Monday, 23 June 2014

One year on, what have I learnt?

The Gingerbread Gardens started in May 2013, with a planting of celery and silverbeet. Far too many celery (8 plants), which was not a favoured veggie anyhow. And far too much silverbeet, yet again 8 plants. Both these were via Bunnings seedlings, which come in quantity. It has taken me a year to transfer to seeds, or to throw out some of the seedlings! This year I know not to bother with celery and to reduce the number of silverbeet seedlings. I have 5 at the moment, but within a week will reduce to two.
So, just what HAVE I learnt during this first year? These photos document it quite well:
  • Prepare the soil.
  • Plan the plantings.
  • Rotate beds.
  • Leave a fallow "bed".
Prepare the Soil
Both (above-ground) beds were filled with whatever dirt was dug out from the garden site, with a, perhaps, 6" layer of better quality soil placed on top. I now know this is insufficient. I am continuing to add to the soil when each monthly load of compost becomes available. In addition, each month I sprinkle (liberally) the bed with Dynamic Lifter. Both beds are nearly full up to their top rung, so from here on out it is a matter of turning the soil after each crop, and planting an annual crop of "green manure", probably at the end of summer. This takes 6-10 weeks, so is a big commitment of space. I have also invested in a garden sieve. I am NOT going to let those pesky, split/curly carrots get the better of me.
Plan the Plantings
I have, using advice from both Diggers and Gardening Australia, devised a list of veggies to grow (those that my family will actually eat!), together with quantity, and frequency of planting, for a family of five. I will modify this list during the next 12 months.
Rotate Beds
Exhortatios to rotate crops, at the very least, assume four beds: Brassicas, Legumes, Alliums, and other. But, they also assume a four year rotation, which is not how I see my veggie patch working. My dig-up cycles are much shorter than twelve months, for heaven's sake. More like 3 to 6 months. I have two beds, the citrus bed, and a range of large (ish) pots. Each of the two large beds, I have (virtually) divided into three subsets, and will rotate these. Sometimes monthly, sometimes 6-monthly. How do I rotate things like carrots and spring onions, when I have to plant another 15 every month. Garening is not for the faint-of-heart!
Leave a fallow bed
I am figuring that this requirement goes hand-in-glove with the "green manure" rewuirement. I am not grpwing a crop, so much as growing nitrogen.
I have two main beds, but find I am cribbing by using large pots. Currently in pots, I have:
  • Silverbeet
  • Kipfler Potatoes
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Capsicum
  • Cucumber.
I also have about 20 Kipfler potatoes scattered around the citrus bed, but do not want to do this again, as I think they are sucking all the nutrients, meaning no citrus blossom since. Think it through, Jools! Think ramifications!
I have also learnt that gardening is constant work. Not hard work, mind you. Just that one needs to wander the gardens to know what is going on with the plants, with the soils, with the bugs. Wander with NO intent. One needs to spend time weeding. The more frequently this is done, the less it needs to be done, if that makes sense. One must be in tune with the seasons, although in Sydney, I think there is only the warm season , and the not-so-warm season. I am also a firm believer that a garden needs to surprise, at every turn.


diane b said...

No wonder I am not so successful at growing veggies. I haven't put half the thought and preparation as you have. One of the reasons I gave up is that I had too many for just two of us and one who couldn't care if he ate veggies or not.
You are doing so well. I think it is hard work in the garden but i try to do an hour a day.

Margaret said...

Gardening is a work in progress, vegies or ornamental, we learn as we go and change our minds as things grow,changing and evolving....never boring.
I used to think once something was planted, that was it. but no...they can get too big, loose leaves when privacy is needed, take over other plants space.
I have learned to think things through carefully and keep an eye on what happens, a few years growth make a huge difference.
But it is all part of the fun : )