The Garden Share Collective - August 2015

Welcome back to my Urban garden! This is my first GSC post since we moved off the farm and back into our city house. It's been, funnily enough, like coming home to get back out into my garden and check out what's lived and died over the last year and a half of having our house rented out. There were some casualties (camellias, lavender and jasmine, along with my potted lemon/lime) but overall, it's not been too bad. 

The really interesting thing has been the soil. We mulched everything heavily before we moved out, and the fact that the tenant hasn't really touched the garden has meant that all that lovely mulch has broken down and fed the soil over time. The soil is actually looking quite good, with lots of worms and a nice thick layer of topsoil and humus. 

One of the very first things I did when we moved in, even before properly unpacking, was to plant out some broccoli and cauliflower seedlings I had grown before we moved. I'd planted Violet Sicilian Cauliflower and Purple Sprouting Broccoli. Both are favourites of mine because of their beautiful 'fruit', of course, but also for two other reasons. One, they have staggered and longer maturity - the broccoli is a sprouting variety, meaning it doesn't form a a single large head, instead sprouting lots of smaller heads and continuing to do so until the pests or weather beats it down. It also is quite hardy in warming weather and doesn't bolt to flower as quickly, meaning a longer season. The cauliflower is a heirloom variety, and there seems to be a lot of variation in the plants that grow from a single seed packet - some mature early, others quite a lot later, and the colours are even different too. This is great for the backyard, as it means you can do one planting but not have them mature all at the same time like you perhaps would with a modern commercial variety bred for market. The other reason I love these two varieties is that they are very beautiful plants in form and colour to have in the veggie patch (I firmly believe it's ok to choose form alongside function!).

I also struck cuttings of lavender, curry bush and rosemary before moving - I plan to plant these throughout the garden here as we get the house ready for sale as a way to encourage lots of pretty and useful plants, as well as save some money on garden updates! These have really kicked over the last month of so with the lengthening days and have plenty of roots coming out the bottom of the tubes, so I really need to be getting these bad boys in the ground. 

I was pretty excited to see that my amazing chilli plant was still alive and going strong - this is this chilli's third winter, and just goes to show that a frost sensitive plant can happily survive in an area that regularly hits zero or below overnight if it's placed in the right spot. Here, it was in a protected raised corner bed, with the brick house, the metal fence and the metal garden shed all creating a little microclimate that managed to stay just warm enough for it to thrive. I've since transplanted it out of that bed and into a half wine barrel in the same area, so we'll see how it goes.

I also quickly got to work and planted out some spring onions, kale, parsley, snow peas, baby spinach, silverbeet and lettuce to give us some quick wins and fresh food in the spring. We still have our pots of herbs like chives, garlic chives and rosemary to pick from, as well as having a little harvest of turmeric and ginger last month - and the rhubarb, globe artichoke and blueberries are all looking amazing, as are the styro boxes of horseradish, asparagus and comfrey that we are tiding over until they find a long term home. 

We're not going to be doing too much else food-wise in the garden, given that we don't plan on being here beyond the end of the year...but I will be planting some seeds next month anyway, to plant out before we leave, take with us or pass on to someone else just because I don't think I can handle not planting something in spring! I'm keeping my eye out for a nice wooden framed window that I can re-purpose into a little seed raising hothouse, fingers crossed I find something. I'm also back to saving all our toilet rolls, egg cartons and milk bottles for seed raising and protecting, and I picked up some free hessian bags from a local cafe to plant some potatoes in too.

So, there's a little update for you on our return home to the garden - what's been happening in your patch the last couple of months?