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7 January 2009

Still in the summer garden

Good morning from Lulubelle and Martha!
Clicking on the photos will enlarge them.

This first bare patch is being prepare for potatoes.

When I had a look back on yesterday's post I realised it doesn't give a true picture of our garden at the moment. I showed only the bits with plants growing and most of the garden is empty right now. So here it is from both angles, so you see for yourself that abundance is worked for and in every garden there are periods of standing still.

In the photo above you can see the garden from one angle, in the photo below it's from the opposite angle. Note the black plastic compost bin, you can see it in both photos. Please excuse the washing LOL!

Our garden is fenced off from the chickens, although we do let all of them in there at certain times of the year. We set the garden up next to the chook house because we feed the chooks from the garden every day and didn't want to walk too far to do that.

I'll try to answer some of the questions in yesterday's comments. Emma, tomatoes stop setting their flowers in high temperatures, and by that I mean the flowers stop turning into tomatoes. I think the cut-off point is around 35 C. So if you're planting tomatoes and the weather is very hot, don't expect them to give too many tomatoes.

Kristi, we have problems with things like pumpkins, grapes, melons etc in the high humidity. We've been experimenting lately and found that a dose of copper oxychloride or copper hydroxide (it's organic) when planting helps quite a bit. Don't over do it though as copper stays in the soil for a long time.

Melanie, how exciting! I hope the house offer is accepted and you get your garden.

Donetta, we always ripen our tomatoes off the vine. We wait till they're a good size, pick them, and put them in an open bowl on the kitchen bench. They ripen beautifully.

Nikowa, we have a very unorthodox way of planting. We decide where to put the potatoes and everything else gets put in wherever we have room. We do a big planting in March, then as we eat our way through the produce, we have little patches that we fill in with whatever we need to grow or whatever has just come into season. The only problems we have when doing this is with tomatoes. We sometimes get wilt if we plant the tomatoes in any area the tomato family (potatoes, eggplant, peppers etc) has recently been planted in. However, the addition of a lot of new compost and old chicken manure, mixed, often lets us get away with it. Here is some information about crop rotation, and here.

Monkey Funk, you just want the beds raised slightly to give that extra help with drainage. We have clay soil here and needed to raise our beds but we've had this garden in for almost 11 years now and we've never had any problems. Over the years, the addition of lots of compost, manure and decomposed straw mulch has given us perfect soil.

kmaree warren, I'm sorry to hear about that storm wrecking your garden. Can you rig up something to protect your new seedlings? Maybe a small shade tunnel? Jerry Colby from Gardening Australia talked about protecting plants by surrounding them with hay bales recently. Maybe you could try that. Jerry's home is in Brisbane and he has a very good blog, you might find some good ideas here.

As a gardener, you need to think about how to modify the conditions in your garden to prevent loss of valuable growing time. Shade cloth structures, cloth and glass cloches, hay bales, bamboo poles with cloth skirts are all ways of protecting plants that don't cost a lot but do help. I'll post about these later.

Christine, one pineapple per plant. When we harvest THE pineapple, we'll pull that plant out.

Tricia and Dani with empty water tanks, I hope you get rain soon. Hanno will be doing a post about small water tanks soon. Maybe you could look at adding another small tank. It's such a worry, isn't it.

Good luck with the luffas, Laurie.

Joyceann, Dani, Mindy, and everyone wondering about the upturned pots - traditionally, upturned pots on top of garden stakes are used to stop people taking out an eye with a stake they don't see as they bend down. We use ours for that but I also love the look of them. Yes, it's a bit of whimsy and adds interest to the garden.

Mindy, I haven't hear of the Abraham Lincoln tomatoes. What are they like?

Sandra, I'll write about soil preparation in the next week or so.

I want to give my friend Lyn Bagnall a plug. Lyn wrote the best book on Australian vegetable gardening that I've ever read. It's called Easy Organic Gardening and Moon Planting and you can buy the book on her blog. Lyn's blog is well worth a visit, there is a lot of information about vegetable gardening there and she will answer questions. Lyn owns a small organic farm in NSW.

Happy gardening everyone!


  1. Hi Rhonda,
    Its cool and dreary here, so looking at your garden brightens up my day!
    Are you going to do another swap? I have an idea...what about reusable gift bags or lunch bags?


  2. I have serious news which has nothing to do with gardening, unfortunately... BurdaStyle now charge for most of their patterns - even those that used to be free. Sad news. They need to make their living, sure. But it was all of a sudden, without a preceding warning of any kind, which seems... odd.

  3. Hi Rhonda, Its donna from W'Gong. Thanks for all your great work. I really love what you are doing. you have inspired me in many ways and also to start my own blog. Im not sure how to add you on there yet but i will learn shortly and put u your blog on there as a link.

    here is my blog with my very first post.

    Regards Donna.

  4. Hi Rhonda,
    Another great lot of info. I didn't realize that the tomatoes didn't set fruit after 35 degrees. I've been wondering why we have only been getting a few.I like your bit of whimsey, it makes it all look very homely. I don't like gardens to look to sterile.

    Blessings Gail

  5. It is funny because I never post comments - except on your website! It just seems like a friendly open forum. Anyways, have you had any experience with companion planting? I found a book about it at our local library and since I garden in a small space I'm going to intensively plant and intermix certain herbs and flowers to attract beneficial insects. This is the first year I am trying this so I hope it does well. Your yard is very cute especially with your chickens, and I am glad someone asked the question about the pots on top of the stakes. Great idea! I'm going to start buying up small pots at yard sales just for that reason. I can't wait for the kitchen table forum b/c I have lots of questions about your chickens. Thanks again!

