DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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14 March 2011

A new planting box and season

We've started planting!  Our vegetable season has begun and will continue right through from now till December, when it will be too hot for us and the vegetables, and there will be too many bugs.  We've start off with our cold weather only crops - red cabbage, sugarloaf cabbage, cauliflower and I still have to sow seeds for brussel sprouts. We also have seedlings for marigolds, snow peas, tomatoes and lettuce, and seeds for beans, telephone peas, radishes, Portuguese cabbage, cucumbers, turnips, squash, silverbeet and a few others I've forgotten now.  We have to buy kale seedlings and potatoes and we have a sprouting sweet potato that will go in near the chook house.


This year, I have something new that I've wanted for a long time.  It's a potting box (above).  I lose so much potting mix when I plant, so I drew a diagram and asked Hanno to make it for me.  Naturally it's made with recycled materials - this is the perfect project for using up what's in the shed - this time he used some old floor boards.  Now I can fill the box with potting soil and quickly fill my seedling trays and pots with none falling to the ground.  It's much faster because I just scoop the soil in to the waiting trays.


I do my seed sowing in a greenhouse Hanno built for me many, many years ago.  It a simple construction of a stone floor, shade cloth and benches.  In there, I do my sowing, potting on, I keep the worm farm and orchids, as well as any cuttings I have growing.  It's the ideal place to keep sick plants, or those that are in need of protection from the sun, heat or wind. The stone floor helps create a cool, moist atmosphere.  When I leave any of my plants in there, as long as there is ample rain, they grow like wildfire.  I have bins full of potting mix and seed raising mix and it's quite close to a water tank for easy watering.  It's the ideal working spot.


There is something very satisfying about sowing seeds.  It's an exercise in optimism - that these little seeds will break through their case and send up shoots that will survive long enough to fulfil their purpose - the production of vegetables.  And planting seedings give you an instant understanding of what the garden will look like soon and how you'll help fill your food requirements over the coming months.


We had the family over for lunch yesterday but before they arrived, Hanno started cleaning up the vegetable gardens and planted the first seedlings.  The photo above shows what it looks like today.  All that green in the garden beds are weeds that will have to be pulled out.  There are a few things left from last year - the herbs (out of view) and a corner full of yarrow, as well as perpetual leeks and some tomatoes.


There is also a paw-paw/papaya with ripening fruit, a bay tree and a full Washington navel orange tree in the vegetable garden too.  The oranges will be ready for eating around June and it looks like we'll have enough for eating and juicing  this year.  Freshly squeezed orange juice, particularly from freshly picked organic oranges, is my favourite drink of all time.  I am looking forward to that.  

We hope to pack in enough vegetables to cover all our needs, except for onions, which for some reason won't grow here.  The price of vegetables is very high now, so we'll save some money if we can grow instead of buy what we need.  To be truthful though, the reason we grow vegetables is to productively use the land we live on, to fill our days with meaningful work, to eat high quality, fresh, organic food, to keep heirloom vegetable seed stocks turning over and healthy, and to eat varieties of vegetables that have long disappeared from the shelves of supermarkets.  Supermarkets specialise in vegetables that travel well, that are uniform in size and colour and have been grown quickly, usually with the help of chemical fertilisers.  To eat a tomato that tastes like a tomato, to mash the best potato you've ever mashed, to pick a snap pea that snaps, those vegetables, my friends, must be grown in your backyard, picked at exactly the right time and brought inside to be cooked for the table that evening, or preserved or frozen for future meals.

Happy gardening everyone!


31 comments:

  1. Good morning Rhonda :)

    I have been thinking about gardening this week - itching to get something started in my new home. You have inspired to just start. :)

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  2. what a simple and fabulous idea - your planting box. a great way to get my hubby integrated into my passion for gardening also!

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  3. What an enjoyable post!
    Reading it, I was wondering whether you know The Gardener's Year by Karel Čapek? Apparently, it was translated to English recently. http://www.bestwebbuys.com/The-Gardener's-Year-ISBN-9780826486257?isrc=b-search
    A very enjoyable read on gardening, too!

