May in our Subtropical Veggie Patch

May 2020. Still in isolation.

What was growing

Front yard mandala

I’ve been pumping the water into the garlic and it seems to not really be thriving. We’ve had loads of wind and no rain so that hasn’t helped keeping the moisture up. So this month I finally got around to installing some irrigation out here. It was my first real go and doing dripper lines, I didn’t know what I was doing and probably could not have picked a trickier layout than a circle to set it up. So far it’s working quite well and the garlic seems much happier for the extra drink.

Mandala with dripper irrigation installed

We harvested the glass gem corn, and let it dry for a few weeks before trying to pop it. Unfortunately it didn’t pop as well as the mini blue popcorn so I’ll wait to dry it a little longer. It does look amazing though.

2020 Glass Gem Harvest

The section I have designated for potatoes is still waiting. The Royal Blue potato seeds I got still hadn’t started to chit (sprout) so I wanted to wait until they did before planting them. Hopefully the ground isn’t too cool by the time they get in.

Front Yard – the Stage

Still harvesting Rosellas. We’ve been experimenting with all sorts of different things with the harvests, my favourite is the caramelised rosella balsamic salad dressing. Rosellas are a great crop to grow, makes a fantastic hedge and we didn’t do anything in terms of water or prepping the soil. If you want to learn more about these guys I have a post on growing rosellas here.

The double dig beds are doing amazing. The first season of digging is always a winner as it releases all the nutrients. Unfortunately any excess nutrients not used up by the plants runs off so subsequent seasons suffer. I’ll be doing lots of chop and drop in this area for the next rotation and we’ve also planted some Daikon Radish to help break up the clay. You can read about some of our clay breaking strategies here.

The wicking bed has dropped considerably which means there isn’t much soil now and subsequently the chillis and capsicums we have in here look like they have wet feet. I emptied my compost into here, but it still needs more so over the next month I’d love to top it right up to the top. I’ll replant the existing plants so they aren’t sitting in the water.

Aquaponics

The shade here is preventing anything but the strawberries and turmeric to thrive. We will be looking at changing the shade cloth, which we’re not sure if it’s 80% or 50%, but decreasing it down to 30%.

We still harvest loads of greens and herbs from here.

Back Raised beds

We finally replaced the missing components of the vegepod so it’s now up and running and has been planted out with beans, beets, fennel, cabbage and Pak Choi.

Back raised garden area May 2020

We’ve been harvesting cauliflowers and loads of peas back here.

The cherry tomatoes have mostly finished up, the Pink thai egg is still loaded. We’ve harvested a few black krims and they are amazing, the amish paste I am still undecided if they are any good. The plant itself does not like living in a pot, it got blossom end rot big time and it just hasn’t produced as well. Personal I do prefer a San Marzano.

Black Krims, one of my favourite big tomatoes

Potatoes are go! I wasn’t able to source the varieties I wanted due to panic buyers but I managed to get some Sebago and Royal Blues. So far so good. If you’ve been following me for a while you would known it’s one of my plant nemesis in our climate. The best tip I got, was not to water them other than when you first plant them, and they are doing amazing so far in my Birdies raised bed. I’ve also got them in the rainbow pot (yet to sprout) and in the front mandala garden (yet to plant). I was considering popping them into a grow bag as well if I have any seeds left over.

Sebago potato baby

New Worm Farm

We had a water leak under our slab in our house which meant the bath tub was ripped out. It’s been nearly 12 months, we still don’t have a bathtub in our house but we now have a worm farm!

During the month of May in Dirt Lovers we deep dove into understanding more about composting worms, so it was a great to finally get the tub setup. I am hoping to give it a bit of colour but so far the worms love it. The plan is to build a shade house over it by the end of Winter.

The Food Forest

This area is looking a bit drab with the change of seasons. I am still keeping an eye on the issue with the pawpaw. Our new coffee bean tree is also getting close to it’s first harvest.

What I planted in May

Potatoes were the big ones this month, but mostly planted lots of leafy greens for succession. If you are looking for things to plant in May in the Subtropics you can grab the full list here.

Harvests of May

Tomatoes was the big one this month, from the 3 cherry tomatoes, the Krim and amish paste we harvested close to 6.5 kgs from those plants. The Krim and Amish paste are just getting started.

All up we harvested 23.5kg of produce this month.

Things we harvested:

  • Tomatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Glass Gem corn
  • Rosella
  • Loads of Greens
  • Peas
  • Eggplant
  • Capsicum
  • Radish
  • Zucchini
  • Tromboncino
  • Peas

I was never one to plant podded peas as I never thought it was an efficient thing to grow but the kids love them so they will be a staple for our cool season moving forward. The favourite is a purple podded, I am hoping to save some seeds to add to the shop for next year.

Bug Watch

The fruit flies and bean flies have taken a hike due to some cool days. However the Aphids have come in with a vengeance. This is my fault for not planting as many flowers as I normally do to allow plenty of places for the beneficials to hang out.

Bugs around in May:

  • Aphids
  • Cutworms
  • Spider mites

General observations

We only got one day of rain this month and it wasn’t even enough to register in the gauge.

June Planning

Plant out the Royal Blue Potatoes in the Mandala garden. Other than that no big plans for June, we’ve got no space!

I would like to get in and tackle the aquaponics, get it in order and I’d also like to look into setting up a vertical garden for some strawberries.

If you want to know what you can plant in June in the Subtropics you can get the full list here.

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