Friday, January 18, 2013

Summer is beating me

Its utterly heartbreaking when, in a single day, you loose plants in a you've looked after for months - just because you weren't able to be home to fight against a completely unreasonable forty-five degree heat. It is the curse of a working man's summer vegetable garden.

I think I'll barely be able to pull some of the yacon through this one. But for some of the plants, this has been an untimely end.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Two pumpkins

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

This season's winner in the Jalapenos Stakes

Well, I think the results are well and truly in for this season's Jalapenos Stakes. While there isn't a single happy looking plant on the form, it's pretty clear who made the finish line and who's still sitting in the starter's blocks.

Wombat's horse is on the left, mine is on the right - the top shots were taken in early December, and the bottom shots this week.
I really am bad at growing things in pots. My jalapenos' home is definitely too small, it didn't get watered enough and it's been slowly starving to death. In the time it took this impoverished green twig to shrink in size, a pumpkin vine has traveled over five meters and thrown up a few umbrellas over this desert island. My effort should serve to highlight  that the time-poor gardener probably only wants to pot things for the comical value.

However, three of the remaining six plants I put in the ground have really taken off, and are now laden with more ripening jalapenos than I could ever hope to use. I've occasionally kept them going with a bit of blood'n'bone & seaweed extract, but ultimately it just hasn't mattered if I haven't been so consistent with watering and feeding - because the root mass has so much more soil & moisture to work with.

So even if the Wombat's horse never runs another race, I think he might still be right for Jalapenos this year

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Fourty above

When I heard it was forecast to be 43°C today, I was expecting a plate full of roast pumpkin for dinner tonight. With no real way to protect the whole pumpkin vine from the outdoor oven, I figured the game was over. All I could do this morning was give it a good water, say my goodbyes and walk away with a tear in my eye. 

Well, it didn't turn out so bad after all. 

The garden only hit 41°C today, and at the time these photos were taken (7pm) it was still sitting at 38°C. I imagined I'd be returning home to see pumpkin leaves drooped on the end of their stalks - and they had been at about 1pm - but the wife kindly broke from protocol and did a little gardening. By the time she finished watering everyone was feeling a bit less scorched - except her.

In fact, there seems to be little or no damage to any of the plants today - not that there's really much else other than pumpkin to speak of - And thankfully, it's looking like there'll be a few more of them yet.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Bohemian Shrubbery

Its the silvery-green thing eating the chicken coop from the front right side.
Its been a great year for the absinthe bush - it must have tripled in size over the last few months.

As the name might suggest, absinthe wormwood is the ingredient infamously included in the bohemian drink of the same name. Living in a country that almost banned hundreds of common and native plants because they contained even a trace of DMT (more notably found in cannabis), it blew my mind that I could buy a wormwood, packed full of its own usual suspect - Thujone. But in trying to determine its legitimacy, I soon learned that the drink's reputation as a psychoactive drug has been greatly overstated and misrepresented through history, and that it's never really been illegal to distill or sell absinthe in Australia, provided there's a limited amount of thujone. Still, figuring that we're only ever one minority lobby group away from the next law based on moral outrage and anecdotal evidence, I acted swiftly - and $3.95 later I had some tube-stock riding the postal system to my front doorstep.

Aside from the novelty value, the main reason I picked up the wormwood is that it is reportedly a great thing to be planted near chickens. Supposedly, it will deter mites and fleas, and will take care of intestinal worms if ingested. It's very hard to find any empirical evidence of this - just a lot of chatter between gardeners, which makes me slightly suspicious it could be the kind of complete and utter rubbish that often gets passed down through the generations. Suspicions aside, I've always kept it near the coop since the great mite invasion of '09, and I often offer my chooks the pruning, which they dutifully ignore like a child would with any medicine not flavoured like chocolate ice-cream.

It perilously lived in a pot for a long time (for portability), surviving "localised drought" and marauding chickens until I finally planted it in a new bed at the front of the coop last summer. Wormwood loves a good feed of nitrogen, so the fact that it's suddenly taken off makes me think its roots have finally found the golden eggs my gooses lay.

It's also said that wormwood secretes a hormone that will inhibit growth in other plants, and thus is good for suppressing weeds. I don't want to draw any conclusions - but I've pulled plenty of  weeds (and cherry tomato, should you make a distinction) right out of the middle of the bush - so I'll let you judge for yourself on that one.

Sunday, January 6, 2013