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  4. Hi Rhonda,
    We're doing much the same down here,except for a few changes because we don't have the same climate as you. We have had lovely rain during the night and this morning is grey but lovely and cool. A good day to do housework and not get to hot. I think Autumn might have arrived.

    Blessings Gail

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  5. Everything shows all the work that goes into providing
    and also gives credit to those that "get to it" :o).
    I'm happy that some of my greens made it trough the winter and they are more delicious once the frost and cold got to them...I have to get them up this week to get ready for Spring planting..seems I haven't stoped canning :o)

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  6. My sis has a bench in her (massive) greenhouse for potting - she has a big round cut-out in the top of the bench where she re-pots and when she is potting up all the extra compost is swept into a bin underneath and is recycled back into the compost bin :-)

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  7. I really love your philosophy on growing your own food and the reasons behind doing it. It is amazing to think that one of the fundamental parts of life, food, has been taken over by big companies and turned into something that isn't really good for us.
    I had good gardening intentions this weekend, but it didn't really happen. A few seeds were planted but now I just need to get the garden beds ready for the next crop. Thank goodness for autumn.

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  8. Thanks for the inspiration! My vegie garden is looking sadly neglected at the moment. I took heart that yours has weeds in it also! Time to give it a bit more TLC and hopefully eat some delicious home grown vegies in the coming months.

    Can you please give me any tips on pruning passionfruit, Rhonda? I planted the vine two years ago. We had a bumper crop last year, but now there's only dead branches covering the fence, I've never pruned it before and not really sure on the correct procedure.

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  9. It's still a little early here in California for what I like to plant...but hoping for an early spring this year:)

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  10. Caitlin, dead branches aren't a good sign. Does the vine have scale? Check it and deal with it if you find any. You should prune in Spring. Vines don't have to be pruned every year but when they get thick and start tangling up on themselves, you should prune it. Start by cutting out all your dead branches and tip prune every branch by about 20 - 30 cms. Make sure there are no branches touching the ground, trim the main stem and so there is a clear stem from the soil up to about 30 cm. Otherwise, just cut out disease if you see it and if you can, spread out the lateral branches as much as you can. This will allow more sun and air movement and will give you a healthier vine. Oh, and fertilise twice a year, one in Spring, once in Autumn, and two hand fulls of dolomite in Winter. Always water your additives in well. A bit of mulch after the fertilising and you'll have a happy vine and a lot of passionfruit.

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  11. Thank you for the inspiring post. I must really start thinking about cold weather vegetable seeds (and our climate will get rather cold down here). But first I'll be trying my hand at preserving a little of this season's vegies.

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  12. too early yet here, but your post & pics made my heart beat faster! can't wait for fresh veggies from our own garden!

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  13. We have some sprouting sweet potatoes too. I went to use them and they had long shoots coming out. What do I do with them? Do they multiply like normal potatoes? What situation do they enjoy the best. We have a very dry climate where I am, so should I shelter them??? Any information is appreciated. If something starts growing in my house I usually have no idea what to do with it.

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  14. I have not long planted up my raised garden bed that I got for Christmas & my seeds are starting to sprout. I'm very excited. I love reading about your gardening, it inspires me so much!

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  15. Rhonda - your beds and green house look lovely, am very jealous :) One question for you - do you have any problems with mice/rats eating your produce? We got through most of the tomato season, yet this past week to 10 days have lost most fruit to them, we can't bait freely as our pug would be in the line of fire.

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  16. Larissa, we plant the whole thing but you can also take cuttings and plant them. They need rich soil, a lot of compost and excellent drainage. They'll multiply and for one, depending on your soil and how good it is, you'll get 5 - 15 sweet potatoes back. The vines can be trained away from your general patch, so plant them on an edge somewhere otherwise you'll have to deal with all the foliage in you garden.

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  17. We, too, are planning our garden for the summer. Living in Nebraska, USA, we have to intensely plant and harvest during late spring, summer, and on into mid-autumn so we can freeze/can the extras to get us through the year. We are planning a larger than normal garden as we are quite a bit worried about the state of the economy. Food prices as well as oil prices, metals, etc are just skyrocketing and we are determined to do as much for ourselves as possible.

