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Usefull Websites

Seed Companies

  • Royston-Petrie Seeds P.O. Box 1152 Ph: (61) 2 6372 7800
  • Cornucopia Seed Cornucopia Seeds and Plants Ph (03) 5457 1230
  • Select Organic M.S 905, Lower Beechmont 4211 Organic Seeds
  • GreenHarvest 52 Crystal Waters, M.S. 16, MALENY 4552 Ph: (07) 5494 4676
  • Greenpatch PO Box 1285, TAREE, NSW 2430 (02) 6551 4240
  • The Italian Gardener Allsun Farm, PO Box 8050, Gundaroo, New South Wales, 2620 (02) 6236 8173 Italian vegetable seeds
  • Kings Seeds PO Box 2785, Bundaberg, QLD 4670, Australia Tel: 07 4159 4882
  • Phoenix Seeds PO Box 207 , Snug, TAS, Australia 03) 6267 9663 Only postal Very unusual seeds
  • Diggers Fantastic company become a member and help them in their work, they have two sites, St Erith (nr Daylesford) and Heronswood (Mornington Peninsula) and when you become a member you get sent out a free magazine / newsletter
  • Eden Seed M.S. 905, Lower Beechmont 4211 (07) 5533 1107 Lots of information botanical and taste
  • The Lost Seed The Lost Seed PO Box 321 SHEFFIELD TAS 7306 ph: 03 6491 1000 Has a selection of very rare vegetables, and a great free download of sow what when chart

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Vegetable Fact Sheets
Family Curcurbitaceae

Cucurbita maxima.

Pumpkins can be confused with squashes, such as zucchini and button squash. The Butternut pumpkin is actually a gramma (Cucurbita moschata), a group of Cucurbits that includes the often curvy trombone squashes (The vegetable not the instrument), and these are climbing vines and look similar to zucchini. They can be planted out after the last frost. As the stems and leaves have very high water content, frost will kill the plants overnight. They originate from Central and South America. The Aztecs used to grow Corn, Beans and Pumpkin together and recent studies have found that eating these three foods together, they act as a protein. Unknown in Europe until the time of Columbus, pumpkins were first introduced to early American settlers by native Indian tribes, and were almost certainly part of the first American Thanksgiving. They are identified from other cucurbits by their more rounded form and less prickly foliage. They are grown for their hard skinned long keeping fruits, (up to eight months) but the shoots, tendrils, flowers and seed are also edible.

When to Plant

Aug - Jan. The seed will not germinate below 16oC and will rot in cold wet conditions. Germination occurs in 7-10 days. The pumpkin seeds can be soaked for 1-2 hours in warm water before planting, this will help with germination. Adding a couple of drops of liquid seaweed will also help with germination. The seed should be sown sideways or tip down, half in the soil. The seeds can rot off if over watered, so make sure the soil remains moist rather than soaking. Some people like to provide bottom heat to help the seed germinate. This would be more useful in a colder climate to extend the growing season of the pumpkin, as some need 150 days to reach maturity.

Soil Preparation

The soil should be prepared the winter before sowing by adding lots of half rotted compost, pumpkins do not like over rich soil. They do well in No-Dig Gardens. One method is to mound up your soil into little hills, make a well in the top and plant your pumpkins into the well. Or create small round no-dig beds in a bare or weed infested section of your garden and the vigorous vine will smother the weeds. There is a theory that pumpkins will out compete blackberries.

Spacing and Depth

Plant your seedlings or seeds, in groups of 2-3 spaced at 1.5-2m intervals, unless they are the clumping sort such as the variety Golden Nugget, that only has a spread of 1m.


Home gardeners and others frequently become confused because many of the blossoms do not set fruit. They need to understand that the male and female parts are in separate flowers and only the female flowers produce fruits. Plants bear male and female flowers on one vine. In poor soil a pumpkins can be fed liquid seaweed or compost tea once a week. Pinching out growing tips promotes branching and increases fruit set. Pumpkins are pollinated by insects but can be hand pollinated to ensure purity, select female flowers and brush them with the male flowers, then cover them with pantyhose or a paper bag to stop cross fertilisation. Once the fruit is set it can be uncovered, labelled and left to mature. Putting straw underneath the developing fruit can prevent rot.

High-quality winter squashes and pumpkins are associated with maturity, so they should not be harvested until they are fully ripe. Fruits subjected to a hard frost will not keep, so harvest should be completed before cold weather. Clip the pumpkin from the vine keeping at least 5cm of the stalk intact.

