Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Inspiration for Summer Shades

One important factor to remember while gardening through the summer months is the intensity of the sun on those scorching days.  Here in the Byron Shire, we've had some pretty strange weather patterns lately, with some early morning sun and heat, really strong afternoon winds, heavy rains from passing storms.  While protecting your vegetables from the wind and rain can prove worthwhile, I've really been tempted to implement a new shading system to lower the shock to some plants during the summer.  During my time volunteering at the Mullumbimby Community Gardens last week, I came across this structure...

On the left side of the frame, the shade is pulled over the top and is providing shade while still allowing any wind to pass through.  When you want to protect your plants even more, you can simply pull down the shade (at an angle) to go over the edge of the raised bed.

Growing inside is all sorts of green goodness: broccoli, silverbeet, bush beans, and a friendly reminder to respect the nature we got all of this greatness from.

So, now to build a structure similar to this one, based on the dimensions and location of the raised beds here at home; I'll keep you posted...

For now, keep track of the upcoming event I've been planning: #4Good Brekky in Mullumbimby at The Empire Cafe on Thursday 7 November.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

This Hill Has Eyes

So I have to admit I've never seen the film that inspired me for this post's title.  When I was adding more green to this north-facing hill recently, I couldn't help but think of the movie as I was planting Carpobrotus Glaucescens, commonly known as 'Pig Face'.  Okay, faces, not eyes, and only one hill, not hills...leave us crazy gardeners alone.

Pig Face is a native creeper with green foliage and bright pink/purple flowers.  What's better; in February the plant produces red, 'sour' strawberries...edible of course.  Perusing the plants at Eden at Byron last week, I noticed native plants on sale; 4 for $20...couldn't resist.  Two of the plants chosen were Pig Face, an excellent addition to this abandoned hill.

Snow peas (below) are meant to be sown in autumn or midwinter at the latest.  These plants went in at the end of winter, I like to push the boundaries and limits of conventional gardening.  From my perspective (correct me if I'm wrong) these peas are alive and well, climbing nicely up this fence I've erected for them.

Zucchini; a plant that never seems to grow well here and always suffers from powdery mildew.  Try as I may to rid the plant of the infected leaves and the white fuzzy spots, the plants never seem to mature enough even to flower.  Behold, a flowering zucchini finally maturing well enough to start fruiting soon.

This is a variety of Cucurbiata maxima, Pumpkin - Baby Blue.  This blue variety comes from the Americas, but seems to like it here in the subtropics.

Cucumbers are another plant, like zucchini, that often have mixed outcomes.  Below are some seedlings finally sprouting up after I added in some 'Mary Sheehan' cucumber seeds last week.  My father will remember the roadside stand we bought these seeds from on our way to Crystal Castle.

And last but not least, Jap pumpkins basking on a sunny spring day...

All in all, there may not be any 'eyes' on this hill, but there are certainly 'faces', flowers, and fruits galore. The snow peas should start producing in the coming weeks, and the pumpkins are all waiting for gravity to take over so they begin climbing (or falling) along the hill.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Three of a Kind

As the first king sago palm to spread its new wings (leaves really) is starting to resemble more and more the look of a mature cycad (images 4 and 5), two other king sago palms are at different stages in the process as well.  This made for the perfect opportunity to show you in one post what the new leaves look like from start to finish...almost.

This second plant, seen from eye-level and above, is just about where the largest of these three was 7 days ago.  The developing leaves are about 20% of the size of the mature leaves they are growing into.

And the largest of the bunch, this plant only has a few more days to really unfold.  In just over 6 days, these leaves have grown from (image 2) to what they look like below.

Step aside George, this king is almost ready to take his throne.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Crystal Greens

Tucked peacefully up in the hills southwest of Mullumbimby in the Byron Bay hinterland is a labyrinth of gardens filled with beautiful flowering plants and some gigantic crystals.  I thoroughly enjoy the tranquil spirit flowing through this space, The Crystal Castle.  Something new I found this time grabbed even more of my attention...the vegetable garden!

There are nearly ten raised beds here on this sunny hill, with a variety of vegetables, herbs, greens, and inspiration for home-gardeners.

This rainbow chard is a mix of different colors and varieties, and everything looks healthy and happy here.  I wonder how these vegetables would look growing at the foot of some of the massive crystals around here...any thoughts @CrystalCastleBB?

The best part of this vegetable garden, and a design I plan to incporporate soon into my north-facing garden, are these sun shades.  Perfect for some of the more vulnerable lettuces, young seedlings, tomatoes; all vegetables that are subject to sun stress.  The sun is a really important element to growing food for myself all year round, but there are times that my plants could really use a bit of shade, and these screens are going to be a great solution.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It's Alive!

The growth of these king sago palm leaves has really been progressing rapidly.  It's exciting to watch this deep-sea creature-like plant stretch out.

They've doubled in size in the past three or four days, and we're in store for more.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hail to the King

For those of you not familiar with the Sago Palm, there are four species of seed plants in the cycas family of Cycads.  These short evergreen 'palms' (though not even closely related to real palms or ferns) can grow anywhere from a few centimeters to several meters tall.  The most widely cultivated (seen below) is the Cycas revoluta, also known as the king sago palm.

I didn't plant this cycad, and it's not a fruit-bearing plant, so you may be wondering why I felt the need to share this nugget of information with you.  Add More Green isn't just about spending your time to harvest your own fruits and vegetables...it's about living in harmony with the beauty of nature around you and stopping every now and again to see how Mother Earth adds more green on her own.  I'll keep you updated as this new set of leaves continues to develop.

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Add More Green by Nick Kovaleski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.