Yesterday, I received my prize for winning Mini Challenge 2. It was very exciting to receive a parcel via courier that I hadn’t ordered, as I didn’t know what was in it. The package contained a bag of Thrive Natural Blood and Bone, a large bottle of Thrive Citrus and Fruit Natural Fish and Seaweed fertiliser (which I’ve never seen before), Thrive Natural Seaweed Tonic and some seeds (Watermelon “Sugar Baby”, Tomato “Mortgage Lifter” and “Sugarsnap” climbing peas), Thanks so much, Yates! I can’t wait to use these products around the garden and I will of course follow up on them in my blog.
We have a new wwoofer staying with us, Sanna, a Swedish girl. Sanna arrived on Monday and we have accomplished a great deal together in a relatively short time frame. Tasks we have completed include potting up melon seedlings, planting lettuce, capsicums and marigolds in containers, as well as planting more tomatoes and some zucchini (the photo is of my “Zephyr” seedling, a variety I’m growing for the first time). Today, Sanna is going to help me liquid feed the garden using Yates Thrive Natural Fish and Seaweed fertiliser and we will pot up some more Hale’s Best rockmelon seedlings (also from Yates), which are ready to come off my heat pad.
I’d like to elaborate on my previous point about crop rotation. I think I’ve mentioned a couple of times that it’s a good idea to rotate root, leafy and fruiting crops to avoid diseases (rule 1). I forgot to mention that it’s also a good idea to avoid planting veggies in the same family successively (rule 2). The best example is potatoes and tomatoes. Although potatoes are a root crop and tomatoes are a fruiting crop, both are in the solanaceae or nightshade family. Planting these in succession isn’t advisable as they are affected by the same pests and diseases, for example TPP, and it could cause them to spread to the subsequent crop. While I have broken rule 1 by planting potatoes following potatoes because parts of our garden are unsuitable for growing root crops due to insufficient depth, I have developed a habit of NEVER growing tomatoes in the same area as potatoes, no matter how desperate I am for space. While I’m making confessions, I do also grow leeks and spring onions pretty much year round in the garden bed that is shaded by our neighbour’s willow tree, without any problems. The lack of sunlight means that fruiting crops fail in this bed and there is insufficient depth for root crops due to the roots of the willow tree which run under the garden. The truth of the matter is that (i) I don’t always follow my own advice, (ii) what sounds good in principle doesn’t always work well in practice and (iii) constraints such as sunlight and soil depth limit your options, especially if you have a small garden, so you have to work around them. In the end, you have to do what is right for you and it’s fine to experiment a little like I have to strike a balance between following gardening principles which sound very logical and the reality of being able to grow all the things I want in our garden.
Please don’t ask me whether cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower fall into the category of leafy, root or fruiting crops because I’m not really sure. I’m also not certain whether those three basic categories are exhaustive; there may be others. To me, cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli are not leafy like lettuce and kale, which are, well, basically just leaves. Nor are they root crops, which grow beneath the surface like potatoes and carrots. They aren’t fruiting crops like tomatoes and zucchini, either. What they all have in common is that they form a head. Over the years, I’ve noticed that they all benefit from a fertiliser which has a balanced NPK ratio, such as Yates Thrive Granular All Purpose Plant Food, rather than a fertiliser which is very high in nitrogen, such as blood and bone. For those of you who don’t know (and this isn’t something I knew until the owner of Gardn Gro, a supplier of gardening fertilisers, told me when he was delivering some products I had ordered), the N stands for Nitrogen (needed for leaf growth), P for Phosphate (essential for strong roots) and K for Potassium (necessary for the formation of fruit). In my humble opinion, cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower need all three nutrients in order to form a decent head. In my next post, I’ll write a bit more about growing them.