Garden Update – August 2016

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As winter came to most of the Southern Hemisphere, my little garden stagnated and not a great deal had happened in the months since I pondered my missing Sweet Corn seeds.  I never did discover what had happened, and the lonely stalk that survived grew to about a foot and a half tall before prematurely tassling and eventually rotting in the ground.  It just wasn’t meant to be this season.

Mid-way through April, I planted some seeds, something I hadn’t had much luck with previously (my Seed Journal is testament to my strong seed failing history).  The survivors are thyme, cayenne chillies, habanero chillies and purple capsicum.  The cayenne chilli has already fruited, despite only being a small plant, the capsicum and thyme are going great guns, and the habanero is doing well after having some nasty creature eat the top of it while it was still tiny.

We managed to get our desert rose to flower for the first time, and the cotton has continued to pump out more than we can harvest (update on the cotton plant and it’s bout with whitefly soon).  We’re also now growing peanuts, thanks to Adam buying some raw ones to eat, and us having a “bet I can grow these”, “bet you can’t” battle of wills.

In sad news, my camera appears to have some problem with it (I thought it was the battery, but buying a new one didn’t solve that problem), but I’ve taken a few snaps with my phone which will have to suffice for now.  Those will go up in future posts.

Until then, happy gardening, all!

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The Case of the Mysterious Vanishing Seeds

Curiouser and curiouser.  When I planted my corn seeds, I planted two rows of four.  Thus far, only five seeds have sprouted, four of which are doing very well.  Yesterday I impatiently brushed a few millimeters of soil away from where I’d planted the non-sprouting seeds, to encourage them to spring into action.  Today, I brushed the soil away from where I’d planted one seed, and I kept on brushing until I reached the depth I’d planted the seeds at (I know, I probably shouldn’t do that but I wanted to see if the seed had at least sprouted).  No seed.  I did likewise where I’d planted the other two, no seeds.

 

We have a variety of bird life at our new place, so it’s possible one of them has gone digging and found the seeds, but given they were about 2cm (3/4 of an inch) deep and the soil looks relatively undisturbed I think that’s unlikely.  Perhaps I should have dug deeper, perhaps I’ll have some new sprouts tomorrow, it’s a mystery to me.  I’ve planted another three seeds, as I’m keen to have a block of corn stalks for pollination, but if these dormant seeds sprout as well as the new ones, I’ll just choose the healthiest looking.  Speaking of healthy looking…

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That’s the same seedling I posted a photo of recently in my “Sweet Corn Update” post, roughly five days later.  Let’s hope they all grow to be as strong as this guy.

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Sweet Corn Update

As detailed in the Seed Journal and my recent post “New Season, New Garden“, I spent Saturday preparing for my Dry Season garden.  Beds were prepared and seeds were sown.  Yesterday, I noticed that the Sweet Corn was already sprouting (only 5 days after planting), and this morning on my way to work, I snapped this photo:

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To think, just 6 days ago this was a small kernel in a packet, but with some soil, water, and fertilizer, it’s sprouted into this lovely, dew-covered specimen. Gardening can be pretty magical.

Sweet Corn is fast becoming one of my favourite crops to grow.  What are your favourites?

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New Season, New Garden

New Season,New Garden

Though there are no signs thus far, the dry season is just around the corner.  It has been a long, painful wet season, with rainfall for the month of February being in the negative range (more water evaporated than rain fell).  The last week or so we have been experiencing a heatwave, with night time temperatures of up to 30 degrees Celsius.  I could kiss the person who invented air conditioning.

Given the weather, and a whole host of other factors that have made 2016 get off to a horrible start, the garden (and a whole bunch of other things, like this blog) have been neglected.  This blog has been so neglected, that I’m still yet to post about our lovely new abode!

In August last year, the real estate market had changed, meaning that rental prices were dropping.  We were less than happy in our old place, a two bedroom unit with a variety of strange neighbours, so we began looking to upgrade.  In the new rental climate, we could afford to rent a house for not much more than we were paying to rent our unit, so we took the plunge.  We were fortunate enough to find a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a double carport in a nice suburb.  It has a fantastic layout and is on nearly a quarter of an acre.  If we could buy it, we would, as it’s near perfect for us and has so much potential.  We will happily stay here until we either move away from Darwin, or buy our own home.

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Our first garden in the new place (though some of these plants were growing in containers at the old place).

The corn stalks were removed and composted after harvest and the bed lay empty, waiting for the weather to be favourable for planting.  Yesterday, during a cloudy spell, I removed the chili plants, which were no longer producing decent fruit, as well as the basil, which had grown leggy and bolted to seed.  I had started three small basil plants from cuttings of the original, and they are still thriving.  The only thing remaining in those three raised beds is the daisy, which is growing wildly but getting eaten by grasshoppers, which are currently taking over Darwin in plague proportions.  As a result of yesterday’s work, these beds currently look like this:

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While it appears bleak right now, sweet corn seeds have already been planted in the centre bed, and the soil has been enriched with organic compost and dynamic lifter in all beds.  I’ve started off two varieties of chili plant in toilet roll pots, which will go in behind the daisy.  They don’t look glamourous, but toilet rolls make wonderful biodegradable seedling pots.

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My “H” and “C” chili seedlings-to-be.  Can you guess which varieties I’m growing this time around?  Details are in the Seed Journal.

The cotton plant is growing astoundingly well, and we planted some seeds we’d harvested from it to create new plants.  Now we have a thriving cotton bed.