Store only those fruit that are free of cuts, wounds, and insect or disease damage. Immediately after harvest, the fruit should undergo a ripening or curing process to harden the shell. Curing involves leaving the pumpkin in the sun and allowing it to dry completely. A curing period of about two weeks at 75 to 85 degrees F with good circulation is desirable. Storage should then be at 50 to 70 degrees F with humidity between 50 and 70 percent.

Common Problems

Flowers that form, then fade and fall off indicate poor pollination. Too much heat or rainfall can cause this. In this case hand pollination is nesssacary. Mildew diseases can attack the foliage, but if the plant is fast growing, leaves will be replaced. When the plants are becoming defoliated, improved air circulation and adding potassium is useful. Wetable sulphur can help solve mildew.


Tonda padana-from NW of Italy, attractive winter squash, keeps well, good for soup, gnocchi or roasting

Matina di Chioggia-winter squash from near Venice, 2 kg fruit with sweet flesh, a good keeper

Jap- Excellent firm bright yellow flesh, then grey green shell, known in USA from 1860's, popular in Australia's hotter climates. 110 days to harvest

Jack-be-little -Tiny 5-7cm, sweet orange flesh, deeply ribbed flattened orange fruit, delightful miniature, appealing table decoration and craft, shelf life to 12 months, dried on the vine. 85-110 days to harvest

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Eat Your Garden

Recently I have started teaching a class called Eat your Garden, with Monica Winston, great fun, she is a permaculturist and we use permaculture principles and create gardens and people learn as they make. This garden we created a waffle bed as used by the Aztec Indians.

In this picture you can see we have dug out a flat area, the idea is to catch the rain and let it drain slowly away into the soil, got me thinking about how I recently learnt about Plant Function Groups and their different adaptations to the amount of water they live out their life cycle in? e.g. water plants-grow, pollinate, reproduce and germinate all under water, whereas others are more adaptable and can live in water or without water all very interesting.

Then we added some left overs from the Geelong Show a mixture of manure and straw

Half completed

and then we stopped for tea.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Seniors Day Geelong West Community Garden

Seniors Day at Geelong West Community Garden
“A community garden is a place where people come together to grow fresh vegetables, share gardening knowledge, make new friends, and take part in a creative outdoor activity.”
Kevin Ayrey, Landscape Architect, City of Yarra
Community Gardens are a valuable resource for the local community in Geelong West, and provide many other services apart from locally grown organic Vegetables.
This was clearly seen at the wonderful Open Day at Geelong West Community Garden on the as part of Seniors Week. It was great to see the children from Ashbey Primary School interacting with the seniors of Geelong West.
My main query was where were the seniors? These older folk seemed remarkably spritely and energetic-I put that down to them all being keen gardeners, gardening as an activity is well known for keeping you young at heart and fit and healthy. Interestingly, research has shown that interaction with gardens-even just visiting reduces your chance of dementia by 20%.
It was a good afternoon, the students from Ashbey were polite and helpful handing out cake and sushi, and the seniors really enjoyed looking at the gardens and sharing their knowledge.
Many came from over community gardens such as Grovedale, and chit chat on the importance of community gardens, how to grow better potatoes and what is that plant, were had over tea and cake.
A raffle was drawn and prizes of pot plants and watering frogs were given out.
The gardens will be open again to the general public for Pako Festa.

Maggie Ryan and Katie Gillett enjoying the 'high tea' at Geelong West Coomunity GArden

Sunday, October 3, 2010



Saturday 9th October,

10am – 3pm

Green Market Children's activities
Information expo Good food
Practical tips for going 'green' Fairtrade products
Good conversation Discussion Forums
Chook feeder competition Movies
Speakers Plants & Pea Straw

31 Douglass St, Herne Hill

For more info visit
or email

An activity of Western Heights Uniting Church

Geelong Organic Gardeners will have a stall

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Rain is a double edged sword

Mint, Russian Red Kale, Garlic, and Potatoe Onions

I am on holidays at the momment which means more time for gardening!

Have done quite a bit of work at home and have started weeding the plot. As you can see below a combination of rain and well fertilised soil has meant the weeds have gone ballistic and these photos were taken after weeding. My chickens are happy, with the weeds- they have eaten every thing at home.

The picture above is my green sprouting broccoli, I like it because you get lots of these little heads, great for stir frys or rissito and they taste better than the large heads.

