A lot of things have been happening in the garden. The spring crazies are still going on in the sky but spring is definitely in the air. Everyone is tired of the rain and everyone is excited when they get to mow their lawns, but we are slowly getting more nice, sunny patches. Or at least cloudy but non-rainy patches. I am trying to look for positives in the wind situation. The wind helps to dry things out. The wind means petals from the pear tree blow around and the chickens are funny when they run around speedily, trying to get to a petal first. That’s all I’ve got.
I have continued to re-pot and move my potted plants from the new garden bed area to the Plant Alcove. This is a slow process, as I can only do so many at a time before The Little Fulla gets bored and starts getting up to all sorts of funny business. Like discovering ducks. The Husband’s latest great find is helping to keep The Little Fulla occupied though. The Husband went dumpster diving and came home with this awesome car. What a find! It may not have a steering wheel, yet, but that’s a minor detail.
The vege garden has been getting more attention. This is set to be the year that I grow more crops than I ever have before. The Vege Plan has been tinkered with until I can’t fit anything more in, at least until gaps arise from crops that have finished. I really need more vege beds. And how on earth did I end up with seeds for another pumpkin cultivar (Small Sugar) and a gherkin cucumber? Where on earth am I going to put those? I am already ‘planting’ some of the seed potatoes in the currently imaginary new garden bed. And I’m also desperately keen to grow kumara, which I can grow in large pots. So I have ordered some…
I have removed the last of last season’s crops: several leeks and some baby carrots that didn’t catch up to the others over winter. The brassicas I planted in winter are still in but have they have surged into gear and shouldn’t take too long to mature now. There is one parsley plant left that is just going to seed and there is rocket galore. I only need one rocket plant, and that one is still going strong, because it’s perennial rocket. But that one plant has also produced a lot of babies, so I have rocket popping up in little thickets in that area of the vege garden.
Most of the vege beds still needed topping up with compost, so I have been shoveling it in bit by bit. I sowed some parsnips and carrots in the roots bed. Since the parsnips were a late addition to the Vege Plan thanks to my newfound taste for roast parsnip, I haven’t got a whole lot of space for them (really?), but anything is better than nothing. I have planted out some lettuces and have more little seedlings coming along.
I have also planted out all of my 16 Agria seed potatoes. They are The Husband’s favourite potato, and they will not be ignored. It feels so good to see the Vege Garden getting filled up. The Agria potatoes have a time until harvest of 90-130 days depending on who you ask, so they ought to be ready by mid January at the latest. The early Liseta potatoes in the potato barrels have leafed up well and I am mounding up compost on them. Their time until harvest is 80 days, so in ideal conditions, they ought to be ready by late November. That leaves the Summer Delight potatoes, which have a long time until harvest of 150 days. I have 21 of them. I have planted six in the Boysenberry Bed. That leaves 14. Because one rolled away when The Husband knocked them off their spot in the garage and I couldn’t find the jolly thing. Soooo, what am I going to do with these 14 seed potatoes? Well, I could plant them in the imaginary bed, I just have to hurry up and get timber for it and get it built. Or, if we don’t get it done, I could bung some in a barrel and give the rest away. But I really would like to plant ’em all, as we use heaps of potatoes now.
After doing a bit of reading on growing giant pumpkins, I launched into some pre-germination activities. I filed the sides of my Atlantic Giant pumpkin seeds: three seeds saved from last years’ pumpkin and three from the original seeds I’d bought that year. My saved seeds were markedly bigger and better-looking. Then I soaked them for a few hours in warm water mixed with some of my comfrey-chicken poop tea. I also soaked my Wee Bee Little pumpkin seeds and cucumber seeds for good measure. Then I put each lot of seeds between a wet, folded paper towel, placed the paper towel into a sealed plastic bag and put them on top of the hot water cylinder so they could germinate in a very warm place.
I haven’t done these sorts of things for my cucurbit seeds before, but I have done them before. Filing the seed is a method of scarifying a seed with a hard seed coat. I have scarified native kowhai (Sophora) and kakabeak (Clianthus) seeds before. It helps the seedling to break through the seed coat so it doesn’t use so much energy on that activity and improves the germination rate. When I worked on a cucumber farm we germinated cucumber seeds on shallow trays of wet paper towels in a greenhouse, so I knew that worked. You just have to remember to check them at least once a day.
The Atlantic Giant pumpkin seeds germinated quite quickly, the fastest (my saved seeds) within 1-2 days. The Wee Bee Little pumpkins were a different story and only two have germinated so far. I sowed the rest of the packet because I need six of them to plant, according to my Vege Plan, and I wouldn’t say no to more. The seeds might be a bit old. Unfortunately, I did not save any from the wee pumpkins I grew last season. I also have seeds from the rest of my pumpkin varieties either germinating in the hot water cupboard or growing in their pots: Crown, Winter Luxury Pie and Small Sugar. I thought I had bought seeds of another variety in my last seed order, but it turns out I ordered Small Sugar twice over the space of a few months. Oops! It obviously sounded good. I might just have to give one packet away…
I have also sowed some trays of beetroot (Cylindra and Detroit Dark Red), mixed kale varieties, basil and calendula for more flowers in the Vege Garden. And then, I was forced to sow more tomato seeds. Cue the dark, foreboding music.
It all started with some stupid bugs. We got bed bugs in our bedroom. We had them once before in The Little Fulla’s room, and what I’ve learnt is that they really like the wooden window screen frames. That is where they creep into and hide. Those wooden screens are on my hit list. The bugs struck us swiftly and viciously and I came down hard on them with a bug bomb, as well as spending a ridiculously large amount of time cleaning and spraying all around the room. And doing washing. Lots of washing. I was in a rush to set off the bug bomb as we had to stay out of the house for three hours. I forgot to put my trays of seedlings outside. Bad, bad, bad. Even though they were a bit of a distance away from our bedroom, the sensitive seedlings got slammed by the chemicals. The capsicums and chillies weren’t as badly affected and I think they will all be ok, but the tomatoes were reduced to a very sorry state. What a disaster. I was upset, as two months’ worth of growing and the hope of some revenue from selling extras wilted down the drain.
I am hoping at least a few of the tomato seedlings will be able to hang in there, but even if they do they will be slow to come back. The Husband bought me two large Black Krim plants from Mitre10Mega, but the other varieties I want to grow are hard to come by. I have re-sowed a bunch of them. They will be behind where I want them to be but maybe not too slow now that the weather is warming up. Then again, I’m going to be slow anyway. I hurt my back shoveling and forking compost on the weekend, which is related to an old back injury, and now I can’t do much in the garden at all. I knew I’d been pushing myself hard, but there is so much catching up to do after the wet winter and The Husband has been busy with work too. I need to manage myself a bit better. No digging for Twiglet for quite a while. Ah well, the best laid plans…