Monday, 28 November 2016

Elephant Garlic harvest

 Ummmm ... Yup ... lots of Elephant garlic and its now sitting on the veranda stinking up the neighbourhood.

It was planted in May of this year (2016). Here in Australia garlic is planted in Autumn and then harvested in last Spring or early summer. I made the decision yesterday to harvest all of it and place it on racks to finish drying.

Elephant Garlic is easy to grow. Its related to Onions, Garlic & Leeks and they are all from the same family called Amaryllidaceae.

Lots of people call them leeks but that is incorrect, Elephant Garlic is very different to Leeks, they are a lot bigger, the base of them becomes distended and bulb shaped and they produce individual cloves whereas leeks do not. Leeks are very much like a "long Onion" (that's how I describe them)

Elephant Garlic is also different to regular garlic. It has a milder flavor. Its great for cooking as it can be used like a filler the same as onions in that they takes on the flavor of the dish rather than over power it the way true garlic does.

Elephant takes approx. 7 to 9 months from planting cloves to harvest depending on climate conditions. Here where I live , which is cold climate zone, I tend to harvest my Elephant garlic while the leaves are still green. Plenty of people leave the plant in the ground until it is full dried but I like to remove it once I see the leaves begin to turn brown. I then place them on racks and allow them to finish drying under cover on the veranda.

The reason I do this is to reduce the risk of losing the Elephant garlic to rot. Here in my Cold climate zone the weather in November can be a bit unpredictable. We get a heap of warm days which is great for the garlic however we can also get what's called "Cold Fronts" coming through and these cold fronts can drop the temperature from 32C to 8C within a very short time and they usually contain rain as well and it is this rain combined with the sudden change in temperature which can cause the rot to set in.

This Elephant garlic will stay here on the veranda for about 5 weeks. After that I will top & tail it (remove the leaves and roots) and then leave it to dry for another 6 weeks. Once it is dry, they will then be "cracked" and the best cloves will be removed and placed into cardboard boxes to be replanted next year.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Vegetable Seedlings - corn, beans, cabbage, etc

This is what the seedlings look like as of this morning. They were planted 20 days ago so are growing quite well considering the weather here has been cold and wet. I will leave them here on the veranda for another 12 days and then plant them out into the main garden. All chance of one late last frost should be passed by then.
Starting plants off from seed is easy and can be cheaper than buying established seedlings. I always use a good quality potting and seed raising mix. I fill the dunny rolls with potting mix, put the seed on top and then cover with the seed raising mix. Give them a good drink of water and put them in a warm place to germinate.
A good place is behind glass, so if you have a spare sunny window sill somewhere that faces the sun, then that would be ideal  for example North facing window here in Australia which is in the Southern Hemisphere and I'm guessing a South facing window if living in Northern Hemisphere.
I've put them here on the veranda to protect them from the frost. It is possible to plant seeds directly into the ground but I find it easier to grow them this way into seedlings and then plant out once they are large enough.

Most of the seedlings will end up in the main garden but some of them will be transplanted into larger pots for example I will be putting the zucchini and the cucumbers into really large pots.

I am also growing spinach and I have planted it directly into the pot it will grow in. Here were I live is not really suitable for growing spinach, its either too cold and then its too hot for the spinach to grow successfully out in the main garden so I will keep it here on the veranda where I can control the temperature and water etc. This photo below shows it starting to sprout in the pot. I will spend my time moving the pot around to catch the sun which is a bit of a hassle but I really love spinach (not silverbeet but proper spinach with the tiny delicate leaves)

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Vegetable Seed Planting Time - The start of another growing season - 2016

Here we go again for another season. This year we have had rain since May, the drought has finally broken. All our water storage tanks are full which is good because previous years we have run out of water half way through and had to truck more in to refill our storage tanks.

I've already planted the onion seeds and they have since been transplanted in to the main vegetable garden

This is a list of the seeds planted on Saturday.
Corn - 109
Beans - 16
Pumpkins - 6
Zucchini - 2
Cucumber - 6
Capsicum - 9
Broccoli - 9
Cabbage - 9
Cauliflower - 9
Tomato - 9
Lettuce - 6.

I start the seeds in dunny rolls using a combination of potting mix & seed raising mix. I fill the dunny rolls with the potting mix first and then top them off with a bit of the seed raising
mix. Give them a good watering and then place them on the veranda near the glass windows so they get the warm and are protected from any late frosts.