To the right is some fennel that was given to me by a friend, I love to eat the seeds and the bulbs are great too, next to that is some purple broccoli. Just peaking round the edge are some cos lettuce. I dont grow brassicas in the summer as it is too hard keeping the aphids away so eat lettuce like it is going out of fashion.

Clive Blazey-without pictures

Clive Blazey-A Subversive Gardener
K. S. Drummond-Gillett
Sept 2010

Clive Blazey is the CEO of the seed company ‘Diggers’. Initiating in an early interview from The Age, there have been numerous references to him in the media as a subversive gardener. A subversive person seeks to overthrow governments or institutions. I would argue that Clive Blazey follows trends, rather than creating them and uses his skills in economics and marketing to benefit his business. Nevertheless his widespread publicity on heritage edibles and backyard vegetable production has educated many members of the general public. He has highlighted the benefits of edible gardening to both the individual and society as a whole through frequent interviews, books and public events. His widespread popularising of edible horticulture is evident in the 35,000 membership of Diggers Club, the largest garden club in Australia. This increasing customer base is noteworthy in a time of decreasing membership in such organisations. His business is based on 3 sites, a farm in Seymour, Heronswood and The Garden of St Erth; two of which are important historical gardens in their own right. These gardens serve as collections of plants, demonstration gardens to illustrate the main principles behind Diggers, locations to hold workshops and talks. Both Heronswood and Garden of St Erth feature nurseries and cafes.

The Founding of Diggers
Clive Blazey was born in 1948, the son of Alan Blazey founder of Hortico. He studied Economics and Commerce at Melbourne University and led Clive to begin his career as marketing manager for Hortico. This foundation in business is what probably determined the later success of Diggers. In 1978 the family company was taken over by Yates and this was perhaps fundamental to Clive Blazey’s future cynicism with corporate culture. Disillusionment with the superficiality of commodity culture was the prevailing theme in the society of the time. The 1960’s had seen gardening turn from a functional action, to a product based activity, where the garden became less about ecological issues and more about decoration, the garden had become another room to be filled with comsumerables.
Clive and his wife Penny started Diggers Club, as a small mail order seed business, on half an acre in Albert Park. The Blazey’s desire to circumvent big business and start their own mail order company was a most likely combination of business savvy and personal need. The mail order business bypassed the dominance of major retailers in the garden industry, and enabled them to provide rare plants for a niche market.
The success of the business determined the need for more land and in 1982 they bought Heronswood, Dromana, Vic and established it as the base of their operations. In addition Heronswood provided them with a venue to experiment with plants. Heronswood was already an important historical garden (Fig 1). The building and landscaping was designed by Edward La Trobe Bateman, the first Lieutenant Governor of Victoria. The Blazeys developed Heronswood into eight display gardens, highlighting perennials, annuals and cottage garden plants.

Figure 1 Dromana "Heronswood" Latrobe Parade May 19 1964

Diggers did not develop an interest in Heritage and Rare Vegetables until much later. Initially Diggers primary trade was focused on drought tolerant cottage garden plants. Once again Clive showed his business acumen by capitalising on the revived interest in cottage these plants. It was not until the late 90’s that Heronswood featured the ornamentals aspects of vegetables in the planting schemes (Fig. 2). This integration of edibles as ornamentals draws inspiration from the French Parterre design concept, most famously seen at the Ch√Ęteau de Villandry, France.
Figure 2 Parterre Garden at Heronswood

