Filtering by Tag: growing flowers

Week 8: Urban Farming

The hot weather has arrived in Canberra and, barring an unseasonal exception, the risk of frost has now passed. Our garden is full of blooms and we're beginning to reap the rewards of earlier labour in our food garden.

LoveInAMist
LettuceandPeas

Our sugar snap peas are covered in flowers - a harbinger of tasty pods to follow - and we've got plenty of loose leaf lettuce ready to harvest. I picked our first crop of strawberries early this morning and we'll be enjoying them for dessert tonight in strawberry pancakes drizzled with chocolate sauce and served with vanilla soy ice cream.

Hannah and I picked a large tub of mulberries yesterday - our first of the season - and I made a vegan lemon, coconut and mulberry slice with them. We've been guilty, in previous years, of not making full use of our mulberry crop and I'm determined to be a better steward of our resources this year. The slice is delicious, so that's an encouraging start.

Strawberries
MulberrySlice

My research on humane ways to deal with snails has yielded some good ideas. I can surround my young seedlings with materials that snails dislike sliding across - things like grit, thistle leaves (or other spiky leaves) or straw. The straw is an obvious solution for us because I make our mulch with a combination of horse manure and straw and I was planning to put this on the garden in a couple of weeks anyway. It looks like I need to get cracking with that.

If this is not an option for you, you can also create a barrier around your seedlings using mesh or netting. The barrier doesn't need to be high and if it bends outwards at about a 45 degree angle, the snails will have trouble climbing over it.

There's a product called Escar-go Snail Spray, made from copper silicate, that snails are reluctant to cross. This is ideal for protecting planter boxes and pots.

Finally, Copper Slug and Snail Tape is an option. You stick the copper adhesive tape along the edges of your garden beds and snails get a small electric shock from the copper. This would be a last resort option for me but it's worth knowing about.

Roses

Love-in-a-mist (nigella) is one of my favourite garden flowers and I let it go to seed each year, throwing the seed liberally once the pods have dried out. I've got lots of beautiful blooms opening at the moment and I've used it for my posy this week.

LoveInAMistPosy

Week 6: Urban Farming

Spring proper has arrived in Canberra this week, and in the blink of an eye we've gone from wearing a pullover outdoors, to getting up early to head out into the garden before it gets too hot.

Pansies
Developing Pink Lady apples

Developing Pink Lady apples

All the flower seeds we propagated a few weeks ago have now been planted out and we've also planted almost all of the vegetable seedlings that we grew from seed, so our garden beds are filling up. Of course, we'd planned - for once - to be sufficiently organised to get our reticulation in first so we could position plants right near the drippers but, as usual, we haven't managed it. Somehow we always seem to be crazily busy at this time of year. So we're going to have to work around the plants now, and the task is becoming increasingly urgent as the heat increases the demand for water.

While our core crop is now in, we received a parcel in the post this week containing a variety of unusual heirlooms that I want to try this year. To give you an idea, here are some of the seeds we started this morning:

  • Beans: Baby Sun and Sex without Strings
  • Chillies: Joe's Long Cayenne (the most beautiful looking chilli plants imaginable), Hellfire Mix, Tobago Seasoning
  • Capsicums: Mini Sweet Mix (these are baby capsicums that you put straight in your mouth after you've picked them), Mixed Italian Fryers, Seven Colour Mix
  • Cucumbers: Little Potato, Mexican Sour Gherkin, Lebanese Mini Muncher (see mini capsicums above - salivating already)
  • Eggplant Heirloom Mix
  • Tuscan Black Kale
  • Pumpkins: Heirloom Mix, Turk's Turban, Kakai (for home grown pepitas), Lakota
  • Tomatoes: Lemon Drop, Wild Sweetie (the smallest tomatoes in the world), Amish Paste and Principe Borghese (ideal for drying)
  • Heirloom radishes
  • Zucchini Costata - this bears an amazing star shaped fruit.
  • Sugarbeets - an exotic vegetable that can be used in desserts as well as savoury dishes.

These varieties are so attractive that I'm keen to grown them for their sheer beauty, never mind their flavour.

Our first tranche of loose leaf lettuce is now ready for harvest.

Our first tranche of loose leaf lettuce is now ready for harvest.

Spring onion flower

Spring onion flower

Just as prey attracts predators, great food attracts hungry mouths, and we've got an army of snails munching their way through our new planted seedlings at the moment. On the one hand, I really don't mind sharing. The poor sods are only trying to keep body and soul together, after all. On the other hand, we'd like to actually eat some of the produce ourselves, so I'm going to have to find a way to limit the damage. Snail baits are not an option as I'm quite fond of snails, and killing them isn't exactly in keeping with a vegan lifestyle. I couldn't live with myself if I did. So...my mission for this week is to find a way to deter these hungry molluscs from our vulnerable seedlings. There must be something else they'd like to eat...

This week's garden posy was made with 'scarlet' carpet roses and white hebe flowers from our front garden. The carpet roses will be in flower now until next winter - very handy when I'm struggling to meet my weekly flower arrangement goal. Expect to see more of them in lean weeks.

    Garden Flowers


    Week 4: Urban Farming

    It's been a flowery week in our urban farm. We have lots of gorgeous flowers in bloom and more about to burst out of their buds. I was therefore spoilt for choice when it came to choosing flowers for our weekly arrangement - it will be a very different story in winter, I can assure you. In the end, I settled on snowballs with arching tendrils of banksia rose, and Steve's created a wonderful rustic pedestal using found materials to display the arrangement for photographing.

    SnowballArrangement

    Courtesy of Steve's hard work creating more infrastructure, we now have a large, new flower bed ready for planting and Hannah and I have been busy propagating summer annuals. This week we've started:

    • Nigella (Love in a mist)
    • Moonflower
    • Edelweiss
    • Sunflowers (Italian and Giant Russian - don't ask me where we're going to plant the latter)
    • Sweet peas (Highly Scented and Painted Lady to drape over the pool fence)
    • White Cosmos
    • Marigold and Nasturtium for companion planting in the vegetable patch
    • Californian Poppy (Jelly Bean and Red Chief - for planting in pots or we'll never be rid of them)
    • Corn Cockle
    • Poached Egglplant
    The top photo in this diptych is cause for great excitement in our household. I planted passion fruit vines last spring, taking pains to find a location that would protect against the heavy frosts we get in Canberra. The vines have done well over winter and are now about to fruit.

    The top photo in this diptych is cause for great excitement in our household. I planted passion fruit vines last spring, taking pains to find a location that would protect against the heavy frosts we get in Canberra. The vines have done well over winter and are now about to fruit.

    Peaches and plums

    Peaches and plums

    Still on a flower theme, we've planted out delphiniums, blue salvia, foxgloves and coreopsis. We also planted some pansies at the front of Hannah's rose and lavender garden to grace us with colourful blooms while the rest of the garden gets established.

    In the vegetable patch, we've planted out a variety of loose leaf lettuces, radishes, beets, lovage, rosemary, tarragon, and another batch of sugar snap peas. I really don't think we can get enough sugar snaps, but at the rate I've been propagating and planting, we'll soon get to test that hypothesis.

    And I've had home grown micro greens in my sandwiches all week. Delicious!

    Big thanks to Steve for all the awesome photos this week.

    Our alpine strawberries are flowering and there's fruit on our cumquat and fig trees

    Our alpine strawberries are flowering and there's fruit on our cumquat and fig trees

    Granny Smith apple, grapes and passion fruit

    Granny Smith apple, grapes and passion fruit