December started with some very hot days but overall was pretty close to
average – rather mild for Summer and close to ideal for gardening.
Not much rain to end the year and rather dry so far in January – but the
rain will come.
The bees loved the flowering Brush Box and we have plenty of really lovely
honey available. It has been on the shelves at the Maleny IGA for a while
Our garden is looking pretty neglected but there are Cucumbers, Tomatoes,
Lettuce, Parsley, Beans, Pak Choy, Rosella and some Asian Greens doing fine.
Lots of Grasshoppers around and they are doing some damage but there are
still only few snails.
Here is some advice sent to me about Mildew from Sharon:
I just wanted to share that last year my mother in law advised a mix of half
milk and half water sprayed onto the leaves of my mildew zucc’s and squash.
It was quite good and seemed to help them recover quickly and stopped the
mildew from coming back quiet as quickly. I found that a good spray every
second day was enough to keep it under control!
Not sure why or how this works, but seemed to help, so just wanted to share
We have lots of Tomatoes coming up everywhere where we spread compost. Tomato seed seems to survive very well in relatively hot compost. They will
produce edible, trouble-free fruit but there can be simply to many. Pull
them out while they are young. You will quickly recognise them by the
Tomatoey smell. Rather pleasant!
Beans, all of them, are doing very well. If you plant Climbing Beans you
will notice that they are much slower in getting to the productive stage.
The positive is that they will be producing considerably longer then the
Bush varieties. For Climbing Beans it is an advantage to dig or loosen the
soil fork deep and add about 50 mm of compost around the plant. It will
improve the yield. Also pick all Beans regularly for maximum production.
Beans are best when enjoyed young. I grow a number of varieties which are
not strictly stringless (I believe that they often are tastier) but they
need to be regularly picked. Climbing Beans will climb higher than you are
likely able to reach. I have a trellis 2m high and the Beans would love to
go at least another 50 cm higher.
Coriander will bolt easily during Summer but is great as an attractant for
beneficial insects anyway. Plant seed direct or transplant as fairly small
Keep up with the Nitrogen part of the fertilizer input during spells of wet
as it is the most mobile element and easily washed out. I have found that
weekly applications of a complete fertilizer are well worth the money. So far it has kept the Cucumbers in lots of leaf ( and fruit). I use my own mix but “Organic Xtra” or a regular application of any composted animal manure or compost will do the trick. Add extra Sulphate of Potash (a small handful per plant) to Tomatoes, Capsicum and Eggplants. I have used spent coffee grounds of late and I think the results are positive.
Mulch thickly as this will stop any erosion. Mulch also keeps soil moisture
more moderate during hot weather but the mulch can increase snail numbers in our warm and moist summers.
Garden beds you are not using during the summer should be very heavily
mulched. The moist and warm conditions will help this mulch to break down.
It is all food for worms. They in turn will make sure that the soil will be
friable and fertile when the time comes to do the autumn planting. It will
pay to plan ahead.
If you have been putting together some compost piles you will find that they
are working wonderfully at this time of the year, even if you don’t turn
them. Remember to cover them during hot and during wet times or they will get soggy. Soggy or overly dry piles do not compost well.
If you have planted any of the Basils you will be enjoying wonderful smells
around the garden. The Sweet Basil needs to be cut back regularly (followed
by some fertilizer) to stop it from flowering and getting woody. The Greek
Basil can be left alone. It will last for months and some people prefer it
It is important that you plant small numbers of the same plant very
regularly. For example if you plant Cucumbers by seed or seedling every 3 to four weeks you will have a long and continuous harvest rather than an
oversupply followed by a shortage. Also to get the best crops possible you
need to keep the moisture even and fertilize regularly. Plants should never
be allowed to dry out but then they should never be waterlogged either.
Not surprisingly, one of the biggest mistakes gardeners make is to water large seeds (like Corn, Beans , Peas) too much before they emerge and the seeds will rot in the ground.
Small seeds need extra attention. Carrots for example need to be watered
maybe twice a day until they emerge to make sure that the seed never dries
It is not too late to plant Sunflowers. Green Harvest sells “Evening Sun” –
spectacular for cut flower but any unhulled seed will be OK. I usually
spread some into the pastures as I like the bright dots in the sea of green.
Sunflowers display the characteristic of “heliotropism” when the leaves and
flowers follow the sun (a good introduction for children to botany).
Not to be confused with “Phototropism” which is a general response to light.
What to plant in January: Carrots, Radishes, Lettuce, Capsicum, Tomatoes
(best Roma and Cherry) , Cucumber, Basil (Greek and Sweet), Rosella, Squash, Zucchini, Rocket, Coriander, Red Onions, Pak Choy and Tatsoi, Parsley,
Herbs, Sweet Corn, Beans (all types), Beetroot, Celery, Chicory, Silver
This is the last month to plant many of the Summer veg like Sweet Corn,
Add some colour to your garden with Petunias and Marigold.
For smell add Thyme and Oregano as well as the Basil.
Probably too late for Water Melon and Rock Melon.
No markets for us in January and I will be away in February too.
Pat, John and Trudi will be at the Witta market in February.
Wishing all a great time in the garden and a productive and pest free 2019
Max and Trudi
Pat and John