February 2023 in the Garden: what’s growing, what’s coming to an end, what’s next and attending the launch of the Vegepod Kitchen Garden.
February is the month that flies past. I’m holding on to the remnants of summer and harvesting as much as I can from the garden. It’s also the month that has me itching to rip out out plants and start the new season. February 22 is also the date ABC TV’s Gardening Australia crew visited my garden to film the Botanical Beverages segment.
Autumn officially starts tomorrow in my part of the world but it doesn’t mean the end of summer. First, let’s recap what February has brought to the garden.
February 2023 in the Garden
Cucamelons have finally taken off and are starting to climb the arch in between two raised beds. I may end up with my vision of a cuca arch after all. Struggling butterfly pea flower vines shot up almost overnight and produced their first flowers. I will harvest these and dry them.
Overwintered chillis continue to produce while newly-sown or bought seedlings are still struggling. Cucumbers give up early in my garden. The leaves turn crispy and production stops. I started new seeds but I’m not holding out much hope. Zucchini yield was very low this season and as I was getting ready to pull out the last remaining powdery mildew affected plant, it produced one female and three male flowers one morning.
February 2023 in the garden has seen most of the tomato plants removed. I can’t complain. I had the best season ever, growing a vast variety and getting enough fruit that we were eating fresh tomatoes for lunch daily for nearly 7 weeks straight. Out of interest, when I removed the spent plants, many had nodules on their roots indicative of root knot nematode damage yet the yield was terrific.
Corn has been an interesting one this summer, with the weather deciding to rain whenever it was time for pollination. Oaxahacan corn did very well early in the season and I saved the kernels for future planting, The first round of edible corn grew knee high and was damaged by pests. The second round which coincided in a change of temperature along with rain yielded what I would call my best non-ornamental corn cob yet. Or is it… no extra points for what it looks like in the above photo!
I have rhubarb growing in two containers and when I tried to move them, one was stuck which means the roots have gone through the pot and into the ground which also accounts for the large thick stems and big foliage. I’m not sure which type of rhubarb it is as I bought it as seedlings but the stems are green with a hint of red at the bottom.
I have harvested the last of the golden nugget pumpkins and removed the plant which had snaked its way along the oval shaped raised garden bed.
February 2023 in the Garden: Australian Natives
On the Australian native plant side, I’ve been harvesting Warrigal greens almost daily. Very dear to my heart, my bush tomato plant which I grew from smoke-treated seed is flowering and fruiting and I have it secured in organza bags to protect it from critters. Old man saltbush needs a good prune and will be put to good use in the kitchen. Atherton raspberry is taking over the garden. Although it’s growing in a large pot, the roots must have punctured through and I am finding suckers all over the garden.
On a sad note, and as hinted in the January 2023 update, I bid farewell to one of my Geraldton Wax plants which succumbed to rust and died a slow and sad death. The other plant is also suffering a similar fate. Rust, like powdery mildew is another fact of life in this coastal garden.
Ginger and turmeric have taken off and rewarding me with their beautiful foliage. Samphire is loving summer and the sea water drink I give it every few days.
Pests and Diseases
My biggest foe this summer has been spider mites. They took hold of eggplants and beans very early in the season. Due to time constraints, I did no intervention and the eggplants have suffered as a result. Fairy tale eggplant has not been as prolific as previous seasons and the other varieties are still struggling.
Spider mites have also set up AirBnB on all the bean varieties I’ve been growing. The damage they caused to the leaves was horrendous yet fruit quality and production were not affected and they produced prolifically throughout spring and summer.
Vegepod Kitchen Garden Media Event
This month, I also attended my very first media event as The Gourmantic Garden. I’m no stranger to media invitations as I’ve been working in the industry for the last 14 years but this was the very first gardening event. The launch of the Vegepod Kitchen Garden took place at the Sydney Seafood School with chef Danielle Alvarez and I was gifted one to take home. (insta photos here) I’m very excited to convert yet another part of my home into an edible growing space so make sure you follow on instagram for the updates.
The beginning of autumn heralds a time when the garden starts to look bare and thoughts turn to planting brassicas, broad beans and snow peas.
Next, comes the job of replenishing soil in all my raised garden beds, planters and containers, adding nutrients and eventually planting cooler season crops. I started seeds in the greenhouse but none are ready for transplant yet. The other big job ahead is setting up netting before the cabbage moth invades. I have a DIY netting set up for my raised garden beds but will be trying something new this season.
Autumn is my favourite season in the garden, a time to wind down, breathe and embrace a slower pace while the weather is still warm enough to enjoy an ocean swim.