Thursday, 28 July 2011

Compost 2011

Winter is a great time to get stuck into some compost building.

My latest heap has a variety of ingredients:
  • A base layer of chopped Asparagus fronds that had died back for the winter this is to allow plenty of air beneath the heap.
  • Shredded paper that had been bedding in the chook house so it was mixed with lots of old chooky poop
  • A bale of Certified Organic Sugar Cane Mulch
  • Cow Manure from our farmer friends
  • Nettles and Dandelions from the chook runs
  • Wattle and fruit tree leaf litter
  • Azolla from an overgrown pond!
  • Chopped Broad Bean foliage from Bed1
It is watered at each turning (if needed) with rainwater mixed with worm juice from the worm farm. Each time I brew up worm castings (see how Here) I give the heap a sprinkling too!!

More Information on Compost Making HERE

Monday, 25 July 2011

Early Spring Seeds

I like to get an early start on spring seeds. After researching the Optimal Germinating Temperatures of Seeds I decided to use a heated propagation frame as the soil in my area is still extremely cold. This unit has been set up in an old, storage caravan which has enough natural light for seed germination.

This will allow the planting out of advanced seedlings during October. These seedlings when correctly "hardened off" tend to be able to withstand pest attack more readily.
Your climate may suit direct sowing of seeds into the soil at warm times of the year. This way works for me. As soon as they are big enough I shall pot them on and tuck them up in the hot house.
Last year our last frost date was Nov 1.

Other ways of providing warmth are:
Building and Using Hotbeds and Coldframes see here
Keep Your Plants All Winter with a Cold Frame see here
Seed Starter Box see here on a sunny window sill inside
How to build a manure heated hot frame see here
Build A Real Simple Hot Frame see here
Or you could start seeds on top of a warm heat source like a hot water storage unit or even on top of your fridge, just be very careful how you water the seedlings!!

A description of the varieties I have chosen for this year:

TOMATO Lycopersicon esculentum

**STOR GUL The Lost Seed
  • golden fruit
  • medium sized fruit
  • smooth skin
  • to 10cm across
  • vigorous to 2.1m in height
  • 78-85 days
**PINEAPPLE The Lost Seed
  • yellow fruit
  • large, beefsteak fruit over 500g
  • sturdy vines with good leaf coverage
  • smooth, mild flavour with low acid
  • High yields
  • 85-90 days
**MONEY MAKER The Lost Seed
  • scarlet red fruit
  • round, smooth fruits
  • thin skin & solid flesh to 115g
  • vigorous, open bush.
  • high yields
  • sets well in all types of weather
  • Old English heirloom dating back prior to the 1920's
  • 75-80 days
  • flesh changing from green to yellow, red and pink
  • 18kg per plant
  • transplant >20 C soil temperature
  • 118 days
  • red colour
  • globe-shaped smooth fruit
  • produces abundantly over a long time
  • best staked
  • success in all states
  • 80-105 days
  • Russian heirloom
  • reddish-black fruit
  • medium sized fruit 4-6cm across
  • smooth skin and dark flesh
  • beefstake type
  • 69-100 days
KOTLAS The Lost Seed
  • Soviet Union heirloom
  • red fruit
  • small round fruit
  • sparsely foliaged bush
  • best croppers last year!
  • 59 days
**IDA GOLD Home saved originally from seed savers network
  • golden sweet fruit
  • small fruit on dwarf plant
  • ideal for edging or containers

**COSSACK PINEAPPLE Physalis pruinosa Phoenix Seeds
  • 50 cm ground covering plant
  • native to Eastern North America
  • 1.5cm golden sweet edible fruits
  • space plants 30cm apart
  • seeds need light to germinate
  • preferred soil temperature of 27C
  • closely related to Cape Gooseberries also known as Ground Cherry

EGGPLANT Solanum melongena

CASPER Eden seeds
  • white heirloom eggplant
  • quick to produce
  • fruits approx 5cm x 15cm.
  • 90 days
  • deep purple fruit
  • yield 3.5kg per plant
  • sow 18C

CAPSICUM Capsicum annuum

**CALIFORNIA WONDER New Gippsland Seeds
  • bell type
  • red and green fruit
  • light yellow fruit changing to orange red
  • thin tapered cylindrical fruit to 13cm
  • sweet (mild heat)

BEAN Runner Phaseolus coccineus A few of these seeds have been planted.

