Friday, March 25, 2011

Grow gorgeous garlic

Harvesting your own garlic is one of the joys of gardening.

Pulling up the bulbous cloves, hanging them to dry, sharing with friends the scrumptious taste of your own garlic – well, it’s up there with growing heritage tomatoes with basil, keeping chooks and eating passionfruit straight off the vine.
St Peter of Cundall has a great article on the ‘stinking rose’ as it is sometimes known in the latest Weekly Times.

Always plant more than you think you will want - once your mates get a taste they'll be asking to swap you some of their extra pumpkins / lemons or homemade bread for it. The more garlic you plant the better it gets! I find that it’s a good plant to have around roses too.

Don’t use supermarket garlic as planting corms – unless you are sure that you are purchasing 100 per cent certified organic  they could be full of nasty chemicals. Better to get them from a reliable supplier such as your local nursery or someone like Diggers.

Start planting garlic and once you tatse it you’ll never go back to horrid, supermarket garlic again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Adelaide's Ace Garden Expo

The 2011 ABC Gardening Australia Expo in Adelaide was a great day out for experienced and novice gardeners alike.  

While the crowds milled around WOMADelaide and the racegoers were at the track, the greenthumbs made their way to the Adelaide showground’s where a myriad of gardening experts were on hand to solve problems with roses and citrus, advise on mulching and composting and what the pant when and where.

The expo as a delightful reflection on the city of churches; large enough to have a great variety and small enough to be friendly and relaxed.  Yes it is much smaller than the other capital city shows, but here I could actually get up close and hear and meet the experts and there was all of the enthusiasm but none of the frenzy.
Some GA Expo Highlights
Rare Fruit Society of South Australia
Inside the exhibition hall, I met with the lovely people at the Rare Fruit Society of South Australia. If you are in SA, get thee to their website, join up and attend a meeting. The society is a font of wonderful information and a great way to learn more about the delicious and rare fruits you can grow.

Josh in the Potting Shed
Josh Byrne was his usual ebullient self as he demonstrated how to make a worm farm.

Josh gives a great demonstration on how to make your own worm farm.

Whirrly Windmills
Danielle and Michael, the dynamic duo behind Whirrly Windmills were selling delightful garden deocr inlcuding windmills, windsocks, flags and gorgeous garden art.
Michael and Danielle from WhirrlyWindmills

Graham's Chooks
Third-generation poultry farmer Graham Payne of Graham's Chooks was on hand to advise on what type of hen to keep and how to keep her happy and productive.
Graham with a lovely rooster who had many fans at the expo..

Chook expert flocked at Garden Expo

People seeking advice on keeping chooks flocked to meet poultry expert Graham Payne from Graham’s Chooks at the ABC Gardening Australia Expo in Adelaide over the long weekend.

A third generation chicken farmer, Graham and his magnificent rooster ‘chook 672’ were a popular attraction at the expo. Graham had a constant flow of visitors wanting advice on what type of chook to keep in their backyard, how to care for them and the best type of feed. Graham talked about the joys of hens in his engaging and practical presentation in the Backyard Creatures area about how to keep chooks.
Graham and 'Chook 672' at the Garden Expo

Graham’s Chooks provides day-old chicks, pullets and breeding roosters for those wanting poultry for their backyard or small farm. He also offers expert and friendly advice on getting the best out of your girls and how to keep them happy and healthy. I told him that I had been concerned about my girls losing chest and neck feathers and despite a visit to vet, this issue was still unresolved. He instantly diagnosed the problem as my feeders being too high which caused the feathers to rubbed off as the hens pecked their food. This seems to have done the trick!

If you are in Adelaide and considering keeping hens, then Graham is your man. They also sell fresh eggs, fertle eggs, hatching kits, incubators and brooders.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Autumn Joys

It’s an exciting time in the garden. Sure, the tomatoes are looking a little ragged and the corn is drooping a bit but all the rain has meant that it’s greener than normal.
Gidget is already keen to get out and turn over the summer veggie bed.

Now is the time to pull out the old veggies, replenish the soil and get in the winter and spring crops. This weekend I will pull out on bed of tomatoes – the heritage varieties which di so s well and then let the chooks go to work! By giving hem a few hours a day for a week or so in this patch I’ll meet the twin aims of turning over the soil and give the girls some bliss as they eat all the bugs and leftover fruit! Their droppings are also a bonus. Plus I will fork in some compost and then plant the brassicas - there's nothing better than fresh broccolli

The fruit trees will get a light prune, the roses will be have black-spotted leaves removed and I’ll also plant a heap of garlic. We enjoyed a bumper crop last year and I’m going to plant two beds this time as it’s such a popular item in the “local barter swap”. One lovely neighbour mows the grass walkways between my eight vegetable beds in exchange for a few bunches, another swaps me her home-baked bread while another gives me gorgeous nashi apples. Everyone wins!

Nest week I’ll go into the joys of bartering and swapping tools and skills and how it makes gardening all the more fun and productive.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Autumn harvest!

The last few days of summer were spent harvesting tomatoes to make a ripper sauce. I look forward to those cold dark winter nights when I’ll open the lid of the jar and a burst of flavour will erupt, taking me back to when I picked kilo after kilo of the red and yellow cherry, Roma and other varities, the sun on my back and the sound of the hens clamouring for the left-over fruit that didn’t make the cut.

Some of the yummy cherry tomatoes ready to be taken into the kitchen and tunred into sauce.

It’s been a slow growth season thanks to all the rain and low temperatures, so I still have about 40 tomatoes bushes yet to flower and another 30 still seedlings. As I follow the crop rotation plan, the brassicas (love broccoli!) will follow the tomatoes in these beds. I’m planting them in pots, ready to transfer them as soon as I can. I think I’ll be building a mini-greenhouse to see them through the next couple of months.

While it’s been a funny old summer, it’s been a good one too – swapping cakes and veggies with my firends for preserves; my good neighbour mowing my lawn in exchange for eggs; baking bread and adding my own herbs; seeing blue wrens in the Asian greens bed, flitting and flirting about from soil to birdbath.

With all the horrors in the news, it’s good to have somewhere quiet to sit and reflect on what’s important in life. No matter if your garden comprises a couple of acres or a few foam boxes on the back steps, it’s a wonderful place to go to take a deep breath.