The Gordon Gnohm

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

Mid Autumn Musing

It was great to catch up with everyone at the markets and to hear your garden tales. Thanks again to the Braidwood Markets team for providing the best place in town for a yarn. The most popular yarn, that summers gardens are still flourishing, and larders are filling. The worst of it, folks pulling summer gardens to plant winter veggies.

It’s a tough call when to abandon our summer gardens. When will the first proper frost arrive, it’ll likely be different timing to last year. Most of us prioritise our summer produce over winter stuff, so we hold on as long as we can. This is where understanding your own personal microclimate pays off. Taking note of the change in seasons and planning for next year crops.

Ive got the same problem, its still summer in my garden. It seems autumn has slowed its roll in recent weeks, with trees in a stasis. The early cool being somewhat of a bluff. The leaves have stopped changing colour, no more dropping of leaves and no proper frost yet. Our Unpredictable Highland Climate delivers again. Although, as I write the cold is creeping closer, requiring a daytime fire.

Summer Survivors

I cut a Zucchini vine off at the base (Stumping) some weeks ago, after it provided plenty of Zuchs. Powdery mildew ultimately destroyed the vine after the heavy dew. I started this one under the leaves of the young mulberry tree to protect from frost. At the other end of the season the young mulberry has tripled in size thanks to my ‘No Weed Veggie Bed’ Technique, and frost protection is still being provided for the Zucchini resprout. 

Pumpkins vines have resprouted too, producing flowers and little pumpkins are forming again. Ill keep the Zucchini as long as I can, picking fruit once a week, but the Pumpkins ill probably cut out because they have no chance of going to term, unless winter doesn’t happen. Basil is still powering, and the Snow peas are starting to sprawl up between them. Itll be a few weeks until it covers the basil, who will win? 

Soil Thermometers

Our new Soil Thermometers were a hit. Ive said it before and I’ll say it again, “Let the soil temp be your guide”. It is the only sure way to know when spring has sprung in your garden. So you can be ready to plant tomatoes and eat them in December. For folks playing along at home you will notice that soil temps in your garden are not as cool as you might think right now.

The soil temp along my garden paths is enough to strike fallen squished tomatoes. Garden beds are around 15-16C, checked at 10am on Sunday in heavy mist just as the sun was popping out from behind the fog. Im looking for these temps in spring.

Good Technique

Poke the thermometer through the mulch layer until you hit the surface of the soil. Then push it in about 2cm under the surface of the soil. The glass section should not go beneath the soil. This is where the roots of new seedlings will sit when you transplant them. Pushing the thermometer in further is unnecessary. 

Make sure there is no direct sunlight on the thermometer. Use the shade of a plant or if a bare bed is to be tested, use a cardboard box to protect from the sun. Leave the thermometer in the ground for 5-10 minutes, depending on how much it warmed up in your hands on the way around the garden. Check all your beds and notice the difference. This will go a long way to help you understand your unique microclimates. 

This Week 


A new type of honeyeater is now migrating overhead for the winter. It has a different call and I’m yet to correctly identify it as it darts past in the air. The Silver Eyes have arrived to feast on the Basksia flowers and eat the bugs in the garden. Their song is delightful, and it has been missed.

I heard a commotion in the treetops above me. A new sound, not like our regulars. I spied a Rose Robin attempting to scare off a Shining Bronze Cuckoo. The cuckoo is a new sighting in our garden. The cuckoo wasn’t having it and jumped from branch to branch keeping away from the robin. Then I think they both saw me and left.

Scarlett Robins are here in mobs frolicking in the trees and shrubbery, sitting on fences and catching bugs in mid air. They are moving through the garden with our resident thornbills and wrens in a colourful and musical display. Look out bugs!

With a bit of focus, I noticed another robin in the garden right now. Its the Flame Robin. The white bump on the head is smaller than the Scarlett Robin and the red flush goes all the way down the belly. Binoculars assist with better identification of tiny birds, but rarely do I have them on me. I dream of a camera with an awesome lens, but I know I’ll never have it on me, or I’ll lose it in the garden somewhere while I tend to other things.

There are always plenty of birds to spy in any given ecosystem. This is exactly why I choose to live and grow in an existing ecosystem. Working directly with Mother Nature to create my homestead garden. Since the turn of the century, I’ve seen almost 80 different birds in our garden. Birds eat bugs and rodents, leave poop and provide a wonderful floor show. Win, win, win. What birds are frequenting your garden right now?


I’ve planted a set of Broccoli and Cauliflower (5-6each), I’ll succession plant more every 2 weeks so there is always one ready to eat. Bombay Seed Traders Cauliflower is ready for harvest in 60-90 days, so if it goes in now, you’ll be eating through winter into spring. 

I got my Purplette onions in with the Leeks and Garlic in a spent, 2yo bed. I should’ve planted the Leeks months ago, and course Snow peas are everywhere. Purplettes are part way between a shallot and a storing onion. Harvest in 60-90 days. Like all onions I harvest when I want to use one, not when they are ‘ready’, storing them in the ground until the kitchen calls. Losing onions in the garden is a bonus, if left long enough they will divide into multiple bulbs which always pleases me. 

Enjoy your Autumn

Stay Awesome.

The Gordon Gnohm

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