Friday, 5 January 2007

Bamboo and Basil

Hi Folks
Kate's got me posted onto the Hills and Plains SeedSavers, after a year in the backyard wilderness since I stepped down as Editor of The Living Soil - the Journal of the Soil Association of South Australia. I'm happy about this - I've missed contact with fellow gardeners, and I like the fact that Blogging seems to be completely "committee-less", which seems to allow one to focus on gardening, as distinct from political agendas.
John Lennon once said that life is what happens to you while you are making other plans. Well, life pretty much took over last year, and left my plans for the veggie patch in disarray. Mostly, I was overseas and interstate for all of Spring, and so this year I'm starting three months behind with my summer plantings.
This has led to seed and seedling establishment in forty-degree heat, and I'm delighted to find that this all works out fine, provided one has plenty of mulch and rainwater. Of course, this assumes the basics are right - particularly rich and fertile soil to grow into.
So I'm posting a few photos (via Kate) of my bamboo tomato and bean frames. I've got a clump of golden bamboo in one corner of the veggie patch, and its worth its weight in golden bamboo. Once cut and stripped of leaves, these bamboos can be used for a number of seasons before they rot or break. This year I used a 25mm auger (like a big drill) to make the holes in the soil beside the growing tomato plants, then pushed in the bamboos in the Teepee configuration. Then I added a real long one as a top piece, and a diagonal one to brace the whole frame work. It's all locked together with a bag of cable ties (they're quick!)
I planted basil seeds down the middle of the tomatoes, as they are good companion plants (at least until the tomatoes shade them out). And I've got six different varieties of climbing beans on another frame; I find climbers to be more productive than bush beans, and save me crawling around on hands and knees looking for produce.
The tomatoes are Des' Delicious, which I reckon we're all probably growing this year. Diana Bickford very kindly grew me a tray of these while I was in Germany, saving my bacon completely!
Finally, the mulch is wheat straw; I've got a mate down on the farm who gave me one of those big round bales, and it was a big improvement over pea starw, as it lasts longer and lays more easily. And did I mention - it was free? Mulch is the biggest gardening expense, once one has saved one's own seed...
OK, so glad to be alive and gardening and knowing you all (sort of...)
Cheers for now

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