The time came to cut down our tomato forest, which was sad because it required us to admit that summer is over and winter is coming. Tash made green tomato chutney form the unripened fruit, which was absolutely delicious.
In one of the new clearings, we spread out compost and planted broad beans to replenish the soil nitrogen after the nitrogen-hungry tomato crop.
We also harvested our first soy beans! They look so cute and fluffy growing on the bush, and taste even better than they look once turned into edamame. Simply boil for 4 minutes in salty water, plunge into cold water, pat dry then season with extra salt.
Today we planted a lot of seeds for our Autumn garden: cabbage, broccoli, beetroot, silver beet, parsley, kale, Brussels sprouts and dill. We fertilised the seeds with fish emulsion and put them in our glasshouse (we're pretty sure that we turned the automatic watering system ON, but time will tell).
Next, we tidied up the garden beds: cleaning up dead and powdery mildewed leaves on the Cucurbitaceae (pumpkins, zucchini, cucumbers) and tomatoes. Some of the tomato plants were getting a bit out of hand, so we pulled up the old plants, and replanted cuttings from their healthy growth. The stems were covered in root primordia (tiny buds ready to turn into roots) so the cuttings should take quickly. Tash was telling us about a restaurant that makes oil from the stems of tomatoes. I googled it but couldn't find anything: only discussions about how toxic they might be and suggestions to put tomato leaves in pasta sauces at the last minute to enhance the tomato flavour (but you need to take it out before eating because of the toxicity thing). Anyone know anything about tomato stem oil? I am really curious!
The garden is looking absolutely beautiful - tomatoes, corn, and zucchini seedlings are coming up nicely. The grapes have taken giant leaps up the arch way, soy beans are staying strong, and our natives bed is becoming a green carpet of edibles and flowers. Pictures will sum it up best;
Pippa and I are competing to come up with the best recipe for warrigal greens. We each took a bag. Pippa made Kale and Warrigal greens daal with rice. I made steamed greens with sour cream and crepes. I think we will need to call it a draw!
This working bee saw us clearing out most of the broad beans and planting lots of tomatoes in rich new compost. At last count, we had 22 tomato plants, and there are still more to go in! We also rigged up some support for them using star pickets and recycled hay twine. They may not be the prettiest supports, but it won't make much difference when they are covered in tomatoes! Our pumpkins, zucchinis, cucumbers and corn are all doing really well too.
The seedlings in our little greenhouse have been slow growing, and we think it's because they are getting cooked in the hot weather. Our greenhouse does have a sprinkler, but we thought some shade cloth over the roof would help as well.
After clambering around the back of the greenhouse like ninjas and doing some skillful maneuvering, we got the shade cloth perfectly in place over the roof. Now to wait and see if Melbourne's crazy winds blow it away!
We also checked the progress of the seedlings already planted in the garden. Corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, and soy beans are all doing well.
We are also on the look out for sunflower seedlings, if anyone has any they can drop by we would be very grateful.
Today's working bee was focused on the little critters that improve the ecosystem of a garden. We already have loads of bright flowers to attract bees and butterflies, and today we added two insect hotels for use by native bees, native wasps, lady bugs and spiders. Their heightened presence should do great things for the garden, ensuring our plants are pollinated and nasty pests (like aphids) are kept at bay!
We planted two pumpkin varieties: 'Wee B Little' (a compact variety that produces loads of mini pumpkins) and the 'World's Largest Pumpkin'. It will be very interesting to see how big we can get a pumpkin to grow with lots of worm juice and compost! In between the pumpkins we planted corn, and once the corn has taken off we will plant beans here as well. This is known as the 'Three Sisters' companion planting arrangement. Corn plants provide a natural pole for the beans to grow up, pumpkins work as a mulch by suppressing weeds and retaining soil moisture, and beans add nitrogen to the soil (which increases its fertility) and provide structural support to the tall corn plants. We can't wait to see how these three vegetables work together!
The garden is taking off with the wonderful warm weather we've been having! The nasturtiums are bright, the strawberries are sweet, and there is plenty to harvest. Today we picked lettuce, various herbs, various varieties of silverbeet, kale, Warrigal greens, potatoes, edible flowers and the very first broad beans! The meals we make this week will no doubt be filled with hearty greens and adorned with beautifully coloured flowers.
As well as harvesting, we planted potatoes (including some stunning teardrop potatoes and the perfect all-rounder, sebago potatoes) and mixed beans. We also noticed that the grape vine we transplanted last week is looking super healthy! It will be amazing when it is growing over our arch and we can snack on fresh grapes during working bees.
Hope to see you at next week's working bee, where we will learn how to make an insect hotel to attract beneficial critters to the garden!
We spent our Friday afternoon working bee doing compost maintenance, thinning carrots and putting in some lovely companion plants for our future Summer veggies. We are looking forward to warm weather and the wonderful fruits and vegetables it brings!
Look at us all being busy bees in the garden! Friday working bees at 4pm are always such a feel good event, chilling out before the weekend, nibbling on herbs and talking about our weeks.
Last week we planted carrot tops, that's right, carrot tops! When you chop off the top of a carrot, you can place it back in the ground and it should grow another carrot. We will document the progress in future blogs. Exciting experimenting.
Join us throughout spring, we plan to build an insect hotel, plant summer veg, build some irrigation, and hold a few workshops and parties! Check out our calendar.
Our last working bee saw us training the rest of the native raspberries up pyramid shaped trellises. They were getting a bit unruly, and we also thought the garden needed some height to it. We think it looks great as well as keeping the raspberries happy!
This is what we at MUC garden call 'garden sushi', or a 'herb sandwich'. Fennel and parsley, garlic chives and basil mint, all wrapped up in a nasturtium leaf is a flavour hit!
With some fresh compost, we planted some more kale seedlings. They should relish that chocolatey mixture.
Read all about it: MUC Garden and Burnley Student Association share updates on their activities.