January 2023 in the Garden: I’m starting a new series where towards the end of the month, I highlight what’s been happening in my garden as well as my plans ahead. For the last 12 months, I’ve posted a monthly “Bird’s Eye View” of the garden. This series is an extension of those posts. After all, there’s only so much you can say in an Instagram post.
January is a month full of hope and plans. It’s the start of a new year which evokes all kinds of positive vibes. It’s also time to plan for mid-summer planting and further ahead into early autumn.
It’s been a highly successful year for tomatoes and after getting close to none last season due to herbicide drift, the harvests have been abundant from this tiny garden. I’ll write a separate article on what I’ve done differently this time. Some plants are coming to their end. Others have been heavily pruned which allowed for new healthy growth and perhaps more tomatoes during early autumn.
New corn that I’ve put in late in the season is struggling with the hot-cold-wet weather and I’m not expecting much. One has shot up so high than I will need a ladder to reach it.
Bush beans have been super prolific that my freezer is full of them. Succession planting beans has contributed and I still have the second round of rattlesnake beans and borlotti beans to harvest. Some plants are starting to get bean rust and soon it will be time time to say goodbye.
I’ve cycled through several cucumber plants and next time, I’ll stick to one variety. Beit Alpha cucumber seems more resistant to powdery mildew which ravages my garden every year. I never experience zucchini glut, ever. My zucchini plants were all pulled out aside from one. Growing zucchinis vertically helps a little so I’m keeping hope after hand-pollinating a few days ago. Pumpkin doesn’t seem affected and has taken over an entire bed with more fruit to come. Luffa growing against the south facing wall is adopting a snail’s pace but I’m growing it as a wall cover.
Shiso, amaranth and surprisingly lettuce have done very well. Basil has been finicky, stubborn and disappointing. New season capsicum and chilli are still in seedling stage struggling with this cool and wet summer while my overwintered chilli plants are super productive.
Apple cucumber, eggplant, cucamelon and butterfly pea flower aren’t budging this year so I’m ignoring them. The latter two have shown some growth in the last few days with the high humidity but I’m not getting my hopes high. Kiwano and Cape Gooseberry which I started from seed are very slow but still with us.
Ginger and turmeric in all their varieties have finally taken off. I’m growing black turmeric for the first time and I am delighted to have successfully propagated native ginger from my 2022 harvest.
On the Australian native plant side, I’ve welcomed new additions to the garden: another woolly bush which I will keep in better shape by regular pruning, more Hardenbergia violacea “Native Sarsaparilla” to cover a wall, Hibbertia scandens “Snake Vine” as a climber, Prostanthera ovalifolia or Oval Leaved Mint Bush and another lemon myrtle. Best of all, I’m very excited to have male and female Tasmanian pepperberry plants.
I’m ever so excited to see my only surviving bush tomato grown from smoking seeds has fruited. Apple berry has finished fruiting and I’m in awe at how an Australian native plant can mimic the flavour of stewed apples. The potted Atherton raspberry has put out suckers which have spread all over the eastern part garden. I’ve removed a couple and potted them until I decide what to do with them. One can’t have too many plants, right?
My Geraldton wax plants have been struggling. Their needle-like leaves are looking a little burnt. They were growing in two large pots raised above the ground on a rescued bench in a corner spot against a colorbond fence. I have since pruned the dead parts and placed the pots directly on the soil. Hopefully they will get some moisture to counteract the radiating heat from the colorbond corner.
I have a new upcycled flower planter. It was a retro esky holder which I used it to store a seed raising mix bag but the lid finally gave up. It was a rescue item after all which I saved from landfill. As Mr TGG was pulling it apart, he asked if I could repurpose it as a planter. And here it is, next to a rescued bench where we can sit in peace (away from the demanding birds) and enjoy a coffee.
In January 2023, The Gourmantic Garden welcomed special visitors from Banks and Solander Distillery in Botany and Otter Craft Distilling in Balmain. With a garden cocktail in hand, we treated our guests to an in-depth garden tour and tasting of some of the more unusual botanicals growing in the garden. This was followed by an afternoon of our very own garden cocktails and food using some of those botanicals including Australian native ingredients. Highlights are on Instagram here.
This summer, aside from the usual kiss of death aka powdery mildew, the garden has been fighting mites which took up permanent residency on eggplants and beans. Another regular unwanted summer visitor is rust, particularly on chillis and capsicum. Rust is another fact of life in this coastal garden.
Very soon, I’ll have some empty spots to fill once I harvest the amaranth and remove some old bush beans. I’m thinking carrots and beets. I’ve sown cool season seeds in the greenhouse, leafy greens, brassicas as well as winter tomatoes. But something is munching away at the tiny leaves so no joy yet.
As I said on social media earlier in the season, I’m working with nature and what it provides. It’s not always what we want but we’re not the ones in charge.