Tales From the Plant Front

in HiveGarden2 years ago

It's been so long since I did updates on the garden, that I've ended up dividing the update into two sections. Last time I kept things poultry focused, so this time I'll focus on the plants, but as these things are all linked for me, I'm linking the previous update rather than repeating everything about the run rebuilds. If you missed it, then feel free to read, otherwise continue with the plants side of things.

The quail run has been the first to be renovated. We call it the quail run, but it's also where most of the fruit trees are. Stepping the run in from the fence means they get a little less space. The most affected by this has been the plum tree.

This isn't the full harvest, but it's most of it. On the plus side, the plums are bigger than usual with less competition happening.

We haven't had a big harvest from it this year, as I didn't give the bees an extra hand with pollinating and quite a few of the developing plums got knocked off while the renovation work was happening. I was also very aware that this tree is getting old and some major pruning is going to be needed, so anything was better than nothing from it. I've noticed over the past few years that some of the main branches were starting to rot on the top, then this year my husband noted that it looked like termites had gotten in on some action too.


Oddly, those blotchy yellowing leaves aren't coming from that termite ravaged branch, but rather a healthier looking one, so I'm still a bit puzzled as to what's causing it. The sorry looking branch actually had quite a few plums on its younger growth, although they haven't been the best of the crop. The likelihood is that this tree is on its way out. Last winter I took three cuttings from the new growth and two seem to have taken fairly well. I've still not decided where to plant them out and it will be a few years before they fruit, if all goes well, so I'll cut off the worst branches from this tree come autumn and see if we can get a few more years of production from it.

The mulberry in the same run is growing like crazy, so I want to trim it back to have room to move around it in the now smaller run. Next to that is the red apple tree which our last summer nearly killed off. We only had a little bit of growth near the bottom of the graft this year, so I've done as much as I can to try and help it recover. The soil is mainly clay and is on a bit of a slope, so water just runs off, making it hard to retain either moisture or nutrients. I decided to learn something from the cherry tree's success, which was planted in a bit of a dip allowing water and debris to gather at its base. I've dug out a bit of a basin around the apple tree and filled it with mulch, compost and manure. To start with every time I watered, often with compost tea, it would just fill up and sit for ages before gradually soaking in. It's now soaking in much better and the quail are having a field day digging around in the mulch there, hopefully mixing things in a bit more. Stuff does get scattered about a bit, but never all of it and it's an opportunity to keep adding to it.


Something I moved out of the quail run was the Strawberries. They were just getting to awkward to care for in the space there and most of them were dying due to neglect. I had a cage over them to stop the quails eating the plants, but it was hard to lift that in order to weed or harvest while trying to keep the quails out. I moved them all out into the main garden, keeping the cage over to stop the wild birds eating the fruit, if or when I get some. It's been much easier to care for them this way, but not all survived the transplanting.



I am also a little concerned that one plant, which originally seemed to be thriving, is now dying and when I dug up a volunteer potato plant a few metres away in the same bed, I discovered that the dreaded root knot was still hanging around, when I'd thought I cleared it.


Near to this potato plant was a tomato which had died off, so I pulled that up for inspection, yet despite it having a root that was reaching towards the potato, it looked clear of the nematode, which is surprising considering the level of infestation that is obvious in the potatoes. I'm grateful that they don't travel far fast, but considering most of this bed was infested a few years ago, I can rule out it being the cause of the Strawberry plant's slow demise.

We finally got an identity for the chilli pepper plants. One is a mild chilli, which we like for slicing and sprinkling on foods for extra flavour. This is apparently Scotch Bonnet. Sadly, I've not found any seeds in it, except for one near the top of one, which I accidentally cut in half when removing the stem. I'm hoping some of the later chilli peppers will have some, because I'd like to grow them again next year.

The other turned out to be Trinidad Scorpion and it is on the hot end of the spectrum. You really don't want to mix these guys up! I tried a couple of little slices on my pizza, the first one was thin and I only had half of it in each mouthful, which was spicy, but bearable. The second, thicker slice I got in one mouthful and ended up with tears streaming down my face!

