Gardening Up A Storm

Gardening is so much fun, and even better when the objective is to grow your own food.  Today was a brilliant day for gardening.  Sunny, cool, and I was in a productive mood.
First things first, I had to collect some radish seeds that I had hanging up in the carport.  It is so easy to collect these seeds.  Let a single radish go to seed so that it forms these little seed pods.  Then pull the entire plant, roots and all, and hang upside down out of direct sunlight.  

When the pods are completely dry, then pull off all the little seed pods.  Make sure that you collect the seeds on a surface that you can see the seeds.

Here is what they look like once you split the pod.  The amount of seeds per pod range from between one and four.  Once collected, store them in a brown paper bag or small glass jar sealed with a lid.

I decided that I needed to grow some climbing beans, seeing that that the Scarlet runner beans were fried during the heatwave.  Mind you, that variety of bean are only good for collecting the seed to use as dried beans as the shell is rather tough.  It was time to put in my favourite bean, the Lazy Housewife.  This string less bean grows vigorously, and the yield increases the more you pick them.

So to that end, I had to make a frame so that the Lazy Housewife could wind its way upwards.  The frame that I constructed is an upcycled portable gazebo frame that is just the right height.  It is made from tubular steel, which has been powder coated, and is over 8 year old.  I keep reusing these supports year after year.

I fastened three together with mini-cable ties that I had laying around, and planted the seeds at the base of each support.  We should see the beans in a couple of weeks, and should be able to pick the first pods in about two months.

Kim requested that I put in some Spring Onions, so to get a quick result, I purchases a punnet of eight tiny bunches and popped them in the first bed next to the remaining rainbow chard.  They should be ready to harvest in about a month.

I thinned out the chard by pulling out all the plants that had gone to seed.  Those went to the chooks, and the smaller ones got a good water and a refresh of mulch.  These should last another month before going to seed.

The bed had been fallow since I pulled all the onions and carrots a few weeks ago.  It had dried right out, so I had to rehydrate the soil for about 20 minutes before I could do anything to it.  Just a tip, and reminder to myself.  Always mulch a garden bed after removing the crop.  It keeps moisture in the soil, and the worms don’t leave or die.  Once hydrated, I threw on two large buckets of home made compost then raked it level.  I then watered in the compost, and when I thought it was all mixed in, I planted two rows of the radish seeds that I had collected.  They should be up in a couple of days, and harvest in about 3 weeks.  We love radishes in salads, and it is certainly salad weather.

Once I see the seedlings, I will mulch this bed like the rest.

Also, as the rainbow chard is coming to an end, I put a row of chard in this bed from seed I had collected.  There should be a good colour selection as I mixed them all up after collection.

The cucumbers that I had been harvesting are simply delicious.  No more cucumbers wrapped in plastic for the entire summer.  The plants that I put in during November are still going strong, but I wanted more so that I could make some more bread and butter cucumbers for preserving.  They are great on sandwiches for lunch, so I didn’t want to miss out this year.  
So I constructed an even taller cucumber trellis, made out of the same frame as I did for the beans.  

Now cucumbers have very small tendrils and find it hard to grasp onto thicker tubular steel, so I had to come up with a solution.  I found some large gauge chicken wire behind the shed, and cut a piece off the roll to the same length as the frame.  I then rapped the wire around the steel and cable tied the other side.  The tendrils should have no issue grasping on to this frame.

I then planted four large cucumber seedlings at the base of each vertical tube.  In the void between the two frames I planted a bush bean called Ying and Yang.  The bean seeds have amazing markings and look just like their namesake icon.  A friend gave me the seeds, so it will be interesting to watch how they grow.  The may be up to 8 bushes growing under the canopy of cucumber vines.  Time will tell.

I mulched everything with sugar-cane mulch as I ran out of pea straw (thanks for a wonderful Christmas present Lynda!).  I laid it about 5cm (2 inches) thick, so that should save me heaps of water and keep the soil cool.

After that, I called it a day.  I had intended to prep the front garden bed from which the potatoes were harvested, but decided I better use the rest of my Sunday for kicking back a little.  Not that I would call gardening work.  It is such a pleasurable endeavour.

Now you may think it a little strange for me to put in so much during the middle of summer, but let me tell you a secret.  The summers are getting longer.

During the last two years we have seen summer extend well into the end of the first month of autumn.  It is probably safe to say that it will happen again this year with such an angry summer.  I should get a good crop.

Has anyone else spend time in their patch today?  What did you plant or did you harvest something instead?

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  1. says

    Yes i did spend time in my patch today and yes it was glorious weather. Sunshine with a cool breeze. I fertilized, watered and then put on a thick blanket of new pea straw to trap in the moisture. I think its been a few months since i did this and so it really needed doing before we hit the next heat wave. Everything is fruiting and so they needed a feed. I have never been successul with cucumbers. I dont really know what im doing wrong but i will try again. I love bread and butter cucumbers with a really good cheese. Goodness, you have both!! I also love radishes so ill keep an eye out for the pods.

  2. says

    Yes, I pruned back and thinned my raspberry canes. A nice relaxing job for a weekend. I also have radish going to seed, which I need to dry and store. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. says

    Hi Gav,

    it’s still hot here in Armidale (well, averaging around 30/31, nowhere near what you’ve experienced). I’ve been putting out seedlings too, full of optimism. We have frosts here, so if you plant too late your crop is ruined, but I think it’s better to try to plant as much as you can, and hopefully it survives. I’ve just put out more cucumbers, cabbages, eggplant,capsicum and planted some borlotti bean seeds – fingers crossed!

    Although our heatwave was nothing like yours (and still going), this has been a very different year for the garden. My backyard is almost a dustbowl due to the hotter than usual weather, and I’ve had to shade all of the seedlings in the middle of the day. It was also the worst year in memory for strange insects. I guess like you I’m working out ways to adapt to these changes.

    Have a great day, Madeleine.x

  4. says

    I didn’t spend time on the weekend in the garden but I did spend my time preparing for the garden. After a wanted ad on freecycle I’d had answered, we drove out to Dereel where we picked up heaps of lovely wire for making trellising and climbing space for veggies but I made up for it today by harvesting the spuds in the greenhouse. They weren’t ready really but I wanted the bed for other things and they’d been an experiement only. Growing in the greenhouse is not ideal but we did have spuds to bandicoot for Xmas and the rest for lunch today so not disappointed. I transplanted a couple of struggling sheep nibbled trees into the fertile soil left behind and I’ll plant out some more seeds in there soon too. Rocket, radish, beans perhaps? I am yet to decide. :)

  5. Nina says

    Hi Gavin,
    yes we ventured out into our very soggy garden here in Suffolk UK. It was a still, mild (10 degree) day, with a watery sun. Making plans and like mole in Wind in the Willows, beginning to smell spring. Don’t want to count our chickens though (wouldn’t get far because we don’t have any anymore!) cold weather may be just around the corner!
    Aiming to make a replacement shed (pallet wood and reclaimed weatherboarding) , 4 more raised beds and separate the food garden end from the sitting garden end with a rustic fence.. and finish digging the pond out. Looks like we will have our work cut out for a while yet!

  6. says

    Out in the patch almost every day here. Think I might go crazy if I didn’t get out there! Looking forward to things cooling down so I can think about replanting.

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