vegetables Feed

Time to Grow Tomatoes: Down in the Garden

It's all about those summer tomatoes this week as I look any a few tried and true and some you may not of heard about. My top tom tips to make your veggie garden burst with summer goodness!

Down in the Garden appears in print right across the entire Central Coast of NSW every week in the Central Coast News Newspaper.

DOWN IN THE GARDEN: Time to Grow Tomatoes
Cheralyn Darcey

Tiny Toms Tomatoes
Now is the time to get your summer tomato crops started by seed and some of the hardier or early tomatoes seedlings can certainly go into your garden now as well. You will find that as with all plants, there is a greater variety of seeds than seedlings available and for those wanting to try heirloom and the weird and wonderful, your appetite will be rewarded by hunting down seeds. Everyone needs a ‘Tommy Toe’. They are a sweet cherry tomato on the larger size and are very easy to care for. Newbies to tomato growing should try Mama’s Delight as it produces lovely salad fruits and is another easy-grow plant. Looking for a tomato with a lower acidity? Then try ‘Yellow Mellow’. Extend your tomato harvest by popping in the much favoured ‘Apollo’ for an early crop and a ‘Grosse Lisse’ for a mid to late cropping tomato that also has a heigh yield. Those planning on planting into pots could try the yummy ‘Patio Roma’ or for a burst of colour, the tiny ‘Tumbler Yellow’, which can also be successfully grown in hanging baskets. Heirlooms that add variety and interest include the colourful ‘Brandywine’, smoky flavoured ‘Black Russian’ and ‘Jaune Flamme’ is a wonderfully rich flavoured tomato that has a long cropping season. For the tomato aficionados and foodies, you will adore the delightfully complex flavours of ‘Black Krim’. Personally, I love growing the fascinating Reisetomate, also known as ‘Travellers Tomato’ for the first time. This lumpy-looking tom can be snacked on by pulling off the bulbous sections, hence the name.

Top Tips for Tom Success
All tomatoes need a warm, full sun position and while they are not super fussy about soil type, they will do best in a free-draining soil which is high in organic matter. Tomatoes cannot be grown in the same spot each season as they are heavy feeders, especially of nitrogen and attract diseases that can live on in the soil and effect the next crop. Rule of thumb is to rotate these positions every three years and an in-between crop that will help your soil is beans as they are nitrogen-fixing.

I have a ‘three stage’ method of raising tomatoes from seed to avoid early spring pest problems and to save space for late winter crops that may still be thriving. Seed takes about 7 to 10 days to germinate and is best planted in a seed raising mix in trays. Keep moist, but do not overwater as they are prone to root rot and place in a sunny, warm position. Once germination occurs, move each viable seedling to its own small pot of 50% compost and 50% good quality potting mix. Add about ¼ teaspoon of sulphate potash and do not fertilise with any nitrogen based fertilise as these can make the plant focus too much on leaf production and not on flower and fruit production. Once roots have filled the new pot, let the soil become lightly dry and then transplant into the garden. Plant each 1 metre apart into position by covering the stem to just over the first two leaves as this will encourage deeper root growth. Feed each plant with an organic fertiliser and water.

Provide support for each plant by either using a tomato cage or plant trellis or by surround with 3 to 4 wooden stakes. These need to be at least 1.5m in length for most varieties and 2m is best. Tomato stems break easily so as the plant grows, tie to stakes or trellis with a soft, flexible garden tie. Something with a bit of give is best and old pantyhose is a brilliant eco solution. Lastly, add mulch to the top of the soil as this will help retain nutrients and water and deter weeds and pests. Snip off some of the lateral stems as the plant grows to increase air circulation. Most tomatoes may be grown successfully in large containers if you are prepared to keep an even closer eye on your plants as they will need greater attention. Tomatoes in containers will dry out very quickly and as they are heavy feeders, you will need to ensure that you use a top-quality potting mix and enrich the soil regularly with an all-round organic fertiliser. Try compact tomato plants for the best results and ensure your pots are at least 40cm in height and in width for each plant.

Lastly, don’t forget that when watering to avoid splashing on the leaves as this can encourage disease and pests; space at least 1 metre apart for good air circulation; wash hands and tools with a disinfectant between working with each plant to avoid the spread of pests and disease and treat problems quickly.

WHAT’S ON FOR PLANT LOVERS

Plant and Seedling Sale - Saturday 24th from 9:30am. East Gosford Community Garden, Cnr Henry Parry Dr and Wells St, East Gosford. Support this wonderful garden and meet the gardeners!

Doyalson Garden Pawty - Saturday 24th September 10am - 2pm. Doyalson Animal Hospital 423 Scenic Drive, Doyalson. Street Paws presents this wonderful pet garden party with stalls, food trucks, dog comps and giveaways. Free entry, just come along and support local rescues.