  • salmon-pink flowers
  • lives up to 7 yrs
  • perennial
  • also known as 'Seven Year Bean'
  • scarlet coloured flowers
  • first introduced in 1600's
  • 70-90 days

Most of this information comes from the seed packets! For links to the Seed Suppliers go here
** varieties grown for my garden, leftovers and the rest are grown for sharing with friends and the Community Garden Plotters (I may keep one of the Eggplants but we really don't eat many of these.)

More info on starting from seeds:
Growing From Seed
The Horticultural Channel It's an English site so don't go by their planting dates but contains useful information (on video) for beginners.
Emma Cooper (also in UK) has a series of useful seed raising tips using peat free mixes on her Blog Here

Friday, 15 July 2011

Seed Germination Temperatures

"For every species of seed,
there is an optimal soil temperature for germination,
and at that temperature,
the maximum number of seeds will germinate
and in less time than at any other temperature."

Tom Clothier's Garden Walk and Talk

As I contemplate the early sowing of seeds for Spring planting I have noted the optimal soil temperature for germination and growth. It becomes clear why summer crops need added heat to germinate and grow early in the season.

Optimal soil temperatures for seed germination and preferred growing range:
Amaranth Amaranthus gangeticus 28C; range 16C-30C
Artichoke Globe Cynara scolymus 20C; range 15C-18C
Asparagus Asparagus officinalis 25C; range 16C-30C
Basil Ocimum basilicum 30C; range 18C-35C
Bean Runner Phaseolus coccineus 25C; range 16C-30C
Beans Broad Vicia faba 17C; range 6C-24C
Beans Bush Phaseolus nanus 25C; range 16C-30C
Beetroot Beta vulgaris 25C; range 8C-30C
Broccoli Brassica oleracea var. italica 20C; range 7C-30C
Cabbage Brassica oleracea var. capitata 25C; range 10C -35C
Capsicum Capsicum annuum 20C; range 18C-35C
Carrots Daucas carota 25C; range 10C-30C
Cauliflower Brassica oleracea 25C; range 10C-30C
Celery Apium graveolens var. dulce 20C; range 12C-21C
Chillies Capsicum annuum 20C; range 18C-35C
Clover Red Trifolium pratense 25C; range 20C-25C#
Corn Sweet Zea mays 25C; range 16C-35C
Cossack Pineapple Physalis pruinosa 27C; range 10C-24C ****
Cucumber Cucumis sativus 35C; range 16C-35C
Eggplant Solanum melongena 30C; range 24C-32C
Kale Brassica oleracea var acephala 20C; range 8C-30C
Kohl Rabi Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes 15C; range 8C-30C
Leeks Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum 20C; range 8C-30C
Lettuce Lactuca sativa 23C; range range 8C-27C
Luffa Luffa aegyptica 35C; range 20C-30C
Melon Cucumis melo 32C; range 20C-32C
Onion Allium cepa 23C; range 8C-30C
Parsnip Pastinaca sativa 17C; range 6C-21C
Peas Pisum sativum 23C; range 8C-23C
Pumpkin Cucurbita species 35C; range range 20C-35C
Radish Raphanus sativus 30C; range range 8C-30C
Silverbeet Beta vulgaris 25C; rangerange 10C-30C
Spinach English Spinacia oleracea 21C; range 10C-25C
Sunflower Helianthus annuus 30C; range 15C-30C
Tomato Lycopersicon esculentum 30C; range 16C-35C
Watermelon Citrullus lanatus 35C; range 21C-35C
Zucchini/Squash Cucurbita pepo 35C; range 21C-35C

This is not a complete listing.
It contains many of the seeds I grow, more information is available on the links below.

Further reading/sources:
Information has been sourced from the Phoenix Seed catalogue and Eden Seeds Growing Chart variations may occur.

Locally sourced seed will have adapted to local climatic conditions and would have a wider variation of tolerated temperatures.

****information for Cossack Pineapple from This Site
# and for the Clovers Here

Information also available on individual plant listings on the Gardenate site

The article When to Plant on this link contains a chart with more “realistic” soil temperatures for germination. (In Fahrenheit)

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Phoenix Seed Catalogue 2011/2012

The latest Phoenix catalogue is now available.

They offer prompt service and a very wide range of unusual vegetable, herb and tree seeds.
This new catalogue includes their bank details for direct deposit for orders via email.

