Here endeth the summer

Well…I hope so.

The autumn equinox has been and gone, we’ve had an inch of rain, the days are cooler and the plants are making new growth.

I’ve planted my garlic and potato onions from Yelwek Farm. Some went into the garden and some in a wicking box. I had success with one potato onion bulb (just one!) in a wicking box last year and I want to see if that was a one-off or whether they will tolerate the extra moisture in a wicking box. The drainage will still be good and if I need to, I can shelter the box from excessive winter rains. I’ve grown garlic successfully in a wicking box before, so no worries there.

Potato onions in the garden:

potatoonions

Garlic in a wicking box:

garlicwick

I’ve also planted asparagus in the first of the hugelkultur beds I made.  By spring, this bed will be in its third year and the underlying wood is starting to break down, at least enough for me to get the treeplanter into it without hitting any resistance:

hugelasparagus2

I’ve staked and tied up the ferns for the time being to keep them tidy and to dissuade the rabbits from investigating them. I’ve had to protect each side of the bed with wire to stop the blackbirds tearing it apart. The ferns will die back over winter and I’ll side-dress each plant with chook poo compost before the spears emerge in early spring. I doubt they‘ll be big enough to harvest this year but should be OK for the next:

hugelasparagus3

In the spaces between each asparagus plant I’ll sow cucumbers next spring/summer and let them ramble over the mound. By that time the asparagus will have stopped bearing and will be at the fern stage. The ferns, which grow to over a metre tall in mature plants, should provide some shade for the cucumbers during the summer. So the asparagus will do two things—provide me with a yield in spring and shade for other plants in summer. An example of the permaculture principle which says that each element in a permaculture system should perform more than one function.

Garlic chives are flowering. The bees love them. I’ve got a couple of dozen new plants in pots and will plant them everywhere:

garlicchives1

chivesbee

Tamarillos are ripening. I made sure I kept the water up to the plants in summer and it looks like a bumper harvest this year:

tamarillo

New batch of potatoes coming on. These are Kipflers:

kipfler

Dandelions for use in casseroles and soups this coming winter:

dandelion

The last of the tomatoes ripening. This one is called Nicoleta and the seed came from a member of the Ozgrow forum. It’s a good size and shape and has a beautiful flavour. I’ll be growing this one again:

nicoleta

Still getting a few strawberries from the wicking box on the deck. The blackbird has found them so I’ve had to put a net over them in addition to the ring of wire around the tub. Did I mention I hate blackbirds?

strawberries

This is purslane. It self-seeded in a wicking box and I’m hoping it will flower and seed there again. It has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a crunchy texture and can be eaten in dozens of ways:

purslane

The oca has kicked on with the recent rain and should form lots of tubers by winter when the plants will die back:

IMG_2419

It wasn’t the best of summers from a food-growing point of view. Yields were woeful compared to past years. The most important things I learned were that I have to make provision for shade on 40-degree-plus days and that plants in wicking boxes will do better than plants in ordinary garden beds.

It also wasn’t the best from a personal-keep-cool point of view either. Before next summer I’m going to have an evaporative cooler installed. I don’t need to worry about electricity use, because the solar panels will run it through the day. No more do I want to try and sleep in a house where the temperature is in the high 30’s.

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3 Responses to “Here endeth the summer”

  1. narf77 Says:

    I am always surprised at the hardiness of asparagus when so many people think it is very difficult to grow. It is growing all over the place here as the birds eat the red berries and spread it everywhere. I have garlic chives flowing like crazy as well. The flowers have a delicious sweet floral perfume, nothing like their garlicky leaves and the bees are going mental on the flowers as they are with the pumpkin flowers that refuse to give up. I can only wonder at what the apiarists honey tastes like from the property at the rear of ours 😉

    Learning from nature can sometimes give you the willies. Hot days (and nights) righteously suck but if you can hook up an evaporative air conditioner to your solar output you are laughing :). Jessie says that you grow yacon? I have yacon going mental at the moment but no real idea when or how to harvest it. I am going to trawl your back posts to see if I can’t find info about it. It certainly loved being planted out into a mound of spent horse poo and aside from having the tall tops bounced and nipped out by marauding trampolining possums, it just keeps spreading and growing like topsy. A most promising plant indeed. Not sure how to go about keeping it to plant and when to plant it out again though.

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  2. Bek Says:

    Very nice. I need to get onto planting my garlic, and seeing your post makes me think trialling a small wicking bed for some of it will be a good idea. The asparagus looks great, I had some that were very quick to establish and got a crop in my first year, but other plants from the same lot took much longer. I look forward to seeing how they go in the hugelkulter bed. Another idea I’m going to have to look into further…

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