Heronswood provided a microclimate not found anywhere else in Victoria enabling Diggers to establish a garden of unusual plants imported from all over the world.
Exotic plants in Australian Gardens
Digger’s is known for its collection of heritage fruit and vegetables, but initially started selling exotic perennials and annuals. Many of the non-edible plants Diggers sell are considered weeds at some level in Australia. It is interesting that while Clive Blazey often promotes sustainability and climate change in the garden through his articles in The Diggers Catalogue and interviews in the press, he never mentions the obvious solution of native and indigenous plants. These plants require very little input, in terms of water, fertiliser and other recourses and are therefore by their definition sustainable. Diggers stock almost no Australian Native Plants.
Whilst there is a place for exotic plants in Australia, the Horticulture industry has a responsibility to not introduce environmental weeds, and put the native biodiversity at risk. Indigenous people would argue that ‘Bush’ Tucker is the sustainable answer to food security in Australia. The arguments used to support Diggers plant choice by referring to other countries introduction of non-native plants fails to take into account the weed problem that some of these plants have become in these countries. Japanese Knotweed, Fallopia japonica one of the most endemic weeds in the U.K. and is mandatorily reportable to the Ministry of Agriculture was introduced as an ornamental plant from Japan.
Seed Savers
In 1990 Clive visited the Seed Savers Exchange run by Kent and Diane Whealy in Deborah, Iowa, America, where he met with David Cavagnaro their farm manager. In 1992 David came to Australia as the keynote speaker at a camp out on the farm at Trawool near Seymour.
The seed saving movement had arisen out of the 1970’s environmental movement and a desire to return to ‘pure’ plants with a distinct genetic heritage. The increasing interest in organic productive gardening was a response to growing concerns about the ‘purity’ of food.
This initial campout led to links with the Australian seed saving movement, run by Jude and Michael Fanton and other members of the Australian Organics movement. Festivals at Heronswood were to later replace these campouts. Blazey’s work in searching for heritage vegetables harks back to the early productive gardener in Australia, attempting to select varieties that were suited to the Australian conditions.
Research into heirloom vegetables
It was at Trawool where Digger’s ran the tomato trials that formed the basis for the first book, The Australian Vegetable Garden. Dr Will Trueman, (PhD relating to Native Fish), ran the tomato trials at the Heritage Seed Farm. The elemental change in plant breeding occurred after the 2nd World War when American plant breeders began to breed vegetables specifically designed for transport and a long shelf life, instead of for taste. The advent of the supermarket exasperated this problem, offering fruit and vegetables from around the world, in and out of season, but reduced the varieties. The research done at Diggers concentrated not just on taste, but also yield, days to first fruit and traditional techniques used in tomato growing. This work led to interest from the commercial seed growers and the introduction of heritage tomato varieties into the wider seedling market; such a Russian Black and Tommy Toe. These research trials proved the high yield of some heritage tomato varieties and their suitability for the Australian climate. The work continued with research into other groups of vegetables such as Brassicas.
There are two other important seed companies in Australia, Eden Seed and Phoenix Seed, both established previously to Diggers interest in rare and heirloom Vegetables. Eden Seeds have a wider variety of seeds and also offers organically certified seeds, seeds in bulk and a much wider range of gardening books. Their work is primarily in selling product and they do not have demonstration gardens, workshops or promote the advantages of productive gardening. The other company is Phoenix Seed and they sell extremely rare varieties not found anywhere else in Australia. There are other seed companies in Australia specialising in Heritage vegetables these two have been established the longest.
Clive Blazey has published 5 books; two have been in collaboration with Jane Varkulevicius, a Horticulture graduate with over 25 years industry experience. A constant theme throughout his books is a return to the previous motivation of productive gardening.
From the arrival of the first Fleet, gardens were a means of livelihoods for settlers, a source of food and a way of learning about their new environment. . Australian’s back gardens continued to be a means to provide nutritious and tasty food for one’s family until the availability of cheap supermarket product in the 1960s. One of the most enduring Australian gardening books, Brunnings Australian Garden states,
“The establishment of a vegetable garden to augment household supplies, is an asset to every home”
Clive Blazey’s first book was on drought tolerant and cottage garden plants, it was these plants that led to the initial success of Diggers. His later books concentrate on vegetable gardening.
Garden of St Erth
In 1996 Diggers took over The Garden of St Erth, Blackwood, Vic. This garden was started in 1968 by Tommy Garnett, Clive Blazey’s former headmaster of Geelong Grammar and regular columnist in The Age, Melbourne (FIG. 3).

Figure 3 Garden of St Erth, 25th Oct 1984

The Garden already housed an extensive daffodil collection, containing plants bred by Alistair Clark, Leonard Buckland, and Eve Murray. Ironically Tommy Garnett is known for his use of Australian Natives in a garden setting, and the Garden of St Erth now features almost no Australian Natives. The Garden had a completely different microclimate to Heronswood, from freezing winters to harsh burning summers and gave the Blazeys a chance to expand their range of plants (FIG. 4).

