There is definitely an Autumn feel in the air this morning. The weather this season has been, by far, the most challenging I have had in the garden. The wild temperature variations have the plants totally confused. The wind is blowing the outside garden to pieces and drying out any decent rain we have had. In the greenhouse, I’ve experienced my first tomato sun scorch – a condition I never knew existed.
I always thought tomatoes would take it as hot as you can get but a customer this week, told me this isn’t so. Plants stop growing when the temperatures reach 25-35 degrees Celsius. In the greenhouse we have had temperatures in excess of 45. This high temperature tends to make the tomatoes drop their flowers and those that do form are prone to blossom end rot – especially if the high temperature is followed by a cold snap. Pretty much the weather we have now. What to do? The only things we can do is keep the plants well-watered and to add shade. I remember in midsummer my dad used to spray a mixture of water and milk on the glass to mute the light entering and then we always had the Autumn job of cleaning the glass windows. With today’s cold morning I’m wondering if I’ve left it a little late to add the cloth. I’m also trying to figure out how to attach the shade cloth to my tunnel house.
At the shop we are enjoying the harvests. The Fire Berlotti beans look spectacular once dried. Bean burgers are on the menu.
We’re sowing our late tomatoes, the first of our winter brassicas and some new plants like Okra and Kohlrabi. Last year we did late tomatoes because of the new greenhouse and it was very successful, so we have a new batch pricked out and growing. I’m going to set up the indoor grow tent again. This time I’m using the new tents we have imported from England. They have been made with the grower in mind. Easier zips, strong fabric and nice little features to make them easy to use. Add to that the LED lights we have investigated, and I have the perfect little system with low running costs.
My AutoPot produce has been abundant this year. I had made 2 batches of tomato relish by mid-January, have since made another batch and also a batch of tomato puree. I planted the Black from Tula tomato from Kings Seeds and these have been very prolific. They are a bit of an ugly plant but the tomatoes are very tasty. At home I have also planted some Orange Grape tomatoes – pictured above. These are a heritage tomato given to me by Tony Robinson and not only do they look amazing, they beat the flavor of the red Sun Cherry hands down. I will definitely be saving seeds from this plant for future years.
We’re also trialing some fruit in the larger XL pots at home in our summer house. The passionfruit is thriving but the Tamarillo is the star performer growing to 4ft in just over a month. If you have limited space the AutoPots are a great way to grow.
This month we have increased the starter kit range with a 4pot 15L starter package. This includes a 47L tank, 4x 15L pots and twin trays, 1L Nutrient, Clay balls and coco fibre to fill the pots. Effectively you can just add plants and you’re away. Introductory price is $219
Gosh it’s the February already. We’re well into summer now and there is so much to be done in the garden. If you haven’t mulched already it’s time to do so to keep your water consumption down. Mulch helps build up humus in your soil and if you live in a sandy area this will be the best thing you do for your garden. Good humus holds moisture making the water you give your plants hold so much better.
It’s also time to replant if you are wanting a second crop this summer. Zucchini, cucumbers and beans have been giving all summer so to carry those beautiful summer flavours on put in fresh plants. If you have a greenhouse you could still replant tomatoes which should take you in to the winter. If it’s an Indian summer, it will pay off.
It’s also time to start sowing seeds for winter crops. If you get them before it turns cooler, they will be ready to pick earlier in winter. Successive crop planting will keep you in beautiful fresh vegetables all winter. You may even like to try something different, we’ve decided to plant kohlrabi, after tasting it for the first time recently we’ve decided it is a must have in the garden.