Spring is coming! yes it is! wahoo!
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25 August 2014

Thanks for all the birthday wishes! And feedback on the calendar. We'll go for it with a perpetual calendar if we think we can make the numbers work.

I guess everyone (around Hobart) has been basking like happy lizards in this brilliant sunshine, feeling the unfamiliar warmth of sun through your clothes, or even on bare skin. Or maybe you're working like crazy people in the garden getting ready for the steam train of activity that Spring brings. But don't forget that basking time, while you listen to the drowsy droning of bees (and neighbourhood chainsaws), is worthwhile. I'm a big fan of vacant staring in the garden. You often learn something: for example I was tranced out looking at the beautiful rosemary flowers in the picture above just now, and noticed that the pollen in the bees' pollen sacs was pale creamy yellow. So that's the colour of rosemary pollen. Sometimes you see bright gold, or orange, or even white pollen. Yay bees. 

Playing with perennials

We're getting towards the end of the winter window for planting, transplanting and propagating many of the perennial food plants like fruit trees and berries. Deciduous species are often best mucked around with while they're dormant, and you're probably noticing the signs of the end of winter dormancy in some early species, especially stone fruit and berries. The idea is that new cuttings, or plants that have been dug up and moved to a new spot, need to establish a new root system before all their energy goes into producing leaves and new above-ground growth. If they are transplanted or struck from cuttings too late, the root system may not be adequate to keep the plant going into the warmer weather of summer.

But if you just can't resist raiding friends' mulberry, or fig, or pomegranate trees (ahem - no resistance in this household), and you've left things a bit late, it just means that you'll have to lavish extra love and care on any newly struck plants as the seasons progress. But get in quick! Take sturdy cuttings that are pencil to thumb thick, and plant them into well drained potting mix as deeply as you can, ideally leaving just a few buds above ground.
And if you've left your fruit tree selection and planting a bit late - good news! Our friends at the fabulous
Woodbridge Fruit Trees are having their annual sale until the end of September. Again, if you're planting trees that are leafing out already, give them special attention into summer. Keep them well mulched and watered, and staked if you're in a windy spot. 

Vertical garden at the Arts Factory

A working bee or two . . . some climbing of ladders . . . . drum roll please . . . .TA DA!
After dedicated persistence by Jorgen and occasional helpers, we've completed the grand experimental vertical aquaponics garden at the Arts Factory in South Hobart. The concept has evolved from the idea of using the vertical space to stack or hang some growing pots, into a soil-less aquaponics system powered by a solar pump. With goldfish in a bath as the nutrient providers. And colour, LOTS of colour!
About a week ago we planted strawberries, chives, purple and green pak choy, parsley, kale, violas, and peas in a merry mix into the holes we'd drilled in plumbing pipe. Inside, the pipe is filled with perlite, through which a steady flow of nutrient enriched water is pumped via the solar pump. The planting holes are filled with a "collar" of florists sponge to stop the perlite overflowing. Each horizontal section is stoppered at the end with a partial 'dam' to make sure the section fills with solution rather than just having it trickle along the bottom of the pipe. A small drain in each dam ensures that the system works in a 'fill and drain' manner, so the nutrient solution wont stagnate or drown the plants when the pump stops at night.

Its VERY experimental! We're looking forward to seeing how things grow!
Special thanks to Rob, a generous fimbarista and self taught aquaponics afficionado, who stepped into our knowledge vacuum and patiently explained, listened, gave advice, and showed interest.

If you think you'd like one of these in your home or work place . . . let us know! We've learned alot in the building of this one, so Mark II will be even better!

And on a related note, Jorgen (above) the builder of the garden, is also a dab hand at turning old pallets in to furniture. The pic below is from inside the Arts Factory, where there is a fantastic food and music event every Wednesday night. And many other events and art space and good spirited skill swapping and art making. Check it out.

Anyway, back to the furniture. Jorgen can make you some. He's always looking for ways to earn some extra cash (he's an artist. nuff said.) so if you'd like an uber-chic recycled outdoor or patio setting, let me know and I'll pass on his details.

Gardening classes at the Botanical Gardens

They've already started, but you can join in classes at the Botanical Gardens that are happening every Tuesday and Thursday throughout August to October. Lots of topics all about growing food, like seed raising, taking cuttings, making hot compost, keeping plants happy in containers, understanding soil . . . the list goes on. Their amazingly knowledgeable and keen teachers include Tino Carnevale and Marcus Ragus.  Each class is only $15. What's not to like?? You need to book by phoning the RTBG on 6236 3050. 

Oatlands School and Community Garden

They're at it again - those lovely powerhouses of community spirit and garden enthusiasm, Jo (right) and Eleanor (second from right) and their mob up at Oatlands, are putting on an Open Day in October. It will be mid week, October 14th, and FIMBY will be there with seedlings for sale and chats to be had. For all the info, click HERE and while you're at it have a look around their facebook page.

What to plant now

If you want pinkeye potatoes for Christmas lunch (and who doesn't??) get them planted now. If you're planting in the garden, bury them as deep as you can, around 20cms at least, so there is room above the original tuber for the new potatoes to form. 
They form on the end of lateral roots that come out from the vertical stalk of the potato plant. You can sort of see what's happening in this photo from last January. That's why its a good idea to 'hill up' soil around the main stem of the plant as it grows, so that you're creating more and more space for productive roots that will stay nice and covered up and dark. Because light + potatoes = green, and not the good kind of green. Poisonous green. We don't want that.

If you grow potatoes using some sort of no dig method, make sure you cover them with HEAPS of compost / straw / mulchy stuff to exclude all the light.
Now that the sun is out and the soil is beginning, a little bit, to warm up, there are lots of things that you can plant directly in the garden as seed. These include carrots, beetroot, silverbeet, lettuces, asian greens, onions, spring onions, swedes and turnips (the question is: why?), and peas.

And its a great time to plant 'under glass' all the things that need warmer conditions. Tomatoes, capsicum, chilli, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, pumpkin, sweet corn. All these heat lovers can be planted out in the garden in late October or November as sturdy seedlings. So you can start them off in seed trays, pots or soil blocks now, in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill.

Budding genius

And I couldn't resist leaving you with this heartwarmer with the 'nnnnawwwwww' factor. Recently I went to visit Rosie in West Hobart for a garden consultation and to talk over some design ideas. Her son Joseph had already done some garden design work a few years ago, when he was about 5 yrs old. This is his plan. He has done a more sophisticated one since, that includes more fruit trees. But this one is gold:
Right - I'm off to harvest some Broclee for dinner, work out where to put some Ptatos in the next week or so, and then see if I can find my pumcin seeds for planting in the seedling nursery. Oh, and check on my tmutow seedlings while I'm at it. LOVE IT!
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