aphids (1) bread (1) cooking (3) eggplant (1) eggs (1) Eucalyptus (1) fermenting (1) lemons (1) pests (1) pizza (1) preserves (1) sourdough (1) spring (1)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Verge of Spring!

Spring is only a matter of weeks away - and my garden knows it!

Around the garden with my camera this afternoon, I could see the anticipation of Spring in almost all my plants.

Apple blossom

Blueberry flower

There were new buds and flowers, new fruit and leaves.

I also noticed the increased insect activity - the first sign of cabbage moth catepillars (which I dread),

 and aphids multiplying faster than before. As much as I don't like them, I'm always fascinated with how the ants 'farm' them. They will actually carry them from plant to plant creating new colonies of aphids to ensure the sap-sucking aphids' survival and proliferation. The ants will look after them, defending them against any predators, just like little shepherds! Why do the ants go to all this trouble? Because the ants will pat them and cause them to emit a sugary juice which the ants harvest! Isn't that fascinating??...or maybe it's just this picture there are aphids on a newly formed broad bean

Thankfully, I can also see the signs of good insects - a preying mantis and a few different kinds of ladybirds - a welcome sign of a healthy garden without chemicals. Sarah and I actually observed a ladybug eating an aphid the other day.

                                         Cabbages, brussel sprouts, coriander and broad beans

                                                           Garlic, spinach, radiccio

Nasturtium or "drinking flower" as Joel calls it because he loves to pick them and suck the nectar out of them!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Smiling Sunflowers

Sunflowers are the happiest flower you can grow in the garden! They always make me smile, especially when they are smiling too!

But they don't just look pretty, they also attract bees and birds, provide shade for other plants in the summer, act as a climbing frame for peas, beans etc., and kids LOVE their huge flower! Sunflowers come in a variety of colours and sizes, the most dramatic would have to be the giant ones. The variety I have grown before is the Giant Single. The seed packet says the height is 1.8 - 4.5 metres! But don't expect it to grow very big in poor soil, the more you feed it the more it will grow. They can also be grown in winter in my subtropical climate I've found, just as long as they have a warm, sunny spot.

One idea I would love to try is the Sunflower House, from the book Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots (Sharon Lovejoy). Sunflowers are planted in a rectangular shape, leaving a space for the door. As they grow, they create a leafy sunflower room!

When the heads are finished flowering, the seeds will form. This is the time to make sunflower faces. In the past I have cut off the heads, tied them together, hung them up under cover to dry. I use them as a treat for the chooks, throwing half a head to them every so often and watching their excitement! The seeds can be eaten by us of course, and you can get varieties specifically for seed. However, extracting the seeds from the flower head and then the kernel from the husk is time consuming and hardly worth the effort I'm sorry to say! On the other hand, a handful of seeds can keep the kids quietly entertained for half an hour easy!

This coming spring, i hope to plant many sunflowers in my garden. I haven't had any for a while and I've certainly missed their charming character!

 Sunflower our Buff Sussex hen who, ironically, is the grumpiest chook we've ever had!

My garden in Summer 2009

Getting Started!

Well, I've decided to start a gardening blog! If for no other reason than to encourage myself to take more pictures and record them somewhere. I also hope I can make this a way of recording what i've done in the garden and inspiring others to do the same in their own garden. It's something I've been pondering on for quite a few months after reading other people's blogs. I will try to post as many photos as I can...hopefully i can find the time!