I've already planted the onions and hubby planted the potatoes last weekend. I was wanting to plant the carrots this week but will have to wait until the wild weather settles down a bit more. The wind has been too strong and the delicate carrots seeds will just blow away as soon as I attempt to open the packet .. just have to be patient.
I plant the same amount of seeds each year because I know roughly how much that will produce and how much of it I can use and store. It does depend on the growing season of course, too much rain or too much drought can wipe out an entire crop. We have learnt to live with this climate zone so usually end up with about a tonne of produce (including fruit from trees etc)

This is a link to how I plant my carrots seeds HOW TO GROW 80 KILO of CARROTS
and this is a link to how I grow onions

The following photos show our main garden beds and some of the produced over the years.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Cold Climate Zone Planting times for Australian Gardens

I've put together information that you may find useful. Knowing what climate zone you live in is important so you can plant the right vegetables (seeds or seedlings) at the right time of year for your area. Some plants love warm temperatures and some plants love cooler temps. Some seeds, like pumpkin seeds, will only germinate when the soil temp reaches a certain temp (I used to know what temp but can't remember now)

I've found a couple of climate zone maps, the first one I copied from my Yates Garden Guide Book (without permission sooo sshhhh)

and the second colour image came from a garden magazine but I can't remember the name of it.
I prefer to use the map from Yates as it shows the cold climate zone more accurately

The following table relates to gardeners who live in a cool/cold climate zone (I will make a table for the other climate zones in next couple of weeks when I get a spare moment). It shows the best times of the year to plant seeds or seedlings.
If you click on the image it will enlarge for a better view

You will have to be very aware of when the frosts occur in your own area. I know from experience that here were I live, I get late frosts right up until 2nd week of November so I am not able to plant any frost tender plants into the garden until after that. I do, however, start all my seedling in Oct (except for onions & carrots which are frost tolerant and can be planted directly into the garden) and keep them on the veranda until the last frost has passed.

I hope you find this information useful

Friday, 22 July 2016

New carrot video (old carrot video re-edited)

Finally found a spare moment to edit my "Carrot Video" ... the old one is still up on YouTube (this is the old carrot video) but thought I better make a few changes and actually add a bit more useful information. I was hoping I could "swap it out" by replacing the existing YouTube video with this newly edited one but no luck.

Doesn't matter though as some people actually like the first one (although 14 people have clicked the  "don't like" button) hahahaha oh well, can't please every one .... most people can see the funny side.

This has lead me to question the world we currently live in ... WHY must we have to "like" or dislike" things anyway? .... WHY can't we just accept things for what they are ....
I made a video (I didn't have to)
I took images of my backyard veg garden
I willingly shared some of my knowledge
If you watch the video you might learn something new
I added a bit of silly stuff (I thought it was funny)
I added lots of hints & tips
The video can be viewed for free
AND YET ... some people STILL feel entitled to click the "dislike" button ... and just what is it that they "dislike"? .... is it the way I walk? ... the way I hold the camera??? these and many other important (not) questions are never answered (do I care ... not really ... which is a lie because I have just spent the morning re-editing my video ... and now my pants are on fire ) BUT I do find it extremely interesting to ponder what sort of people they are? .... did someone steal their lollipop off them when they were a kid and now feel the need to take it out on the rest of the world??? ... I wonder if they ever seen the good things in life? ...

Life is full of great stuff ... but only if we chose to see it

I began to look at myself ... have I ever clicked the "dislike" button ... hmmmm lets see ... NOPE never ... I either "like" stuff OR I just don't care ... I think its because deep down I am a bit lazy and can't be bothered to purposely "dislike" anything ... I do however LOVE, LOVE, LOVE things that are funny .... if I see something I like then I click, click, click like a crazy person on steroids!!!

anyhoo enough about me ... what about you? ... did you enjoy my video? :)

Monday, 23 May 2016

Garlic planting time

Hi there you there. its been about 4 months since my last post. I've got some photos to show you of my garden and what we grew this season. As you may or may not know, I grow my veg garden during the warmer months here in Australia, usually from Sept to Feb and then I plant my garlic during the colder winter months. So right now we are in the last days of Autumn and next month we enter Winter were we get heavy frosts and the occasional snow storm ... which is fun because I love snow. The main garden beds are now empty and resting but the garlic beds have just finished being planted for another growing season.

These photos show the range of food that comes from my garden. This year was very good for vegetables but not so much for fruit. The fruit trees were loaded but we got a heap of rain just at the wrong time so it made the apricots and plums split. We need the rain as it had been very dry but not the week before harvest. Anyway that's all part of growing food, there are no guarantees until its actually picked and packed.

I've planted the garlic for this year. I like to grow Elephant garlic (which is a relative of onions, garlic & leeks) and also like to grow "Purple Monaro" garlic (which is a true garlic).

These photos show the Elephant garlic being planted. I lay it out on top so I can work out the spacing and then I just dig a bit of a hole and poke the garlic into it.

This Elephant garlic will take about 9 months to reach maturity. sometimes I do have to harvest it early as we get late rain which can cause it to rot, especially if the rain comes with a cold front, then it can cause white rot to occur.