Figure 4 The Garden of St Erth today

The later years saw the garden develop into a demonstration garden that illustrated how much food (fruit and vegetables) could be grown in a small space.
Climate Change
Gardeners are aware of the changing ecological conditions in Australia. Clive Blazey has often written on climate change and reducing our carbon emissions through home food cultivation. Clive Blazey is influential in educating the general public on how they can reduce the carbon produced by farming, by growing food at home. The current agriculture system is both vulnerable to climate change and a factor in its initiation.
This doubt surrounding our future food security, relates back to previous times of precarious food accessibility in Australia. It is a recurring theme throughout the history of gardening in Australia. It could be said that the current issues surrounding food security and climate change reflect a state of society previously seen during wartime. During the Second World War agriculture could not meet the needs of private food requirements.
Defiant Gardens
Defiant gardens are said to be,
“Gardens created in extreme or difficult enviromental, social, political, economic, or cultural conditions”.
Productive gardens were initially a means of earning a livelihood for the early colonists, but as life became more stable in Australia gardens became less practical and more ornamental. Edible gardening resurfaced during the 2nd World War when food production again became a necessity. At this time (1943-44) 30-40% of gardeners were producing their own vegetables and fruit. Gardening began to change at a practical and ideological level. The modern interest in backyard production is due to a number of previously mentioned factors.
These debates on wider environmental and social issues have been held on gardens throughout Australian history, and are also fundamental to Clive Blazey’s written work and business. The fundamental paradox of a garden is neatly outlined in this statement from Holmes et al’s work; Reading the Garden,
“One of the paradoxes of the private garden is the extent to which others have sought to control its site and significance. The negotiation between public control and private meaning lies at the heart of the garden: individual investment in this space will always entwine broader cultural resonances with personal understandings, memories and traditions”
School Gardens and Education
Not since the Dig for victory campaigns of the 2nd World War has education in productive gardening been as widespread in Australia. The last few years have seen Diggers concentrate on educating the general public on the techniques of productive gardening, with demonstration gardens at Heronswood and the Garden of St Erth, monthly workshops and the sale of ‘how to’ books. The baby boomers were a generation that lost the art of growing food with the rise of cheap supermarket food negating the economic need for backyard production. The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the ongoing support of the successful project at Collingwood College, and to introducing Kitchen Gardens into other primary schools. Diggers is a supporting Partner with the foundation, and this probably led to the formation of the ‘Little Diggers Club, the children’s section of Diggers, providing easy to grow seeds, children’s garden tools, workshops and other activities.
The social conscience of Diggers
The last 2 decades in Australia has seen a dramatic rise in backyard production of food. The 1980’s saw a trebling of vegetable seedlings from 1976. This is chiefly a movement amongst the well educated and professional classes, who ironically were time poor but access to large amounts of land. For those at the lower end of the social economic scale the opposite is true. Diggers have not ignored this fact and offers a discount seed pack for health card holders. Members also receive substantial discounts on stock and free entry to the display gardens.

Gardening is now seen as providing more than food and aesthetics, but tending to our physical, moral and spiritual needs. Diggers engages the general public in productive gardening, and in doing so involves them in an movement that is more real than any of the activities of the commodity led culture. Ironically Diggers taps into this need for an authentic lifestyle by selling their customers more products. Gardens have become more than a place to grow plants, but sites for Life, Home, Work, Hope and Beauty.
Clive Blazey can be seen to play an important role in educating the wider public on the benefits of edible horticulture and the important role it will play in the future social and environmental climate. It is important to remember that he is running a very successful commercial enterprise and utilises peoples growing interest in backyard production to support his business.

Newspaper and Magazine Articles
Brettle, Kyla. “The Grassroots Activist”, The Age Sunday Life 29 April 2001 pg 8-10

"Garden Clubs: is the party finally over? “ (Cover story). Australian Horticulture 6-8. 2010
Blazey, Penny. “Diggers the first 25 years: Penny Blazey’s homely account of how the women at Digger’s got the Upper Hand” Accessed 28 August 2008 at
Blazey, Clive. It’s Now or Never, Diggers Magazine, Dromana, Vic, Diggers 2009
Latreille, Anne. Handing on St Erth, The Age, (Melbourne, Australia), March 9, 1996
‘Landscape Australia’ The Heron Seeks the Heights, Landscape Australia 1988 vol 2 pg 169-164
Rickard, Simon. Can an “Australian Garden” be planted with non-natives? Diggers, Accessed at 13th Sept 2010

