Posts Tagged ‘sweet’

Spring 2011 plantings in pictures

3 November, 2011

I’ve done a bit better this spring. I actually got most of my vegetable seeds and seedlings in at the right time in Spring, i.e. at the beginning of the season, rather than the end of it like last year.

Right now the garden is bursting with a heap of growth (verdant, AnnMaree just called it), some a few weeks old, some planted just this morning. There are tomatoes (mostly planned, others not so much), spinach, capsicum (hangers-on from the winter crop, but they don’t take up too much space), French beans, oak head lettuce, Lebanese cucumbers, eggplants and sweet corn down the western end. Hopefully all of it will have been harvested by the end of summer, if not before, and not be limping on into autumn and ruining my mid-2012 schedule. We’ll see. Mother Nature can be somewhat capricious – anybody else noticed that?

I thought that instead of coming up with a thousand words I’d just let the pictures do the talking, so here goes:

View of the vege garden from the southeast, Spring 2011

View of the vege garden from the southeast

View of the garden from the southwest with Helena's backyard in the background

View from the southwest with Helena's backyard in the background

Central section, with beans, lettuce and cucumber

Central section, with beans, lettuce and cucumber

The capsicums growing well

The capsicums, already growing well

Tomatoes, spinach and capsicum

Tomatoes, spinach, capsicum

The vegetable garden viewed from the northeast, Spring 2011

The garden as viewed from the northeast

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Eggplant

Eggplant - 2 large, 1 runt

Sweet corn, western end

Sweet corn, Spring 2011

Tomatoes, already going feral

Tomatoes, already starting to go feral

First corn harvested

7 January, 2010
The vegetable garden at dusk, with sweet corn plants in the foreground.

The vegetable garden at dusk, with sweet corn plants in the foreground.

I came home from work a bit early this afternoon, having had a persistent stomach ache since yesterday evening. Amazed I managed to stay at work for most of the day, actually. I then took to my bed for a Gardener Scampus Power Nap, and was woken by the Other Half arriving home around 6pm.

She suggested maybe it was time to harvest one of the cobs of corn. Gulp. The first corn harvest!

It was with some trepidation that I ventured down the back stairs. While many of the cobs’ tassels have already turned brown and shrivelled up, they’ve still seemed a little small to be harvesting just yet. So I’d been putting that off for the past week or so. But now it was time to find out if the wait (something like 11 weeks) had been worth it.

Because of its reasonable size, I chose a cob from one of the two plants at the eastern, outer end of the box. A twist one way, a twist the other way, and it was free from its nice, cosy spot snuggled up against the plant’s stem. (I had a fleeing thought at this point that maybe removing this particular cob would give a boost to the other cob on the plant, which remains somewhat undersized. Probably doesn’t work that way…)

First cob of sweet corn harvested

First cob of sweet corn harvested, showing the small area of black 'smut' on the husk. False alarm, fortunately.

Pulling back the outermost green husks, I noted a bit of what looked like black smut on one of them. Heavens to hamburgers! Hope this didn’t mean that some of that copious rainwater of the past few weeks had snuck inside and ruined the kernels.

AnnMaree had come down into the back yard at this point, so like the coward I am I handed the cob over to her for the final check out. She pulled back all the rest of the coverings and exposed the all-important kernels. What do you know? They were perfect – firm and yellow, and all there.

Alright! Success!

So now perhaps I won’t be so loath to harvest a couple more over the next few days, before we head to NZ next week.

Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes, just picked, mixed in with store-bought "kumatoes".

Cherry tomatoes, just picked, mixed in with store-bought "kumatoes" and ready to be added to the evening's salad. (Apologies for the blurring)

While I was down there I grabbed another handful of cherry tomatoes – they’ve been ripening in dribs and drabs for the past couple of weeks now.

With the toms, it’s been a bit of a race between the fruit ripening and the leaves all falling off at least 3 of the plants from the wilt disease (possibly Fusarium Wilt, by its looks) they’ve picked up in the past week or 2.

