Alban Eiler to Beltane (Sept 23 – Nov 1) 2011

Alban Eiler is the Spring Equinox, so in this 8th, the days are longer than the nights, and getting longer (but more slowly).  The garden is responding with daily flourishes of new green, which makes us feel like better gardeners than we are.  But we’ll take what we can get.

Chaotic but happy garden

Chaotic but happy garden. Oats as green manure and future chook food in the foreground, then brocs, snow peas, mustard and silverbeet behind, and way in the background are lettuces, tansy, garlics, more snow peas, chinese mustard, comfrey and a bunch of random plants, dotted around. Note no interplanted carrots, beetroots or major herb plants yet - we're still working on that. Solanums and a few other things in the bed behind the camera.

What we’re harvesting

More chaos and happiness

More chaos and happiness

Broccoli and cauliflower still.  Not quite over broc and cauli, but getting there!  Have picked the main head of the brocs, just getting the smaller sideheads now.  Garden a furore of green bushiness.

“Greens”: rocket, lettuce, silverbeet, mustard, Weird-arse chinese mustard, kale, chicory, chinese cabbage, nettles.

“Beans”: snow peas

“Fruits”: broc and cauliflower

“Roots”: new potatoes.  Some signs of bacterial soft rot, but only some affected.  Soil too wet?

Lettuces and garlics

The lettuces are doing OK tucked in between the garlic - although we've got a couple of bolters in the foreground.

Herbs: rosemary, parsley, mint, basil, tansy, garlic chives, aloe vera, comfrey, nasturtium flowers, leaves and green seeds, lemon myrtle leaves.

First pawpaw of the season! (or papaya – there seems to be some confusion as to which is which, or if indeed there is any difference).

Bananas – more bananas.  We don’t always have a ripe bunch on hand, but when we do there are a lot of bananas.

Down the valley, people are starting to harvest their cherry tomatoes.  We’re a bit higher, and apparently have to wait for ours.  Curses.

What we’re sowing/planting

Greens: Basil, lettuce, rocket, shallots.  I heard you can propagate nasturtiums from “root cuttings”, so I tried it.  It turns out the root cutting needs a leaf attached – perhaps I misheard and what was actually said was “rooted cuttings”?.  Anyway, getting a bit of nasturtium root and planting that doesn’t work nearly as well as taking a cutting of the stem, with a leaf, that has begun to put out roots…

Beans: bush beans – seeds saved from last year’s Cherokee Wax and a descendent of a green bean I saved from Mum’s place.  18 plants in 3 groups of 6, with silverbeets and nettles interspersed.  Would have liked to have planted some traditional bean companions (carrots, for example) but the silverbeet was on hand and the nettles were already there, and we were in a bit of a rush.  The whole CSG thing has taken a lot of time, so we’ve made some compromises in the garden in order to fit it in.  Cherokee Wax is yellow with black seeds when mature.  It grew quite well here last year, so we’re putting more of those and less of the green.

Fruits: capsicum and eggplant (we still couldn’t believe we have to wait ‘til December.  But now that we’ve seen how these compared with those sown after Beltane, we do).

It’s also squash and melon planting time, but we’re a bit stuck for fenced spaces big enough for ramblers like pumpkins.  We ended up dithering so long that we didn’t plant pumpkin or even melons or squash this 8th.

Roots: arrowroot, sweet potato.

Seasonal to-dos

Keep an eye out for new banana shoots emerging – they need to be protected by chook wire from brush turkeys.  Also when bananas fruit, the new bunch needs bagging with a wire cage to keep king parrots out.

My sister with banana bunch and cage.

My sister with sugar banana bunch and cage. You can't tell from the photo, but she's balanced impressively gracefully atop an awkwardly-placed ladder.

Manure remaining fruit trees before summer kicks in.  I can never keep in my head when the best time to manure is – there’s probably some issue with manuring in spring, like the extra nitrogen promotes leaf growth at the expense of fruit or some such, but for now, it comes down to when it’s possible to get it done.   Now is better than when it’s really hot.

Collect firewood and bush poles from paddock on non-rainy days.

Lomandra longifolia (spiny-headed mat rush) flowering – start watching for when to bag seeds for propagating.

Brush turkeys going for banana bases with a vengeance – keep checking the chook wire barricades

Change oil in the pump, generator, ute.

On 16.11.11 the white cabbage moth grubs finally started on the brocs and caulis.  I spent a few minutes picking them off each day, for maybe 4 or 5 days.  Then there were hardly any.  Pity – the chooks really like them.

In the kitchen

Salads.  Rocket, lettuce, snow peas, garlic chives, thin-sliced silverbeet.  Plus olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and mixed chopped herbs.  Add a few boiled eggs if you’re hungry.

Steamed potato, cauli, brocs, snow peas with garlic chives and butter.

Omelettes with greens, potatoes, caulis, brocs, chives, snow peas.

Bananas and pawpaws straight off the tree, or in smoothies.

Dry bananas and pawpaws in fruit leathers or just by themselves.

Wildlife and bushfood

“Storm birds”, aka channel-billed cuckoos, appear down in the valley.  According to local lore they herald the start of the storm season.  Best do something about that tree overhanging the house.

On the ground, the slender flat-sedge (Cyperus gracilis) has lots of seed stalks.  The pygmy panic grass (Panicum pygmaeum) is seeding.

Rubus rosifolius (the little native raspberry) is starting to ripen.  There are patches all over the place here, especially in the paddock, so we munch as we walk about.   I’ve discovered that they’re pretty ordinary unless they’re absolutely ripe, and then they’re surprisingly good.  Little red explosions of sweet.


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