January in our Subtropical Veggie Patch

I haven’t done an update post in a little while and I am hoping in the coming weeks (let’s be real, months) that I’ll convert these to YouTube Videos. So here is a little round up of what has been happening in our Veggie Patch this past January here in Brisbane Australia.

What was growing

The Front Mandala Garden has been getting a rest since December, it gets full sun which is just too hot for our summers unless you’re pouring loads of water into it. I planted a green manure crop of millet, cow peas and sunflowers. The chickens have plowed it in. I’ve since layered it with horse poo and also fresh compost divided it into 4 sections, planted some glass gem corn and more pumpkins. The other two sections I am saving for my garlic and onions.

Chickens doing the hard work clearing out snails and turning over the green manure crops.
Chickens doing the hard work clearing out snails and turning over the green manure crops.

Our wicking bed is full of chillis. We’ve picked a few jalapeƱos, only enough to supply immediate needs and the haberneros and birds eye are just kicking into gear.

The no dig bed is going crazy with sweet potatoes. It has flowered and the last time I saw our sweet potatoes flower I harvested one as big as my head, so here’s hoping.

Sweet potato loves a good no dig bed

The straw bales were bit of a fizzer over summer – they dried out too much. The butternuts however seem to still be kicking along and I am not watering them at all. I suspect they’ve rooted into the ground around somewhere. It’s so overgrown in there I am not able to get in and check. I’ll be waiting until everything dies down.

The Passionfruit vine is absolutely loaded on our Chicken run.

Passion fruit so loaded it looks like a bunch of grapes!

The back raised garden beds we have Sweet Corn, Blue Popping Corn, Zucchini, capsicums and eggplant. Basically the summer staples. I am trying to get the snake beans growing up the trellis but the corner bed dries out considerably which makes me wonder if the tree roots have found a way back in.

The aquaponics just has herbs and lettuce at the moment, we did move some of our strawberries into here as well. It needs a huge clean out. We’ve been eating all the Jade perch so the Barra can grow. I think we have 1 left, but I am not 100% sure, they have been really good eating.

The view from the sandpit is no longer a dead zone with the banana and pawpaw taking off. The cucamelons are finally starting to cover the bean teepee.

The view from the sandpit is now lush and green.

I’ve also got my hands on a small hydroponic system that I’ll be giving a whirl, so far it’s growing capsicums. It’s so hands off I forget about it and they are thriving, so I am already looking to expand it.

(Next month I’ll get a bit more organised and pop in a copy of a legible illustration of everything we had growing)

What I planted in January

I usually lay off planting anything other than Corn at this time of year, but I did plant some extra Snake beans, Madagascar Climbing beans, zucchini and butternut pumpkins.

If you’re looking for a full list of things you can plant in January head on over here.

Harvests for January

This year I want to get back to documenting my harvests again. More so to make myself accountable but also check progress as we ramp up production. I won’t be comparing against costs but more so taking a snap shot of qty and what is the best thing we’re harvesting and where.

January is one of the slowest months in the garden as I wind down a lot in December because it’s too hot, and last year it was too dry as well! But..

We still managed to harvest 5.416kg of Food.

This is excluding herbs and lettuce as I always forget to add it as I am getting it all the time but I’ll try to add it in for future months.

The big crops for us were cucumbers, followed by green capsicums.

Loads of capsicums – these are Corno di Toro

We also harvested:

  • Beetroot
  • Carrots
  • Butternut Pumpkin
  • Watermelon Radish
  • Spring Onions
  • Pineapple
  • Passionfruit
  • Eggplant
  • JalapeƱos
  • Lettuce
  • Basil/Mint/Rosemary/Chives
  • Brazilian Spinach

The most prolific spot for harvest were the raised garden beds out the back.

Bug Watch

January we had a good mix of annoying bugs as usual. The most notable one was the 28 spot lady beetle, took out most of the cucumbers.

Here’s a run down of the bugs..

  • 28 Spot Lady Beetle (Cucumber, Luffa, pumpkin, rockmelon)
  • Grasshoppers (Raspberry, Pigeon Peas, Calendula, Mint)
  • Orange Tortoise beetle (sweet potatoes)
  • Fruit Fly (tomatoes, rockmelon, watermelon, also spotted stinging our jap pumpkins)
  • Mealy Bugs (calendula)
  • Whitefly (eggplant)
  • Brown Bean Bug (Pigeon Pea)
  • Caterpillar (Sweet Potato, Kale)
  • Snails or Snails (Zucchini, Swiss Chard)

My strategies of dealing with all these bugs are inside Dirt Lovers.

General Observations

Watermelon got blossom end rot, not sure I’ll ever bother again as that’s the 3rd year in a row that I’ve had watermelon failures. I might have to try it earlier, or later, I am not entirely sure.

Powdery mildew without management did a lot of damage to my zucchinis, I am now keeping on the ball with this.

I had some Root knot nematodes on carrots, the cockatoos ate most of the giant sunflowers and a lot of my zucchini flowers just didn’t open because it was too hot.

Root knot nematode issues, soil needs some help.

We had a lot of rain this month, in total 292mm which is a fair bit higher than the average for this area. The weather was quite mild, a few scorchers but the humidity only just arrived this month – it had been a dry heat all summer until now.

February Planning

I am working on 3 different autumn plans for my dirt lover members which I will be implementing in our space. February is all about getting those autumn crops in (cauliflower needs to go in early!).

I am also going to attempt growing potatoes again… wish me luck.

I really want to get another 2×1 raised garden beds before Autumn but we’ll see as we’re mid reno and I’d prefer a finished bathroom first. We also have a vegepod that needs repair and it would be good to get it up and running for autumn.

If you want to know what you can plant in February head on over here.

Until next month, happy gardening!

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