Tips and Jobs for the Springtime Vege Patch

A cats-eye view of the vege patch.

A couple of days ago I extended the vege patch to double its original size. You can see part of the change in this picture (the bare-soiled part on the left of the picture being about 1/4 of the newly cleared space). This mainly involved some weeding and raking up of fallen leaves and branches from the eucalypt canopy above. It looks a bit bare at the moment, but I’m waiting for the seeds in our small greenhouse to germinate and provide us with seedlings. It’s still a bit cold here, too, so I’m waiting for a touch more sunshine to warm the soil before I start planting those seeds which do best planted directly into the ground (e.g. silverbeet). Jackie French has said that the ground is warm enough to plant in to in Spring when you can sit on it with bare buttocks without any discomfort. I don’t want to blind the neighbours so haven’t personally given this a go, but I can tell by walking around with bare feet that it’s still too cold here to plant some things.

That said, I found some tomato seedlings for sale at a local supermarket recently and I have admittedly planted those out already just for the sake of it, but I would usually wait a bit longer than this. They haven’t grown much at all since I put them in, which is a pretty good sign that they were probably planted a touch too early.

Fritz the garden-savvy cat.
His home in the sunroom overlooks the garden, including the vege patch.

I’ve just put in orders with my family for their leftover cool drink bottles so I can replenish my stock of seedling greenhouses. They’re such a simple method of giving your plants a kick-start. I’m also currently scouting around for some suitable mulch. When we moved in here around 5 months ago there was a large pile of mulch on the property, but after some light mulching of the garden over the cooler months the stack has all but disappeared! I think I might just get some hay. Last year my Dad found some bales of hay which had fallen off the back of a truck. These lasted us all through summer and did a great job of keeping everything alive.

Pizza trays cut into a doughnut-shaped collars, or newspaper prepared in the same way, when put around the plant and covered with hay, do a good job of shading the soil and suppressing weeds. They also stop the hay from breaking down as quickly.

We currently have pots of tomato, paprika, chilli, eggplant, cucumber, zucchini, squash and pumpkin seeds in the greenhouse. All are from seeds we have saved from previous crops or supermarket veges, or ones we have purchased from Eden Seeds. Sometimes people just gives us seeds, too, such as relatives who have picked up some Mr Fothergills seeds on special at the supermarket, or have personally saved some.

We’ll post some more pictures up when things start to germinate.

Happy gardening!

Update!

I just watched Gardening Australia and Peter Cundall had the best idea for germinating tomato seeds that I thought I’d share here. It’s brilliant!

You cannot get better tasting tomatoes than from your own garden, and they are a constant food source right through summer. Even in the middle of winter when it is cold and the temperature is near freezing, it is still possible to grow tomatoes but with special facilities. Having a greenhouse is one way, but is not essential, as most people do not have one. As long as it is an indoor situation with lots of light flooding in near a window. Under these conditions, seeds can be germinated even in the winter. Use a quality, pasteurised seed raising mixture or washed river sand to raise these small seeds. Sprinkle them on the surface and cover lightly with the mixture to weigh the seeds down and place the moist punnets inside a plastic bag, or any clear plastic covered container. This will ensure that the moisture will be maintained. Placed near a window in warm conditions the seeds will germinate in a number of days. Tomato seeds germinate best at around 24 or 25 degrees C. To get extra warmth in cold indoor conditions a hot water bottle filled from the hot tap twice a day, and wrapped in bubble wrap will provide enough bottom heat to the enclosed punnets to stimulate quick germination. An alternative to this is to place them on top of the hot water cylinder for a few days until they have sprouted and return them immediately to a light situation, otherwise they will become stretched in their search for light.

What a fantastic idea! I might just give that a shot!

And that’s your bloomin’ lot! 😛

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