Gardening Journal August 2021

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Hello all fellow Hive Gardeners

This post was meant to happen last month, but July was a bit hectic preparing for our in laws visit and our daughter's birthday. I kind of neglected the garden for a while after we had really bad frost here for a solid two weeks mid July.

Massive thank you to @Riverflows for inviting me to take part again, it's motivation on it's own to look at what has happened since the last post.

Our vegetable garden suffered some losses as a result of the cold. I can't really blame them with the amount of snow we had on the mountains. Having moved from a no frost zone to a definite frost zone, I have a lot to learn about planting here and managing to keep things alive.

We were able to keep most of our peas going even through the cold, they seemed to be in a semi sheltered spot. This is probably the most successful crop we've had since moving here. Granted, we wouldn't be able to feed our family off this yield, but my daughter gets to pick two peas each day and eat them right off the plant. This is one of our favourite activities of the day.

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Photos by me, Illustration from Image by Jae Rue from Pixabay

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Our vegetable patch which is basically a no dig square has survived our dog and cats and I transplanted our sweetpeas into it, I'm hoping that they will start flowering this month as the weather warms up.

We unfortunately lost all of our beans when the frost hit, but to my delight, the broccolli plants have been quite at home. They aren't yet ready to put out florets, but this is the first time that I have managed to grow brocolli successfully, so I am hopeful.

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There was a day a few weeks back that I think Lory (our kid) had opened up all the seed containers and used them to try fill the bird feeder...yes, I know, but her heart was in the right place lol. After saving the seeds I could, I decided to sow them instead of returning them to the packaging as some of them had got damp.

To my surprise, the spinach seeds are sprouting up now, so it was a very happy outcome.

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The previous batch I had planted are not doing too badly either. These seeds are actually seeds we bought last year for sprouting, so they seem to be a baby spinach variety.

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The one massive plus of living here is the almost absolute lack of snails and slugs. I cannot tell you how many crops we lost in Cape Town to what seemed to be a thriving community of Gastropods that we found had made a home under our one planter box. I have never seen such big slugs in my life! Anyway, sorry that was totally a side tangent.

I'm really proud of this...this poor lemon tree had been cut down to practically nothing by the previous tenants and the landlady was really upset. When we moved in it was covered in mielie bug which took me a good month and a half to get rid of. You can read up on that here if you like: /@andrastia/recycling-in-and-of-the-garden

It is doing so much better now and has put out it's first bud. Seems really late in the season, but I still thing it's a win. I apologize for the bad photography on this one, but it was really difficult to photograph this bud, it's only about 4mm wide and I didn't want to risk damaging it to get it in the light.

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The mulching that we laid around the tree roots has really seemed to help them with the frost and water retention.

We've even had some nice encounters with a Malachite Sunbird visiting the aloes.

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Happy Accidental Plantings

Our compost heap never disappoints when it come to providing accidental plants. 100% of our green kitchen scraps go into the compost bin, so in a strange way it almost guarantees that we will get plants that we do in fact eat. Our latest addition is this accidental potato plant.

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We've also found a few accidental tomatoes from when we gave a compost layer underneath the mulch to our orange tree. I'm not sure if these are going to survive if we get another round of frost. We lost our entire batch of Cherry Tomato seedlings to frost, but I'm hoping the cover of the orange tree might provide some protection to these.

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Our compost has now been inhabited by a good bacterium called actinomycetes which is helping to break down the harder stuff. You can also see a pupa of a wasp larvae in here. I don't know why, but wasps seem to love our compost bins. They've taken up residence in every one we've had and last season we had to open it up and let them out (with all the windows closed) so that the newly hatched wasps could emerge and fly off. They weren't small wasps either but they obviously have a need for good soil to reproduce, so we're taking it as a compliment.

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Some other interesting things

I've recently noticed that the bees collecting nectar and pollen from our aloes now have dark pinky orange pollen sacks. I've seen this before where bees collecting from Vicia species have purple pollen sacks. Just an interesting observation, perhaps bee keepers can also use this to work out where their bees are foraging most during certain parts of the year. This apparently also affects the taste of the honey.

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My daughter also found this one brick that has this beautiful mat of moss covering it. It's the only one like this in the garden, so it's considered one of her treasures :) I must admit it does feel really velvety to the touch and she's very tactile, so I get her fascination with it.

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Take Away Thoughts

With this climate being quite extreme during summer and winter, I have been researching ways that we can protect our plants for the upcoming really hot months of summer (not looking forward to the 40*C days) and I've got a few ideas.

There is no way that I'm going to fork out R5k on a tunnel system, but seeing as our first veggie patch is square, I'm planning on using our gazebo to shade the plants when it gets really hot. It's sitting in the garage at the moment not being used and won't cost us anything extra to give it a try.

I'm hoping to get another grass cutting when it warms up (even the grass went dormant with the frost) that I can use for mulching around the veggies to keep some of the moisture in. We don't have a water tank but I've been bottling rain water as much as possible for the upcoming dry months and I'm hoping it will at least be enough to keep the veggie patch going. Watering this garden with municipal water is going to be very expensive and I've decided to reserve the laundry grey water for the grass in the front garden because we don't eat that.

Vegetable gardening in Oudtshoorn is quite tricky and I haven't found anyone on YouTube in this region sharing any gardening advice regarding anything edible. I confess that last month I became quite despondent with my vegetable gardening. We seemed to suffer a lot of losses and it was so freezing cold, that it wasn't very pleasant to tend to anything outside. A few days after our daughter's birthday, I found out that my mother had passed away, so I was in a grey area mentally and emotionally and my energy wasn't really right for nurturing plants, so I was doing the bare minimum outside. I've now set aside time each day to tend to them as much a therapeutic session for me as a nourishing session for them.

We'll see how it all goes, one day at a time.

I hope you enjoyed reading this and please feel free to comment and send me suggestions that might occur to you, especially @joanstewart and @goldenoakfarm.

And a Thank You to @riverflows for the invitation, to @shanibeer, @edprivat & @simplymike for supporting the #GARDENJOURNAL challenge.

Have a beautiful day Hivers & Lotusers :)

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