July in My Green Garden Productive Patches
It is winter – and winter in Melbourne is cold, sometimes wet and a lot of grey. Brrr!
IN THE FRUIT ORCHARD of MY GREEN GARDEN
The temptation to stay inside is great but when I do venture out, dressed from top to toe very warmly, I can still find plenty to do, especially now that the trees have lost all their leaves and are revealing criss-crossed branches. I can do a bit of renovation pruning now on the bits that were missed with the late summer pruning, on most of the deciduous fruit trees (not the apricot nor cherries). I’ll need to do this with some branches that have strayed over blocking paths in the garden, as well as cutting out some branches that are growing into the centre of the trees.
It’s too early to be spraying against curly leaf on the peach and nectarines, but by the end of July we might be able to see some fattening buds to start with the spraying regime. I’ll be using Lime Sulfur or a copper-based spray. This task would have to be one of my least favourite but is made easier with a good sprayer. I now have one that sprays upside down, doesn’t block easily and doesn’t leak when spraying, making the task easier. For more information and hands-on practice, I am running a Winter Fruit Tree Maintenance workshop in July. To book, go through to the booking page.
One pruning task which is definitely done over winter is the cutting back of the grape vines. They fruit on new season’s growth, which grows on last year’s growth, so if left unpruned, the grape vines become enormous and tangled everywhere! I might even try to use the long, trailing prunings to weave some garden edging…
IN THE VEGETABLE GARDENS
It’s not a great time for planting vegies in my shady garden. Last year I planted potatoes in the July/August period to dig up in January. Another space has been made available where the kids’ cubby house was removed last year. I had earmarked it for raspberries but I may just put a crop of potatoes there first. The soil is pretty crappy, having been covered for many years, but we have been adding all the lawn clippings over the bare soil and it will be the site for the construction of a No-Dig Garden bed, to be done at one of the Beginners Series to Growing Vegetables: Your Patch from Scratch. We will build the bed and plant the potatoes at the same time. (Click here for details about the workshop).
Why so much bother about potatoes?? One reason is because the flavour of a freshly-dug spud is sublime and they are another crop that stores well. I’d have to admit too, that one of the main reasons is that they are so much fun to dig up! Finding these nuggets of buried treasure makes the effort all worthwhile. If you don't have much space, try my Potato Tower technique.
This time of the year, with not much happening in the garden is when we make modifications around the garden. This year, I am going to get some decent irrigation installed around all the fruit trees, to provide water over the warmer months. It will be drip irrigation, programmed with a timer which will replace my rather ad hoc way of watering.
Other odd jobs include
- Digging in the green manure crop which is growing thickly now. It will lie and decompose in time for the warm season crops to follow soom enough.
- The broadbeans will need tying up as they are getting taller and more floppy.
- Continue to crop all of the coriander and the many heads of bok choy that seem to do well in the limited sunshine that they get.
- Continue to make compost. I'll be needing loads of it when I top-dress the fruit trees later in August.
- Pick the tamarillos. I leave them on as long as I can as they look so beautiful on the tree, hanging down like red Easter eggs!
IN THE PRESERVING KITCHEN
Citrus, citrus and more citrus – marmalades of home grown oranges, mandarins and my favourite, cumquats.