Monday, January 23, 2017

How does your garden grow, January 2017

I've had the most glorious gentle beginning to the new year. It's been a very slow pace, and very unstructured. There has been lots of catching up with family, lots of feasting and festivities, and lots of cheer. There has also been plenty of time to potter around the house and garden doing all the little things I always put off during the busy-ness of the year.

I regularly sign up to do courses online as I hate feeling like I'm stagnant and not learning anything new. My most recent course is called Science of Gardening, it's actually a HECS scholarship unit offered by the University of Tasmania, which means that domestic students don't incur any tuition fee or debt for the unit. It actually counts toward the UTAS Bachelor of General Studies, but I'm just taking it for the fun of it (nerd alert!). UTAS often do HECS scholarship units and I find it a good way to keep my brain ticking away.

I'll just steal the explanation about the course and leave it here:
Important and interesting questions for gardeners include why are plants arranged into families, and what features do they share? What are plants made of, and how do they grow? How do seeds know when to germinate, and how does the environment shape the way they grow? What are the crucial factors determining when plants flower and set seed? Why does soil type and nutrients affect plant health? Answers to all these questions and more when you study Science of Gardening.
It's actually a really interesting learning curve for me. It's completely online which is fine, but although it's called the science of gardening, I didn't really think I'd be delving into the chemical composition of soil, admiring the biological cross sections of plants, or re-learning the periodic table and how to recognise deficiencies or toxicities of soil and then diagnose how to correct them.

It's made me look at my garden in a whole new light and consider how I might tweak my gardening practices to make my plants more productive and happy. I appreciate just how much effort these little clumps of cells go to just to end up on my plate!

All that said, here's a peek into my garden right now.

I grew a tiny pineapple and it was delicious, if extremely small (dirty looking Sophie the Giraffe for comparison). It was so sweet and the acid was barely there at all. It was just enough for a morning tea for the smalls and me.
My eggplants are producing prolifically, as they usually do. My soil must be appreciated by eggplants. Although these two are different sizes, the right time to harvest eggplants are when they are plump and glossy. I have taken a batch over to my mother in law's house so that she can use them for Chinese New Year dishes. Yum.
Here is a picture of my sad looking lemon tree. I had an assignment where I had to diagnose citrus deficiencies, which was interesting. As my tree has healthy new growth, and the yellowing is mainly on the older leaves, I suspect magnesium deficiency, which is easily adjusted by watering in some epsom salt. I think there may also be a minor zinc deficiency also, which could be adjusted with a kelp solution spray. It's a sad tree, there is also some leaf miner activity, but it has improved of late, so there is still hope.
The chilli, eggplant, and what I'm 90% sure is a pumpkin are doing well, despite the recent heat. Mr Fork has been putting the water from his fish tank onto my garden when he does water changes, and they seem to appreciate all the fish poo.
One of my assignments also involved testing the ph of my soil. It's something I never really gave much thought to, but now I know that my soil is definitely on the acidic side. I suppose that means I should stop dumping my coffee grounds directly onto the soil and compost them instead. I also need to get some dolomite lime and see if I can raise the ph a bit for happier plants.
Our girls went rogue and built a secret nest under the house where it's lovely and cool. They were sneaky about it, continuing to lay in the regular box too, so I just thought they were slacking off in this heat. It's such a pretty nest, lined with bits of purloined sugar cane from the garden and dried grass. Sneaky things. These will be the last of our eggs as Mr Fork has gotten sick of cleaning chicken poo from the deck and has promised the chickens to a friend who has a large garden, doesn't care about chicken poo and swears not to eat them. I think perhaps it's an unlucky move, especially so close to the Chinese New Year when it switches over to the year of the Rooster, but who am I to come between a man and his BBQ-ing space. Especially when I don't eat eggs myself!
How is your garden growing?

4 comments:

  1. Wow I think I would benefit from this course - I am so clueless in my garden - we have had strawberries which is exciting but they are sporadic in coming and we are as sporadic in our picking. I am looking forward to lemons and limes and really want to grow parsley. Growing pineapples and egglants seems exotic and clever!

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    1. You should look into it Johanna! I'm not sure when they'll be offering it again but I've done a few courses through UTAS and they've all been really interesting :)

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  2. I'm glad your year has started off well and what a great initiative about the HECS units - such a nice way to promote ongoing learning and involvement in universities. The unit sounds very relevant to your gardening too and clearly you are reaping benefits!

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    1. Thanks Kari. Anything to keep the ol' grey matter active :) Even better if it's useful knowledge!

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