Saturday, 29 August 2009

Herbs, Herbs, Herbs

Hello. My name is naturewitch and I am a plantaholic. I feed my obsession in many ways - visiting nurseries (when I have the time and the transport), reading about plants, or buying them online.

I have just discovered a new place to buy plants and they are ones especially dear to my heart - herbs. All Rare Herbs has an amazing collection of herbs, herb seeds and dried herbs for sale. They have specials each month - to tempt you further - and are lovely to deal with. I have placed my first order this week and eagerly await its arrival. I'll let you know when it arrives.

love and light

Monday, 24 August 2009

Microclimate Gardening and Food Forests

After last year's hot summer, I've decided to take a different approach this year - microclimate gardening.

The raised beds in our garden are made from Besser blocks, which is great for winter vegies as they retain the heat. However, they can be a bit warm in summer (last year I had to put this canopy up to raise the carrots), so this year they are going to host all of the heat-loving vegies, such as corn, pumpkins, tomatoes, melons, eggplants, etc.

The less heat-tolerant vegies, such as the leafy greens and root vegies, are going to be planted under and between the fruit trees. They'll still get enough light, but they'll also get protection from the hot midday sun; in other words, it will be the start of a food forest.

And I saw a neat idea on Gardening Australia the other day - pots with frames in them for growing Ceylon Spinach or Malabar Greens. These could be really useful to move around the garden to act as temporary shades and I'm also thinking of other plants we could grow in these pots.

I've moved the Queensland arrowroot from the garden into a big black bin under the eaves and it's put its first couple of leaves up already, about 2 months or so ahead of usual. I'm going to try this technique for also growing sweet potatoes and chokoes, so will tell how that goes later in the season.

We've worked out a site for a water tank to collect the rainfall from the roof and have finally agreed a site for the chook pen. It will mean moving the current compost heap, but that's OK with me. I'm also thinking about establishing a pond/bog area to house plants like water chestnuts (currently in buckets) and cranberries (currently in the bath tub); don't know if we'll get to it this year, but it's in the plan!

I lost a lot of time in the garden this winter due to illness and busy-ness, so I'm a little behind the eight ball. But on the weekend I got out in the garden and started weeding, feeding, fertilising (don't you just love chook poo!), planting and mulching under the fruit trees - twenty strawberry runners in so far. Haven't taken a photo yet, but will when I get a bit more done - hopefully next weekend (depending on the weather).

And last, but certainly not least, the bees have survived the winter (I was worried we might lose them when it was very cold and wet for a while) and we're thinking of putting in another hive. It is so terrific to see them around the garden and I'm planting up some extra herbs and flowers just for them.

love and light

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Italian Vegetable Seed

Some women have shoe fetishes; I must admit to seed, book and craft fetishes. But the one I write of here is unashamedly seeds.

Last week at work, one of my colleagues said that she'd managed to obtain some Italian vegetable seeds for her father (who is Italian). Of course, at lunchtime, I simply had to investigate! I happily returned with no less than eight packets of Italian vegetable seeds and a website to look at -

I am absolutely thrilled with this find as they have seed available that I've not seen in any other Australian seed companies. They also carry some organic seed stock.

Here's a picture of one of their tomatoes which I will try to grow this year. It is supposed to yield 400g fruit, which are very fleshy, with very few seeds.

So, if you share my addiction to trying out different varieties, have a look at what they have to offer.

Happy gardening!

love and light