March in our Subtropical Patch

March of 2020. Weird. Crazy.

We’ve been in self isolation for most of the month, the idea of one of our young kids getting coronavirus and being taken away without us was reason enough to just limit our outside contact. And it has been challenging. The kids are going stir crazy. I am going stir crazy. Hubby is working stupid hours and got a coronavirus pay cut. This month seen the addition of our seed shop to help make up some of the shortfall. Thankfully we are growing a lot of food so that helps, however my fruitarian children and fruit trees that aren’t quite yet producing means we still need to hit the shops.

Again a mild month for us historically. There were a few hot days as the last hurrah of summer always seems to do, enough to knock the cool season seedlings around.

What was growing

Front yard – Mandala

We planted our garlic this month in the front mandala garden. I am experimenting with soaked in seaweed solution vs not being soaked and will report back on the results.

Garlic planting for 2020

The glass gem corn are flowering and we’re getting a good supply of tromboncinos and gherkin cucumbers, which I keep missing and they get huge but they eat well as regular cucumbers.

I am concerned that the small amount of glass gem will mean low pollination, it is in a grid but I’d normally plant double this amount to ensure well formed cobs (I find 4×4 rows as a minimum a good amount). I will probably mainly focus on saving these seeds to add to the seed shop and plant a bigger crop next time.

Mandala front garden

I was going to plant out our onions in the North east quarter but I am thinking I’ll use the space a little more productively with greens for now, so I’ve planted out celery, rocket and silver beet. I’ll pop some broccoli and dill in the middle once it’s big enough to transplant.

I’ve added a teepee to the centre of this area for the podded peas to climb. It’s my first time growing podded peas so will be interesting to see if they are prolific enough to warrant growing them in our climate.

Front yard – the Stage

On the other side of the driveway the sweet potato triffid continues. The rosellas are producing and I just need to find some kid free time to go out there and harvest (the kids run out on the road if I go out solo).

We also started clearing some of the perennial basil here to give some light to our pineapples and fruit trees. In the process we found a blue tongue lizard – had to double take as I saw the tail first. So we stopped clearing as we want him to feel safe and protected here. We’ll do it in chunks so he can move to different areas.

Cleared the perennial basil for the pineapples, two babies on the way.

The wicking bed I had entirely neglected. I actually hadn’t topped it up since the rain started back in December. I hadn’t really checked the moisture levels as the snake beans were going nuts so figured it was OK. But on inspection it was starting to dry, I gave it a good soak and added some dynamic lifter to give it a boost. Something is putting little holes in all the chilli’s I am not exactly sure what so will be keeping an eye on it. I also added the vegepod cover to protect from the epidemic of moths and butterflies we’ve got at the moment.

Aquaponics

We’ve planted out two beds with our cool season leafy greens, the two middle beds are still full of herbs and summer things like the turmeric. Theres also a self seeded tomato going gangbusters in there.

Nathan is threatening to cut off the blue butterfly pea that is going crazy as the roots are clogging up the siphon so I need to get some final harvests of that so he can do that.

Back raised beds

I planted out a lot of root veggies this month but none germinated, well I think they did but got cooked in the last hurrah. The giant yakumo snow peas are doing well and have almost reached the top of the trellis. The blue popping corn is still going, I sneaked a peak and it’s coming along but it’s still a while to go as they need to dry out fully on the stalks. So we planted some climbing beans to maximise the space in here – Also to see if the bean flies are still about.

We are harvesting loads of eggplant at the moment so the challenge is finding a way that the kids will eat them. Will be trying some tempura soon, otherwise right now it’s a hidden veg.

Some of the eggplant harvests we’re getting

We cleared out the rainbow pot of sweet potatoes, the harvest all up was just shy of 2kgs for a pot, which isn’t too bad.

Sweet potato harvest from the rainbow pot, this will be the new home for the raspberries.

We’ve been getting one or two raspberries. Keeps the kids entertained looking for them. I can’t wait to give it a bit more space, its new home will be the rainbow pot for now (I am not prepared to let it stretch it’s legs just yet as I hate spikey things).

The tomatoes that we planted via seed in January we’ve picked one so far, but we are about to get a lot of tomatoes. I’ve done these in pots due to space, but I think this is what we’ll do from now on as they are super happy. My favourite is the pink thai egg tomato at the moment.

Pink Thai egg tomato growing happily in a pot

The food forest

The bean teepee is just about fully covered, we’re getting the odd cucamelon in here.

Mr 2 chilling in the Food forest teepee

We pulled out our ginger as it was struggling. I’ve moved it into the aquaponics, but not sure it will recover in time for a decent harvest. Next year I am going to spread it around and find the perfect position for it, in the past I’ve had the best success with a pot!

Sad ginger

What I planted in March

Following the moon phases I’ve been churning out the leafy greens, peas and root veggies.

Lots of rocket and pak choi going in. If you’re looking for things to plant in March you can find the full list over here.

Harvests for March

The biggest ones for us were the eggplant and sweet potatoes, but we’ve had plenty of snake beans and chills this month.

We harvested 8.189kg of produce this month.

Things we harvested:

  • Snake Beans
  • Green + Red californian wonder capsicums
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Butternut pumpkins
  • Spring onions
  • Habernero Chilli
  • Jalapeno Chilli
  • Birdseye chilli
  • Basil
  • Tromboncino
  • Lettuce
  • Brazilian spinach
  • Hungarian wax capsicum
  • Rosellas
  • Ginger
  • Eggplant
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber
  • Passionfruit
Black seeded snake bean

Bug Watch

We have so many butterflies at the moment, so what comes with butterflies. Caterpillars! I’ve been spraying with Natures Way Dipel to keep on top of it, especially those leafy greens.

Aphids with lady beetle larvae coming to sort them out

We’ve also seen the aphids come back, but the lady bugs have been pretty quick to arrive to the party.

Bugs around at the moment:

  • Fruit fly (Tromboncino)
  • Caterpillars (Everything)
  • Grasshoppers (Beans)

General observations

We didn’t get much rain as anticipated this month with at total of 158 which is almost half what we got last month. The weather has been mild, aside from 3 days that were in the early 30s. Enough to knock some of my cool season babies around.

I tried the vacola with a box of peaches I picked up from the fruit shop and failed miserably. The lids popped off about 4 days after processing and they smelt like vomit. Thankfully it was only 4 bottles, but the all day effort was the killer. I am not sure what happened, whether it was bumping the lids when I removed them or the rubber seals were no good. So I need to invest in some more seals and lids.

Giving Nan’s Vacola a whirl

Since the pandemic, we have been prioritising food growing so we will hopefully get those extra beds in sooner rather than later. Our pay cuts mean rain water tank we were hoping to have installed next month is now off the cards until further notice.

I haven’t been able to source potato seeds yet, so keeping my eyes out for those as I’d like to give that another crack this year.

April Planning

I want to setup a few new beds. I’ll do one in ground and add another raised bed, if I can find some horse poo around.

It will also hopefully be the full sweet potato harvest, I am hoping for a big crop that will last us many months, so cross your fingers for us there.

I’ll continue on with loads of succession planting of all the cool season crops. If you’re wanting to know what you can plant in April you can find the full list here.

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