Please direct all requests for catalogues to:
Phoenix Seeds
PO Box 207
Tas 7054

Please visit the new website:

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Scarecrow's Garden Journal Notes: June 2011

The Grandtwins turned 1 this month
with a Party in the Park!!

Temperatures this month:
Lowest Min -4.1C
Highest Min 8C
Lowest Max 9.4C
Highest Max 19C
Rain 14.5mm

Weather Highlights
The month began with almost spring temperatures of around 20C but the second week brought colder days. Around the middle of the month we had our lowest frost so far this year at -4.1C. The coldest day, saw the most rain fall and the strongest winds which coincided with the winter solstice!

Rain comparison with other years:
June 2010 13.5mm
June 2009 53mm
June 2008 27mm
June 2007 7.5mm

Propagation: Seeds:
Growth of seeds has slowed this month so I've planted up some punnets in the hot house to give them a start. I would not have planted these in the cold ground at this time of year.
Mizuna Purple Brassica rapa Japonica Group Southern Harvest
Lettuce Miner's Montia perfoliata Phoenix Seeds
Lettuce Goldrush Lactuca sativa Home Saved Seeds
Spinach Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinacea oleracea Eden Seeds
Silverbeet Rainbow Mixed Beta vulgaris 4Seasons Seeds
The following Broad Beans were planted in loo rolls for a head start and to stop them rotting in the cold, damp soil.
Broad Beans Crimson Flowering Vicia faba Southern Harvest
The following were started for green manure crops
Broad Beans Coles Early Dwarf Vicia faba DT Brown
Broad Beans Early Long Pod Vicia faba DT Brown

Potting up/on:
Mizuna Purple
Lettuce Goldrush
Spinach Bloomsdale Long Standing
Strawberries Pink Flowering
Violet Purple Leaved Wood Viola labradorica

Seedlings planted out:

Onion Domenica Sweet
Onion Stuttgart
Onion Red Rossa
Into Wicking Bed 2 Main Veg Garden
Broad Beans Coles Early Dwarf into the Old Chook Run Wicking Bed 1 as green manure
Broad Beans Early Long Pod into the Chook House Wicking Bed as green manure

Broad beans started in loo rolls which were buried
with the seedlings so they will decay completely
- any exposed cardboard will cause evaporation of moisture.

Tansy Tanacetum vulgare
Grapevines un-named
Loganberry self "tip-layered" pieces, rescued when pruning
Strawberry runners collected when tidying the patch

Plant/Seed Purchases:
Strawberries Pink Flowering
Violet Purple Leaved Wood Viola labradorica
Spring Seed orders from Eden Seeds, The Lost Seed (included Potatoes) and Diggers details to follow

Around the Garden This Month:

The Trees For Life seedlings
have been collected by their local landholder.

Compost has been made and is tucked up to keep warm

The Loganberries have been pruned
and the Strawberries at their base thinned/fed.
A box of runners removed for planting elsewhere later.

OK so not in the garden but....The highlight of the month was the Grandtwins birthday. These little people have been walking for 2 months now so are really getting into everything!!!!
We took them home made gifts - some of Poppy Doc's wonderful wooden toys/puzzles and Nanny Scarecrow made them some tops and trackpants.
Little Mr Blue Eyes puts everything straight into his mouth and loves rough play with Dad while Little Ms Brown Eyes closely studies everything and loves to dance.

Harvest Tally:

Miner's Lettuce Montia perfoliata

Doesn't include Greens fed to the chooks on a daily basis or greens and herbs picked for use in the kitchen for salads/cooking or tea making. This month this has included Drunken Woman, Crispmint and Miners Lettuces, Parsley, Parcel, Gotu Kola, Shallot Greens, Coriander and Endive. Lots of Dandelions, Thistles, Winter Grasses, Kale and a few bolting Lettuces for the chooks.

Apples Golden Delicious 6656g
Apples Jonathon 509g
Apples Pink Lady 535g
Beetroot Forono 1346g
Celery American Stringless 1805g
Pea Snow Roi de Carouby 40g
Potatoes Bintji 350g
Radish French Breakfast 40g
Silverbeet Rainbow Mixed 175g
Spinach Bloomsdale Long Standing 50g

57 From the 5 Farmyard Ferals
27 From the 3 Barnevelders
11 From the 5 Faverolles

June of Previous Years:

To see how the various Garden areas fit on our half acre block check out the newest Map of our place HERE


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