The year 2023 is running at a massive pace and February is already at an end. If it rains it really pours, and when the sun shines it really scorches. That is the general feel as we never seem to be satisfied.
Make sure to mulch your gardens as this will certainly help against the scorching heat and retain the moisture needed for the plants to grow. Our pine bark mulch is of a really good quality and will even help to reduce unwanted weeds.
Take the time in between the rainy days and make sure to spray your plants with pesticide. If, like us, you want to keep everything organic then using neem oil is the perfect combination to protect your fruit and vegetables. Prevention is better than cure, thus spraying more regularly with neem oil will certainly improve your crops. Just add 5ml to a litre of water and a squirt of dishwashing liquid. You can even add garlic to make it more effective. Spray this all over the trees and vegetables and allow the liquid to drain into the soil
Spend more time in the garden, and take a break from the daily news which seems so disturbing. It is much more relaxing outside, and enjoying the fruits from your own labour is far more rewarding than worrying about the future.
Adding some colour to your vegetable garden will also help attract the good insects. Sweet peas are easy to grow and highly scented making your garden even more attractive to nature. The colours are endless ranging from single to mixed, white, red, blue, purple and all the shades in-between. If you have some seeds available, then it is the perfect time to plant them now. Just add lots of compost to your soil and watch them grow.
You may have noticed that the summer vegetables are drawing to an end, unless you are growing them in a greenhouse. It would be good to start preparing your empty gardens for the winter vegetable crops.
Vegetable seeds, like celery, turnips, leeks, beetroot, carrots, swiss chard, lettuce and spring onion can be planted directly into well prepared garden beds. It is also the perfect time to plant some garlic. If you have any garlic in the kitchen which have sprouted, you can also plant it straight into the garden and see some good crops. If you run out of space in your vegetable garden, then remember that roses go well with onions and garlic.
If you are planning to plant some trees this month then it would be a great time to plant citrus trees. Planting them now will help give them much needed nutrients and get them established before they start flowering.
Working in the garden may seem like a heavy task to do but the benefits you reap are endless. There are many ways to grow vegetables and finding the right method to suit your needs will make you an even more effective gardener.
Recently we planted sprouted potatoes underneath some straw and just left it to grow. The results were amazing as we could just pick up the straw by hand and harvest fresh potatoes underneath. Why not try gardening with straw bales?
The best plants for straw bale gardening are those that enjoy the heat. This includes; strawberries, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, garlic, kale, beans, squash and even flowers.
Straw Bale Gardening
Straw bale gardening is an easy way to grow vegetables and flowers in places you normally couldn’t grow plants. These bales can be put on any surface, concrete, gravel, patios and even asphalt driveways, which makes it extremely versatile in any garden space. Because it is elevated it is easier to work with, is is less maintenance and creates great drainage.
You can also use hay but it does have some drawbacks. Straw bales are still best, as they are stalks left after grain heads have been harvested. This allows for very few seeds to sprout in the bale. Hay is a mix of grasses and weeds that may be rich in weed seeds especially when the bales are harvested in late summer.
GETTING STARTED WITH STRAW BALES
Pick a sunny, convenient location to place straw bales. Placing them next to a fence will even help climber plants such as cucumbers and melons up a fence.
Once your bales are in place, they need to be conditioned. This is done by adding water and a nitrogen fertiliser to jump start the decomposing process. This usually takes about 2 weeks.
Water the bales slowly every day to soak into the centre of the bale. Add a layer of fresh composted manure onto the top of the bale and continue watering every day. You can also use compost, it will take longer to decompose, and the straw may need more nitrogen levels. The best manure is chicken manure and rabbit manure as they contain the highest levels of nitrogen. You will know that you have added enough manure when the inside of the bale starts getting warm as it breaks down.
After two weeks you are ready to plant. If sowing seeds directly into the bale, you can add a thick layer of compost of 5-10cm on top of the straw. This will help the seeds to germinate and grow.
When planting seedlings or larger plants, dig or pull away some of the straw, add a small handful of compost into the hole and transplant. The hole together with the compost will help anchor the plants until their roots have established in the bale. Keep watering the plants and watch them grow.
If you notice plants turning yellow and not growing strongly it could be due to too much water, not enough water or even a lack of nitrogen. Simply check the dampness of the bale and adjust your watering accordingly. Our liquid fertiliser from Talborne will assist with adding nitrogen.
DID YOU NOW?
Aspirin originally derived from salicylic acid – a natural occurring plant hormone. When applied to plants it can effectively turn on their immune system.
Aspirin booster spray
Dissolve ¼ to ½ soluble 300mg tablet in a litre of water.
Spritzing the solution onto a plant cause them to perceive an attack is on the way. Interestingly, one application could be effective for an entire season. This solution can assist providing stronger plants, tastier harvests and a resistance to pest and diseases.
Not all plants enjoy the same soil mixes as many plants have different nutritional needs. Herewith some soil mixtures that will truly work with different plants.
Succulant and cactus soil mix
- 1 part potting soil
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part coarse builders sand
Container plant soil mix
- 1 part potting soil
- 1 part composted manure
- 1 part compost
Whatever your garden needs are, there is always ways to improve and better any garden. Take some time and test the straw bale gardening. This may just be the answer you have been waiting for.