Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Two Timing

You know what the problem is, it's 'The Other Garden'; here is a small corner and there is another 1000 square metres or so in similar state. In fact, it couldn't be better as I feel like I'm getting a clean slate to work on.
By far the most interesting part of our move to the city is moving the garden and the juggle I'm in of establishing the garden for the season here whilst looking ahead to there, and not wanting to be without vegetables.
The garden is derelict and fortunately the house is empty so I can go in every few weeks and make a start. This is part of the old glasshouse so it is a concrete bounded bed and as far as I know it is free of wireworm.

The obvious thing seemed to be potatoes and the long grass suggests reasonable fertility so away we go. I cut it down with shears and then layered newspaper, potatoes, dirt stuff and grass clippings on top. Loosely one of those sandwhich gardens; I didn't have long and also didn't fancy digging out great hunks of grass with it's capacity to carry away your topsoil.
For your interest, our neighbour is a bowler as the lawns in the distance attest. We've always got on so well that neither of us has wanted to put in a fence. The boundary line is defined as where the lawn (theirs) becomes field (ours). He sometimes crosses over and mows our grass as well. Who couldn't love a neighbour like that.

Dirt 'stuff' was the contents of the compost bin. Not exactly compost, dry and crumbly; maybe five years of grass clippings. Shearing back the grass was the hardest part so I did it in stages. In the end I ran out of seed potatoes and left the area where the bin was clear. I have broad beans in pots to put in that space. I expect them both to grow at about the same pace.

Loading up the trailer. Boxes of compost, cuttings and divisions and the young quince tree.

Now I didn't mean to load this photo but Noodle will never see it. He was indignant, 'No Mum, not in the floral pinny'. I was capturing the phone call while cooking. This is classic teenage boy cook style where cooking tea also means you can have a phone conversation, take off and check your emails or try and shoot a few hoops while the potatoes are boiling dry. The current goal is a meal on the table in a timely fashion. Frills will have to come later unless they are on the apron. Chortle.   
 Tomatoes have been hit by slugs. I've supplemented my seedlings with selfsown replacements so there will be a surprise or two after all! Possibly Black Krim (good) and Blackjack (not so useful for others here). This year I tried to do mainstream but it doesn't come naturally.  Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Looking ahead

Spring has Sprung
The grass has ris
I wonder where the mower is

Definitely that time of year when gardeners' fingers begin to tingle with anticipation. The classic mistake in this climate is to whip out in some small weather hiatus and put stuff in that won't make the next cold snap, like seeds.  Having the very large glasshouse at my disposal is a rare luxury and gives me a toasty conservatory environment to play in and jumpstart the planting. The down side is the lack of the very weather you are keeping out. No rain to water and freshen, no variety of plant life and animals: slugs, birds and whitefly overwintering on the parsely  and I will miss it when we move.

Last week I planted the new potatoes for Christmas: Red King as always. I quickly found that it was quickest of all to spend a bit of time measuring and placing the potatoes carefully. Then it becomes a no-think factory-line-burial-programme without that 2cnd guessing over spacing. Because of the very wet season this year, and the subsequent late and frost damaged harvest, muddy to boot, the remaining potatoes haven't stored so well. It is an important job at this time of year to sort the seed potatoes from the pigs' dinners and perhaps a little later to dust the table potatoes with anti sprout powder for use through to December.
No one was more pleased than I was to see Jocylyn and David pull up in the house bus and report for potato duty in their overalls.
Job now done done with all the rotten potatoes out, so come time to cook tea you can put your hand in the sack with impunity.  Thank you, thankyou, thankyou.  They put aside 50 sacks of 20kg each of the small neatly formed seed potatoes. These won't jam in the planting tube as they rocket down into the ground and are for next years main crop.
Because there were less potatoes, that left a motley crew for me including what I call potato clowns:  the ducks, the snowmen, the love hearts, the lumpy bumpy misshapen, knobbed and larger ones. It will be really interesting to see what this years new potato crop is like.
I've covered the beds with black plastic to warm up, usually this is just for overnight frost protection but this year it will warm the beds up sooner. Farmer David has a wonderful intuitive knowledge for growing things and there will be reasons for this decision that I have yet to uncover.

Now I cleaned up this particular pile of sticks  and it is now a nicely tucked in compost heap as it should have been to begin with.   Embarrassing really. What did I think was going to happen over the winter?... because it sure didn't. The sunflower stalks are now snapped in to foot lengths and sandwhiched with a weed selection and  some cow muck; still waiting on a soak with the hose but it is too cold to have the water supply on at this spot just yet.

Here's the brag parsnip photo. Variey is Caversham from the Otepoti Seed Savers Network. Caversham now is typically a lower income area in Dunedin, but one with a rich history, rather nice siting for the sun in some places, close to everything and my impression is it still has a strong community.
There is a way to say it, 'Caversham' with the emphasis on the last syllable to make it sound a bit posher, if you are being silly.  Very appropriate for this lovely workhorse vegetable  to come from such a humble unpretentious background and to be a culinary star nonetheless. No hard core at all. They melt. The only reason I had to crop the photo was that the oven was so dirty in thebackground. I have overplanted on the lettuce front again. The seed went in before the big snow and I thought I had lost it. I had the punnets covered with frost cloth  which I've now moved to cover the emerging mesclun. I'm sure it helped.
Planted the tomatoes, a conservative trio of money maker, beefsteak and grosse lisse. Hope to have something to show for it soon.
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