This is a link to garlic information from the NSW Department of Agriculture. It has useful info regarding the different varieties that can be grown, soil requirements, harvesting etc ,

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Pumpkin vine - video & photos of pumpkin patch

Pumpkin patch is loving this years growing conditions.
We've had a bit of rain and a bit of heat these last few months. Pumpkins, if given the right conditions will grow through the day and the night (unlike other plants that only grow through the day)
This is the ** PUMPKIN PATCH ** video I took 2 days ago which shows how large the patch is, plus I managed to capture some footage of the bees pollinating the flowers. I uploaded the video this morning

This pumpkin patch consists of approx. 10 plants. I start them off from seed in containers and potting mix. I use the best posting mix I can find. The cheap ones just aren't worth the money. They are started in October (Springtime) and then left out on the veranda behind glass until big enough to plant out into the main garden. I live in a cold climate zone so I can't plant them out until mid November otherwise the frost will get them. Pumpkin plants do not like frost and will be killed by it.

This photo shows the bed when its empty and then what it looks like once the pumpkin plants begin to grow. Pumpkins are a very large plant (vine) so plenty of space is needed.

It is possible to purchase smaller varieties, some are called bush pumpkins etc. These ones I grow are called Jarrahdale Pumpkins. I've tried a few different varieties such as Queensland Blue but I don't like them much as they have a rather tough skin so very hard to cut plus they aren't as blue looking as their name might suggest. Plenty of people and shops mistake the Jarrahdale for a Queensland blue because it has a blue looking skin. I like the Jarrahdale, they have a nice flavor, they grow well plus the skin is not too thick so makes cutting them easier. They also grow to a nice size, I've had some that have weighted in at 8 kilos. Plenty of pumpkin soup can be made from one decent sized pumpkin.

Pumpkins take about 14 to 16 week until harvest. They need a fertile bed to grow in so we use plenty of cow manure to provide the nutrients required for steady constant growth.

SEED PLANTING TIMES - Pumpkin seeds can be planted at the following times
* COLD CLIMATE ZONE - from October to December
* TEMPERTATE CLIMATE ZONE - From September To December
* SUB TROPICALCLIMATE ZONE -  From July to February
* TROPICAL - From January to December (All year round)

This photo below is from our 2009 harvest which consisted of 96 pumpkins ... some are jarrahdale, some are jap and some are hybrid

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Liar Liar pants on fire!

Ok, so I'm a bit late in posting my next blog update (Late?. 3 months is a tad more than a bit late mate) ... when I look back at my last post I see I was even crazy enough to *promise* to post the following week (was I insane when I said that???) anyhoo I've been waaaay busy (hasn't everyone) AND I have the photos to prove it.

My veg garden is bursting at the seems. I'm in Australia NSW Cold Climate Zone so my season starts from Sept with the planting of onions & carrots seeds into the ground, followed by seed planting into dunny rolls and then final planting out of all seedlings into the main garden in November after all frosts have passed.  This year we had some beautiful spring rain followed by warm weather so everything has grown without incident except for the Apricots ... they were growing really well, the trees were loaded but we got another lot of rain just at harvest time and it caused the apricots to split. I saved some and turned them into jam but the rest went to the native birds. When growing food you just have to take the good with the bad and be thankfully for any that is harvested.

This year I planted my cucumber and Zucchini in big terracotta pots just because I didn't have any room for them in the main garden. They have been growing really well and I will do the same thing again next year. I planted one zucchini plant and it has produced enough for me & hubby to have a nice feed. As for the cucumbers, I'm not sure what I was thinking and planted 6 plants so now I have cucumbers everywhere.

The pots are filled with high quality potting mix and each year the mix will be replaced. As for the main garden, that is covered in cow manure each year after every harvest to replenish nutrients used by the plants through the growing season. Why cow manure I hear you ask? ... well its because cow manure is basically fermented grass compost. It's gentle, slow release fertilizer. The soil loves it, the free-range worms love it, the plants love it.

These next couple of photos show the pumpkin patch going berserk.. A couple of times its even tried climbing over the neighboring fence. I think it might be a good year for pumpkins. There are plenty of bees around and I've seen quite a lot of pumpkins developing so fingers crossed we don't get a big storm or hail ... I try not to count on anything until the final harvest.

The weather right now has been quite warm (of course it has, its summer time!!!), we got up to 35C yesterday (we can get as high as 42C during mid summer but that happens very rarely) We are classed as *Cold Climate Zone* because our winter temps can be bitterly cold down to -minus 8C with heavy frosts and the occasional snow storm.

I have been out this morning picking lettuce & cabbage and they are now sitting in bags in the spare fridge. I'll be picking all the carrots soon as I can see some of them starting to *bolt* to seed. I'll harvest them all at the same time and keep them in the spare fridge as well until we get around to using them. We have carrot, apple & celery juice each morning so most of the carrots will end up being juiced. I can taste the difference when using our own carrots compared to commercially grown ones. The flavor is more mellow and doesn't have the bitter after taste.