By sheer chance I originally bought the “Sweetbite” brand of cherry tomatores. Later Peter Cundall told me that Sweetbite ‘is extraordinarily disease resistant’…! Riiiiight. Hmmmph. I fear that my garden appears to be one of those exceptions that proves the experts’ rule.

From other things I’ve read, I’m guessing I won’t be able to grow any more tomatoes in the same soil for at least 3 years, as it can take at least that long for the wilt fungus to work its way out of the soil. Ouch – that’s a long time to wait between crops!

Dinner

We had salad with our pork chops tonight. It included the handful of cherry toms I picked this afternoon. But taking pride of place in the salad were the kernels from our first successfully grown and harvested cob of sweet corn. The kernels were sweet, and, waxing lyrical for a moment, I guess it shows that sometimes life itself can be sweet. Despite a stomach ache.

Progress report – end of Week 7

19 December, 2009
The garden bed on an overcast day

The garden bed on an overcast day

First, a confession: Gardener Scampus was a very lazy boy last weekend. Well, I was and I wasn’t.

Physically I put the Big Ones in, spending those two broiling hours working in the garden on Saturday morning. But digitally it was a case of never quite getting around to putting together my usual weekly post here about the goings-on in the vege gardens.

So the post for last week’s progress report that you see on this blog was actually written today, a week after the events described. I hope that hasn’t resulted in a scratchy, incomplete effort on my part. Although frankly how will you, my readers, know?

Anyway, on to this week’s round-up. (No, that wasn’t a free plug for Monsanto’s product, Roundup. Au contraire, mes amis…)

Beetroots

Main bed

Thankfully all 10 plants in the main bed are coming back into contention, including the two I transplanted to new positions last weekend. Most of them obviously received a nasty shock when I thinned them out, but the heat, and that nice little storm mid-week, gave them all a fighting chance. A couple of the plants on the higher row are enormous now, but all of them are still in there and battling on.

Beetroot transplants in The Annexe

Beetroot transplants in The Annexe

The Annexe

At this point, of the 10 plants I transplanted here last Saturday morning, 9 are still alive, if barely! But that’s something, I guess. I read something just now that recommended watering transplants once and even twice a day for a couple of weeks, which I haven’t been doing. Will rectify that over the next few weeks.

Carrots

A crowd of carrots

A crowd of carrots - note the big one at top right

Nothing particularly new to report here. Another slow grower, the carrot. I accidentally pulled out a couple of the smaller plants while thinning out the neighbouring beetroots last week, but given how many plants there are in each of the two rows, it doesn’t really matter.

As the accompanying photo shows, the plant at the highest end of the right-hand row is for some reason growing much, much faster than all the others.  Show-off.

Beans

Bottom end of the garden

Bottom end of the garden showing beans in the foreground, beetroot and carrots in the background

If it wasn’t for the fact that I have the neighbour’s burgeoning bean plants in full view, I would think that it’s been too hot to grow beans this summer! Mine are all fairly small by comparison, and as mentioned previously 2 or even 3 of them remain very stunted, to the point where I can’t see them contributing to the harvest in any way.

I might add that the beans are planted in the lowest corner of the bed. Perhaps that has something (a lot?) to do with it. I think, as the opportunity arises, I’ll re-lay the soil within the garden’s boxing so it’s more level right across the bed, and see if that leads to more consistent growth patterns next time around. It surely can’t hurt.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes showing size difference

Tomatoes in the main bed showing the size difference between the 2 plants

Small green tomatoes have now appeared on three of the four plants, but are obviously a long way off ripening at this point. Still, no sign of bugs on them as yet.

The right-hand plant in The Annexe continues to struggle, with most of the lower foliage having browned off. It can’t be the heat, otherwise why isn’t its neighbour in the same boat? But the topmost fronds look pretty healthy this weekend, so I’m still hoping.

