Our winter tomatoes

Winter Garden Update: August 17

I am starting up a monthly post about the progress of our gardens so I can look back and see how far we’ve come. I haven’t done this since we’ve moved to our new house but you can check out some of my previous garden update posts here.

I can’t really say we’ve had much of a winter this year, we’ve had the odd colder nights, but generally our days have rarely gone below 20C. Which I love, but it has meant a lot of our ‘winter’ crops have failed.

Cauliflower when it gets too hot (or is left too long)
Cauliflower when it gets too hot (or is left too long)

I planted our Cauliflower super early this year as we only had a few heads last year before it got too hot, but they barely got a head before breaking out in seed. Thankfully the chickens loved them.

Urban Garden Chickens enjoying cauliflower
Our Chickens enjoying cauliflower

Our broccoli has been doing fairly well, surprisingly, only a few heads have shot off to seed, they still make it to our kitchen. And the cabbage has been fantastic. A good supply of lettuce is always at our finger tips.

Broccoli growing in our Aquaponics
Broccoli growing in our Aquaponics

The beauty of being in a subtropical climate is we get tomatoes over winter. Due to the pests in summer, it’s generally a better time to grow. But I’ve found we have a major nematode issue in our main garden bed so we didn’t get that many. The plants started wilting during the day, almost looking like they needed to be watered, after pulling out the plants we found nodules on the roots which seems to be nematodes. This bed we’ll be doing a green manure crop with mustard and marigolds, and we will not be planting anything from the nightshade family for a while (eg. Eggplant, Capsicum, Potatoes). I am thinking we might do some onions in this bed from summer.

Our winter tomatoes
Our winter tomatoes

Our chickens started laying eggs this month! The eggs are slowly growing in size, but we’re generally getting one a day which is fantastic. We’re still not 100% sure if both are laying but we have spotted Satay (Our Wyandotte) doing her duty. Pesto (Our Plymouth Rock) is very friendly and loves a good pat, she also follows us around. We did find an egg with no shell in the coop, which could mean Pesto is getting ready to lay soon.

Our first Egg
Our first Egg

We’ve setup 3 of the little raised beds in our front yard which I’ve started planting out (you can see here what we’re planning for our spring crops). I am still waiting for my zucchini and cucumber seeds to pop up but the corn, beans, sunflowers and cherry tomatoes are in. This year I am not going to plant any large tomatoes over summer, and will stick to Cherry Tomatoes to avoid the dreaded fruit fly.

New garden planted and ready to go
New garden planted and ready to go

 

Every year I generally give something I haven’t grown a whirl, something different that is harder to find in the shops. Last year it was snake beans which I’ll definitely run them again, but this year I am going to give cucamelons a whirl. They are from central america and look like tiny little water melons but apparently are like little lime flavoured cucumbers. Looking forward to those in my salads and maybe even a pickle. My father in law also got me a Pepino, I haven’t grown or eaten these before but I looking forward to having them in the garden.

Experimental Growing - Pepino
Our experimental plant this year – Pepino

As usual, the Aquaponics out does the rest of our gardens, we can jam so much in there and it just grows like weeds. The Jade Perch are doing really well, as are the Barramundi who survived the winter, looking forward to feasting on those in the coming months.

Our Aquaponics System
One of our Aquaponics System, Spring onions and leafy greens do so well in these!

I am getting a bit more organised with succession planting. As salad season is at our doorstep, each weekend I am planning on planting half a dozen seeds so we have a steady supply. I am also going to do the same with the beans. Two of our main staples over summer.

What we harvested

  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Spring Onions
  • Lettuce (loads)
  • Mint, Thyme, Parsley
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Snow Peas

What we’re planning for next month (and beyond)

  • Finish planting out the new garden beds
  • A green manure crop for our big garden bed
  • Getting more organised with succession planting

Spring Sub-tropical Growers Guide

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