Morning Farm Chores for Kids - 10am - 11:30am Sunday 25th September. Hey kids! Hop on up to Grace Springs Farm, Kulnura and experience farm life. Feed the cows, collect the eggs, sit on a tractor, check out the bees and you may even get to cuddle a duckling or chick! To book: www.gracespringsfarm.net or ph: 0425258699

Amaze & Play in the Garden - Saturday 24th September to 9th October. Hunter Valley Gardens, 2090 Broke Road, Pokolbin. Treat the family to an action packed day of adeventures, mazes and rides while exploring the gorgeous Hunter Valley Gardens. Details and bookings: www.hvg.com.au

Long Jetty Produce Swap - 10am - 11am Saturday 1st October, Bateau Bay Community Garden, 1 Bay Village Road, Bateau Bay. Get your chemical-free harvest together for next week’s produce swap. Suggestions: eggs, flowers, cuttings, honey, pickles & jams (homemade) and of course, your harvested goodness from the garden.


OUT NOW at all good book store WORLDWIDE-3

TASKS & TIPS FOR YOU THIS WEEK 
Right now is a great time to plant native tube stock. Have a chat with your local garden centre or native plant society. Next month the Australian Plants Society Central Coast is having a sale so check them out. Austplants.com.au/central-coast-plant-sales. This week you can also plant the following: culinary herbs, artichoke suckers, beans, beetroot, blueberry, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, celery, cherry, chicory, chilli, choko, cress, cucumber, eggplant, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, marrow, melons, mustard, okra, spring onions, parsnip, potatoes (tubers), pumpkin, radish, raspberry, rubarb, rosella, salsify, silverbeet, squashes, strawberry, sweet corn, sweet potato (shoots), tomato, zucchini, ageratum, alyssum, amaranths, aster, begonia (bedding), canna lily, coleus, cosmos, carnation, dianthus, everlasting daisy, gazania, gerbera, gypsophila, geranium, impatiens, marigold, petunias, portulaca, lobelia, love-in-a-mist, lupin, nasturtium, nemesia, sunflowers.

Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden educator at swampcentralcoast.com.au and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM963, on air locally or download the app: communityradio.plus

Archived articles can be found on Cheralyn’s Blog:  www.florasphere.com

Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com

 

 

Toms papers


Lettuce that Won’t Cost the Earth

 

Salad-seedling-4134906

The reason lettuce is so expensive at the moment is a combination of a few factors. Firstly, lettuce does tend to creep up a little in price in winter and that’s because it is more substitutable to frost and water damage in some areas so not all of the larger producers bother growing it. Demand is generally lower anyway as we swap out summer salads for warming winter soups and the like. What is available does tend to be a little higher in price. More influential factors that have led to prices over the $10 per head mark include the invasion of Ukraine which has pushed diesel and fertilisers into astronomical figures. Farmers rely on fertilisers to grow their crops and diesel to power machinery. Diesel is also used in the transporting of your vegetables. Recent heavy rains and flooding have also meant that crops have been destroyed and some were not replanted in their usual cycles leaving gaps in harvest.

BUY LOCAL
Different-types-of-lettuce-800x533
No one likes paying double digits for a head of lettuce at any time and most of us can’t afford to but there are a couple of solutions. First check out local suppliers and small farms as many already produce lettuce and some will, I’m sure, be adding this crop to their list shortly. You will not only be able to obtain cheaper lettuce but contribute to the local economy. A few places to check include our local REKO Ring which is made up of small-scale producers specialising in organic produce. Items change constantly but it’s a good place to track down lettuce and other local yummy produce: openfoodnetwork.org.au/reko-central-coast/shop

There are also many markets and farmers markets on the Coast and nearby so check them out. Gosford City Farmers market is on every Sunday at the Showground in Gosford 7am to midday: gosfordcityfarmersmarket.com.au and Mangrove Mountain Country Markets at Peats Ridge 9am - 2pm Sundays is also another to visit.

GROW YOUR OWN
Romaine

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is amazingly easy to grow and as the Central Coast is a temperate climate, this generally means that you can grow most lettuce year-round. In fact, if there is no danger of frost, the cooler weather is usually better for lettuce crops. Personally, I’ve found Cos Lettuce does really well here, but you may wish to also consider ‘Great Lakes’, ‘Green Cos’, ‘Butternut’, ‘Diamond Gem’ or ‘Green Salad Bowl’. All of which grow exceptionally well in this environment. You can plant seedlings but as with all plants, you will find a far greater selection available in seeds so check with local nurseries and online suppliers. Plant seeds 6mm in depth and 20 to 30cm apart. One important note for Coast gardeners: If the soil temperature is greater than 25C you will find difficulty in getting your lettuce seed to germinate so seedlings may be a better solution in the warmer parts of the year. Lettuce needs a moist and rich soil. It detests drying out and can bolt (come into flower) or die rather quickly if water levels fall sharply so good drainage is a must. Ensure damp soil, not water-logged for your lettuce and water the ground, not the leaves in the early morning and never at night or during the day. This will help deter pests and disease. A nitrogen-rich feed every fortnight will improve the leaf growth and general strength and health of the lettuce. Alternate weeks use a seaweed-based solution for good health as well. If you have loose-leaf varieties, harvest individual outer leaves carefully during growth and whole plants on maturity.

