Friday, 9 August 2013

Inspirations Vegetable Seeds

For Tasmanian vegetables gardeners, finding vegetable seed varieties that are well suited to our maritime climate can prove frustrating. When I first moved down hear I had been growing vegetables for quite some time, however I quickly came to realise that I had to throw out many ideas and re-learn a whole suite of new varieties and ways of doing things based on the substantially different climate I came from. Gone are the guaranteed bean harvest, the tomato that tastes superb by simply growing anything i came across, or those easy to grow and delicious corn cobs. Once you do your research, speak with others and learn from each season, you quickly learn that the above can still happen plus more. The berries are outstanding, fruit trees do fantastic, spuds are much less maintenance, the brassicas are huge (if you plant the right varieties) particularly during winter.

Lost Seeds initially helped me come to grips with these changes, but they have since moved to the mainland and while they still stock a great supply of varieties, I prefer to support the local suppliers. Most of us are aware of Southern Harvest, however another outstanding supplier is Inspirations Seeds based north in Exeter. Each month they produce are very informative newsletter which I highly recommend you read.

http://www.vegetableseeds.net.au/#archive

This winter I have seen particuarly impressive results from Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower that I have sourced from these guys. The size of the heads have been massive and the inital side shoots have also been very large. The recent cauliflower is by far the largest I have ever grown, and all with minimal effort as our winter is perfectly adapted for them. I have tho ensured the quality of the soil by green manures the previous season, manures, compost and worm teas.

The following Cauliflower is the mix purchased from Inspirations Seed.

A large cauliflower with a large Vegemite jar to provide context
If you are still purchasing punnets of vegetable seedlings from local nurseries and are continually disappointed, I would highly recommend you consider sourcing varieties more suited to our climate (nurseries sell Victorian suited seedlings often). This may mean raising from seed, but the final results are well worth it.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Spring is in the air and so is the summer plantings

Things are beginning to turn the tide as Spring is at hand. The silver wattles (Acacia dealbata) are starting to flower, the Dusky Robins are as active as ever and the first arrivals of the striated pardalotes have been heard. All that is needed now is for the welcome swallows to return to my shed.

This all signals the return of the preparation for the summer harvest. The coming months are vital in the success of your summer harvest. This is where my diary of sowings, when, the results etc since I moved to Tasmania has become very handy. A review of my diary shows that I had better get moving, and last weekend was the start of the coming months of dedication to the patch.

The weekend past saw the preparation of one bed which will receive the pink eye potatoes. My spud harvest last year was down on the previous two years harvests, likely a result of my lack of irrigation and the driest summer I have seen since arriving (note to self, run that dam pump for irrigation more). However the pink eyes were excellent in yield as they are early maturing are mature nicely before the onset of potentially dry weather post xmas.

This weekend may also see the first sowings of the peas and snow peas. I have opted to go with these varieties this year and I am aiming to sow triple what I did the previous year to increase the amount for freezing.

 Other tasks on the horizon (within 2 weeks) is to finalise tomato varieties and pot up to go into hot house for germination (followed by pumpkins/capsicums a few weeks later), sow spinach, lettuce radish and silverbeet.

Currently in the hothouse are broccoli and onions which are growing well ready for late August planting.

FRUIT TREES

This is the time you should look to spray your fruit trees as prevention for various fungal issues seen on peaches (leaf curl)/raspberries (rust)/apples (scab) etc (only if you want to go organic methods that is!!!).

I adopt the burgundy mix as recommended by Peter Cundall. I found the lime method much weaker in years past and moved to burgundy which i have stuck with since (plus the mix does not get stuck in the sprayer). It is important to get this onto the buds before they burst into life. Once they burst into life do not spray. If your too late tell yourself to try and remember the next year. The down side at the moment is all the showers we seem to be getting on a daily basis down in the Huon. Rain can dilute or wash off completely the mix, but any is better than none so don't delay. Plus the washing soda does seem to help the mix stick unless the rain pours!.

extract from Gardening Australia website
Bordeaux Mixture:

1 Dissolve 100 gram of builders’ (hydrated) lime in half a standard (plastic) bucket of water. (About 5 litres).
2 Dissolve 100 grams copper sulphate (available at garden centres) in a separate half bucket of water.
3 Keeping the lime mixture agitated to prevent settling, pour it steadily into the half bucket of dissolved copper sulphate.
4 If necessary add enough extra water to make up a total of 10 litres. This is Bordeaux mixture. It is at its most effective strength when freshly mixed so must be used immediately or within a couple of days.
5 It is sprayed to completely cover the main (bare) branches of peach, nectarine and other stone fruit trees to help control leaf curl and brown rot disease. It is also sprayed over raspberry canes in late July for control of raspberry rust.

Bordeaux mixture colours the sprayed plants blue. The spray can withstand light rain. However a disadvantage with this mixture is that it tends to quickly settle so must be constantly agitated during spraying operations. The lime content also tends to easily block the fine nozzles of sprayers.