Meanwhile, over in the main bed the right-hand plant is massive in comparison to its neighbour, but way behind in terms of fruit production as yet. Too much potassium? Nitrogen? Put it on my list of things to check into online, as time permits. Once again the clarion call goes forth: “More research needed!”

Chillies

Chillies in the main bed

Chillies in the main bed

Just this morning I noticed a monster chilli on one of the plants in the pots on the back deck. It’s green, but it’s enormous – not sure whether to leave it for a bit longer and see if it changes colour, or pull it off now and take my chances. A bit of online reading earlier this morning suggests leaving it to ripen, but oh, the temptation!

Most of the chilli plants now sport a one or more fruit on their spindly boughs, but all are still green and most are small, except for the big hoo-er mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Sweet Corn

Going along swimmingly, thanks for asking! All 6 plants are tall, green and healthy. (You can surely see why they suck so many nutrients out of the soil.) This week the tassels have really started to come out for the first time.

I guess it is only four weeks until the cobs are due to be picked. But by the looks of them, if they keep up the current rate of growth, they may be ready a little earlier than that, and that would mean we get to eat them ourselves. Otherwise they’ll be going to friends and/or neighbours to consume while we’re ‘across the Ditch’ in NZ.

There’s something very pleasurable about sitting under the back deck and just listening to the breezes rustle through the corn, late in the afternoon at the end of a hot day. Especially if you’ve been working in the very same garden earlier that day.

Eschallots

Very little to report. The cats’ digging and mulch-moving activities in The Annexe have led to the death and disappearance of a couple more eschallots there, but the other plants continue to grow, if slowly. I’ve moved in a few bits of old pavers to try to protect the survivors better.

They do appear to be a very slow grower, eschallots. The result is, at this stage, not a lot of progress to report on.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers in main bed

Cucumber plants in main bed

Almost forgot! Our major producers (so far) provided another 3 or 4 cucumbers during the week, and there are at least another 3 on the vines in the main bed, almost ready to pick now.

Cucumbers on the vine

Cucumbers on the vine, including a mutant in the centre

All this fruit producing must be exhausting, and the plants are starting to look a bit frayed and brown around the edges, especially those in the main bed. I don’t know how long they live for, but I’m suspecting it’s not all that long – I doubt they’re perennials. Or it could be that they need fertilising. Once again, time to get online and do more investigating, I suppose. (Never a dull moment when learning to garden, you know!)

And that was the week that was, as a British wit once said, some time last century.

Coming up is the last week of work this year, and it’s a short one, since Christmas Day is on Friday. And then a glorious week or so (10 days, to be precise) of vacation time! I’ll miss the air conditioning at work, but probably not much else.

After that, it’s only about 10 days until we’re winging our way to New Zealand for a couple of weeks. Seems like forever since we were over there last, although it’s been less than 2 years, in fact. I can’t wait.

Sweet corn down!

22 November, 2009

The weekend just past, apart from its oppressive heat and humidity (welcome back, Brisbane summer…), was also fairly windy. I’d been noticing since Saturday morning, maybe even since Friday evening, that a couple of the sweet corn plants were not quite upright, and were leaning at slight angles as the breeze pushed them around a bit.

When I watered the garden this afternoon, one of the affected plants actually gave up the ghost under the fairly gentle onslaught and keeled over altogether, while the angle of the other one increased to a dangerous level.

Fortunately there’s plenty of spare soil in the garden bed, along the southern side of the trellises where there’s a gap between them and the non-trellised plants. I just excavated a bit of the dirt, mounded it up around the base of the 2 plants, and firmed it down to give them the added support they obviously needed.

GardenerScampus Tip: Keep a regular eye on your plants in their early days (if not all the time) and shore them up if and when it’s needed. Otherwise you may look out and find your vegetables are lying down on the job, possibly for so long that it’s too late to remedy the situation.

