Saturday, August 1, 2020

Do you Thin Your Carrots?

Carrots are one of the easiest crops to grow in your garden and the taste is just marvellous. It is also an good crop for children to start growing in their own little patch.

Carrots don't like to be sown on newly manured soil, so I always plant them as a follow up crop to something else I've grown.  All I do is dig the ground over and make the soil friable.

Now when your carrot seedlings appear do you thin them out?  My answer to this question is no I do not. Why don't I? I don't because the carrot fly can smell carrots and pulling out the seedlings can damage the foilage, this in turn boost the scent that may well attract them to your crop.

As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, I allow my carrots to grow regardless of how crowded they are.  When they get to around the size of small fingers, that's when I start pulling some to make room for the others to grow.

These thinnings are the perfect baby sized carrots for the table, steamed they will be delicious. As far as I know from my own experience, carrot fly doesn't seem to bother them at this stage and perhaps that is because the foilage is tougher and does not bruise so easily.

At sowing time, do try to sow more thinly so that you can eliminate the need to thin out.  Planting spring onions next to your carrot crop can mask the scent of the carrot and give you some protection from carrot fly, or alternatively you can give your crop total protection by using some sort of cover.

Whatever you choose to do, try planting your own carrot crop, the taste is far superior to anything you will buy in the shops.

Happy Gardening!


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Golden Podded Peas

This year for the first time I have grown this rare climbing pea, apparently it was found in a market in India. The golden pea pods can be eaten raw as you would Snow Peas. 

I prepared my soil for planting in Autumn by digging in some well rotted manure, compost and a scattering of lime, all peas love lime.
I grew my seedlings in seed trays first in my cold greenhouse, then after hardening off the seedlings I planted out. 

The flowers on this plant are really beautiful, bicoloured in a lighter shade of purple/pink on the outer petals, and deep purple in the centre.

These plants are now growing well and producing their golden pods, which I have to say are delicious eaten young and raw.  The plants do need support and a higher support than the one I have given them. Next year I will rectify this. 

These are certainly worth growing and one I shall keep on my list for the future.  I obtained my seeds from the Diggers Garden Club in Victoria Australia, but you may be able to find them on other Heritage Seed sites.  If you want to try something different why not give this Golden Podded Pea a go.

Happy Organic Gardening!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Heirloom Vegetables

Seedling Telephone Peas

I do like to grow Heirloom Vegetables the reasons being that some of the old varieties taste so much better than the modern ones and also these old varieties are open pollinated.  By open pollinated I mean that they have not been genetically enhanced in anyway and that you can collect their seed and know it will be true to the parent plant. 

This season I am trying a new heirloom variety that I have not grown before.  They are called Telephone and are a climbing shelling pea.  They can reach the height of 6 foot or 2meters and have long pods with sweet fat peas as many as 8 in a pod.  An Old English variety released in 1878.  They mature in 70-78 days.

You can plant peas direct into the soil but I prefer to start them off in seed trays and when large enough move out of my greenhouse and into a sheltered part of the garden when they can harden off for a couple or so weeks.  I'm planting these in winter so that I can harvest early spring. 

Prepare your soil before planting using either good compost or well rotted manure, provide some support for these babies, I have made a wigwam out of 6ft poles to which I will wrap around some chicken wire for the peas to grab hold of.  If birds are a problem then cover with some netting and don't forget those pesky slugs but do use only animal friendly biodegradable pellets.

Lets hope these peas do please me!

Did you know that legumes produce their own nitrogen? What does that mean for us gardeners?  It means that you do not have to fertilise once planted, but you do have to keep them well watered but not waterlogged!

Happy Gardening!

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.