DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
I have a forum attached to my blog where people from all over the world meet to discuss simple life. There are over 8000 forum members now so we have an enormous amount of good information about growing food, cooking from scratch, family, simple living, routines, budgeting, baking and much more. Please click on the image above to go there. Newcomers will have to register. It's free, friendly and we're waiting for you.

15 October 2015

Working in the garden



I had some time in the garden yesterday. It was so nice out there; not too hot, the soil was moist from overnight rain and the plants were standing to attention as they often do after rain.  I wanted to cut back the lavender, tie up the tomatoes and remove some of the leaves effected by tomato blight. I was delighted to see our first ripe Rapunzel tomatoes.  Rapunzel is new to us. It's a hybrid in our garden which is full of open pollinated plants but I wanted to try them and see if they were as good as the label implied.  


This is only half the size the trusses can grow.

I'm pretty happy with them so far. The one I tasted yesterday was slightly sour but the seeds were still slightly green so I think I need to give them longer on the vine.  The fruit are egg-shaped and slightly larger than a Tommy Toe. True to its namesake, the trusses can hang down about a metre and hold up to 40 little tomatoes.


When you prune tomatoes, cut off all the damaged branches, like this bent one above.

This tomato has been tidied up and pruned, it just needs weeding now and then a thick layer of straw around the base to protect the leaves from the water splashes that cause blight.

Blight-affected tomato leaves.

When you grow tomatoes you have to watch them because they need some help to grow to their potential. Make sure you tie them to a strong support and if you're new to gardening, watch this youtube video for pruning and staking techniques.  It looks like he's growing Rapunzels too but this is the way I grow my tomatoes and I know it works. Other youtube videos on this subject aren't particularly helpful. The main points to watch out for are to cut off the lower leaves so you have a clean steam from the soil up to at least 12 - 14 inches.  If branches spread out and get out of control, cut them off if you have a tall vining tomato but not for the shorter bushy types. Pruning your tomatoes will help you get through the season without blight - a fungal disease that lives in the soil. As soon as you see a mottled brown and yellow leaf, or part of a leaf, cut it off and solarise it in a plastic bag. Pruning will give the plant better air circulation too and without it blight will thrive once it's established.  When you've finished removing those lower leaves and branches, spread out some straw mulch around the base of the tomato to stop dirty water spraying up on the leaves when you water your plants. Usually the tomatoes are fine to eat, even if the plant is fairly badly affected.

If you don't cut off the leaves, blight will slowly rise up to the top of the plant, killing the leaves as it goes. That will weaken the plant and it will eventually die.  



Blueberry flowers and forming fruit.
The elder tree is the best it has ever been.
A tray of lettuce seedlings. I'll keep this growing in the bush house all summer.
Mint is also in the bush house. It gets morning sun and sits in shade for the rest of the time. It dies back in winter and shoots again in Spring.
Raspberries starting to climb the trellis. We'll have raspberry pavlova on Christmas day.



I managed to get a few lettuces in too. I just grabbed some from my packed tray of lettuce in the bushhouse. I intend to leave them in there so we have lettuce even when the hot weather makes the lettuce in the ground bolt to seed.

It feels good working out there. The backyard is surrounded by rainforest and a fence so it's cut off from the neighbourhood and whatever is happening out there. The pecan tree is putting on new leaves, a warm breeze blows through, birds are visiting for a drink at the bird bath and life here is pretty good. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.

28 comments:

  1. I have just planted two Elderflower trees...is there anything special you do to yours Rhonda?

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a gorgeous garden you have. Still seems so odd to me that your garden is coming to life, whilst ours is shutting down for the winter (we're in England).

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a beautiful garden! Such joy it must bring you.
    I read in the latest Diggers Club magazine that pruning your tomato plants decreases your yield. They have done trials that proved if you leave the tomato plants (I imagine except for broken and diseased parts of the plant) you will get more tomatoes than if you prune.
    I have always pruned. This year I am not going to prune and see what happens.
    Thanks,
    Amy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amy, I think they must be talking about pinching out the extra branch that grows between the stem and the main branches. I can't imagine they'd mean to not prune at all. That would be crazy. Keep in touch and let me know how your tomato trial goes next year. I'm interested.

