Saturday, August 5, 2017

Potato Time!

Photo by Helen

Photo of my potato label

It's now potato planting time in Melbourne, and I just love home grown potatoes.  I always looked for a good all rounder and one of my favourites for this is the 1902 heirloom King Edward. It produces a medium yield and an early crop, so if one is lucky I may have potatoes in time for Christmas. 

Harvest can be between 3-4 months.

Photo of my potato label
My next choice is a potato I tried last year and have found it to be one of the best for potato salads but it also is quite nice roasted, if you toss it with skins on in some olive oil and rosemary leaves. The variety I am talking about is Kipfler. It's another heirloom variety with a medium yield.

Now normally I've grown my potatoes in containers, and you can see my other potato tips here in the post One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato More.

This time I am choosing to grow them directly in the soil as I have room in my veggie plot this year to do that.  As potatoes like a rich and well drained soil, I will be preparing two trenches, one for each variety of potato, with compost and well rotted manure. I'm using chicken manure, but cow is also very good. 

Photo by Helen 
Prior to this I have spent the last month chitting my potatoes. That means I have stood them in a light and airy place indoors to form really good strong purple roots. 

I have discussed the pros and cons of chitting in my previous article, link above in this post.  I like to chit as it, in my mind gives the potato a good start.  Choose two of the best roots and rub off all the rest, these are then planted facing upwards. You need to plant them around 10cm deep and around 30cm apart. I like to spread the bottom of the trench with the manure and cover that with compost. Then Plant the potatoes into this with roots facing upwards and top dress with a little blood and bone.  I then cover up the spuds and wait for their leaves to appear above the ground. Once you have a growth above the ground start to hill up.  This is to prevent light getting to the tubers and also to encourage new tubers to form. Water in well to begin with and then keep your potatoes moist not wet. If you over water you could stand the chance of rotting the tubers.

If you are after new potatoes you can begin to harvest at around the 3 month period. But you must wait for the plant to have flowered and the leaves to be turning yellow. If it is main crop potatoes that you are after, and this is what I go for, then you really need to wait until the plant has died.

Now all you have to do is dig 'em up and enjoy them.  

Potatoes are an easy crop to grow, so why not give it a go!

Happy gardening. 

Photo's by Helen 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The winter garden in Melbourne

We are now entering into the midst of winter here in Melbourne, but we are lucky enough to have a temperate to cool climate and so it is still possible to grow veggies through the winter months. In order to have a good winter crop you must do your sowing and main planting in autumn, so that the plants have a chance to get established before the soil cools right down.

What can you grow through the winter months, you may ask.  We are fortunate enough to have a wide variety of vegetables that prefer the cooler weather. One of my favourites to grow are peas.  This year I am growing four different varieties; two dwarf shelling peas, Super Gem and Willow. It's my first year for trying Super Gem, but I can tell you that Willow produces the sweetest peas ever. The other two varieties are snow peas, and sugar snap. Find growing tips for peas  HERE- Easy Peasy  

Another favourite crop of mine is garlic.  This year I'm only growing one variety, Italian Red soft neck.  I've chosen a soft neck variety because they keep just that bit longer than the hard necks do.  For my tips on garlic see HERE

Autumn/Winter is a great time for planting any of the allium family - these include onions, spring onions, garlic, chives, shallots and leeks.  None of these are a difficult crop to grow and there is nothing nicer than pulling fresh baby leeks straight from the garden.
  <-- Garlic


I give these two crops a organic liquid feed around every two to three weeks.

Of course salad crops do very well in the cooler month and I like to try a few different varieties of lettuce, along with silver beet and radishes and tatsoi. I usually pick tatsoi leaves when they are babies and throw them into salads but you can, of course let them grow bigger and use in stir fry. 
<--------  Tatsoi

The last crop I'm going to mention are the brassicas which of course include cabbages, cauliflowers, broccoli, kale etc.  I always grow some cabbages and cauliflowers, but I choose the miniature varieties as they are plenty for two people and you can eat the whole thing in one go.  If you have a bigger family, then of course it makes sense to grow the larger types. Again you can find my tips on growing cabbages and cauliflowers HERE

<------- Cabbages & Cauliflowers

So with a little bit of preparation in autumn,your winter vegetable garden can be just as productive as your summer one.

Happy Winter Gardening.

All photographs are taken by Helen.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Day out to Cloud Hill Gardens 2017

 Over Easter we paid another visit to Cloud Hill Gardens, which is nestled in the Dandenong Ranges just near Olinda in Victoria Australia. Here is a small slideshow of some of the photos I took this time around.  I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I did taking them.

Slideshow created in Apple slideshow, music called Lazy Sunday, created by Helen and Garage Band. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Don't Forget The Bees!

Photograph by Helen
If you're heading into summer this coming season, then don't forget the Bees please. Provide them with plenty of bee friendly food. (You can find my post on Come on  Bee Friendly - HERE ) and be organic, don't use insecticides, they kill more than pests, they kill pollinators too!

Give the Bees some thought, remember they need all the help they can get, and the Bees in your garden will have something to dance about! 

Video made in Snap Chat.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Let's Pot Up! Container Planting

No matter how big or small your garden is there's always room for a pot or two. Pots can act as features in your garden or to brighten up a balcony.  I have a fairly big garden but I always have a variety of potted plants as well.  

Growing in containers is easy, you can choose almost anything from an old tin kettle or even an old boot or a nice terracotta pot. The only thing you need to remember is that your container must have drainage holes.

When I grow in my various pots, I like to add a broken crock to the bottom of the container. How many I use depends on the size of the pot I have chosen. If it's small, then one piece just over the hole will do and few more if the container is much larger. Placing bits of old broken pots etc. into your container will help with the drainage and stop the holes getting clogged up. The only other rule is to use a good potting mix, one that will give your plant all the nutrients it needs. I've said it before and I'll say it again,  why spend time and money on a plant if you're then going to pot it in cheap soil that has nothing in it. I always use premium potting mix and I advise you to do the same.

You can grow all sorts in pots and when placed around your garden or balcony, they will certainly brighten up your space.

Larger containers placed in the garden can act as a focal point and draw the eye in and over to an area of interest, or placed either side of some steps provides a great accent. 

There is no limit to what you can do with containers in and around your garden. But they don't always have to be planted up with flowers. If you don't have room to grow any veggies, there are plenty you can grow in pots.  Not only are they decorative like these chillies, but they also are edible.  Small fruit trees can be grown in large pots, and I have a dwarf mandarin in one myself, which is bearing its first fruit crop.

If you haven't got room for something like my mandarin tree, why not go in for a smaller crop like strawberries.  They work well in hanging baskets or from pots you can hook over a railing. I have a variety up on my deck called Bubblegum, (it does actually taste a bit like bubblegum!)  

Whether you are going to grow flowers or edibles, you must remember to water them regularly. If you use premium potting mix, it will contain enough food to feed the plant for 3 months, but you can always help it along with a liquid feed every now and again.

So you see, growing in containers is easy. Why not have a go for yourself. Let's Pot Up!

Happy Gardening!

All photos are by Helen