LETTUCE IN POTS
Container-lettuce
Because of their fast-growing nature, loose-leaf lettuce does well in container gardens. These types of lettuce will be happy in planter boxes, pots, balcony beds or even grow bags and that’s as long as the soil is kept damp and drainage is good. You will still need full sun for best growth and feed fortnightly with a liquid-based solution to avoid leaf burn from fertiliser build up. A seaweed-based solution at ½ strength is also recommended on alternate weeks. Harvest outer leaves as required and let some plants fully mature if desired. Soil will usually need to be replaced between crops as lettuce as heavy feeders. Lettuce varieties with firm hearts, like iceberg, can also be grown in these sorts of containers but just be aware that firm hearted lettuce are more prone to fungal diseases in containers.  A few container-friendly lettuce for you to consider:  'Green Mignonette' is a sweet tasting favourite that does extremely well in containers. 'Cos Verdi' has a compact growing habit and loose leaves with a lovely crisp heart and is also cold-tolerate. 'Baby Cos' is a loose-leaf lettuce that is also cold-tolerant and does extremely well in containers.

LETTUCE CARE
Salad-3505392Probably the most challenging problem you may face once you have your lettuce growing is pests. Those tender green leaves are so tempting to snails, slugs and any hungry garden visitors, especially in winter. The best solution for chemical free, environmentally safe lettuce is to net your garden bed. Aphids can present a problem so regular checking and treatment may be needed. Handpick them off and squash and spray lettuce with lightly soapy water to deter them. For snails and slugs, I have on many occasions suggested on this page a myriad of ways to deal with the snails and slugs in the garden including the eco-friendlier covering of your seedlings with nets or cloches and planting perimeter crops visitors you consider pests can eat instead. For more information on Australian Native Snail and Slugs, there are over 1,000 of them - factsaboutsnails.com/types-of-snails/native-australian-snails

Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden coordinator and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM963. She is also co-host of @MostlyAboutPlants a weekly botanical history & gardening podcast with Victoria White. Archived articles can be found on Cheralyn’s Blog: www.florasphere.com

Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com


How to Save Your Seeds

Although it may seem a simple enough task, to be effective a little planning, preparation and commitment is needed to save seeds from your garden. You can just shake, squeeze, and scrape those plants and collect all the seeds, but to ensure they have the best chance of being viable (being about to sprout), and will grow you a healthy, strong crop next time around, I’ve gathered a few tips and tricks for you to follow.
Seeds 2
Seeds are the embryonic stage of a plant, created after fertilisation and there are many reasons to collect your own. Firstly, money! While a packet of seeds may only be a few dollars, that adds up over a garden. By saving seeds you get plants for nothing and while you will never be able to plant all the seeds collected, you may consider selling them or their seedlings, swapping or giving them away. Your local community gardens will thank you too as many are now setting up Seed Libraries as a central point for swapping seeds to preserve varieties of the more successful crops or endangered plants in an area.

Commercial seed producers focus on what is standard and popular. This is not because they are being picky, it’s just a matter of logistics. No one company, or even bunch of companies, could ever be able to satisfy everyone’s seed desires. By saving your own seeds you are adding to the diversity of plant types available and keeping alive a genetic legacy. One great Aussie institution that was founded on this principle is The Diggers Club. Created in 1978 by Clive and Penny Blazey to stop the disappearance of many plants including heirlooms and to have them available to the public. Members not only benefit from being able to purchase seeds but many assist in the preservation of seeds as well. diggers.com.au

Other reasons to save seeds include the opportunity to preserve the genetic material of the cream of your crop and because you need to let plants fully mature to collect their seeds, you will be helping our bee population but providing more flowers in the environment. My favourite reason is the opportunity to keep my personal garden legacy alive for my friends, family and to take that into the future. Being able to replant and even share the seeds of the plants I have loved, along with their memories is a beautiful thing and yet nothing new. The Ancient Egyptians believed that by telling a plant your hopes, dreams and plans that they would carry on through the eons long after you yourself had departed the earth. So, let’s get started saving those seeds for the future!

Seed Saving Planning
A possible problem with ducking out to the garden right now and collecting seeds is that they may be hybrids. Some may be hybrids that you have planted, and these won’t always produce the same plant from their seed. Also, pollinators, e.g., bees, have hopped from flower to flower in your garden and crossbreeding has occurred. While this can be exciting as it is how new varieties have been found in the past, if you are after a plant that is a true offspring of your original then you will need to ensure it is ‘open-pollinated’. Some plants self-pollinate like lettuce, tomatoes, beans, and peas and are considered open pollinated, but others can be protected by planting with space or barriers between varieties or by pollinating by hand. You also need to plant more than a few of each type to ensure genetic strength and health of your seeds. While planning be prepared for those crops that take more than one season to start producing seeds. All this in mind, there is nothing wrong with collecting the seeds you have now and giving it a go, especially if you only have one type of each plant growing in your garden.

