The Gordon Gnohm

Play along at home, read Future Farmer in The Braidwood Bugle every Wednesday. 

Happy Holidays

Congratulations! All your effort in spring, and the risks you took, have resulted in an amazing summer garden. Its been a good growing season, the recent rain has really boosted growth and now the summer heat is ripening tomatoes early. 

If you haven’t got your summer veggies established by now, its probably a bit late to guarantee any success. Our short growing season is the reason its important to get your timing right in spring and take some risks. Although I’m an advocate for planting anytime… sometimes the effort is worth the risk, but rarely late in summer.

Garden Visits

Ive had the pleasure of visiting some gardens recently, to witness abundance and success. Every garden as unique as the human that created it. Im as impressed by the setups and systems of established gardeners as much as the novice having a go for the first time. Starting the journey is the most important part of growing your own food, then you gain experience and grow better with less effort.

Gardening and growing food is as easy or as hard as you choose to make it. Working with mother nature to replicate natural systems, or against it with machines and chemicals. Most folks are running a game somewhere in between and having mixed results. It does take a mindset shift, a bit of unlearning and some slowing down to gain a better understanding of your ecosystem. If we can adopt a growing style that requires less input and effort, we will have more time, more nutrient dense food in our bellies and fatter stock. 

Timing

At this time of year, demands for our time can be high. Getting caught up in the festive season rituals can take us away from our garden. Fortunately, the work has already been done so you can sit back and enjoy your holidays, however you choose to spend them. Picking ripe berries and veggies is all you will need to do in the garden, because you got your timing right this season.

I stood in the presence of only one greenhouse, a testament to gardening success without one in our Unpredictable Highland Climate. There was something growing in there, the only veggie that really needs the benefit of the extreme hothouse climate. 

Capsicums and Chillis prefer soil temps above 25C and love the added humidity and heat in the air. They handle scorching heat and thrive. These plants can also be overwintered in the greenhouse for a bigger, better, earlier crop next season. 

This greenhouse was cleverly shaded from the western sun by a mighty fig tree, and sun protection netting. Western sun on a greenhouse in our region will probably even toast a chilli plant, it will toast a tomato plant with ease. 

Success

The greatest success in the garden was from Bombay Seed Traders Zucchinis and Bush Pumpkins. Every bush pumpkin has at least 10 pumpkins on the plant already, with some changing colour to signify ripening. This has always been my experience, so its great to see it on a broader scale. Better break out all the old pumpkin recipes this season.

This week

Ive built a trellis on the fence for the 2 Tommytoes, as they have sprawled and taken over their allotted area. The trellis is 6ft tall, and 8ft wide, but I expect the plants to fill that space in a week or two. The heat has been great for ripening tomatoes, and full bushes of fruit are taking advantage of it. Eating Ripe Tomatoes in early December is the best Xmas present ever!

The first Cornsilks have popped below the seed heads. This corn was planted amongst the broad beans for frost protection, survived the Black Frost and is set to be the earliest corn I will have eaten from my garden. Fingers crossed.

There seems to be less tomatoes going to the mice. Wasn’t sure were they went… then last night I spied two of the biggest tawny frogmouths ive ever seen. It also explains the wild raspy noise we hear most nights. I love owls.

Ive planted more vine pumpkins, very late, but they were flowering in their tiny pots, so in the ground they went. If the first frost is late like last year they’ll be just fine, if not then chicken food. The new beds now have improved fencing to keep the critters out, with proper fencing to come please Santa.

And always exciting, baby chickens are hatching under a new mum. A cracking start to the new year.

The first Bruchetta of the season was eaten very early this year. I mark my summer by what I eat from the garden and when, because Summer days can sometimes blur. Basil, garlic and tomatoes ready together in mid December is ace. The earliest yet. Everything gets these toppings this week.

Basil

Basil is starting to flower, the first plants have been in the ground for about 60 days, so picking for pesto commences now too. Picking basil is best done by nipping the tips off, rather than taking lower leaves. Each tip creates 2 or more growing stems providing more fresh basil leaves. The lower leaves stay as solar collectors to keep things growing along. Picking lower leaves makes your basil plants look sickly and they will under preform for you. 

The coming weeks will require water, water and more water, to keep your garden happy and productive. Hopefully more Skywater will fall, but its anyones guess, even the weatherbots. (Its raining as I edit, yay)

Whatever you find yourself doing over the Xmas break, do it well and play safe. Im loving the chats, notes, messages, photos and garden invites. Thank you so much. 

And thank you for playing along at home and validating this highland growing experience. Until next year…

Remember, every day is a school day,

Stay Awesome.

The Gordon Gnohm

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