Books and Reports
Amani K. Ahmed A. and Krystyna A. Johnson (2000) Horticultural development of Australian native edible plants Australian. Journal of Botany, 48, 417–426
Blazey, Clive and Varkulevicius, Jane The Australian Fruit and Vegetable Garden Dromana, Vic. Digger's Club, c2006
Blazey, Clive. 2007 “Gardening in Australia, Annual Convention Speech” Autumn Catalogue pg 21-27 Accessed on line at 3 Sept 2010
Blazey, Clive. It’s Now or Never, Diggers Magazine Dromana, Vic, Diggers 2009 Accessed on 7 Sept 2010
Gaynor, Andrea. Harvest of the suburbs: an environmental history of growing food in Australian cities Crawley, W. A.: University of Western Australia Press, 2006.
Holmes, Katie. K, Susna. Mirmohmadi, Martin and Kylie (2008) Reading the Garden, The Settlement of Australia Victoria, Australia: Melbourne University Press.
Helphand, Kenneth I. Defiant gardens: Making gardens in wartime, San Antonio, Tex. : Trinity University Press, c2006.
Larsen, Kirsten, Ryan, Chris and Abraham, Asha Bee, Sustainable and Secure Food Systems for Victoria: What do we know? What do we need to know? VEIL Research Report No.1 (Summary) April 2008 Accessed at 7 Sept 2010
Aitken, Richard “Heronswood” In The Oxford companion to Australian Gardens , edited by Richard Aitken & Michael Looker. Oxford University Press, published in association with the Australian Garden History Society, 2002
Cross, Rob. and Spencer, Roger. (2008) Sustainable Gardening Collingwood, Vic CSIRO Publishing
Timms, Peter. (2006) Australia’s Quarter Acre; The Story of the ordinary suburban garden
Melbourne, Au, The Miegunyah Press
Figure 1 Parterre Garden at Heronswood 7
Figure 2 Garden of St Erth, 25th Oct 1984 13
Figure 3 The Garden of St Erth today 14

Monday, August 23, 2010

Spring is here-sort of

While all the rain we have had is fantastic, everytime I mean to get out into the Garden it is raining!!!!!
Which I should't really complain about. The garden is starting to develop, finished the last of the trellis and lattice for the fence-now what to plant to grow up them, I am thinking passion fruit and kiwi-or another edible climber-or one with flower and scent??? pandorea pandorea maybe? I love that plant and you get flowers top to bottom.

I found an edible native, Kunzea , apparently it taste like apples- I think that would look nice in the front garden. Got a

beautiful Lisbon Lemon tree from work for the front garden, also planted one marjoram plant at the base- a bit of companion planting- and will go nice in risotto with the preserved lemons I will make from this tree.

According to the label, prefers a warm sunny position in fertile free draining soil-and apparently is vigorous growing with medium fruit...but I will graft more citrus onto it as it gets bigger

Pricked out some seed- flame lettuce from Diggers and Kailaan from Eden Seed, as a side note I am writing a bio on Clive blazey for uni and his influence on the growing sustainable/edible gardening movement, will post a link when it's finished.

Sowed a few tomato and eggplant seeds-they are not all for me some I will sell when they are bigger..
Tomatoes-Siberia, Russian Red, Giant Tree Tomato, Stupice, Yellow Perfection, Paul Robeson,Tommy Toe, Budiah
Eggplant Classic Black, Easter Egg, Ping Tung Long and Louisiana Long Green

I have grown these before- and love Louisiana Long Green, great for pizza

Will post pictures as they develop

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Adventures in Geelong West Community Garden


It's been a whole WEEK since I visited the plot with my mum and got her weeding. Was feeling a bit down, so I went to see how things are going, well needs a weed quite clearly. As soon as the weather picks up, I will get down there and spend a couple of hours weeding. Also I have some cos lettuce seedlings that wouldn't fit in my garden at home...

And there is a space.................could cram in a whole punnet there, found another spot for some herbs too, the broccoli is ready to pick, and there is also a spot for potatoes

Hmm, back to Uni next week and looks like I will be busy-need more seeds..and a cold frame......

Changes in the garden

Mulch, mulch, mulch

This week I went crazy and got rid of the lawn at the front of my house. My friend Mal, who grew up with a Croatian father who planted vegies in the front garden, is disgusted, I threaten him with pumpkins on the nature strip!! Well it was kinda a long term plan, I drove to Visy in Geelong, they have ENORMOUS bins outside, full of cardboard fantastic for sheet mulching. Then I ordered 4m2 of Forest Blend Mulch (recycled Green Waste to you and I) and spent a couple of happy hours spreading it across the lawn. The neighbors kid was very helpful, gave him a little bucket a spade and he helped out, even his mum came over and watched making sure he wasn't too rambunctious, he was good at spotting the litter and once I had pointed out to him what was 'organic i.e. was once a plant and what was rubbish, he seemed convinced that wood was rubbish, didn't seem to understand it was once a tree.