Seed Collection Process
There are two types of seeds: wet fruited or dry fruited and they need to be harvested differently. You need to wait until the fruits of wet fruited seeds fully mature for many plants and this will mean past what is the edible stage. To do this, just leave a few of these fruits (this includes what we know as vegetables too i.e., cucumbers and eggplants) growing until they are just at the end of their life before harvesting. Seeds will need to be obtained by cutting open the fruit and then washed and sometimes soaked to remove all traces of the fruit and then dried. Seeds from dry fruited plants can be collected as soon as you notice that the seeds are hard and if they are contained within a seed pod, removed from it. Then both wet and dry fruited seeds need to be dried out. This can be done by spreading out seeds onto very fine mesh screens, filter papers or waxed papers, indoors in a cool, dry place. While they should not be touching, you will need to move them around every few days. Leave for 2 - 3 weeks. Another more modern method involves using silica gel. Easily available online, place a layer of silica gel into an airtight flat container and then cover with fine mesh. Place seeds upon the mesh, spreading out as much as possible. Place lid onto container and leave in a cool, dry place. This method takes between a week to two weeks depending on seed size. Dry fruited seeds can also be collected and dried in one easy step. Place the stem of a mature flower or flower head into a brown paper bag, head down. I clip these bags onto a line in my garage, but you can also lay the bags down if it is in a cool, dry, and dark place. Give the bags a shake every few days to release seeds. Once seeds have all fallen into the bag, remove stem, keep top open and leave in there for a few more weeks, still shaking occasionally.

Seed Storage
The longevity of seeds depends on many factors and while it is true that there have been viable seeds found hanging out in old jars that are thousands of years old it really is not the normal. The best place to store your seeds is in an airtight opaque container in your fridge or freezer where they will last for many years. Those kept in paper envelopes in cool, dry, and dark places in airtight containers will last until the next season and perhaps into the following year after that. The disappointment at seeds not germinating is caused mostly them being too old.

Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden coordinator and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM963. She is also co-host of @MostlyAboutPlants a weekly botanical history & gardening podcast with Victoria White. 
IMG_0201
This article first appeared in 'Coast News', 'Coast Chronicle' and 'The Pelican Post' Coast Newspapers 


Flooded and Soggy Garden Rescue

An overly soggy garden that dries out over a few days can be revived without too much fuss, but a flooded garden needs a deeper clean-up and a few more steps to keep you safe and get your garden back to health. If plants are left to stand in water for more than a few days, they can die from lack of oxygen supply to their roots and if they do manage to survive then fungal diseases that develop in these conditions may still be a major challenge.
Red-park-bench-2635551When flood occurs, toxic compounds can wash into your garden such as chemicals, petroleum products and raw sewage along with pathogens and unwanted weeds. Then there is silt. This is a sediment of dust sized partials that move easily in water and when the water recedes, the silt will compact and lead to increased acidity and oxygen starvation in soil. When this silt and mud is left on plants it will also stop the process of photosynthesis. Once the sun returns its gaze upon our gardens, it’s time to get into rescue mode, but not so fast! There is a right way and more importantly, a safe way to save our plants.

First Steps to Recovery
As always, safety first and if your garden was flooded then you need to wear waterproof gloves and boots and a mask is also advisable. This is to reduce the risk of you becoming infected with pathogens. If your garden flooded then you need to wash away any left behind silt and mud from plants, paths, structures, and the surface of the garden as soon as possible. Silt will harden as it dries and be difficult to remove. Get rid of all debris that has fallen or swept into your garden as soon as possible as rotting plant materials will contribute to the spread of disease and fungal activity as well as invite pests in. Let the garden dry out, don’t start planting just yet and do not eat any raw leafy greens, soft fruits, or berries as these will more than likely have absorbed dangerous levels of contaminates. Rule of thumb is to not eat produce for a month, to wash with soapy water and cook before consuming. If you suspect that your garden has been contaminated with raw sewage, then you should remove and destroy annuals and not consume from longer living plants until the following year. 

Soil Rescue
After washing, dig in any remaining silt and turn over soil well to help aerate the garden beds. Your soil will need to be treated with fungicide as well to hold back outbreaks. All that water would have also washed away nutrients and even broken down your soil structure. This needs to be repaired quickly so that your existing plants have a better chance at survival as well. Do a soil test to determine what may be needed to improve your soil and add organic matter, fertilisers, and composts to replace lost nutrients. If you can get hold of a bunch of seaweed, then mulching with this will help increase fertility of soil, break down any remaining silt and encourage the return of worms but any organic mulch will help.