Initial plantings

6 November, 2009
The garden bed - trellises in place

Figure 1. The garden bed - trellises already in place (I forgot to take a photo earlier in the process)

The garden bed is located close to the lower, northern side of the backyard (see Figure 1). Made from 6 treated pine sleepers from Camp Hill Timber and Landscape, it’s 2 sleepers high on all sides (so I don’t have to bend down all the way to the ground while working in it) and has dimensions of 3.6 x 1.2 metres. It’s positioned so that it will receive heaps of sunshine for much of the day, but from about 2.00 to 2.30pm onwards the Fiddlewood tree down the lower back corner will completely shade it. This will hopefully save the plants from getting heatstroke due to too much exposure to our subtropical summer sun.

Trellises

First task of the day was to make myself 3 trellises, to support Lebanese Cucumbers, Cherry tomatoes and Climbing beans. I was able to make the trellises from fairly cheap materials. Each trellis consists of a metre of plastic coated, wire mesh with square holes 10 cm on a side. The mesh was stretched between 2 pine garden stakes each a little over a metre long. The mesh is actually 1.2 m high, with the top 20 cm folded over to keep things tidy. But I have a feeling I’m going to have to unfold it later, especially with the climbing beans which need a trellis up to 2 m high.

Diagram showing the layout and information about the vegetables initially planted in the garden

Figure 2. Diagram showing the layout and information about the vegetables initially planted in the garden

With the trellises built (it took about 3/4 hour sitting in the shade under the back deck) the action shifted to the garden bed itself. I first moved the sugar cane mulch back from the northern half of the bed, clearing it off the soil  in readiness. I used a rubber mallet to hammer my 3 trellises in a line down the bed, 30 cm from and parallel to the northern wall.

Lunch

Before I could start planting, the Significant Other suggested that since it was the last day of our 2 week vacation (not counting the weekend still ahead, which I suppose we would have had anyway), we should head up to the Rare Pear at Holland Park for lunch. Which we promptly did. Lunch was great, coffees weren’t bad (though not a patch on the coffees we experienced down in NSW last week – is it the milk they use?), and we were back home within the hour.

Planting the veges

Lebanese Cucumber seedlings

Figure 3. Lebanese Cucumber seedlings planted and awaiting mulching

Back to the garden. Satiated and armed with a black and white printout of my handy dandy diagram (see Figure 2) I set to planting with a will.

  • First plants to go in were the Lebanese cucumbers – 3 seedlings, 20 cm apart.
  • Cheery tomatoes – 2 seedlings, 60 cm apart.
  • Climbing beans – 5 or 6 seeds buried 2 cm down and 10 cm apart.

Then, down the southern side of the bed, starting from the western end:

  • Radish – seeds, 1/4 inch down in two rows 20 cm apart.
  • Carrot – seeds, 1/4 inch down in two rows 20 cm apart.
  • Chillies – in 2 rows of 2 seedlings (2 Cayenne, 1 Siam, 1 Anaheim) with 25 cm between them.
  • Sweet corn – seedlings in 3 rows about 70 cm apart, 2 seedlings in each row about 35 cm apart.

I watered the plants at various stages during each planting, of course.

All up, I suppose this process took about 3 hours.

At the end there were one or more seedlings of each kind left over. AnnMaree suggested potting some of them, to go up on the back deck with the other potted herbs and plants. By this stage of the afternoon I was pretty much out of energy, so I promised I would pot some of them and plant the rest in a spare, long-prepared garden bed on the south side of the back deck… tomorrow.

I’ve also put off building a cage to go around the whole bed. It’s to be chicken wire over some kind of wooden frame, set up so that the sides can be lifted up and back to allow easy access. I’m hoping I won’t need to build this – that the possums and crows will keep their greedy claws and beaks out of it. Let’s face it, I’m kidding myself here. But I also know that building a cage of the type I have in mind is going to be a monumental undertaking (for me) and will take all of a day to do. And at heart I’m lazy, when it boils right down to it. So if I can get out of it, I will. I’ll pay for it later…

To top things off, it rained quite strongly for a short while during the night, giving the garden and its plants their first proper watering.