March 2023 in the Garden: what’s growing, what’s coming to an end, what’s next, and a garden under siege.
Autumn has definitely made itself known with temperatures dropping by a few degrees and moody skies rewarding us with intermittent rain. I love the contrast of warm days followed by rainy nights. Much like the garden, it is in a state of transition, mainly bare but still producing. I’ve been spending a lot of hours prepping for the cooler months and even in a tiny garden, it’s been work in progress.
If you’ve been following me for a while and you’re familiar with my monthly birds’ eye view of the garden on Instagram, you’d know that I show it as it is, the good, the bad and the ugly. The March 2023 story tells a not-so-pretty story of frustration, persistence and a garden under siege. More on that later but first, let’s take a look at what’s growing in the garden in March 2023.
March 2023 in the Garden
Cucamelon are finally here. After struggling with multiple sowings and zero germination, then finding 2 volunteers I miraculously didn’t step on, they’re slowly climbing up the arch and back wall. The same goes for the butterfly pea flower creeping up the herb bed wall. Most of the sweet potatoes growing in a 30cm pot were harvested. I left a couple of small tubers in for now. Ginger is starting to poke through the soil, and like turmeric, the leaves are still lush and green.
The majority of the beds and planters have been prepped for cooler season planting. Garlic is up, broad beans have poked through the soil, some carrot, beetroot and radishes are showing early signs of life. Purple Tastoi and Bok Choy are starting to fill two raised planters as well as the radish I interplanted between rows.
The Vegepod is growing a variety of leafy greens such as chard, kale, perpetual spinach and looking splendid with the new cover. The birds destroyed the original cover and left a gaping hole at the top. I’ve since attached bird spikes and they’re been avoiding it ever since.
I’m growing a range of peas and snow peas including sugar snap, novella, oregon snow peas and Greenfeast. Each type has a dedicated planter. The salad bar planter is ready to welcome rocket, mizuna and lettuce.
From the perennials, rhubarb is still going strong and I’m harvesting a few stalks every week. I have three rhubarb plants now and recently moved one to the small, middle raised bed. Hopefully it will survive winter as that spot doesn’t get much sun in the cooler months. Horseradish is hanging in there and the Scarlet runner beans have taken off.
Life In the Greenhouse
In the Greenhouse, Yakumo giant snow peas, purple podded podded peas and round 2 broad beans rare looking strong and splendid. Brassicas such as Kailaan, Kohlrabi, Cabbage Red Express, Broccoli Waltham and Brocoletti are sown. Some have germinated, others are close. Fennel, salad greens and leafy greens are being recalcitrant.
Last month, I split some of the pups off the pandan plant and repotted them. Now that the temperature has cooled down a little, they’re living in the greenhouse with the mother plant.
I’m very pleased to see that the cuttings I’ve taken of lavender, jasmine, Geraldton wax, Okinawa spinach and Vietnamese mint have taken off. The greenhouse has proved a worthwhile addition on one of the balconies that face north.
March 2023 in the Garden: Australian Natives
Midyim berries have fruited. I love their unique flavour of blueberry with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg. The photo above was kindly featured in Organic Gardener Magazine’s social channels (with my permission). Bush tomato is still bearing fruit and the Australian native garden bed is tidied up and prepped for winter.
I’m slowly working my way through the potted Australian natives, either potting up or replenishing the potting mix and adding nutrients. If you’ve missed it, take a look at my previous article, How to Amend Soil at the Start of the Growing Season which gives extensive information on how I do it.
Vegepod Kitchen Garden Update
The Vegepod Kitchen Garden was doing very well until fungus gnats moved in so the yellow sticky labels went up and a layer of perlite was spread on top of the soil. The yellow sticky have captured a few pesky gnats but the layer of perlite proved too much for the seedlings. The perlite was showing signs of being ‘cooked’ by the intensity of the light and its bright reflection caused some seedlings to die. I’ve since removed the perlite and going forward, I will use the yellow sticky labels instead. I also made a rookie error of overwatering to compensate and have since been manually emptying out the water from the side. It’s all trial and error this first round and I’m loving the challenges and learning about the best way to use it effectively. (this is not sponsored, just sharing my experiences)
Pests and Diseases
Now we come to the frustrating part. Something has been digging up all my beds, potted plants and disturbing seedlings every single night and leaving a huge mess. That something (or maybe another culprit) has been eating whatever summer fruit is left such as chilli, capsicum and eggplant. I tried covering the beds with netting but they ate through it. I tried covering the beds at night with heavy shade cloth and they ate right through the thick plastic as well.
So I came up with Plan B. I bought aviary mesh and put it over the beds and some of the raised planters. So far, it has worked and given some seedlings a change to get established. Soon I’ll have to think of another option when the seedlings grow tall. It’s not pretty having your garden caged but these are desperate times. Normally I’d have exclusion netting up by now for protection from the white cabbage moth. I need to buy new netting this year but since they’ll eat through it, the old netting with holes stays for the time being.
If the aviary mesh solution works, I will share in another post how I have set it up and the challenges involved in having it in a kitchen garden.
Next on the agenda is putting up more cages around the beds and planters, transplanting some of the broad beans and climbing peas to their permanent spots, and possibly overwintering chillis, some eggplant and capsicum including the seedlings that never grew. I still have some beds and planters to finish prepping for winter crops.
Bring on the second quarter of 2023!