Plant Rescue
You need to be tough and face the fact that some of your plants may not recover but you can help by using fungicides and pest control methods. Use seaweed solutions liberally as these promote strong root growth and are an amazing health tonic for stressed plants. Be ready for competing weeds to start showing up as they move in more easily with silt and remove as soon as you see them. If a plant seems beyond rescue, be strong and remove it as it may infect other healthier plants in your garden.

Lawn Repair
Flooded lawn areas can be saved if the remaining silt is less than about 2cm deep. Try and wash off as much as possible and go over the surface with steel rake to break up the silt surface. Hose on a seaweed solution to encourage root growth. For deep silt, you may need to start again but the trick is to get rid of the silt and to get air into the soil below.

When to Plant Again
General advice it to wait at least 60 days after flooding until you plant again. For those gardens that experienced heavy rainfall without actual flooding, test the readiness by rolling a ball of soil in your hand. If it will easily crumble when pushed with a finger and no water can be seen oozing out, then you are right to plant. If you need to wait, there is nothing stopping you planting your seeds in seed pots and trays while your garden recovers. By the time the seedlings are ready, your garden will have had time to rest, repair and rejuvenate.

FLOOD-PROOF GARDEN
I’m not too sure there is such a thing, but here are a few ways that may help reduce the risk of flood and help water drain more easily from your garden. Create a slope to your garden, even 2 degrees can be enough, so that water runs off more easily and make sure it slopes away from buildings. The installation of drains and even the clever French Drain will help immensely. These are also known as ditch drains, French ditch, sub-surface drains and land drains and they not only help save your garden but will pull water away from the foundation of your home as well. They work by collecting overflowing water and filtering it through gravel or rocks. Selection of plants is always important so considering planting more natives as these will generally be more adaptable to conditions and to recovery as well as helping stop possible soil erosion. To direct water away from your house and to store for later use, install a water tank and consider rain barrels under your down pipes. Collected water in these can be used for the garden later.

YOU AND YOUR GARDEN
Soil to Plate with Youth Connections and SWAMP
Soil 2

Sustainable Wetlands Agricultural Makers Project (SWAMP) at the Central Coast Wetlands is facilitating an amazing project with Youth Connections of Tuggerah. Created with the support of Central Coast Council and delivered by the enthusiastic volunteers of SWAMP, it is a grass roots pilot program aiming to deliver a nature, gardening, cultural and educational program for the young clients of Youth Connections. In the spirit of ‘soil to plate’ the project will see the creation of a ‘pizza garden’ and then the cooking of pizzas to share with family and friends. In the first week Youth Connections participants travelled to Narara Valley Nursery to begin the preparation and decision making around what will be needed to create the pizza garden. The youth engaged with decisions about which soil, what seeds or seedlings they might like in their garden, as well as the smells and sounds of a bustling nursery with a wide variety of plants. In the following weeks an above ground garden was established at the SWAMP community garden site by the group for the selection of herbs and vegetables that will eventually find their way into on to the pizzas. Other activities included kitchen apron making and a joyful visit to Grace Springs Farm in Kulnura which enabled all to experience agriculture on a larger scale.

Thank you to Syl Marie Photography.

youthconnections.com.au 
swampcentralcoast.com.au

GARDENING GUIDE FOR COAST GARDENERS THIS WEEK
With all this rain, again hold off on planting anything directly in the garden but you can plant out seeds in sheltered spots. You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrot, cauliflower, chicory, cress, endive, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, onions, parsnip, peas, salsify, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, swede, spinach, turnips, ageratum, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, carnation, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, larkspur, nigella, pansy, polyanthus, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, wallflower

Next Week: Start Seed Saving

HAVE YOU GOT A GARDEN OR GARDENING TOPIC TO SHARE?
Down in the Garden is looking for Central Coast gardeners who would like to share their garden with us. We are particularly looking for: Evergreens, Tulips, Spring Bulbs, Water Feature Gardens, School/Children Gardeners, Commercial Kitchen Gardens, Medicinal Plant Gardeners, and Community Gardens but all gardens and gardeners are welcome contact: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com

Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden coordinator and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM963. She is also co-host of @MostlyAboutPlants a weekly botanical history & gardening podcast with Victoria White. Archived articles can be found on Cheralyn’s Blog:  www.florasphere.com

Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com


Growing Your Own Garlic


Garlic
Fresh garlic, straight from the garden is a divine experience and it is also the way to ensure you get the maximum health benefits possible. It is garlic planting time on The Coast and across temperate areas of Australia right now. Good news is, they are one of the easiest plants to grow and home-grown means more flavour and nutrients. This wonderful veggie can be planted in pots and garden beds and can be used fresh or stored for use all year-round. Garlic (Allium sativum), probably originated in the western areas of Asia, but it is such a long-cultivated plant that we cannot be completely sure. The Ancient peoples of Egypt, China and India, all have recorded histories of growing and using garlic as a medicinal and culinary plant with some even attributing mystical properties to it. Most commercial garlic is treated with a chemical to render it sterile, so you won’t be able to use those bulbs for propagation and it’s handy to know that there are two types of garlic, ‘hard-neck’ which has flowers and ‘soft-neck’ which does not. Soft-neck garlic will store for longer than it’s hard-neck friend, but I do like the flowers which are also edible, and the spikes make amazing, dried foliage material. Another factor you will need to consider is that you probably won’t end up with as large a bulb size as you find in the shops, but you will have leaves and you can eat those as well. Types to consider: Dynamite Purple, Spanish Roja, White Crookneck, Giant Russian, Melbourne Market.


