Max Lindegger of Ecological Solutions has kindly agreed for Permaculture Noosa to post his newsletters on our site:
There has not been a lot of Winter this Winter!.
Record high day-time temperatures have been measured in parts of S-E Queensland with some frosts in low areas.
Not much rain around but then we would not really expect much this time of the year. Soil Moisture here is still quite good. Trudi and I travelled up to Bundaberg via Kilcoy, Nanango, Goomeri, Biggenden and Childers. All these areas could do with some good rain. Some of the sugar cane had been hit by some frosts but what is so obvious is how dry it is.
We too could do with some rain – we are well behind the average for this time of the year. I read that 99% of NSW is Drought declared – you got to feel for these farmers.
It has been good weather for most crops – Lettuces love this type of weather and we had too much of a good thing. We have been selling heads of Lettuce for a dollar each.
The Broccoli did not perform as well as during winters past and I still see some grubs on some of them. They really would like a decent frost to kick them along.
Cool winter evenings are a good time to look at the seed catalogues and order seeds for the season ahead. The Green Harvest catalogue is out and we will have some available at the market.
August is a slow month for planting in the garden here at Crystal Waters – too late to plant winter vegetables like Cauliflower and Broccoli without extra care as we can get some pretty warm days before these vegetables would be ready to harvest, and yet it is too early for the warm weather loving plants. OK for the frost free areas not far from here. There is a load to harvest, August really is a month of plenty here and there is very little weeding and watering – circumstances we all love.
Adjust your watering if we miss out on rain and if the humidity is low. The days after fog free mornings are the ones to watch as fog is like a gentle watering to our plants. Windy days too need to be watched and the watering adjusted. Some vegetables – I’m thinking of the Asian Greens and Celery should never dry out or they will be tough ( and in the case of Asian Greens – will bolt) But watch also for over watering. It is best to water in the morning and to water deep but not too often. Too much water can result in plants dying quickly as evaporation maybe low.
The Strawberries should be fruiting. The dry weather is ideal for them.. Should we get some rain this would change. It is a fungus issue. As we don’t want to spray fungicides we can only minimise the problem by using a loose mulch like Pine Needles, Casuarina Leaves, wood wool or straw which allows air-movement around the fruit.
On frosty mornings make sure that frost tender plants are protected. Lettuce can’t handle more than a very light frost. Watering overhead during critical hours of frost formation can help to limit damage. If you watch the temperature on these early, cold mornings you will find that just on sunrise is the critical time. As the sun warms the higher layers of air, the warmth from below will rise allowing the cold air to replace it – voila – frost!
In our valley cold air is formed on the plateau above us late in the evening and will roll ( like porridge rather than like water) down the slopes and also replace warmer air.
This is high time to cut back your Asparagus right to the ground, fertilize fairly heavy, mulch and water. A well-established Asparagus patch will start to send up shoots in early September ( with the warm days we had some will have started to grow in August) and it is safe to harvest for up to about 6 weeks. Recent plantings ( say previous year from crowns) are best allowed to grow without a harvest. Remember that sound establishment of the plants means a harvest every year for up to 40 years!! Plan your Asparagus patch carefully. It is indeed an investment for the future. Part of Asparagus management does mean weeding them during summer. If some groundcover invades your Asparagus you may have to lift the roots and re-establish them again. It will set the plants back.
Most of the first heads of your Broccoli would be harvested by now. Broccoli is highly rewarding and will send up second and even third shoots which are still delicious eating – and then the top of the plant can be feed to poultry and the roots ( never leave them in the ground) can be put into the liquid manure for added Sulphur.
Feed Broccoli and Cauliflower with Potash and hold the Nitrogen back. It is the flowers we are eating and too much Nitrogen results in too much leave growth. Don’t worry if a few flower buds have opened, they too are edible.
We had very few bugs on our Brassicas this winter so far.
The Broccoli Leaves are eaten in places like Cambodia and Thailand.
Eat Kohlrabi while young, old ones belong on the firewood pile – not worth eating. They are absolutely tops this year. We even use the young leaves in a salad and stir fry mix.
Plant Radishes regularly. They make a great snack and look just fantastic .Radishes can be grown just about all year here.
Rhubarb seems to do best if the crowns are planted in fairly large pots ( 250 mm or larger) Only the crowns we planted in pots survived last summer’s heavy rain. They definitely don’t like wet feet. We are trying again as a dry Spring is expected.
With a bit of luck Cobblers Pegs will be seedless for a while and it is the best time to get on top of them. Young plants ( and there are plenty of them) can be easily pulled if the ground is moist and added to the compost or feed to chooks. Actually they are edible but are not on the top of the vegetable list.
Prepare some garden beds NOW for spring plantings and keep the compost active. In a matter of weeks it will be one of the peak planting times of the year and you will be happy for every extra bucket of Compost you have available. It is one of the most positive things you can do.
This is a good time to plan for your spring plantings. Fix up your trellises ( you will need them for Climbing Beans and Cucumbers), sort out your stakes ( for Tomatoes, Egg Plant, Capsicum…)
This is also a good time to check your garden tools. Spring will be so busy you will have no time to waste with crappy tools.
Check out the wonderful seed catalogues too. See Green Harvest at http://www.greenharvest.com.au/ for a large selection of organic seeds ( and a lot more!)
What to plant in August:
Radish, Lettuce, Onions, Leek, Peas*, Carrots, Silver Beet, Chicory, Pak Choy, Tatsoi, Parsley, Mizuna, Mibuna, Celery – Flowers!
* best for cool areas
We will be at the Witta market 18 August. We have more honey and will also have will have Cambodian Pepper and Lemon Grass Oil back in stock and of course candles and bees wax. On the Thursday before the Market ( 16 Aug) Pat and John will be here at Lot 59 with seedlings between 2 and 4 PM.
Enjoy your harvest!!
Pat and John
Max and Trudi
59/65 Kilcoy Lane
Conondale QLD 4552
Tel: 07 54944741
I get often asked what the ideal pH was for various vegetables. I have included a list below. In my experience I have found that if you have a soil high in organic matter the pH is less of an issue. Still, for best results it is worthwhile to aim for a level close to the recommended.
Green Harvest sell pH kits and tools suitable for the home gardener. See here http://www.greenharvest.com.au/tools/soil_testing_and_monitoring_prod.html
|Cantaloupe – Rock melon||6.0-7.0|
|Peppers – Capsicum||6.0-8.0|
|Swiss chard – Silver beet||6.0-7.0|