      Delete
  4. Your garden and produce look so lush as we are heading in to winter, it makes me feel rather excited about my plans for raised beds next year xxx

    ReplyDelete
  5. Lovely post Ronda....the contentment of your life at home shines through. Have a great weekend, and as you are always telling us, take some time out for yourself and relax.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What lovely pictures. Your garden sounds like a lovely and peaceful place to be. We are off to bed here in Norway. I can see a black starry night sky from my pillow, the temperature has dropped below freezing again. I am looking really forward to plant more tomatoes in the spring. I use them for so many different things. Havn't tried Rapunzel yet. Pam in Norway

    ReplyDelete
  7. Beautiful photos today, Rhonda. I feel encouraged every time I see your Elder tree as mine hasn't been in long. When I bought my house 7 years ago there was not a stick on the land so I've started from scratch. It's incredibly thrilling each season as things get bigger and suddenly you have lots of fruit or flowers. But I do long for a shade tree - maybe in another year or so we'll have that :)

    Have a lovely day,

    Madeleine.x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Madeleine, tip prune the tree now and give it some fertiliser. I didn't tip prune mine when it was young and I wish I had now. I did a major prune six months ago, followed by some blood and bone and potash and that made a huge difference to the green growth and the flowers. xx

      Delete
  8. It's all looking so healthy and green.....our world is all getting ready for the cold of winter :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Goodness, Rhonda your elderberry tree DOES look fantastic! Mine is so small ~ it's only been planted for a few months now. Seeing yours on the blog over the years was what inspired me to plan my own. We go through a lot of elderberry syrup in winter and I used to buy the ready-made syrup ($) but have been buying dried berries and making our own for the last 2 years. Of course, it's cheaper still to pick one's own berries and I'm kicking myself for not planting the tree sooner....

    Your garden is looking so lush and I love how you can see your "girls" through the plants, LOL. They must love the extra space and I bet you really enjoy your new seating area. It's kind of neat to sit away from the house and see the yard from a different perspective :)



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sherri, an elder tree is a great tree for the lives we both live. I make the syrup and drinks and I have a stash of frozen berries waiting for their turn. Elder flower cordial is a beautiful drink and the drink can be made into ice cream - delicious. When you move, take some cuttings with you. They grow extremely well from cuttings. Read what I said to Madeleine (above) re fertilising and pruning. It makes a difference and I wish I'd done it sooner. xx

      Delete
  10. Hi Rhonda,
    Your garden looks lovely! we live in the Blue Mountains, so I am slightly envious of the winter crops you can grow in the north. I am, however, visiting family in Queensland for a couple of months at the moment. We have bought my mother in law a couple of blueberry plants and I was wondering if you have any tips for growing them in this climate? We have them in pots.
    I just wanted to mention also that I have found your blog and books so inspiring. It has helped us to manage comfortably on a single income with 3 small kids. And still pay a chunk off the mortgage! Thankyou for all that you share.
    Peach

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Peach, my sister lives at Blackheath so I know the mountains well. My blueberries are in pots too. Cut out the diseased and old wood in autumn, keep the centre of the bush open - so trim out excess in the centre and fertilise four times a year. It helps too if you have the right types - we have Biloxi and Sunshine Blue, Biloxi is the better of the two but both are good here. Oh, and move them to an area where they have sun all day with some afternoon shade. Good luck. xx

      Delete
    2. We live in Blackheath too! Such a lovely place. It was beautiful when we left, blossoms everywhere.
      Thankyou for the blueberry tips. We have Sunshine Blue, so I have my fingers crossed.