 

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So, what’s in your new season garden?

Happy Gardening!

 

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Yates Growing Challenge – Corn

Sweet Corn

Hello all, it’s been quite some time, hasn’t it?  So much has happened over the last few months, in the garden and otherwise that I think a decent status update is well overdue, however tonight is not the night for it.  Tonight, I wanted to briefly report on a “challenge” I’ve been participating in.

The folks over at Yates are running the “Spring Vegie Growing Challenge“, which has some wonderful prizes on offer, so I thought I’d put my green thumb (and my writing skills) to the test and enter.  As others are growing a veritable smorgasbord of vegetables my chances of winning are slim to none, but I’ll be happy with my tasty corn at the end of it all.

Registration opened back in September, so using Gardenate I researched which crops were likely to survive in the tropics during the wet.  Sweet Corn was on the list, so off I went and bought some seeds.  62 days into the challenge, and I’m well on my way to growing my first ear of corn, and I’ve learned a great deal about growing corn, and the plant’s life cycle.

If you’re interested in keeping up to date with my Sweet Corn Growing Challenge, you can find my page here.  Here’s a sneak peek:

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Happy gardening!

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The Seed Project – Harvest


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It’s been 12 long weeks since I sowed my second batch of seeds, and while Pansy and Onion failed to even sprout, things looked promising for the radishes and the carrots:

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Those playing along at home would know that about 6 weeks ago, my Radishes should have been ready, and we should have been eating delicious carrots about 2 weeks ago.  Sadly, this was not the case.  Experienced gardeners reading this will already know why my crops were a flop, but for the n00bs like me, here’s one of the main reasons:  Root vegetables don’t like being transplanted.  I found out through research after sowing my seeds in my handy-dandy mini-greenhouse that you need to sow root crops where you intend to keep them.

 

Also, once I transplanted most of the radish seeds into a broccoli box planter, my cat decided to use it as a litter box. That didn’t help. Thanks, Puss.

 

So, my 2nd attempt at growing seeds was a bust.  I’ll get back on the seed-raising horse after we move in a few weeks, at which point I’ll be trying some green capsicum (peppers) and some chilies.

 

Happy Gardening, and may your endeavors be more successful than mine were!

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The Cotton Plant

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Last year, the husband ventured interstate to visit family and do some work with his Dad, when he decided to buy a car and drive back to Darwin rather than fly. He had an old Mitsubishi L300 van up here, which had been an old workhorse and had been on many a long trip, but it was becoming more an more unreliable and he managed to get a great deal on his new car. It was decided that his mother, Chris, would accompany him on the 39 hour drive home (that’s right, 39 hours, nearly 3500km) so that he didn’t go insane from boredom. During the journey, they came across some wild cotton plants, which my partner found most exciting as he’d never seen cotton plants before. He extracted some cotton and a seed from one of the open bolls, then he kept it safe for the remaining journey, and right up until he planted the seed a few weeks later. I was expecting the plant to fail miserably, given my past experiences in attempting to grow from seed, but it didn’t take long for it to sprout. Before too long, we had a small cotton plant that grew slowly and didn’t seem to do much at all.

Continue reading

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Pest Profile – Longhorn Crazy Ants (AKA Hairy Ants)


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It seems our little urban garden is popular with ants, as we have been invaded by a second species.  This morning while watering our chili plants I noticed a swarm of ants, hurriedly carrying their eggs to safety from the impending flood.  Clumps of them spewed over the plant pot’s reservoir edge, and as I thoroughly drenched the plants, I had hoped the ants would get the hint and move on.  No such luck.

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When I returned from work, I went to check on the evictees and gave each of the chili pots a soft kick.  Ants once again came out in droves.  I left them for a while, and when checking a little later on, they had started swarming on some of the leaves, I’m guessing to get away from the water.

Continue reading

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Radish Sprouts

Good news, everybody!  The measures taken prior to sowing my second batch of seeds on Sunday have already yielded some adorable little radish shoots.  I was expecting quick, but they really did take me by surprise, nudging their little heads above the potting mix yesterday (Tuesday) after being planted on Sunday night.  They’ve grown even more in just one day, I am constantly fighting the urge to go out and see if they’ve added another mm or two.

As I mentioned in my entry Seed-Raising Fail: How I killed my seeds, I was out of Foxglove seeds so had to choose something else.  For the record, this time around I’ve re-planted Radish and Carrot seeds, and have added Onion and Pansy this time around, details for which you can find in my Seed Journal.

I know this has only been a brief status update, I promise I’ll provide something with more substance in the near future.  In the meantime, happy gardening!


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Seed-Raising Fail: How I killed my seeds.

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Just about two weeks ago, I excitedly planted my first “properly” grown seeds (“properly” meaning reading and following growing directions and not just throwing the innards of a pumpkin into a garden bed and noticing cute little pumpkin seedlings pop up). I chose radishes, carrots, baby beets, and foxglove (yes, feel free to laugh) and I hoped that in a few days I’d see delightful little green sprouts poke themselves out from the potting soil.

I killed them. Not a single seed germinated. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but this outcome wasn’t entirely unexpected, given I haven’t exactly had a stellar gardening history. Rather than throw in the towel, I began researching and have found some possible causes of my seed fatalities, and some ideas for tomorrow, when I will sow a new batch (though sadly, there will be no foxglove, I used all of those seeds the first time around).

For hints on how to kill your seeds (or adversely, how not to),  Continue reading

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