Trinidad Scorpion on the left, Scotch Bonnet on the right. The are actual more similar in colour than appears here, as the photos were taken on different days and in different light.

The tomatoes are surviving and producing something. I know they are heavy feeders, but I haven't really been attending to their needs that well, so a few have died off after giving us just a couple of tomatoes. I've been saving some old passata bottles in case we had a huge harvest, but I may have been over optimistic. The birds have been pecking at a few as well.


I've peeled and frozen some of them anyway, in case some keep producing and I end up doing a bottle or two. No harm in keeping a bit of that optimism.

The coriander never did get harvested and prepared for freezing, so it went to seed and I collected some of that. The rabbits also rather enjoyed crunching on the excess seeds, which gave a nice fragrance off as they ate. Some of the seeds had those holes in them again, where their little fly parasites have hatched out.


More and more I keep thinking about having something going indoors for things like coriander and lettuce.

Something that is growing very well is the goosefoot, aka lamb's quarter. One of the runs has a veritable little forest of it growing. We don't eat anywhere near that much of it, but the rabbits and chickens eat it as well, so I can't complain. The powdery mildew isn't affecting it either, so I'll take what I can get.


The snake beans are also doing well, at least those that survived to adulthood.



Now if I can just get someone else doing the housework and the cooking, I can go live in the garden and get it producing better.


You can also find The Miniature Smallholding on:



The plums look great, the tatties look scary and chilli looks HOT!

I so often think how great it would be to have the kind of heat that would let me grow a lot more here in Scotland, but then I forget that it also comes at a price - more insect predators, disease, poss. water issues, too much sun etc. I'm coming to understand just how good the folk in places like the Portuguese hills where I was, have it!

I'd defo encourage you to try coriander/lettuce indoors btw.

I've got my seeds now (carrot, parsnip, kale, cabbage, beetroot, radish, spinach, lettuce, chard, basil, corriander) and some egg-trays in which to get them started. I'd love to have fruit but then I can forage when the time comes :)

 2 years ago  

There are always cons to go with the pros, aren't there! We can grow something year round, but it's so hard to keep the soil good in summer. Being something of an oasis in an arid area where few grow much, we also seem to attract all the wildlife. With some it's good, as they'll eat the pests, but others would rather eat the food we're trying to grow.

I have to concede that growing in England was so much easier in many ways. Just put them in the ground and let nature do her thing. Maybe water if the rain holds off for a bit longer than usual. I rarely added manure or compost, even!

Ha for sure, the only 'issue' I ever have with water is the hassle of unrolling/rolling out the hose :). The soil here has quite a bit of clay so I've been removing the lumps and replacing with compost.

Snails can be devastating too but so far I've not had to deal with hordes of them. The 'wildlife' to keep away over here consists of the two dogs and the nocturnal foxes 😂.

 2 years ago  

Dogs I don't have a problem with and we've only had one fox visit for a while, but slugs and snails, we get them! I wouldn't have expected it with such a hot dry climate, but as soon as we get the cooler weather and rains, they're in there! When we first bought the house, the lawn at night would be smothered in snails when it rained. I would be treading on them, RTB was putting them in buckets then emptying them into the bin (not sure why, other than he can't abide the crunch). Eventually it got them to numbers our plants could survive.

Then the slugs... let's just say that they can hold their beer here. I've never been able to get them to manageable levels. We get this nighttime rotation of bugs that eat the veggies. Winter is slugs, spring is earwigs, summer is weevils. I correct the latter two for chickens and they stop for a bit, until the following year when it starts again. The slugs I go out with a pair of snips on...

Goodness, I wouldn't have expected there to be so many snails and slugs in South Australia...snips for the slugs eh - fun pastimes :D.

 2 years ago  

Squishy, slimey things freak me out as well. Fun if you're into horror and creeping yourself out, I guess. 😅

 2 years ago  

It's a full-time occupation! If you have termites in your trees, they are around the roots too, that's why your plum leaves look bad. It's chlorotic because nutrient absorption is affected. Your soil seems a lot like mine and the only thing that has made a difference is tons of compost. This makes the termites active... meh. I've had termites this summer too: lots of rain and old tree roots in the soil made it inevitable

 2 years ago  

I see. Perhaps I should dig around a bit and bring it to the quails' attention. Thank you for the insight, at least now I can see what I can do.