The fruit trees are now happily mulched, and I gave them a good feed of liquid seaweed. I had an old wheel barrow in the back garden and I decided that it wasn't really useful in the state it was in, so now it is living under the Red Flowering Gum-Eucalyptus ficifolia, planted up with Spearmint-Mentha spicata

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bare Rooted

Very exciting day today, WEDNESDAY..but that is not that exciting , but no exams or schoolwork for four weeks. Celebrated by going and picking up the four fruit trees I had ordered. Well three fruit trees and an olive(in honor of my grandmother who loved all things Greek), and they are planted. I got a Picual Olive Tree, but would really like a Kalamata.
"A very dense, bushy tree, producing medium sized fruit, that is suitable for both pickling and oil extraction. The Picual olive will start to bear from an early age, and in high numbers. Suitable for cold climates."
A double grafted plum, Mariposa and Satsuma.
Mariposa-A Japanese blood plum with dark red flesh and large fruit if thinned. The flavour is excellent, the skin glossy red and it has a egg shaped fruit. Will crop over a wide range of climates. Pollinator Satsuma
Satsuma-Red to purple flesh with a freestone. The flavour is good, the growth vigorous and its bears particularly well, in fact to get large fruits it may require thinning. The firm juicy flesh has a sweet spicy flavour. Self pollinating. 350 - 400 hours chill. Bears November to early December.
A four grafted apple, Gala, Red Fuji Naga FU2, Pink Lady and Jonathan. Also not forgetting the Almond. Will keep them small for netting and picking, well medium size I think I would like a lemon and a mandarin too. But patience. And a grapefruit. Might move the Apricot-it is a rare one a Blenheim.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Autumn in the Garden

Firstly, I have left my job at Geelong Botanic Gardens, mostly to peruse my studies, (in my usually over achieving way I thought I might do a Masters in Urban Horticulture), with working full time and all the other demands on my time, it got increasingly obvious that something had to give, and the paid work was on the bottom of the list! I will start up my classes again and am going to be setting up a community garden at Cloverdale Community Centre. Seems that the universe is pulling me that way. Strange how long this summer has been, the hot days kept coming back, which means I was able to grow sweet corn for that little bit longer. The garden is starting to take shape, here and at home. It takes about a year in a garden before you can really start to see how things work, how that unique little micro climate is just slightly different from everyone else around you. Everyone at Geelong West was most impressed with my corn.

Have to keep reminding them that this is what I have done for my living for the past ten years so I should be pretty reasonable at it by now. The idea with this space is the paths of bricks and herbs mean I don’t have to step on the growing beds, keeping the soil light and friable. In front of the corn is some potatoes, not sure which type, I will find out in a few months.
Last week I added 2 enormous bags of sheep manure, the garden gets things like this and pea straw delivered and buying in bulk means we get a cheaper rate.
I poured it liberally over the garden, and other follow plotters were surprised at the amount I had used. I shrugged and replied that it doesn’t means it will work! The herbs seem to be working ok, put some snail bait down as with the rain, the hungry buggers decimated the French beans. Still enough pods on the two kinds for next year, Butter Bean and Brown Beauty both seem to do remarkably well in Geelong. The Brown Beauty is from saved seed, and unsurprisingly does so much better than the bought seed.

The broccoli seems to be taking a long time to head up, and that was from saved seed, so with Brassicas tendency to cross pollinate (they are the sluts of the vegetable world), I am a little bit concerned they might be something else….time will tell. I dug in so much compost and the benefits can be seen in the plant growth and unfortunately the weeds, still from the nettles and mallow I know this means my soil is fertile and high in iron and nitrogen.

In between the bricks can be seen growing thyme and oregano, two types the Greek and Wild oregano. The Greek has a much higher flavour and oil content or as I have been learning in my plant science class-the secondary metabolites-Terpenoids that give herbs their taste and aroma, it is a defence mechanism against insect pests, and is stored in glandular hairs (trichomes). The Greek oregano can be distinguished from the wild by the slightly hairy undersides of the leaves.
I guess now I will have more time for all things edible, and should be able to post more often.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Growing Vegetables from Seed

Growing Vegetables from Seed

• Growing vegetables from seed is fast and cost effective, one packet of seeds can contain up to 200 seeds and cost as little as $4

Germination of a Seed
Germination is the beginning of growth of a seed. The seed must have the right level of warmth and moisture to begin to germinate. First, the seed leaves absorb moisture which allows the food reserves to become available to the new plant. It can then produce a root so that it can find its own water, followed by a shoot which develops from the plumule, which will allow it to absorb light. The plant needs both water and light to grow.
Sometimes, the seed leaves, or cotyledons, remain below the surface of the soil, as in germination of a Pea, below. This is called Hypogeal Germination.