  6. I have to admit I'm a little jelous as I read your post with windy, dark and rainy weather outside. I got three gardening books for Christmas and I'm busy making decisions about my garden. I'm excited to put in a new bed this year, I should have tilled the new veggie bed in the fall but didn't get around to it. Well better late than never I guess.
    You have also inspired me to get chickens this year. I'm a little scared about killing the darn things when they get too old but I'll deal with that later. I have a great fear of my yard being overun with senior chickens...and me running behind them making sure they are all right.
    Love your blog.


  7. Hi Rhonda, I have a question. I just bought the book Square Foot Gardening. What do you think of sfg? I see you can control your soil as he has a "recipe" in there so you don't need to worry about your particular soil. Since we've moved here six years ago, we can't get back the beautiful garden we left at the old house. I thought sfg would help. Any thoughts?

  8. Rhonda,

    I just love your shady doodads.

  9. Rhonda, if you leave your pineapple plant in the ground, it will produce a smaller pineapple the next year!

  10. Rhonda, I have a few more questions:
    1. How do you keep the grass out of your garden beds?
    2. Do you pen your chooks on top of fallow beds? I have the impression you are carting manure instead.

  11. I think that's the best look of your yard I've had yet!! It is very beautiful!!
    Our house offer has been accepted :) So I've spent the day dreaming about my gardens (although none of my seed catalogues have arrived yet), and the house, and the animals we plan to get! I'm beyond excited, as it's our first house! It will be a busy spring between moving, renovating, gardening, and having a baby...but I'm sooo excited to be able to live more of the lifestyle we've only been dreaming (and reading!) about.
    I'll be referencing your blog a lot over the next few months, I'm sure!! Thanks for providing such a wonderful resource!

  12. thanks Coleen, I've added those ideas to the list.

    Stormie, I've tried companion planting and found it to work for some things and not for others. But with everything in your garden, you should try it yourself, just because it doesn't work here, doesn't mean it won't work for you. I firmly believe in planting flowers in the garden to attract certain insects - I regularly plant marigolds, nasturtiums, cosmos, yarrow etc.

    Margaret, get some chickens. I've kept chickens for over 25 years and have never been over run with seniors. LOL!

    Sue, I haven't read the square foot gardening book so I can't comment on it. I have to say though that enriching your soil, not once but in between EVERY planting, is the secret to healthy vegetables.

    Thanks for that Bel. I thought that might happen because, as you can see in the pineapple photo, there is a large new shoot coming up. I think if I told Hanno that plant should stay in another year, he'd keel over. ;- ) I hope it's able to be transplanted after I cut off THE pineapple because I'll take it out the front with the others and see if it gives me a second one.

    Chookie: grass is kept out of the garden by constant weeding and by the brick edging. We let the chooks into the garden when it's almost empty, mainly for them to eat up all the insect eggs and bugs. We use their manure in our quick compost. When Hanno mows the lawn, he throws the clippings into the fenced off chook house yard. The chooks scratch through the clippings for a few weeks, we keep the clippings wet, they poo on them and it turns the clippings into a very nice compost in about 4 - 6 weeks. That is loaded into the wheelbarrow and dug into the garden.

    Melanie, that's wonderful, congratulations! I send my best to you and your husband. I hope the move is everything you want it to be.

  13. Hi Rhonda,

    I am always amazed at the wealth of information on your site and your generosity to share it - you have built a true community here.

    I didn't realize that about tomatoes but it sure explains a lot.

    I have removed the tomatoes that are just beginning to ripen and brought them into the kitchen.

    Next week when it s a bit cooler I am going to get into the kitchen and make a green tomato chutney with any green tomatoes left.


  14. Thank you, Your girls are so pretty.

    Say one of the hens is not laying. I have found two large dungs that look as if perhaps they might be an egg that was not formed.
    If a hen is doing this is there something I should do for her?
    perhaps it is re absorption?

  15. @Melanie
    Congratulations Melanie on your upcoming move to your new house! Hope all goes smoothly for you
    All the best
    Judy in Adelaide

  16. Hi Rhonda :) Your garden is so beautiful and NEAT! I love it.

    I've only just started planting vegetables this year and really enjoy it, I have a very tiny and messy patch -

    For my next patch I would like to try the no-dig gardening method where you just lay down newspaper and straw - have you tried that yourself, and if yes does it actually work?

    Also how is your book coming along? I can't wait to buy and read it :)

    Take care

    Tarragindi, Brisbane

  17. Hello again Rhonda,

    Just a quick note (you needn't post unless you choose); Abraham Lincoln tomatoes are a heirloom variety. They grow (here in SW Virginia) beautifully ~ no splitting, perfectly round. Great slicers, meaty and the flavor is exceptional. At least, I think so. I'm sure everyone has their favorites when it comes to tomatoes and these are mine. I was introduced by a neighbor/co-worker several years back. He starts all his plants from seed and this year I'm going to give it a whirl. I've not been successful in the past, but I am determined ~ in large part because of you and your blog.

    I love how you write and I love that we all gather 'round and share. Bless you.


  18. Hi Rhonda
    Love the photo of your chooks. A few months ago I was lucky enough to purchase Lyn's book at a second hand book shop. I have started my first vegie garden, and I have gained so much information from her book. The book is well written and set out in an easy format.

  19. Thank you, Rhonda and Judy!
    Harmony, I like your little patch! I bit off more than I could chew the first year I planted veggies, and was dissapointed with the results. Yours looks like a good start!

  20. You have such a lovely garden. I have enjoyed visiting your blog for quite some time. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas and the sharing of your knowledge. I am planning to put 1/2 my garden in raised beds this year very much inspired by your gardens. Thank you!



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