    I love your little potting "shed" and something like that would be so useful around here! Your blog, as ever, is tremendously inspiring to me!

    Kristina

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  18. I just love your green-house/potting area! I just bought several packets of seed and am going to sow them today -beetroots, lettuce, peas, and sweet peas!

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  19. There is definately nothing better than growing veggies and eating them...such a sense of satisfaction and of course much healthier than store bought ones.

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  20. Looks great!
    Hope to get my seeds in the ground soon. Just started a blog about decluttering and simplifying my life. http://teatimewitholof.blogspot.com/
    Hope you check it out.

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  21. Hi Rhonda. Just thinking about your bed weeds, if they are a problem I've seen some blogs where people sow a thick layer of a 'green manure' as each bed becomes vacant at the end of the growing season. They then dig the green manure into the soil in the early spring. They claim it keeps most of the weeds at bay by smothering them and helps enrich the soil by adding organic matter. Plus of course it also helps cut down the amount of work needed to get the beds ready to plant.

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  22. I hope to start planting seeds this week. Spring seems to have arrived in the South of England, although it is easy to be lulled into complacency and then be caught out by a night frost.

    Your planting box is an excellent idea.

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  23. Rhonda, today we roasted and ate our first ever home grown potatoes. I had heard that they are much better than you could buy at the shop, and yet I still underestimated what an experience it would be! Not just to taste the flavour, but to sit there and know that we grew them ourselves, that they had been dug up this very afternoon and travelled no more than 20 metres from dirt to dinner plate - it makes the mind boggle!

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  24. Hello Rhonda, I too am starting seeds for the garden, only in Michigan,USA we are just going into spring so the seeds are pepper,tomato and eggplant. The snow has melted but we have had snow as late as april 20th. in another week or so the peas and lettuce will go in.
    I love hearing about your garden.
    We are also trying to grow as much of our food as we can. I love your outlook on life. Keep up the great work. Your blog is the only one I read every day.

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  25. Oh your greenhouse is amazing! My DH might be building one this year out of old glass doors we scavenged.
    Planting seeds is SO wonderful...its the thing I feel I fit in, do you know what I mean? So snug and just- "Yes, this is what I need to be doing." When the first seeds sprouted (lavender) I literally squealed. Watching those brave little things poke up never gets old. Growing food is one of the most gratifying things one can do. Can't wait to *hopefully* see pictures of how your garden is growing!
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

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  26. I'm intrigued that you can't grow onions there. Here I don't have room to grow onions to store for the winter, but in my experience onions will usually grow just about anywhere. And watching your blog you grow just about every vegetable known to man!

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  27. Hi Rhonda! :)
    My garden is patiently waiting for me under about 3 feet of snow. Lol I can't wait to get at it!
    Have a wonderful day.
    Blessings,
    Kristin

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  28. Thanks for responding Rhonda. I think I do have myself a problem. I've hardly got any green leaves, it's all dry and twiggy. The base of the stem is covered in green. I'm not sure if that's scale or not. Before the branches all dried out it had green fruit that never ripened. I had been thinking that it was because we were heading into winter. (Beginner gardener) I think it may be a lost cause now, which is a great shame. I'll have to plant another, and I'll be using your tips to prune in the spring!

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  29. Thank you! I'll be doing that today! I see many sweet potatoes in my future. :O)

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  30. http://enchantedthingsprimitives.blogspot.com/2011/03/sauce-day.html

    Hi Rhonda, I posted a two part post on Sauce Day at my home, if you would like to pop on over for a look.

    The start of a planting season is great fun, I am eyeing off my Summer crops waiting for them to finish up so I can begin the next round...
    Suzanne, Adelaide. SA

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  31. I started my seeds inside yesterday. We have about another month before the last frost date. Growing up in the midwest,USA spring was always when we planted. Reading your blog, I now understand why my garden never made it when I lived in Texas. It was too hot and everything died. I wish I had realized that in a warm climate you can plant during different seasons.

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