In some species, the seed leaves remain on the new shoot and are brought above the ground, as in germination of the Ash tree, below. This is called Epigeal Germination.


Germination requirements

• Water to re-hydrate the seed and for the growing seedling. The seed compost needs to be moisture retentive
• Oxygen is required by the seed for respiration (breathing) The seed compost must be well aerated and well drained
• Warmth is required different seeds require different temperatures, tomatoes for instance require 20+ to germinate, most good seed companies will provide germination temperatures
• Dormancy needs to be broken this can be called ‘stratification’, some seed needs to be pre soaked or scarified to break dormancy


• Seed raising compost
• Containers
Squat pot or modules, some seed such as tomatoes can be sown direct

• Tools

Labels and pens
Fine watering spray

• Growing environment
Cold frame, glasshouse or mini green house, i.e. seed raising kit

Sowing seed in containers
• Fill container evenly with compost
• Make level by tapping or striking off
• Firming
• Sowing either one seed per container or evenly broadcast over tray
• Cover with sieved mixture normally to the depth depends on the size of the seed
• Watering-gently with a fine spray
• Label-name, origin , date
• Environment-cover with glass or put in mini propagating case

Seedling Diseases

• Damping off
Caused by bad hygiene make sure all pots are washed with beach

Seedling Pest

• Mice
• Slugs

Sowing Direct

• Level
• Friable
• Moisture retentive
• Well drained and aerated
• pH 6.5-7.5

Making a seed bed

• Weed
• Cultivate
• Firming
• Levelling
• Fertilising
• Broadcasting
When seed is sown scattered over a site
• Sowing in drills
Sowing in lines
Make a furrow with a hoe
Seed can be mixed with sand to ensure even spacing
Rake back soil and water
Row should be labelled with date
Soil depth depends on the size of the seed
After Care

• Labelling
• Thin seedlings
• Weed control
• Irrigation
• Shading

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dispite the heat new life begins to show.

I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse

Well in a short space of time the main work in the garden is completed. Being a renter it is nice to have a plot of land that one can make long term plans with. My gardens at home have always been planted on a year by year basis, never knowing if the landlord is going to sell the house from under me. Still have plans to buy somewhere soon, but with a very small garden, so permanence is a factor that I will soon have to take account of in my gardening .
As you can see from the photos the ground has been dug over, and while it is not something I advocate, once is all this plot needed, it also is the only way to dig out the couch grass. That really is the only weed I worry about, as it produces a hormone that inhibits plant growth. I brought some more compost for the potatoes, and leveled it on top; really need another bucket to top it up. Sticking to my principles I am not digging in the compost just laying it on top.
The whole area, which is 5M x 5M, has been divided up into 6 areas, 8 if you include the 2 small raised Beds at the back. Starting on the left side, from front to back I have sown,
1. Bush Beans, Butter Bean and Slenderette
2. Brassicas, Broccoli and Kale (although they haven’t actually been planted and are still in seedling form in a punnet at work)
3. Soy Beans, more a green manure than a crop
And on the right side

1. Potatoes- Cranberry Red, I originally bought the seed from Diggers Club, ( it is a very tasty potato, so far great for roasting, and in a potato salad
2. Sweet corn-Early Chief
3. Beetroot-Golden and Early Wonder, have grown both before successfully.

I am really am surprised how little time I spend here, about 2 hours a week and it is very productive. I have been coming an hour before watering time although I think I only need half an hour. We shall see.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Work in Community Plot

Many gardeners will agree that hand-weeding is not the terrible drudgery that it is often made out to be. Some people find in it a kind of soothing monotony. It leaves their minds free to develop the plot for their next novel or to perfect the brilliant repartee with which they should have encountered a relative's latest example of unreasonableness. ~Christopher Lloyd, The Well-Tempered Garden, 1973

Today I started to tidy up my plot at Geelong West Community Garden. I had already drawn up a plan of what I wanted to do while I was in the Philippines. I had decided to go a traditional 6 bed rotation system, with two small and thin beds at the back for climbers, such as raspberries or beans. I arrived and discovered two weeks had produced a ton of weeds! Never mind, I measured and marked out where the path would go built two small raised beds at the back. One Bed is completed dug over and covered with pea straw ready to go. I will so some seed in punnets and sow in about 2 weeks. The problem now is what?