Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Changing Season (part two)

As the days get warmer and longer the garden comes to life; plants show signs of new growth and the bugs that you haven't seen for a while, start coming out of hiding. Now is a good time to do your preparation to get the garden into action for summer.

Winter is the resting period for a lot of plants, not many are productive during the cold months. Plants rest during winter, because the temperature affects the their ability to absorb nutrients. During the period of winter, the plant will need to conserve its energy and that is why you trimmed your plants back during late autumn, early winter. During the winter the plant stores its energy in its lower parts, including its roots, or into a tuber or crown if the pant has these.

As the season changes the temperature rises and the plant starts to have access to nutrients and this triggers the beginning of the growing cycle. Plants start sending out leaves and flowers using the stored energy to claim the prize of the suns golden energy filled rays.

Insects also become active as each day gets warmer they too have been resting during winter, while food supplies are low. As the night temperature rises they start hatching now and will need some time to expand their population. So it is very important to watch what you leave lying around to make sure that they stay under control.

Preparing the garden for the planting season is very important, adding granular organic fertiliser, compost and mulch is a good start, so that when you sow your seeds or plant your seedlings the ground is ready to explode into growth.

Seedlings that germinate from vegetables that went to seed during autumn will be germinating around now. They normally do not germinate where you want them too, not to worry as they are easy to move . Replant these seedling where you want them to grow while they are young.

It is during early spring when you want to push start your garden into action by adding vital energy, and planning to ensure that you get the most out of your garden during summer.

By getting a few of the important spring tasks done early you will have more time to enjoy your garden, and you will be able to take advantage of a longer harvesting period. There is so much joy in seeing your seedling's first leaves emerging out of the ground, and as each day passes you get excited to taste the results of your patience.

Have a look at my Planting Time workshop the third in a series of twelve to get all the tips on planting seeds and seedling, because the beginning determines the end results.

 What should I do in the garden today? Just follow me on Twitter where I post daily tips on the planets timing for optimum results.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Changing Season

You know the season is changing when you see the little seedlings start to germinate, you are not exactly sure what is pushing through the soil but its alive and heading towards the light. Each new day you see more and more emerging, vigorously wanting the most of the resources around them, it is the survival of the fittest. Until the rain starts a lot of these seedlings will be at risk of fatal dehydration.

Since the winter solstice on the 21 of June, slowly the days have begun to grow in length, and slowly the worst part of winter fades into a distant memory as the temperature rises. Seeds have waited through the winter for the right average temperature range, and by the middle of August the temperature is just right for planting seeds. The average day temperature has risen above 23C and the average minimum has risen above 5C which means that the average temperature range is good for germinating.

The weather has patterns that it follows, and these can only be followed if you record them in a diary. Each area has a micro climate and a macro climate which you can follow, the later is easily monitored by watching the weather forecast or by getting the information form the nearest airport or using the technology offered by your cellular provider. The micro climate can only be monitored at the location of the planting site.

Beware there is always a last cold snap which seems to strike between the end of august and the middle of September. Depending on what is happening around the country weather wise, you will be able to tell when it might strike; any seedlings will be vulnerable to this cold and should be protected. This protecting is mostly from the wind so give them a blanket of something light weight which still allows light through.

It is the most beautiful thing to see when the season is changing, trees start to shoot into flower and leaves start appearing, butterflies and other insects start re-populating the plants and the food chain reactions is put into motion.

For good ideas on what you should planting right now have a look at the Plant Companions & Partnerships lesson, which is part of the Grow Your Own Food course.

Monday, August 16, 2010

In Preparation for spring

The things that we do in preparation  for spring are all important making best of the cold weather. During the winter we consider our plans for the following summer, it includes all the fun things that we plan to do with our time. The visiting of friends and the out door activities are things that make waiting the winter out a lot more bearable.

I spend winter doing the jobs that require time and attention, that I don’t get to during the summer when everything is growing wild and needs taming. I have spent some time this winter with shaping and construction of design elements for the garden, like with the branches that where  felled from trees where used to make support for an embankment around a sunken sitting area.
When making something for the garden you need to think every thing through carefully and plan for any eventuality. I always plan for maintenance because nothing lasts for ever so for these supports I made sure that the branches where one third in the ground and supported by gravel which filled the trench level to the ground. this insures that the branches don’t rot in the soil. On the side supporting the soil I protected it with plastic sheeting.

A very good product to use for protecting the branches and preserving them for years to come is a product made by Plascon called Wood Care Preservative which will seal the wood and protect it from bugs and rot. this product is safer for your environment than the old fashion creosote which did the same job but had the disadvantage that it can cause Cancer.

I finished off the area by planting penny-royal around the edges which will spread and cover the gravel and when people walk on it a lovely fragrance is released which bugs hate. On the area above I plan to plant things that like well drained soil which was created by the raised sides.

You can learn more about creating a perfect soil for your plants roots in my Grow Your Own Food lessons.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mulled Wine

It all started hundreds of years ago when wine was safer to drink than water. Unfortunately wine did not keep very long, so when the wine started tasting funny they would add spices to improve its flavour and make it pleasantly drinkable.

The process meant heating the ingredient, which was very warming in winter. Other than the enjoyment of drinking the warmed wine it seemed to keep its drinkers healthy and free of colds and flu during winter, this is mostly due to the spices that are added.

Spices have stimulating and healing effects such as cinnamon and cloves, which part with antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiseptic and antiviral properties into the hot water as it steeps, cinnamon has many other benefits. Citrus is also an important ingredient which contains ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Other spices can be added to adjust the flavour and to improve the properties.

The nicest recipes I have found where at lisashea.com, she has some really tasty ideas and my favourite one is the Mulled cranberry.

Check out my Grow Your Own Food lessons to find out how to grow your own ingredients which will taste a lot more flavoursome and will have better health benefits as they will contain higher nutritional content.