19 December 2023

The last blog of 2023.  I’ve been over at Rob’s place having a wander round his food garden.  Our notes compare favourably.  His indeterminate tomatoes look at much the same stage as mine.  Delateralled and tied up and awaiting fruit. 

Rob has put horizontal stakes across his waratahs for extra stability and put a nice wool mulch from Kings Seeds round his plants. December is a good time to delateral tomatoes before fruit sets and to get rid of excess growth that will impede good air flow which in turn prevents fungal disease.

Mine are not yet mulched but that needs to happen soon with the warm dry days we’re having.

I haven’t tackled the Romas yet in my garden (Scoresby Dwarf in the front, Romas at the back), because I’m just so loving the healthy vigorous growth of my tomatoes this year which I can only put down to the application of sulphur, which my soil seemingly was so low in.  The Romas are starting to put out leggy growth so that’s a job I need to find time for.

Check out our video on how to delateral.

Rob and I both have hearty-growing comfrey.  (This is Rob’s).

He has so much he’s picking it and laying it in the sun for a day before putting it directly on his capsicum bed.

I’m picking mine and making a comfrey liquid to spray all over our fruiting plants.  Just fill a container with the leaves then add water up to the top of the leaves and loosely pop a lid on, so that air can still get in.  It’ll take 2-3 weeks to break down well enough to use.

Rob’s strawberries are luscious and large.  Mine are taking a break and gathering strength for the next burst.  I’ve given them an application of Dave’s Humate to help with this.

Rob’s zucs and cucs are producing well.  He particularly likes the Mini Me variety from Egmont Seeds, which produces copious amounts of small Lebanese-style fruit.  The important part is to keep picking them so they produce more. Both Rob’s zucchini (Partenon Hybrid) and cucumber are parthenocarpic varieties which means the flowers are all female and the plant produces fruit without the need for pollination.  At this time of year with changeable weather, pollination can be unreliable. 

I’ve just planted out 2 melons and 2 watermelons.  I didn’t want to rush it because they don’t like root disturbance so I wanted the roots to have taken hold in the pot.  Here’s a good guide to planting melons.  I trenched in vermicast from our Hungry Bin first, then added chicken manure, put the plants in, then applied Morganics, watered them in, laid straw around and netted them.

Onions are almost ready for harvesting.  I have been applying fish and seaweed liquid fertiliser to speed up the sizing up of them.

Potatoes will be ready for Christmas Day.  I didn’t plant any main crop potatoes this year as I simply don’t have the room.

The birds completely obliterated our grapes last year, so this time I’ve popped them into see-through drawstring bags from the $2 shop. 

And look at Rob’s beautiful tamarillos just planted.  They’re in a sheltered position and his subtropical climate definitely helps!

Meri Kirihimete! See you next year!

Jan and Rob

8 Responses

  1. Thanks for your writing Jan.
    We grew seedlings of several varieties this year and they got mixed up in the process of moving round according to the weather, which ranged from a gale off the sea to blistering hot. So we lost track of which were determinate or not and I might have done the wrong thing for some. It has been my understanding that Roma is a determinate variety and better not de-lateraraled and the Internet isn’t so helpful with identification either. However we have 38 growing well with fruit up to 50mm forming. The next problem might be getting rid of them but we’d better not count that chicken yet as the army worm is getting close. Enjoy your summer.

    1. Wow that’s a story of resilience. Great that you have retained 38 plants to grow on. Yes Romas are determinate. In the past, as I mentioned, I’ve had a lot of blight and the Romas have not grown as well as they have this year with the addition of sulphur to the soil. I have delateralled my Romas in the past, hoping to create more air flow to deal with the fungal infection. But this year they’re growing like they should, all healthy and bushy and I will most likely let them stay that way and not delateral them. I’ll get Rob to have a look at them and make the call after that. Fingers crossed the army worm doesn’t visit your place this year! That was disastrous last year.


  3. Merry Christmas! Thanks for the info, I always look forward to it. I’m feeling a little jealous as my plants all look a bit sad this year. Perhaps January will be my time for redemption.

    1. There’s often no rhyme or reason as to which crops are going to do well and there are always some that don’t do as well as previously. My strawberries, for example, aren’t a patch on previous years. Keep positive, focus on the soil and feeding it and you’ll get the rewards ultimately 😊

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