Winter Work

Veggie bedsThis morning Frank and I spent time in the garden. It was sunny and warm and drove us outdoors. Then the rains came (no doubt the plants loved it). It was a short shower but sort of dampened my enthusiasm. Besides, I’d done enough for one day. I weeded the 3 veg beds in the middle of our yard. I then  mulched most of them. It’s winter but things are still growing. We don’t have a dormant period to rework the soil. Anyway, these beds are still doing well.

What’s weird is these are the beds where I planted my seedlings (planted 12/3, transplanted 10/4) including: eggplant, rocket, lettuce and spinach (and dill which is nowhere to be seen). The rightmost bed is full of rocket. Spinach is doing really well in the leftmost bed with some in the centre bed. The lettuce looked as healthy as the rocket and spinach and should like the same growing conditions but is nowhere to be seen. No idea why. I also planted some eggplant with the others. It’s doing about the same wherever it is, namely not great but not dying either.

flowers from seedsOn the right are the plants that sit under cover getting full sun. I water them from the rainwater tanks. This is our nursery I suppose. In the back right pot are some eggplant seedlings (something finds them tasty), the mulberry bush cuttings with plenty of new buds (cut 7/4) and 2 bay tree cuttings we took a couple of weeks ago (no indications of success or failure yet).  The bottom left is home to my brussels sprout seedlings which are ready to plant out (planted 19/4). The two central pots are full of flower seedlings from a planting on 19/4. Honestly I can see nasturtiums but I’m suspicious that all the other greenery is weeds rather than flowers. Since I don’t know the flowers well enough I am not game to weed out anything. Time will tell.

Frank finished a new veggie bed today. It’s just above the other 3. The plan is to put more rosemary next to it to green that up a bit. He put a couple of bags of cow manure in the bed, some slow release fertiliser and some water crystals. We’ll let it sit for a while before putting my brussels sprouts in here.

new veggie bed


About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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2 Responses to Winter Work

  1. Imogheena says:

    I’ve long been curious about these water crystals. What are they? How long do they last in the soil? And do they do anything weird to the soil or to the things growing in the soil? ie I presume they aren’t poisonous or you wouldn’t be planting food plants in them?

    • Hmmmm good questions. I didn’t know for sure so I did a bit of surfing and feel more confident. Basically the water crystals are desiccants – they are little pellets that absorb and hold water well beyond what you’d expect from their size (something like 400 times their own weight) for several weeks. As the soil dries out, the plants reach into the pellets to draw out the water.

      I put a small handful in the soil, dig it in and water it well. The next morining some globs of goo (very snot like – eeewww) have materialised in the soil. I generally re-dig to get all the crystals into the soil. Then it’s ready for planting. I think you can (should?) soak them in water before putting them in the soil but I never have.

      They are non-toxic and degrade over time. I’ve heard about them from piles of Aus gardening sources when food plants are being discussed and never once heard a negative. I even found them recommended on some organic growing websites so I’m sure they’re okay.

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