February in our Subtropical Patch

February was pretty mild for us this year, but it didn’t come without its challenges. We’ve had plenty of rain which has been amazing, but I am glad to see the seasons changing and we’re moving out of summer and into Autumn, which is one of our most productive growing seasons.

What was growing

Front yard – Mandala

The mandala garden has been loving the rain and has burst back into life. Last month I split this into 4 main sections that I’ll use to practice crop rotation. 

Mandala circular garden
Mandala split into 4 sections

One section is reserved for garlic which I’ll be planting next month from cloves I saved last year. Another section I’ll be popping in some onions. One section I’ve planted out with glass gem corn and mustard greens. I’ve put these here because last season I planted carrots here and had a nematode issue. Corn is resistant to nematodes and they don’t like mustard. I have a bit of space left here which I’ll pop some broccoli in – another one that is resistant and helps on the nematode front. The final section I put in what I thought was a zucchinni and 2 butternuts. Turns out I haven’t. we have a tromboncino, a butternut and some odd looking squash thing. The squash thing was definitely not my doing and obviously I got a dodgy batch of seeds. The other two, well it’s likely I stuffed those up.

Front yard – the stage

The other side of the driveway is home to the sweet potato triffid. It is seriously taking over. I’ve done a little search and I can see a few tubers so thankfully it’s not all leaves. 

Sweet potato in a no dig bed is taking over in this space.

We also have our hedge of rosellas that are just kicking into gear.

The chilli wicking bed is finally giving us some good ones. I am struggling with some kind of mite in this area and am contemplating getting some bugs for bugs to help sort it out. 

Aquaponics

The aquaponics has had some issues this month. I think we have too many fish. We have been having a huge jade perch every week for dinner, but the Barra is growing so quickly we need to finish the perch off. 

One bed cleared out in the Aquaponics ready for autumn planting.

Our pump blew so we had to do an evening run to Bunnings to get a replacement before the fish died, we need to have a spare on hand always (which we usually do). Our main issue is filtering at the moment, we also need 3 more grow beds to handle the number of fish. This new setup is still not perfect which is why I haven’t shown much of it yet. The grow beds will be getting a clean out soon, at the moment it’s mostly a mess of basil, Brazilian spinach, random cherry tomatoes, and the blue butterfly pea. I am concerned with how it will go over winter with the shade.

Back raised beds

We harvested a decent amount of sweet corn off a metre square (around 3kgs). They were so good and I definitely need to plant more next year. I worked out to supply our frozen corn needs for the year I would need 4metres of sweet corn, which would work because not much else will grow over December/January anyway. This bed has been cleared and a fresh batch of compost ready for our root veggies to plant out.

Raised beds in the backyard – our most productive section over the past few months

I ditched the zucchini’s that we’re doing nothing. It wasn’t a pollination issue, the flowers weren’t even opening. To me that indicates plant stress and it could have been from the excessive amount of rain we received. One bed has been setup with snow peas, Swiss chard, kale and dill. The other bed is broccoli, leeks and kohlrabi.

The blue popping corn is kicking along, no sign of flowers yet. The capsicum eggplant bed is kicking along, we’ve had a few harvests from these but nothing really noteable. 

Blue popping corn in an old straw bale that collapsed

The corner garden we got 2 decent pumpkins and a few red capsicums (I was soon patient). The Swiss chard wasn’t happy with the rain and also pulled up stumps and the kale that I was over ‘summering’ finally succumbed to caterpillar destruction. The snake beans I was trying to get to grow up the fence is struggling big time with bean fly, it seems to be surviving but not necessarily thriving.

The food forest 

The back area kid zone is turning into a food jungle, On what started as measures to protect my peppercorn vine from sun I’ve now created a cool little sanctuary that I love to come and sit. I am so happy with everything here and can’t wait for it to start producing.

What I planted in February

I didn’t start planting seeds until mid February, I have got most of my autumn crops in the seed raising trays aside from peas and root veggies which I’ll plant out next month.

Lots of broccoli, leeks, mustard greens, spring onions, Swiss chard, rocket and calendula. I also got a head start on the giant yakuma snow peas.

Snow peas are in!

If you’re looking for a full list of things you can plant in the subtropics during February head on over here.

Harvests for February

February harvests saw your standard corn, pumpkin, eggplant, chillis and capsicums.

I missed one of the biggest pineapples due to not seeing it because of the sweet potato triffid – I left it too long and an animal had got to it and it was rotten.

We harvested 9.055kgs of produce, with the big providers being the sweet corn and pumpkins.

We harvested:

  • Spring onions
  • Birdseye chilli
  • Butternut pumpkins
  • Green capsicums
  • Hungarian wax capsicums
  • Red capsicums
  • Passionfruit 
  • Jap pumpkins
  • Sweet corn
  • Brazilian spinach
  • Malabar spinach
  • Eggplant
  • Habernero chilli
  • Jalapeño chilli
  • Snake beans

Want my food growing secrets?

Check out the Dirt Lovers Guides here.

Bug Watch

The fruit fly appears to have wiped out our entire passionfruit crop. I am devastated as if you had of seen from our update last month there were hundreds of fruit. Measures will need to be taken next year to get it under control.

Fruit fly infested passionfruit.

Bean fly was in full force causing destruction this month. The other big one was hard scale that totally killed one of my perennial basil’s. 

Bean fly damage

We also saw the beginnings of the caterpillar season. 

  • Fruit fly (jap pumpkin, pineapple)
  • Caterpillars (kale)
  • Grasshoppers (Basil)
  • Beanfly (snake beans)
  • Shield bugs (snake beans)
  • Hard scale (basil, eggplant)

General Observations

It was quite a mild, yet humid month temperature wise with averages in the late 20s. And we had a fair amount of rain – 302mm. The rain has just made everything grow.

The autumn raspberries are on the way with loads of flowers for a poor plant that lives neglected in a pot. Once it’s finished And the sweet potatoes are done I’ll move it to the rainbow pot, which is triple the size. I am not brave enough to put it in the ground as I know they take over.

Raspberries on the way!

I also dug out my nans vacola and found a decent stash of bottles which I can’t wait to experiment with. I am very keen to get a pressure canner but it’s low on the list.

Want my food growing secrets?

Check out the Dirt Lovers Guides here.

March planning

March is garlic month. I am also going to try and get my hands on potato seeds to give them another crack.

I am planting out the 3 different autumn planting plans I setup for my dirt lovers

I would love to get the vegepod up and running, I just need to replace some components and then buy in soil as I don’t have enough compost to fill it.

If you’re after a full list of things you can plant in March, head over here.

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