      Delete
  11. Rhonda, I am so excited as my Elderberry tree, called...of course...Rhonda's Elderberry, is flowering. Hmmm, now I will have to read up about what tip pruning is. Thanks for the tomato tips as we use the little ones I think are Tom Thumbs that grow practically all year round and I would like to learn more about staking and pruning tomatoes. Your garden is looking lovely. We also had a little rain yesterday thankfully.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chel, good news on the flowers. Tip pruning is just snipping the end off a branch but you never do it when the plant (any plant) is flowering. Your flowers are the reward - be they destined for a vase, for seeds to continue on or to develop into berries. If you cut the flowers off, that's tip pruning, then you just tip prune the rest of the branches that have no flowers. I don't know if your flowers will develop into berries yet, mine took about four years to do that. You can use the flowers for cordial or champagne.

      Delete
  12. your garden is always inspiring! it always looks so lush & productive!
    my elderberry is still in a pot, have no idea where i'm going to plant it out yet, probably will be the 'orchard' which will be in the chook run, not sure as i like the idea of sitting under it too
    beautiful post
    thanx for sharing
    selina from kilkivan qld

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm excited to have read this, as I just planted our tomato seedlings last week :) Can I ask why you cut off the bottom branches though? I've never done it and I don't think my parents ever have, but I'd assume there's a logical reason behind it!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for the tomato tips - I always have trouble growing tomatoes. I often get plenty of bush and not much fruit and what fruit I get takes the whole season to ripen. Hopefully this year I can do better with them in a new garden. The rest of your garden looks spectacular and I love seeing your chookies in the background enjoying the view.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Clarissa, it sounds like you're using too much nitrogen fertiliser. Tomatoes don't need a lot of fertilising if they're planted into good rich soil. Cut back on the nitrogen and give them a feed of sulphate of potash (organic) that will stimulate flowers to grow.

      Delete
  15. I notice you also have some thriving nut grass. I have never had so much before. Why does it grow so well and what do I do about it? I dig it out, turn my back and it is bolting again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's connected underground by fast growing long roots. If you pull some out and leave just a tiny piece of root behind, it will regrow from that. We've given up and just live with it now. We've even tried sifting the soil in the entire garden bed out front and we still have it. Give up, nut grass will always win.

      Delete
  16. Your garden looks so good! We are heading into winter here in Canada and I miss the fresh veggies!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you for the advice on growing tomatoes. I was out at a nursery over Brookfield way (west of Brisbane) the other day and I noticed Rapunzel plants for sale. Never seen them before but my friend knew about this variety which I understand is pretty new. I love the name, after the nursery rhyme. How apt.
    I don't have a lot of space in my small allotment so I have a Tommy Toe, and last week I planted a Black Russian which I will be treating with care as I battle with the fruit fly. I bought some fine veggie netting over at Capalaba Produce the other day and that should help. I also have fruit fly traps made out of old plastic water bottles I've begged. Just cut a hope with a flap in the side of the bottle, put a couple of inches of fruit fly attractant in the bottom (they are supposed to drown in it).
    I have also taken in your advice about keeping the bottom of the stems free of leaves, and putting down mulch to help against blight. So, as long as I keep my fingers crossed I should get some decent tommies.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thats a lovely looking elder tree. It always makes me smile to see people cultivate them. In the damp Fens of England they are a weed tree - we must uproot a hundred saplings every year - they really are a "Pioneer Species" here. We do like our elderberry port though, so that's okay!

    May we ask what you do with the borage? We eat a little in salads and so forth but grow it mainly for the bees. It always feels like there should be more we could do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elder is considered a weed in some places here too, ECL. Like you, we eat the flowers in salads but I grow it mostly because it attracts so many bees. I want to try it in a salve too but that will have to wait until I have a bit more time.

      Delete

Thank you for your comment today. I love reading your opinions and thoughts. We have built up a wonderfully diverse community here that I'm very proud to be a part of.

A link to your blog will be automatically added to your comment. Please don't add another link to your blog in your comment. Those comments will not be published.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...