From the April 2013 Newsletter

Mulching root vegetables

It is important not to mulch over the seed or tops of root vegetables but just as important to keep the soil moist and weed free. A good way of achieving this is to lay a narrow plank or fence paling or weatherboard along the sown seed drill and spread the mulch on either side. The length of wood can even be left there until the seed breaks the soil surface which keeps birds from scratching in the seed rows.

The many uses of cut bamboo

Bamboo stems make excellent poles for single stem tomato supports –  the longer the better – and as stakes for other vegetables or fruit bushes. They can be used as stakes for hessian or plastic windbreaks around fragile plants.  They also are useful for creating a frame or support for climbing vegetables, and  for fruit trees that you want to train in particular ways such as fan shape or espalier. One of the most useful ways of using them is to press a length into the soil to create a drill for sowing rows of seeds. For spacing plants at appropriate intervals, measure and mark with a permanent pen the required interval and use this to plant out seedlings and to get the spacing between rows correct.

Bamboo is often found growing wild in our area so you may be able to get some free or from a neighbour. We have been lucky to have John Betts bringing bundles to the vegie swap so look out for that.

Is water penetrating your soil?

After the recent heavy rains, it would be reasonable to assume our gardens were well saturated but a number of us have been amazed to find that only the top few centimetres are damp and beneath this our soil is very dry. To check, dig down a spades depth and see what is happening water wise in your garden. We have been digging Saturaid into our beds to hopefully remedy this. Likewise regularly tip your pot plants out of their container and see how far the water is penetrating. If pots dry out often the water runs down the sides and doesn’t water the plant at all. If the soil has shrunk from the sides of the pot push fresh potting mix down the sides until they are filled. This both gives nutrients to the plant and helps prevent water loss and drying out.

 Freezing zucchini

If you are in glut mode with zucchini, it can be frozen for winter use. Weigh the zucchini, wash the skin which can be left on unless it is very thick, grate it preferable for ease in a food processor, add 1teaspoon of salt per 500 grams, mix this through and leave to drain in a strainer for half an hour then place in a muslin clothe or clean tea towel and squeeze out the remaining moisture. Freeze cupfuls in plastic bags. Use in soups, stews, casseroles or sauces.

Time to plant garlic

Now that April is here, it’s time to plant garlic. Garlic can be planted from your own supplies or purchased from Bulleen Art and Garden. Select large outer cloves and plant pointy end up, 8 cm deep and 7 cm apart in a position that receives full sun. Soil needs to be well drained.  During the growing season water your garlic regularly and add fertiliser monthly as a side dressing. Garlic heads will be ready for harvest in November/December.

 Good gardening!

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