September in My Green Garden
The blossoms are out in full now, the air redolent with the scent of plum and almond flowers. Their glory is fleeting, which means that now I could wax lyrical about metaphorical connotations; or I could talk about a more pressing concern: making sure that there are bees about to do some pollinating for me. Luckily there have been bees, attracted by the nearby flowering Hardenbergia and Philotheca but beautiful rain-free days have been too few, so I hope we have had enough for the bees to do what I need them to do! We’ll know soon enough in the next few weeks.
With spring finally showing signs, it’s all systems go in preparation for the summer produce garden. Last weekend we managed to feed all the fruit trees but not the citrus trees, as I want to wait until the weather warms a bit so that the citrus can take up the food I need to give them. (I’m having to stop the chooks free-ranging for a while as they just love digging through the new mulch to get to the worms that are in the compost underneath). Winter veg are still cropping so I can’t do anything about re-conditioning those beds just yet, but there’s still time. A common mistake it to think that the soil temperature matches the ambient temperature at the start of spring but it definitely takes a bit longer to warm up. However, there is still heaps that can be done this month.
- Summer seeds that need warmth will be going in to punnets and biodegradable pots and I’ll get some heat to them to start the germination process. I already have tomatoes, eggplant and basil started from seed and all from the heat of the compost bin. As soon as they showed signs of life they were moved to the light and out into my mini greenhouse, which is covered by clear plastic. Now it’s time for the cucumbers, sunflowers and corn, all seeds that can go directly into the soil when it’s much warmer, but I want to get them started a bit earlier. They would all suffer from transplant shock so they will be going into pots that I can actually plant – my origami biodegradable newspaper pots and the empty toilet rolls that I am busy collecting.
- Some seeds will go straight into the soil as they don’t need the soil to be so warm, such as lettuces and I’ll try some summer beans too. I was surprised last year when I put some in late September and they actually germinated and produced well, much earlier than I had thought possible.
- The citrus trees will need some care. They all look like they’re suffering a bit from the very cold winter we’ve had so will need a good feed. But there’s also a bit more work to be done to some of the potted ones, particularly the cumquat and the Kaffir lime. The cumquat flowered and fruited very poorly this year and it is well overdue to be re-potted, not an easy task for a plant in a half-wine barrel. I’ll be following Allen Gilbert’s method to cut out a 1/3 section of the roots and add compost and potting mix to stimulate fresh root growth. The lime should be easier though a bit more prickly. I’ll be tipping it out of the pot, trimming back the roots, putting in fresh mix and cutting back some of the branches to compensate.
- Weeding, weeding, weeding, before they set seed and make the problem even worse in the future. But the weeds have their uses: throw them into the chooks’ run for them to pick over; and I also make them into a fertiliser by drowning them into a big bucket of water. This stinks to high heaven so a lid is needed, but it makes a great liquid plant feed – for free!
- In the kitchen, time to get preserving some of the celery which is very prolific. After washing stalks thoroughly, I’ll be freezing them in sections so that I can just pull them out whenever they are needed for soup. The rocket has started going to seed so I’ll salvage what I can to make some rocket pesto and freeze it for a quick pasta sauce. And the coriander that looks like it’s about to do the same will be pulled up so that I can harvest the roots and turn them into a delicious Thai-inspired marinade. Some I will leave to flower so that they become a landing pad for pollinating insects, and to ensure my supply of coriander again next year.