As we come towards the end of the challenge I find I can't help but reflect on my journey as a gardener and where to next. After I came in from spreading mulch (post peelings) last night I looked back at one of my first posts on here. So much has happened in the garden and life in general since the 12th September. It's nice to be able to look back on it all now. The photo on the left was from that post and the photo on the right I took last night - midway through shovelling post peelings. Hopefully that will all be finished tomorrow.
I've also been thinking a lot about how the way I garden has changed over the past few years. I remember my first garden at my previous home. I filled it with old soil and I mean old. There was a huge pile of soil in Dad's paddock that had been there for countless years. I was like yup, that will do the trick and used that. I didn't add a single thing to the garden so how I actually grew anything decent is beyond me. It would have been roughly a 2m x1m garden and everything was popped in together - mainly lettuces for salads, a tomato plant, silverbeet, a capsicum or two.
Throughout the past 3-4 years I've developed a kete of my favourite products, as well as trialled new products along the way. We never stop learning right and I love that about gardening. There's always something new to learn and a new challenge to overcome. I also appreciate that we all have our own unique way of doing things in the garden, but what is special about this online community is how open we all are with sharing what works (or doesn't) in our veggie patch.
I thought I'd share a little bit about the products I've used throughout the season so far in my own garden.
Sheep and chicken pellets, pea straw, and Yates Vegan Fertiliser were all used in the initial preparation of my raised vegetable gardens. I try to aim to use the 'no dig' method so some of my gardens were also lined with cardboard and in previous years I've also layered newspaper. My lovely granddad got to helping to fill up some of my gardens with top soil prior to me doing that in most of the gardens this year however.
When filling up new gardens I find that a good quality top soil and compost are key. The volcanic top soil I ordered in from Greenfingers and the compost I purchased through work when we did a school fundraiser. For mulch I use post peelings around the base of the gardens and pea straw throughout the raised vegetable gardens. It not only helps to retain the moisture over summer, but adds nitrogen to the gardens as it breaks down - win, win!
When transplanting seedlings I always give them a good soak with Yates Thrive Natural Seaweed Tonic. This helps to reduce the shock from transplanting and makes a great plant starter. I can also hand on heart say it will help stressed little seedlings bounce back that have been forgotten and left without water for too long. I've been guilty of this once or twice.
To give plants a boost I feed them with Yates Thrive Natural Fish and Seaweed Plant Food. I'll be completely honest and say I once even had issues with using fish products in the garden, but I've kinda met myself in the middle on this one. It's a great product and I needed something with NPK, which the seaweed tonic obviously doesn't have. I also use the odd home remedy such as a sprinkle of Epsom Salts around the drip line of my citrus trees. My poor little lemon tree was struggling with yellowing leaves due to the average soil quality as a result of weedmat/bark. This along with added compost, the fish and seaweed plant food and a good handful of sheep pellets have helped my citrus trees.
When it comes to dealing with pests and minor problems in the garden my go to products this season have been - Yates Nature's Way Insect Spray Pyrethrum Concentrate, Yates Nature's Way Organic Citrus Vege and Ornamental Spray, Yates Nature's Way Fungus Spray, and Neem Oil. So far, I've battled with sap suckers of some description on the tomatoes (still not 100% sold on what they are), but the tomatoes are all doing really well now. I've also had black spot on one rose and the start of early mildew on one courgette. Over all, any issues have been on a minor scale at this point. I simply try to nip anything in the bud very early on to prevent larger issues or destroyed crops. It makes the world of difference if you've observant and keep on top of things I've found.
We have countless snails here so I've also gone through a lot of Quash. Our cat is a guts and will eat anything so I've continued to keep it as natural as possible. I've even caught him trying to get into the damn Quash box. I've tried beer traps, egg shells etc in the past with very little success so snail pellets of some description it had to be.
Growing flowers to the extent I have this year has been a new learning curve. I've used Yates Thrive Natural Roses and Flower Plant Food Concentrate. This product has given both my roses and wisteria such amazing growth for their first season in. I've been really impressed. I do save this for the more special flowering plants or I would break my bank with over thirty varieties of flowers in now. Well worth investing in this product though. I can't wait to have Wisteria covering my small front deck.
I think that's probably it. The only other thing I can think of is a banana tea I've given a go this season. Someone through school I know has the most incredible garden and swears by the use of bananas around her tomatoes. I go through a lot of bananas with the countless smoothies I drink so it seemed like an easy thing to try. I simply chuck my banana skins in a large bowl, pour water over the top, and leave for a day. I then use it around heavy feeding or fruiting crops - tomatoes, pumpkin, courgettes, and watermelon etc. It's also used for any plant that craves the extra potassium.
Here's to the last couple of days of blogging with you all. Although, I'm looking forward to continue to post the odd thing here and there after the end of the challenge too. It's nice to keep in touch with our little community and awesome to still see everyone's gardens as the progress through the warmer months.