Grow Your Own Garlic
Soil must be open, free-draining and well-prepared with compost. pH level sitting between 6.5 and 7.5 is best and whether you decide to grow in the garden or in pots, find a sunny spot. Garlic can be planted by seed but is mostly cultivated via bulbs. To do this, gently separate the bulb into individual cloves and only use the larger ones. Plant directly in their final designation into the soil with the tips just below the surface and firm down.
Garlic is not a fan of weeds so keep it tidy and water should be consistent but don’t drown your plant. They just don’t like to get soggy feet or humidity. Water seedlings a few times a week until they are a couple of months old and then back off to once or twice a week. Feed every second week with a seaweed-based fertiliser, as they love it and mulch with your usual veggie garden mulch medium but ensure you don’t crowd the plants as air flow and low humidly are important.
Harvest most varieties at around the five-month mark but this will depend greatly on type. You will know they are ready as the leaves will begin to wilt and yellow around this time. Lift gently, keep the leaves intact and hang to dry for a few weeks in a warm, sheltered spot to cure before storing in a cool, dry, dark place. The leaves are left on during the curing process so that all additional nutrients are pulled down into the bulb. Don’t forget to save some of those bulbs for next year’s planting. You can find garlic to grow at your local nursery or online: diggers.com.au or theseedgarlicshop.com.au and Giant Russian Garlic: naglesfallsfarm.com.au

Garlic Uses in the Garden & Beyond
Along with growing garlic, make this spray from it to combat pests in your garden. Blend together 4 cloves of garlic with 1 cup of water and a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid (not antibacterial), strain into 500ml spray bottle and top with water. Spray onto plants to deter pests. Test on a few leaves first.  Garlic is a brilliant companion plant for beetroot, carrots, strawberries, lettuce, and roses and provides a fair amount of protection from various pests, but it should never be planted alongside beans or peas as it will stunt their growth and production. For medical use garlic has been used as both an antiseptic and an antibacterial agent for over 3,000 years. Garlic is still used for these reasons in herbal medicine today along with treatments for digestive issues, respiratory diseases and for circulatory benefits as well.

Garlic Folklore
Firstly, don’t go giving garlic flowers to those you love because in the Language of Flowers and Plants, it means ‘Go away you evil one.’ Could be handy at other times though, so hold that thought. As much as we in Western cultures would like to believe that garlic has always been considered the great protector and many points throughout history support this, it’s just not always the case. While you will find that along with traditions, such as the roasting and sharing of garlic cloves on Midsummer’s Eve in France to use as protective amulets, garlic was forbidden in many cultures at times. It was looked upon as ‘unclean’ by religions including Hinduism, Islam and some sectors of Buddhism and Christianity at different times. The Ancient Greeks thought that garlic-breath was an offence in their some of their temples and so consumption was banned before worship.

The protection myths though are very plentiful and are probably related to the obvious health benefits that garlic shares. It’s not just Dracula and other vampires that are said to fear this plant but all demons and evil spirits. The Sanskrit name for garlic, ‘Ishunm’ translates to ‘slayer of monsters’ and it is thought throughout many folklores around the world that sleeping with a clove under your pillow will indeed protect you from such evil-doers while sleeping and from nightmares.

LOCAL GARLIC GROWING WORKSHOP 12th March 2022
Peter Donnelly of Coachwood Nursery, Somersby

Peter Donnelly  Coachwood Nursery
Getting along to a workshop at a nursery is the perfect way to experience growing anything in action as well as having the opportunity to ask questions. Another thing is this, you are not going to find local knowledge, tips, tricks and yes, secrets, online or in books. You will when visiting your local nurseries and especially when attending any dedicated workshop.  Central Coast local nursery Coachwood Organics & Coachwood Nursery has

a brilliant workshop coming up to help to help you Learn everything about growing Garlic successfully & organically. Join Peter Donnelly of Coachwood for his Growing Garlic Workshop. $29 at 3pm, 12 March 2022. Take home a range of different garlic varieties. Demonstration and guided tour. Bring a drink bottle, hat, and sturdy shoes. Students aged 12-18 welcome to join the class. Enquiries 0491 147448 or online www.coachwoodnursery.com

GARDENING BOOK REVIEW
Gardening for Everyone, Growing Vegetables, Herbs and More at Home
by Julia Watkins, Little Brown Publishers, 2022. 304 pages, ISBN: 9781472146922

