Monday, 14 March 2016

March 2016 (3)

Its early Autumn in Melbourne and I have begun preparing beds for winter vegetables.  My Eco-propagator has seedlings ready for transplant, and I'm looking forward with considerable excitement to this very productive time of the year in my garden.

The Eco propagator has been modified since my last post, by simply laying about 70mm of sieved compost over the sand.  As a result evaporation losses have been reduced, and its easier to bury the mini pots in the compost than the sand.  Seeds seem to be propagating quickly and seedlings are growing faster.  The microbes in the compost are doing a great job keeping everything healthy and well fed.
Ecobed 1 is still producing carrots and plenty of leaves from the silverbeet, and I am growing a catch crop of cabbages.  Meanwhile, section of this bed are being prepared for winter legumes. 

Between the cabbages and silverbeet and on the other side of the carrots, beds are ready for climbing peas to be sow next week.
Ecobed 2 is on the way with this year's light feeder planting.  A row of beetroot is accompanied by a catch crop of lettuce on each side at the moment and I will be planting carrots and garlic in a couple of weeks time.

I've decided to remove the strawberry plants (left hand end of the bed), which were badly crowded by the potatoes last year despite the protective frame.  I will be planting leeks in this space after soil preparation.
Ecobed 3 is ready for a green manure crop of field oats, peas and vetch.  It will be cut down in mid winter and spread over the soil's surface.  It will then be covered with more homemade compost and aged cow manure and finished off with a layer of cane straw mulch.  In August a dense crop of potatoes will be sown.
A fine crop of climbing beans separated by tomatoes and flanked by basil have been harvested from Ecobed 4 and the soil is now being prepared for a crop of brassicas.  I have seedlings ready to go, so the soil/compost sandwich may not be fully mature by the time I plant them.

However, the roots of the beans left in the soil after harvest contain reserves of nitrogen in their nodules.  The soil is in good shape already and biologically active enough to release this nitrogen for use by the brassica seedlings.  This will provide a stopgap until nutrient levels build up to their optimum again.
The legumes climbing frames have been parked here for running repairs in preparation for their installation in Ecobed 1.  This will be their 3rd season and only minimal maintenance has been required so far, however, I think I will replace the plastic with a more open galvanised wire mesh next year.