Garden Update September Week 1

Father’s Day weekend and last match of the 2011 AFL football season, well, for the crows anyway! Maybe they will win this weekend and make it 8 wins for the season.

Unfortunately the crows were murdered by the West Coast Eagles and that’s that!

Work continued on painting the verandah ceiling, now to the area outside the rumpus room. Looks really bright and lifts the area nicely.

That is me painting the verandah outside the Rumpus Room

A nice bright ceiling to the verandah!

Now that the verandah is starting to look more impressive I thought I would renovate the old kitchen table we had used under the verandah. It was quite rickety and has extension leaves that always threatened to collapse, although they never did. I braced the main frame at the bottom with a piece of meranti 5in x 1.5in which served well as a footrest also. I then removed some of the hinges from the extension leaves and fitted two pine 42mm x 19mm supports the full length of the table by screwing through the 19mm side and gluing to give maximum strength. This has strengthened the leaves and improved overall stability. With the table now nicely serviceable I went a step further and started to apply some Feast Watson Outdoor Furniture Oil ‘Hardwood’ colour to the table top. Stopped there, ran out of time, and wanted to see if it came up well because the table had previously been varnished. I sanded the surface back with an orbital sander before oiling.

The Rickety kitchen table is now a partly refurbished verandah table.

In the vegie garden I decided to dig up a couple of potato plants that had died back. I was pretty sure there would be no potatoes because they hardly grew any size at all and had succumbed to fungal attack and died, never flowered I am sure. The potatoes were a couple of Desiree reds saved from my 2010 crop in the southern beds.  Out of the row 5m long only 2 plants grew, as they had been planted too early in the season. The plan was to simply replant the row with some new seed potatoes. However, I was astounded at what I found under the ground. For failed plants they produced a mass of 3 kg of good-sized potatoes, larger than tennis balls and almost as round. This spurred me on to continue with spuds a little further. Next to these two plants a row of Kipfler potatoes were planted at the same time. Although these did not germinate either when planted, now they have now all sprouted and are strong plants. To avoid the damping off with fungal rot of my earlier crops I have started a spraying programme with copper spray and baiting for snails, who love potato plants. I have now mounded up the row of Kipflers and will check their progress.

The row of Kipfler potatoes next to the Greenfeats Peas in Bed 1.

The newest patch of strawberries are looking a bit stressed. Pamela and I dug up some new plants from last year’s runners and transplanted them to a new bed in bed 8. Unfortunately they are not doing well and I suspect they have been allowed to dry out a bit too much. I decided to install their soaker system that I use throughout the vegie garden. Once installed they were given a good watering and picked up almost instantly. The soil drying out always catches me out here. The weather remains cool and you think that plants are going well but the rain has stayed away for a few weeks now and the soil is fairly dry. The same situation has occurred in other years so I must add August watering startup to my 2012 planner to avoid the element of surprise next year.

The new strawberry bed in Bed 8 next to the Dry Garden

Inspected the Raspberry beds and see that there is activity with new suckers and last years canes budding up. Still need to set up their trellis and irrigation.

Raspberry Bed with the first signs of spring growth, not very obvious right now

The newest perennial flowers are showing signs of stress so I watered them with the watering can. That seems to do them well enough for a week.

Newly planted Cistus showed signs of stress and were given a small amount of water

Tulips are budding up but only short stems. I wonder if that is because they were planted late or if they are a poor variety. The Diggers free tulips were planted earlier and they have produced longer stems. When the opportunity presents itself I want to get Tulipa Whitallii from Lambley. I have a lot of confidence in Lambley products at this stage. Not one of the plants I purchased from them has died and all are doing very well! I expect their bulbs will be as successful.

Yorktown tulips flowered very low in the vase of the leaves. Not very showy.

Diggers Tulip is growing on a longer stem than the Yorktown tulips

In the North Perennial Garden the Oyster Plant is doing beautifully and I can see at least 5 flower spikes coming. I thought it was going to take several years for our first flowers but we have some in our first year.

The moved Impatiens with the Oyster plant between it and the palm. Note the Day lilies to the right behind the jonquils.

The plant has now spread so wide that it has half covered my Impatiens which looks like it is trying to run away. So I decided to pull out my Comfrey which are dormant at the moment and will move them to the herb spot in the South Perennial Garden. I dug out the Impatiens and put it further to the front at the edge where the Comfrey were removed. Although it will probably stress a bit for a week or two I hope it will be looking nice again for christmas.

The day lilies in the North Perennial Bed are looking very vigorous and exciting. I  now there is at least one orange coloured one but the rest are a  mystery. Sweet Peas in the same bed are also looking very strong and beginning to show some flower buds but as yet there are no flowers. Daffodils flowered only poorly and were another disappointment. Bulbs came from Diggers and another of their less than successful plants. When the tops die back I will move them to the dry garden and see how they go there. The Rhubarb in this bed came from Kangaroo Island, Liz and Scott, and are also poor. They are growing fine but threw up so many flowers that I was for ever breaking them off. I have ordered a new thick stalk variety from New Gippsland Seed Farm and hope they will behave better. When they are established I will pull the others out. Alstroemeria is moving and expanding but no flowers at the moment. The Mother’s Day Chrysanthemum has died back and not showing signs of resprouting from the base. Dusty Miller is sending up tall flower spikes after sitting there doing very little for the past year or so. Will be interesting to see how it comes up. Clivia are flowering sporadically but they look like taking another year to settle in. Agapanthus look strong but not flowering yet. Elephant ears bulbs did not flower this year but leaves look strong and the same story for the Nerines. I suspect this bed may too wet for them to set flowers in the bulbs but the real test for these will be a comparison with those planted in the dry garden next season. Wild Irises have just started to throw out a few flowers. The Bay tree is budding up and looks like it will move soon. Bearded irises that are left in this garden look healthy but I suspect they may not flower either this year, garden is probably too wet in this area. I will check them against those in the dry garden.

The herb barrels have grown well over the past year and need some work. Unfortunately they were not used as I expected so this year I will change things around, not physically with the barrels but how they are planted. I planted some pansies in one empty one at the end of autumn and they are flowering beautifully.

Herb barrels with Pansies flowering in the barrel nearest the road.

Tom helped with rotary hoeing this weekend. Bed 1A and 1B were hoed as was Bed 8 ready for some early spring plantings. In bed 1A beside the Greenfeast Peas I will plant the latest Kipfler seed potatoes and bed 8 will probably have some of the sweetcorn beds.

Pamela got stuck into the Canna beds in the South Perennial Bed on Sunday. We are a bit late cutting them down to the ground, should be done in June but there hasn’t been much movement yet so it should be OK. Canna can’t be shredded with a cheap shredder, it just clogs up, so the stalks will be manually chopped then added to the cold compost heap, which seems to be working well as it reduces a fair amount each week. I will start a new one in Summer and close this one up for the next year or so.

Pamela chopped down the Cannas to make room for this year's flowers

Phillip helped out by emptying and screening the compost tumbler. It had a fair amount of woody material not composted so that will be added to the next batch. The screened compost he put into the spare wheelie bin ready for the next bed being ready.

Cut the first batch of asparagus on Sunday and made some cream of asparagus soup – delicious. Gave the patch a good watering and it looks like we may get a good result this season. The 1-year-old crowns are still in the foam tub but these will be planted out this month.

Asparagus bed jus beginning to produce.

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