Burgundy Mixture:

This is virtually the same except that lime is replaced by washing soda (cheaply available at supermarkets in 1kg packets as a water softener).

The amounts are the same, as is the method of mixing. Always use non-metal buckets – standard 10 litre plastic buckets are ideal. If the water is slightly warm the washing soda and the copper sulphate dissolve more rapidly.

Slowly pour half a bucket of (100 grams) dissolved washing soda into half a bucket of (100 grams) dissolved copper sulphate and add more water if necessary to make up 10 litres.

The advantage of Burgundy mixture is that it does not block sprayer nozzles. It is also a little stronger and must never be used on plants in leaf.

leaf curl on peach tree

July Weather Averages

July saw a great deal of rain and the dams and tanks fill which is greatly welcome for the coming summer. It also was on average warmer than the preceding year.


July 2013 2012
Max Avg 14.6 13.7
Min Avg 4.7 3.0
Highest Max 19.3 17.0
Lowest Min -2.1 -1.6
Rain 143.7mm 24.6mm
Rain YTD 454mm 317.7mm
Avg Wind 3.3 km/h 2.2 km/hr


Sunday, 21 July 2013

June Weather Averages

This is a little late but for those locals who have some weather interest (since our closest weather station is at Grove and not the best of comparisons).

As I post this, today (July 21) has been our wettest day of the year with the heavens opening. So far we are nearing 70mm for this rain event (8mm which was ast night). The dams I see from my window have topped up nicely and are overflowing.


June 2013 2012
Max Avg 13.9 13.5
Min Avg 4.6 3.4
Highest Max 19.2 21.9
Lowest Min -0.5 -3.1
Rain 59.5mm 25.2
Avg Wind 2.1 km/h 2.5 km/hr
 



























Monday, 8 July 2013

The Plight of the Honeybee

Even tho bees are numerous in my patch, especially through the warmer months of the year, bees worldwide have been on the decline for quite some time. many of us are aware that this is occuring, but some of us may not know why.

The following article is an excellent review of the bee decline and highlights some interest research that is occurring around the globe.


The Plight of the Honeybee

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Gasland (2010)




This is a fascinating documentary on the move to natural gas in America and the impacts that fracking (is that how it is spelt?) especially on agriculture.

With Australia moving more and more towards natural gas, it poses many questions we should consider asking the regulators before permits are approved. Gaslands 2 is about to air in America so if you have not seen this here is the youtube version.

Friday, 5 July 2013

How low will the snow go?

Winter has well and truly arrived with an Antarctic blast currently hitting Tasmania. It is 5 degrees as I write this with squall after squall coming from the mountains out west. It is times like this that the wood fireplace works overtime and makes the house a cozy 20 degrees and those days of wood chopping in summer well worth it.




When I took the picture above, it was sunny with light winds, but as I type now, this front has arrived, is blowing winds up to 60 km/hr and driving horizontal rain. The forecasters are saying snow tonight will fall down to 300 metres, but some trusty weather people I know think it may dip to lower than 200. By tomorrow will shall find out. My place is situated around 100 to 120 metres above sea level. I am unlikely to see snow on the ground from this event, tho last year we did have some snow fall and melt on impact. The kids really want to see some snow on the ground at home, but it is only a short trip up towards the surrounding hills if we really want to see it.

Today I was planning on digging up the ground between two posts in preparation for my new berry area. I have 10 chilliwack Raspberries ready to go and a logan berry. I already have about 20 raspberries in the main patch but I did not plan their plantings the best when I was in the initial rush of setting. A friend has a neat set up which has inspired me to get at least one row in that I can be proud of. However in saying that, the berries produced well last year, the are just not set up ideally.

But alas, the weather is not conducive to me getting outside and my hands dirty. Hopefully the coming days I will find that motivation. Another task I must get to is

- planting Broccoli seed in punnets into the hothouse
- go through my seeds to check what I need for the coming Spring
- do a general weeding in the patch
- harvet (the best part)
- and prepare for the U14 Youth soccer game (I co-coach) and one of my boys 8th b'day party!!!

I also need to start considering the digging in of some green manure beds so the have time to compost in before the spring plantings.



With the wild weather fronts coming through, it was interesting watching the chooks and their antics. When the sun returned, they came out of the shed and searched for food amongst the pasture. When the front arrived, they rushed for cover and sat waiting for their return to the field. The only deviation from this was one stupid young rooster who would stay out and get soaked.

Two other projects I am aiming to keep up with over the next months is

1 - continue a list of all weed species I find popping up in the patch
2 - keep a list of all garden plants that my surrounding Pademelons (wallabies) will not eat.

I will post a blog on both of these in the future, but if you have any plants proven for success around pademelons, please leave me a comment.

Enjoy
Dave