 2 years ago  

Quail won't really get rid of termites, the underground colonies are massive. Reducing moisture in the soils is about the only way to clear them out

Cool to see this small garden .... I hope we soon see more what you can get there also :)

I love your garden. The plums look really yummy. They are one of my favorite plums. Thats great that you can get the brunches and replant them all over again, esoecially when the tree was a good producing tree.

I had no idea that the Quail would give you so much garden trouble, but great to see you found a solution to keep them out of the strawberries.

 2 years ago  

Yes, the plums are beautiful. They are Satsumas, purple inside too, and so sweet. Fingers crossed that I can get the new ones to survive.

Quail are certainly less destructive than chickens, but they will still eat what they can access.

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 2 years ago  

Thank you again, @steemflow. ❤

The plums look amazing! My mum used to dry the halved blood plums, and then pack the dried plums in preserving jars with a cinnamon stick and cover with port. Oh My Goodness. To think I will have to wait till October when the Thai and Chinese plums (that's where plums originate!) are finally in season again.

Lovely to see you up and posting. x

 2 years ago  

That sounds delicious! I'm not much of a drinker, but I do like Port and plums in that my be too hard to ignore...

Gosh, that's a long wait for your plums. I wondered where plums originated. It's interesting that they are autumn fruiting for you, but summer fruiting here.

Lovely to see fresh produce from those of you in the southern hemisphere just looking at your garden warms me up!
Love seeing your quail and pigeons walking around the garden too - they are cute!
I'd love to have someone do my housework too so I'd have more time in the garden - much more enjoyable tasks!

 2 years ago  

How's your indoor garden going? I guess you'll have at least another month before you can move to outdoor growing in Canada.

We have another 3 months before we can move to any outdoor growing - we have a long winter and a short summer!
I did an update of my indoor garden at: https://peakd.com/hive-140635/@porters/january-update-hive-community-garden-journal-challenge

 2 years ago  

I feel the same - more time woudl mean a more productive garden! But looks like you have some delights - I can just imagine the rabbits crunching on coriander. Still time for tomatoes to ripen I guess, sometimes mine take right up to Easter then I'm eating a lot of green tomatoes ahaha! I do like them fried anyway. Everything there is looking rather neat, I must say. Well done you and sorry I took so long to get to this. They woon't let me use my computer at school so it's hard to log on every time without keys - I even have to bloody 2A my google account every time. It's easy to do all the #gardenjournal posts in one long sitting like this.

 2 years ago  

Everything there is looking rather neat

That's because I don't photograph the messy parts. 😆

Are you still teaching? I thought you'd finished last year.

Im very interest when i do harvesting, its so stress release and enjoyfull. Nice to see your small garden and sometimes i will make a post about my gardening in a small pot.

 2 years ago  

I'd love to read about it. I really admire those growing in pots. 🙂

 2 years ago (edited) 

I love the cage that you used to secure your strawberries and I think I am going to copy it with the snow cabbage that I am planning to plant in the summer (to secure it from our poultry).

 2 years ago  

I didn't know you had poultry. You'll have to share some photos of them. 😁

 2 years ago (edited) 

I will (^_^). I got two ducks (one male and one female, the female has just started laying eggs about two days ago), I also got one hen and one rooster, and a one-year-old chick. My wife named the male duck Blacky and the female is Kaleng (her former owner). Together they are ravaging the sweet potato vines that I planted months ago.

 2 years ago  

Lol! Your poor vines! I hope they survive the ravagers.

 2 years ago  

I hope so too (^_^)

Housework goes by the wayside during the growing season. I just have to cook each day...

 2 years ago  

It's growing season year round, here. There's good and bad that goes with that, I guess.

I hope i can have beatiful garden like yours in the near future!

 2 years ago  

You'll have to share it on Hive Garden if you do. 😁

Why do people keep referring to coriander as 'food'?

 2 years ago  

🤣 If you prefer, I can refer to it as medicine. That usually tastes bad too.

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