Min temp  -0.9 below average    Max temp + 1.3 above average

 

Rainfall (to the 28th Jan)   5.8 mm – (average is 200.2mm)

 

I think the figures above are a pretty good summary.

 

The mornings were comfortably mild but the days quite hot…and no rain.

 

It has been a difficult few weeks for us gardeners here at Crystal Waters and probably further afield.  While we have a reticulated water system here (we can use up to 1000 ltrs in a day from this system) it was simply not enough to keep a garden going as well as I would like to.

 

The lettuces are doing remarkably well thanks to the shade cloth and there is a good crop of Beans but the Cucumbers don’t like the drying winds – I assume the humidity is too low during the day for successful pollination.

 

Surprisingly the carrots are surviving in pretty well under-watered soil.

 

Here, even the grass looks dry but the weeds somehow are surviving. They always do.

 

There is some hope for some rain in the next few days. Witta generally is blessed by these showers and the coast will get some rain but we often miss out.

 

We need some good, soaking rain.  It will come.

 

Keep the soil covered at all times to prevent soil loss when the rain is heavy..

 

Try to keep on top of the weeds – it pays off later. Keep the mulch up. With all the warmth it acts a little like a sheet compost and will build soil.

 

As soon as the soil is wet and temperatures moderate is the time to fertilise your vegetables.  During hot weather add a little liquid fertiliser (home made comfrey tea is my favourite but you can use any of the many on the market),. ” fertiliser” is not really the right name.  These are more tonics and very low in NPK. Often the fertiliser value is not even noted. They will add some trace elements and are ” tonics” for your plants.

 

Seedlings are tricky. The seeds Pat plants have to go into a tray well before the market and well before we know if it will be raining on market day or if we will be able to enjoy a lovely day.  If we had rain before the market, demand is brisk – if it is dry and hot, nobody wants to be in the garden.  If it is wet on Market day – many people stay home.  On very hot days the seedlings have to be watered multiple times to keep them happy.  All are grown in full sun so there is no transplant shock.

 

Also, seedlings are  ” just right” only for a short few days during summer –  too small and nobody likes them, to lanky and they go into the compost.  As I say – a tricky business!

 

Our recommendation is to come early!  February is a pretty slow month in the garden but still a good time to keep planting Lettuce and the Asian Greens and Beans if you are willing to put in a bit of effort..

 

Fungal issues are always a big problem this time of the year.  Mulch around the base of plants (Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Zucchini..) will help as this will reduce splash from the soil.

 

Please let me know what works and what does fail for you.   Pat and John try very hard only to sell seedlings of cultivars we grow ourselves and which we believe will work for you.  We have a pretty large garden and often trial new things.  We always learn from your comments.

 

Time to get ready for Autumn planting!

 

I know that some people reduce their garden area during the hot, humid summer months. We did the same this year. Mid-summer is not an easy time in the garden.

 

Now is the time to prepare for Autumn plantings.

 

There is still time to build your compost.  Better late than never but if you have some compost heaps going, this is the time of year when they will compost at a rapid rate.  I have many heaps going (heaps is not really the term as they are in square boxes about 1.2 m x 1.2 m and about the same height) and each will yield about 1/2 m3 of lovely compost.  Harvest Comfrey and make a Compost Tea or add to the compost.  It will produce a large amount of excellent biomass.

 

Clear your garden from any strong, persistent weeds. It is likely that they are seeding or close to seeding. Try to minimise the spread of seed as much as possible to reduce your work later. 

 

Take care to remove weeds from the edges of garden beds as well as these often will hang over the planting area or send their roots to the fertile part of the garden. Place them in compost, give them to the chickens, just don’t let them seed.

 

Spread compost (in summer it is actually better if the compost is not fully broken down) at a rate of say a bucket per square meter if you are feeling generous. Alternatively, any aged manure will also do the job. You will find that when it comes to planting all the garden books talk about “aged” manure. The reason is simply that fresh manure is not real good for your seed or seedlings and indeed some manures may kill tender seedlings.  By placing the manure NOW into your beds you will effectively “age” the manure.

 

A very small amount of Worm castings on top of the garden and watered in, will work wonders.

 

When it is time to plant peas. Your garden book will tell you that should apply lime a few weeks before.  Well, now is the time to do this so that the Lime can do its bit (sweeten the soil and make it less acid). Repair old trellising and build some new ones ready for the Pea planting which is not far off.

 

Cover your application (compost, manure, lime…) with a good layer of mulch. You can be quite generous – 10 cm thick is OK as there is still time for this mulch to settle and reduce in depth. This will increase the worm population considerably ( and sadly, the snails too!)

 

If you take the above steps you will find that when it is time to actually plant all these Autumn and Winter vegetables you will be ready.

 

Look after the plants still growing and producing in your garden. The Eggplants, Cucumbers, Beans, Capsicums – all the vegetables which produce pods and fruit – will benefit from a handful of compost and a sprinkling of Sulphate of Potash.  Leafy vegetables like Lettuce and the Asian vegetables like Pak Choy and Tatsoi and Silver Beet will thank you for a very small, but weekly application of Blood and Bone or your liquid manure tea/tonic.

 

Beetroot, Zucchini, Pumpkin are best left alone from now on until it is time to harvest.  Pick the Pumpkin when they sound ” hollow” when knocked and leave a few centimetres of stem. They will store better. Some people smear the whole Pumpkin with some edible oil – it is supposed to help extend storage time.

 

Cut back Coriander and Basil to delay flowering and to give it another burst.  Plant regularly and replace old plants.  Pull bottom leaves off Lettuce as they will attract snails if the ground is wet.

 

It is getting late for Sweet Corn, Capsicum, Eggplant, Zucchini, Melons and Squash.  Too early here for most of the Brassica’s.  A bit of a gamble with Mizuna, Mibuna – but why not!  We should have Beans for a while yet but only plant it in areas where you are unlikely to get early frost.  I’m looking at the long range weather forecast and will decide in a few weeks if we will keep planting beans into March.  Daytime temperatures have been well above average – we better get used to more and more extremes.  It is what the models have been predicting for a good while.

 

You will find that if the days are very warm and there is no regular rain, plants like Egg Plant and Capsicum – indeed many plants – will need more water than the average drip system can provide.  Check for moisture levels and adjust your watering as required.

 

What to plant in February:

 

Carrots, Radishes, Lettuce, Tomatoes (best Roma and Cherry), Basil Greek and Sweet, Rocket, Coriander, Red Onions, Pak Choy and Tatsoi, Parsley, Herbs, Beans – all types, Beetroot, Celery, Cucumbers.

 

🌻 Pat will be open for Seedling sales at Lot 59, Crystal Waters on Thursday 14th Feb between 2 and 4 pm and at the Witta market on Saturday, 16th Feb 🌱

 

🍯 We will have plenty of honey at the market.  This has been a great season for bees 🐝  

 

We had an early start with the Blue Gum and the flow has never really stopped.  We are not complaining.

 

Good news from Green Harvest…..  Now opening on the third Saturday of each month from 8am to 12:30pm to tie in with the Witta Market.

 

Good gardening and see you at the markets.

 

Max and Trudi 

 

Pat and John Ashby

 

Email:  gardeningnews0@gmail.com

 

Mob:  0407 141 216 (Pat)  0467 154 222 (John)