I am sure you can. Fingers crossed for you that you get some Spring rain.

    • Thanks Kyrstie I hope to get some rain soon. I have been working on my soil today by applying some mushroom compost on some of the spent potato rows. Hope that helps to break down that clay.

  6. Hope you get some rain soon, it is grey in Brisbane at the moment and threatening to rain but I dont know if we will actually get any so fingers crossed the clouds head up north for you. Your mushrooms look great as well but agree after 20kgs I would probably reach my limit with them too.

  7. Thank you for the list – fascinated to see the stinging nettles in the first pic – we have them everywhere from the horse manure. Then, as I trawled through other blogs, there they were being eaten. Have not tried that yet, I prefer to remove them. My Beloved was in for a minor surgical procedure this morning, and as soon as his surgeon found out he was a gardener too – and veggies to boot – all he wanted to talk about was………stinging nettles. They had quite an interesting discussion!

    • I knew it, I had no idea what those seedlings were. I actually have taken them out and only planted the zucchini’s that have come up in the box. I know you can eat stinging nettles, though I am not sure I want them through out my garden.

  8. My parents raised chicken out in the county and had an extensive hobby farm (they sold veggies at the road side) as well, though I never paid much attention to their chicken woes. I know that they used to let them eat over-ripe veggies especially tomatoes and the eggs that they brought me were quite a bright orange in colour as a result.

    We’ve never had to worry about the drought issues you face in Australia, here (south-western Ontario, Canada) so it’s hard to imagine your problems but I’m very sympathetic.

  9. I feel your pain at the disasters in your garden!! Between cutworms, chooks, goats, and parrots, my garden has been under constant attack. Thankfully things have settled down now. Holes made in fences have been patched a new roll of extra strong wire has been purchased to go up. 🙂 In the meantime my beans, coriander, and pumpkins are sprouting, and I have HEAPS of asparagus. 🙂 I’m waiting hopefully for basil and chilies to sprout soon. 🙂

  10. Hi Lizzie. Your garden is full of goodness and interesting things as always. Your seedlings look lovely …so much hope and so many possibilities within those little pots! Your corn looks so healthy. It is difficult to have chooks and vegetables happily co-existing isn’t it? I am sure with your persistence and skills you will get your garden through the dry season! I am impressed with your mushrooms, they look incredible. Happy gardening and thank you for hosting this tour 🙂

  11. I hope it rains soon so your veges take off. Our garden is very hit and miss with the Cairns weather … oh and whatever it was they ate my seeds.

  12. 20kg of mushrooms is seriously impressive!! You’ve inspired me to give them a go. I don’t know why I havnt thought about growing them before, they are by far my favourite veg!
    Hope your Kale bounces back and the chooks stay away!

    • Thanks Lisa, so far so good with the chooks, its been two weeks and they are still on the outside of the fence. Mushrooms are a fantastic thing to grow especially if you love them. It will save you plenty of cash.

  13. Sorry to see your land is so dry and you have lost some plants, it’s such a blow to lose plants after all of the effort of sowing etc. Over the past few years in my area of the UK, we have had the opposite problem, out land has been waterlogged. I lost a lot of crops last year from flooding and even my polytunnel had 2 inches of water on the surface! It can be so disheartening but that’s one of the great things about gardening, you pick yourself up and try again and think of new solutions! Hoping for some rain for you soon!

    • Thanks Alex for sharing your experience. Nothing is worse than putting in the effort to loose plants. I do love our group we are strong and it seems we all do get up and try again after our failures.

  14. Jo @ Countrylifeexperiment

    I made a heap of mushroom soup and froze it when we got sick of mushrooms last year. Thanks for hosting the link up!

  15. Waiting for the rain is not fun! We had a situation like that last summer, it was literally 5 months with barely a drop, so we were hand watering all through summer. That was worse than usual thankfully.
    I found that the potatoes did a wonderful job of breaking up clay soil – the bed I had my potatoes in last year is the most improved of all my beds, after starting out as pretty much the worst. Crop rotation… and fertiliser.
    Glad you got your chicken problem sorted!
    Jacqui

    • Thanks Jacqui, wow my spuds didn’t even break up the soil as much as I had hoped. It may be because we planted them in wet conditions and the clay stuck together. the second planting of spuds which i did about 4 weeks ago is doing much better and the soil is more friable.

  16. Your mushroom photo is particularly striking! Here in Northland NZ it is feast or famine with rain, so my planning power is going into a low-cost, effective system for irrigating my veges, herbs and berries over the summer months when we may not be at home. Any suggestions are greatly welcome!

    • Hi Angela, I am not up to irrigation just yet at our place, I am still on watering cans and water packs. One of my neighbours swears by using a 2ltr milk bottle filled with water and leaving it open a little to allow a few drops of water out and leave it next to a seedling to empty. He reckons they last up to a week. I have a similar issue we are going away for ten days and need either to find a veggie patch sitter or come up with a watering solution.

  17. Oh I here you about the water. Last year our tanks ran dry (due to a small unnoticed leak) so the garden suffered a bit especially with the severe heat we had as well.
    It’s amazing how further along in the season you are compared to my area. I’m still just dreaming about summery things with seeds sown in my little greenhouse.

    • Thats the fun thing about looking at other peoples gardens, I think I have planned what I am going to grow for next winter with seeing what is possible from others. Summer will be heading your way soon, I am fortunate not to get frosts and have a very sunny north facing garden.

  18. Your mushrooms are amazing! Your seedlings look so healthy and the corn freshly peeping through. It must be tough coping with little rain, yet your garden is a bounty. It seems the greens spring to seed with a flush of hot weather, at any time. Darn chickens, at least kale is good for them too 😀

  19. Chooks and veg gardens just don’t mix do they? We have heavy clay soil that hardens and cracks in a dry summer that needs a very good rain for the water to actually soak down into the soil instead of just wetting the top but it must be far worse in your part of the world . Stinging nettles are good for attracting bees and I like to keep a wild corner where the nettles just get chopped down a few times a year – I use the young shoots in “wild pesto”, soup and in soda bread.

  20. Started off thinking home-grown melons for Christmas sounds incredibly exotic – then reading on, realised how tricky your dry, hot weather must be at times for gardening. Your garden still looks fab but hope you get some rain soon.

  21. Hard to imagine me hitting my mushroom quota! But you’ve eaten a lot, so I’ll take your word for it that it happens. Too bad the chickens decided they liked kale. 🙁 Hope you get some rain – we’ve had very little for the last two months, and things are so dry.

  22. hello lizzy. please accept my apologies for comign to you late.
    i feel your distress at your disasters – the chooks (thought just think, perhaps their eggs may be good for all that healthy kale) and the lack of water. i really feel your pain about the lack of water too. that is the hardest thing sometimes, keeping water levels up when it is so dry, even with the best mulch levels.
    but you;ve had some impressive productivity! those first images are really envy-inducing 🙂 is that spiky stinging nettle though in amongst the melon seedlings?

  23. Thanks for the reminder re: watermelons, rockmelons and pumpkins. I’ve sorted out my seeds, and now I’m all ready to go for this weekend.

  24. Hope you have rain soon although your garden is looking great! We use to let our chooks out of their run but our garlic took a beating. Love the mushroom photo.