October 2023

I’m delighted to report that the onion and leek seedlings that I transplanted in clumps into the garden have, in spite of my scepticism, taken off and are ready to be planted out individually.

You may have your onions in already, but if not, here’s how we do it.  Before we get started however, Rob has advised me to lime all our garden beds this year.  He says it’s good to do this every two years, so it’s high time for me.  We are on clay soil which is acidic and then rain, of which we’ve had plenty, is acidic. An acid soil can inhibit the uptake of nutrients, so it’s a good habit to get into.  You can test your soil with a kit from a hardware store if you’re interested in checking. See here for how to do it. 

So after forking the whole bed through to aerate it, I first apply garden lime (in my case), then a bag of compost, then I create 3 rows of mounds.  Pat them down firmly with your hand.  We make mounds because onions can’t tolerate the wet and need good drainage. 

Out come the plants.  I wash the dirt off the roots in a solution of liquid seaweed, then give the roots a trim if they’re long, and the tips a trim too, to stimulate growth.

Then with my trusty dibber, I make holes about 15cm apart.  It’s best if onions don’t touch each other when they mature.  Then they slip into the holes which we backfill with our dibber.  Rob suggests Blood and Bone round the plants (N for leafy growth and P for root and bulb growth, no K needed).  I water them in using the leftover seaweed solution and net them against birds looking for the delicious worms I uncovered in preparing the bed.

Here’s how the leek seedlings Rob gave me are doing.  I’ve added some Blood and Bone to them too.

And then I planted out two more rows of my leek seedlings  – all the same as for onions, except they grow in troughs, so you can backfill them as they grow to create nice long white stems.

Continuing with the root crop/bulbing theme, as stated last year when I faced yet another garlic crop decimated by rust, this year I would just do a small patch as a trial. Now’s the time to get them in. So my bulbs were bought from an organic store, I forked through the bed, limed it, added compost and in they went.  Once again I applied Blood and Bone round each plant and netted them. Rob has got one bulb of mine and is growing it the same way as me at the same time, so we can compare our plants and work on it together.  Mmm… interesting!  

Our first lot of brassicas went in in the New Moon.  It’s so nice taking out all the messy summer growth and starting a bed afresh.  This bed got limed first (also because brassicas like an alkaline soil), then compost added.  We suggest putting Neem Granules in the planting hole for the plants to take up systemically as it wards off white butterfly and its pesky caterpillars.  Having said that, we haven’t seen that much of the white butterfly this year.  I circled each plant with sheep pellets and a handful of our well-balanced organic fertiliser, watered them, then made up some yeast traps for any snails and slugs which thought they might take us on. See here for how to make them. Then netted the bed.

I’ve made our new strawberry plants for the coming summer.  Wash out your pots in a white vinegar solution to sterilise them.  I find 18 plants (3 rows of 6) is just the right amount for us. Fill with potting mix.  Create pins from paper clips.  Then it’s just a matter of identifying the strongest nodes from the runners coming out of your plants, popping them in the pot, and securing them with the paper clip over the runner.  Give them a good water and in no time you’ll find they’ve taken and are growing into beautiful new plants.  Easy as.

I love sweet peas, and now’s a good time to sow and plant them.  Last year ours self-seeded in the right place and didn’t need any attention.  This year I have just 6 plants that have self-seeded, and they’re further back in the bed than I would ideally like.  So, I’ve applied some lime closer to the climbing frame, added some compost, cut the plant growth back, and carefully dug them out leaving as much soil as I can round them and transplanted them to the right place.  I’m not sure if they’ll come away, but it’s worth a go.

Our sweet potato should be ready for harvest soon.  The Last Quarter is a good time to harvest as less sap is flowing in this phase than in others, so I’ll check in on them then.  The leaves are starting to show some signs of dying off.

And just generally a big shout out in praise of seaweed.  It’s a good habit to apply a liquid seaweed to your whole garden once a month and now’s a good time to start that habit, because you’re growing on new plants.  

Lastly, I just love two fruits in abundance in our garden at the moment – feijoas and guavas.  I make a puree with the guavas – just about does me in pushing them through the sieve, but it’s worth it.  This is my favourite breakfast – the fruit with a mainly oat muesli, coconut yoghurt and coconut and almond milk.  Yum!

Happy gardening!

From Jan and Rob