01 September 2013

September 1st 2013.

Its spring in Melbourne, and the blossom is out in all its glory.  This small peach tree (3rd year) hasn't got the same amount of blossom as last year despite a summer pruning, but it looks healthy enough.

I sprayed it thoroughly with a copper fungicide 2 weeks ago just before bud burst, and top dressed it last week with lots of sheep manure and home made compost.  I added about 100g of chicken manure pellets, 100g of rock dust and 50g of sulphate of potash.

I confess I wasn't so thorough last year, and maybe that's why the blossom is not covering the whole plant.  Still it is strong and healthy looking.

I have just planted this bed with potatoes.  A row each of Nicola, Ida Rose, Bintje, King Edward, Royal Blue and Pentland Dell.  I had chitted them all for about 3 weeks prior to planting.  (chitting is exposing the seed potatoes to indirect sunlight so they can sprout ready for planting).

I prepared the soil by incorporated 3 x 30ltr bags of sheep manure, 1 x 30ltr bag of cow manure, 4 barrow loads of home made compost and 600g of pelletised chicken manure.  I also added 600g of rock dust.  

After digging the bed thoroughly to a spade depth, I let it lie for about 6 weeks to give the microbes some time to liberate those essential micronutrients from the compost and soil.

Just over a week ago I planted the "spuds".  My irrigation drip lines are set 500mm apart, which is a bit close for potatoes really, but it works fine.  I dug a trench in the soil along the drip line and deposited the soil on each side to form ridges. 

Using the drip line hole positions as a guide I place the potatoes at 300mm spacings.  I then plant the potatoes 100mm deep in the bottom of the trenches with their shoots pointing upwards and covered them with fresh compost.  I add about 50mm of mulch on top.

As the potatoes grow, I will use the ridged soil to cover new growth leaving about 50mm of new shoots exposed to the sun.  This is a gradual process and should be repeated regularly until the ridges of soil have become trenches, and the soil built up over the potatoes now form ridges.  The drip lines can be left inside these ridges to provide water when the plants need it.

It was about 25deg C today, which is quite warm for the first day of spring, and as a sign of things to come, the cabbage White Butterflies came out to lay seige on my brassicas.  

I probably won't try to net my mini cauliflower which is already covered in eggs, instead I'll spray it with Bacillus thuringiensis when the caterpillars emerge.  This organically approved microorganism attacks the caterpillars digestive organs and is very effective.

Behind the cauli is a row of Rhubarb silver beet, and some kale.  I have put up a quickly improvised net made from 13mm black plastic irrigation tubing with 200mm pieces of 13mm tasmanian oak dowell stuck in each end to stick in the ground.  I use pegs to hold the net in place, and a wire hook to hold the tied ends to the ground.

The piece of Vegenet is too short, but will do until I have time to make up a better tunnel.  This is a very effective barrier against most flying insects and birds.