GrowLust

Growing an edible garden

   Nov 03

Growing sunflowers in partial shade along fence

Sunflowers are a great addition to a vegetable garden. They look stunning and attract heaps of beneficial insects.
Problem is that they also use up lots of space. My sunniest spots are all planted up with veggies so I decided to plant my sunflowers in
partial shade next to a wooden fence. Those are russian giant sunflowers. They’ll grow very tall.

I transplanted them a few days ago and they seem happy in their new spot. They receive a few hours morning sun and I hope that will be enough for them.

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   Nov 01

Lemon thyme herbal tea

One of my favorite garden herbs is lemon thyme.
It grows prolific, looks beautiful, attracts beneficial insects and smells just beautiful.

I use it a great deal when preparing fish and chicken. But recently I discovered, that it also makes a fantastic herbal infusion.
Steeping a few sprigs in boiling water for 5 minutes brings out the amazing lemony flavor.

Not only is the tea delicious but also has many health benefits.

  • anti aging
  • boosts immune system
  • helps with digestion
  • eases cold and flu symptoms, especially coughs and bronchitis

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Thyme has a long culinary history and has already been used by the ancient egyptians and greeks.
It has later been spread all over europe and was believed to increase courage and also improve sleep by preventing nightmares.


   Oct 30

Pineapple Sage herbal tea

Preparing fresh tea from homegrown herbs brings great joy and a taste sensation you wont get from store bought dried herbs.

A fantastic herb for this purpose is pineapple sage. It’s grows very easy in containers and produces lots of leaves and attractive red flowers.
It’s native to Mexico and grows as perennial. It has an unbelievably pronounced pineapple scent, which makes it great for herbal infusions.

Just pick a nice lush green top of one of the stalks…

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and pour over some boiling water, let it steep for 10 minutes ….

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and enjoy a great tasting cup of fruity herbal tea.

Pineapple Sage is traditionally used in Mexican medicine, especially for the treatment of anxiety, and also for lowering of blood pressureĀ and is believed to have antidepressant properties.

 

 


   Oct 30

Bird scare – protect your berries and fruit

Are cheeky Birds eating up all your strawberries and blueberries?

How can you protect them without using birdnetting?

While bird netting provides the best protection, it’s not always the best solution.
First of all it’s difficult to install in some gardens and can also be expensive.
Also birds might get tangled up or trapped inside.

This year I decided to build some bird scares from aluminium foil attached to bamboo sticks. I wrapped one end of the foil around the stick and tightened it up with some string.
Then I cut the fluttering end of the foil into strips to give it more action in the wind and placed the stick strategically around my strawberry and blueberry bushes.

I must admit, it looks pretty scary. Like long fingers trying to reach out to unaware birds.
It also make a nice disturbing knistering sound. If I were a bird, I wouldn’t go anywhere near it :-)

So far I haven’t had anymore birds stealing my strawberries. This might be a good solution.
Super easy and cheap to install with the additional benefit that your property looks like a witch house.

Protecting my strawberries:
Strawberry bird scare

Protecting my Blueberries:Blueberry bird scare

Bird scares have been in use since the beginning of time and proven to keep pesky birds at bay. They probably won’t give you 100% protection and you might have to rearrange or change the look of your scare every few weeks.

But so far it seems to work for me. Fingers crossed.


   Oct 27

Strawberries in grow bags

This year I divided my strawberries and planted them into grow bags.
For the smaller plants I made holes in the side of the grow bags and thus created a super cheap vertical strawberry planter.

The bigger plants got a whole grow bag of their own. They are doing pretty well and produce lots of strawberries.
An advantage is that the strawberries hang off the sides and don’t come in contact with soil much.

I used potting soil that I enhanced with bokashi and it seems strawberries grow very well in bokashi soil..

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A perfect strawberry:

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   Oct 26

Lot’s of cherry tomatoes – Sweet 100

This year I seem to be getting a huge crop of cherry tomatoes.

Last year I bought a few sweet 100 plants for a garden center and planted them in different spots throughout my garden. They performed very well and I had a great harvest. Shortly after the end of the season I noticed little seedlings growing all over the place. I dug them out, planted them into little pots and placed them in a mini greenhouse during the colder months. I live in a temperate subtropical climate and we didn’t have any frost this year. So they grew slow but steady in their little pots during winter and I planted them back outdoors in very early spring.

It’s now mid spring and they have already grown very tall with lots of flowers and the first tomatoes developing.
This truss in the photos has more flowers on it then I’ve ever seen on a single truss.

Sweet 100 Tomato

Thats what they looked like when they came up in the garden by themselves.

Sweet 100 Seedling

I still find new ones popping up here and there.

Sweet 100 Seedling

The sweet 100 variety is actually a hybrid. So I’m not exactly sure what I’m getting now in the second generation. But they sure grow like crazy and it seems I’ll have a very early and tasty crop. Can’t wait to give them a taste test.


   Oct 26

Hand pollinating zucchinis, squash and pumpkin

If you notice baby zucchini or other squash starting to shrivel and die before ripening, it’s most likely because of a lack of natural pollinators, such as bees.

In this case your best bet is hand pollinating your zucchinis.
It’s very simple, quick and if you do it every morning, you’ll get a bumper crop.

First you need to find a male flower on one of your zucchini plants.
They are easily identified – male flowers don’t have any baby zucchinis at their base.
They grow directly at the stem.

Male zucchini flower

Once you found a male flower, get a q-tip and scrape it around the stamen until some yellow pollen sticks to it.

male zucchini flower

Next locate an open female flower (has a little zucchini at the base) and transfer some of the pollen on your q-tip to the stigma.

 female zucchini flower

That’s it – your female flower is now pollinated and the zucchini can grow.

Make sure you do this early morning. The flowers will open early morning and will only stay open for a few hours. Best to do it every day with all new flowers that have opened up, for a bumper crop of tasty zucchini.

The same technique can be applied to pumpkins and other squash.


   Oct 26

Grow some herbs in the kitchen window

Herbs grow quite nice in partial shade with only short periods of sunshine.

I grow some mint, spearmint and garlic chives in small pots indoors in my kitchen window all year round. They only receive an hour or two of sunlight and do very well.

It’s actually better to grow them in a shady window. In full summer sun the pots would dry out very quickly.

Nice to have them close by for quick harvest. Basil and Parsley also do very well in this spot. And because they are grown inside, they stay pretty much pest and fungus free and I can constantly monitor their health and give them what they need.

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