Gardening-for-everyone

This gardening book is big on planning and in my book? That makes it a winner straight off the block. Julie Watkins focuses strongly on sustainability and very much on long term goals. Her advice is peppered with personal accounts of her mistakes and lessons and that makes gardening more accessible for those wondering about their own past challenges or current aptitude. The book is encouraging and to beginners and I feel expansive enough for more experienced gardeners looking for sustainability gardening practice information and inspiration. Big on beautiful photographs to light that spark in us all and a clever section called ‘Play’ that brings fun and creative ways you can add joy and usefulness in your garden spaces. My only little gripe here is that the title is not a good fit and being an author myself, I know this is usually a publishing house issue, not necessarily an author one. The contents and advice miss the mark with many gardeners as it focuses primarily outdoors and for those with no limitations. Other than that, a good and rather lovely sustainable gardening book.

GARDENING GUIDE FOR COAST GARDENERS THIS WEEK
(for temperate regions early autumn)
If your soil is still waterlogged from the recent rains then hold off direct planting but you can plant in seedling pots now and transplant later. You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrot, cauliflower, chicory, cress, endive, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, onions, parsnip, peas, salsify, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, swede, spinach, turnips, ageratum, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, carnation, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, larkspur, nigella, pansy, polyanthus, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, wallflower

Next Week: Rain and Flood Garden Rescue  

HAVE YOU GOT A GARDEN OR GARDENING TOPIC TO SHARE?
Down in the Garden is looking for Central Coast gardeners who would like to share their garden with us.

We are particularly looking for: Seed Saving, Evergreens, Tulips, Spring Bulbs, Water Feature Gardens, School/Children Gardeners, Commercial Kitchen Gardens, Medicinal Plant Gardeners, and Community Gardens but all gardens and gardeners are welcome contact: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com

Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden coordinator and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM963. She is also co-host of @MostlyAboutPlants a weekly botanical history & gardening podcast with Victoria White.

Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com

Garlic newspaper
This article first appeared in Coast Newspapers the week of 7th March 2022


Flora Grows Cos Lettuce

I've been asked for prints of this artwork and I thought I'd gift them to those who are interested.Flora Grows Cos Lettuce  Cheralyn Darcey

"Flora Grows Cos Lettuce" Cheralyn Darcey 2020 
watercolour, pen, white ink, pencil on paper 
Click on the image above to download a full sized image
It is copyright protected, can be downloaded and printed for personal use only and may not be altered. 

This post and social media posts can be shared and the image can be shared online with full credit to Cheralyn Darcey. 

COS LETTUCE
(Lactuca sativa)
This vegetable will help you find fulfilment in many areas of your life. It will help you overcome challenges and find new ways to obtain financial gain or recovery. Cos Lettuce helps us get better physically and emotionally and so asks that we watch the way we are caring for ourselves and to be careful about what it is we are focused on.
Flora Cos Lettuce
GARDENING NOTES
Usually planted in spring or autumn in most areas or late winter through to mid spring in cold zones. Before sowing, lay on wet paper towels and refrigerate for two days before sowing. Keep well-watered once sown or seedlings are planted out. Lettuce grow best in full sun with an open soil that is rich and kept moist. Although all are annuals, many types are ‘cut and come again’ so can be harvested as they grow until the end of their season. 

MAGICKAL CORRESPONDENCES
Uses: 
lust, renewal, recovery, love, fertility, desire
Deities: 
Venus, Min
Celestial: 
The Moon
Astrological Sign: 
Cancer


SPELL 
Renew your skin and boost your desirability while bring what you desire closer.
Gather 2 tablespoons finely shredded lettuce, 1 teaspoon of corn flour, 1 tablespoon of rolled oats, 1 tablespoon of dried milk, 1 tablespoon fine powered clay and 1 drop of rose oil.

Place in a red bowl and mix together while visualising what it is you desire. Pat onto a clean face, leave for 30 mins then rinse off. 

 


Quick and Easy No Dig Veggie Garden

At the moment it seems a lot of people are looking for ways to start a veggie garden quickly. I now have in ground and above ground constructed garden beds and this is one way I have tried very successfully in the past. It is quick, easy and will ensure your veggies thrive!

7DBADFEB-7C55-4205-9791-675E9E61307C
one of my beds this week

POSITION
Vegetables need sun for best results, but the amount will depend on what you are planting. You can grow things like potatoes and other root crops along with leaf crops with a few hours of sun a day, but you will find that fruit bearing plants such as tomatoes and capsicums will need a lot more sun, at least 5 hours per day.

SIZE
How long is a piece pf string? Some tips to consider are to ensure you can reach into all areas of the garden bed without having to step into it and consider what you are actually will eat, need and are going to plant. You can find the garden area requirements of all plants on seed packets and on seedling tags, in good gardening books and online resources and with your local garden centre. 

CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS
A container of sorts needs to be created to hold the soil and this can be constructed from timber that hasn’t been treated in any way (including painted), as the chemicals will leach into your soil.
This construction is simply a square or rectangle and needs to be at least 30cm in depth, 60cm being optimal for a no-dig garden growing mix to suit the layers I will suggest. 
You can also create an above ground bed with large rocks and even brick blocks. Garden edging could also be used for leafy shallow rooted plants. 

28F2F2A7-F39F-42B6-9C87-0D885E7F97EB
through my veggie garden gate this week


PREPARATION
Mark out the footprint of your garden. Lay down a thick layer (at least 10cm) of newspapers/cardboard and wet completely. If your garden will stand on concrete then create a layer of dried branches and sticks. Construct your garden perimeter with materials of choice.

SOIL
I’m sharing with you a ‘no-dig’ method of gardening and this means that you have not dug into the earth in your garden. To dig into your garden requires soil testing; heavy, deep digging and usually changing the soils natural composition to suit the needs of your introduced plants. A no dig garden is a great idea for many reasons that suit both you and the natural soil, but you need to understand that you have to add everything needed for your vegetables to grow and thrive. Just bags of potting mix aren’t going to cut it.

You can find a lot of ‘recipes’ out there and suggestions and here is one I have created myself that I’ve had success with in a 60cm deep vegetable garden, adjust for the depth of yours by increasing the individual thicknesses of the layers.

20cm of plain straw
10cm of dry leaves
an even dressing of blood and bone or slow release fertiliser pellets  
10cm mushroom compost

5cm layer of manure
a light sprinkle of lime
10cm of pea straw
an even dressing of blood and bone or slow release fertiliser pellets  
10cm mushroom compost

Top with worm castings

Leave for a week before planting seeds/seedlings

Cheralyn carrots
bunches of love, 
Cheralyn 🌻

For more 'how-to' information on vegetable gardening: 
'The Little Veggie Patch Co' Fabian Capomolla and Matt Pember 
'Yates Garden Guide' 
'Dig' Meredith Kirton
'Grow Your Own' Anger Stewart and Simon Leake 


Learn Green Witch Gardening Online with Cheralyn Darcey

Green witch garden sq

Learn Green Witch Gardening and how to Create a Home Apothecary​ Online 
lifetime access online
 with ethnobotanical gardener, author and artist Cheralyn Darcey

EXPLORE & BOOK HERE🌿

begins 1st March 2020
​(start anytime thereafter and complete at your own pace) very special early bird enrolment $66US booking now
with Instagram code:
PLANTMAGICK
(code expires end of first week of Feb) 

No experience is needed. 
Content is suitable for enjoyment and knowledge no matter current garden setup. 
Suitable for indoor or outdoor plants. 

Work at your own pace with information that is relevant anywhere and any climate in the

Garden Design with Magick
​You will learn how to plan and design a beautiful garden space (indoors or out) while learning magical correspondences that will empower, protect and boost the energies you will be working with.
Tumblr_p13su8PF971te8cr4o1_500
​Plant, Grow, Nurture
Lessons to help you start, renovate and get your garden growing with plants you can use for healing, magick and culinary purposes, all grown naturally by you. 
Cheralyn elder

Create A Home Apothecary
Learn how to best gather and preserve your harvest and where to obtain additional items to create your personal at home Magickal Apothecary.
A2FE3785-844E-4744-9837-B9316094BE89



🌿 Magickal Botanical Leek (Allium ampeloprasum)

Leek journal

So while my lovely Leeks are still out there in the garden waiting to pop up, I’m indoors in this cold rainy day studying them and adding to my Garden Journal. They will bring you strength, good health, protection and even love! Biting into one will even help break spells cast against you.

Start seeds indoors about two months before the last frost. They prefer a sunny to semi shade spot and a rich nitrogen slightly acidic soil (6.0 to about 7.0) ready to harvest in just over three months, cut and leave a few cms for regrowth instead of pulling up.
Journal entry: Lamy inks and pens, Prismacolor premier pencils over old watercolours and various mediums (I just fill up my journals with left overs from my pallets as I create so I avoid waste)


around here this week...

👢I thought I was getting THE moon boot off this weekend but it's just not there yet. 
With 11 breaks, it is looking more like 8 weeks of healing but things are going well. 
I'm allowed to be out of the boot a little over the next two weeks yah!! 
Mnoonboot
I drew a few flowers on my boot to cheer me up. Sharpies and the black is with a Sharpie Extreme. 
Oh and thats me with one of my eye patch elixers I love making. 
photo of me: Karen Burgess 

🌝 SUPER MOON
On Wednesday evening I went for dinner at The Entrance with friends and the beautiful Super Moon shone down upon us all on our wander home...
12607712-3E8E-4D45-9882-7B2EF6BCCFFF


NEW TITLE 🌿🌸
IMG_4210
I can't show you the art I'm working on at the moment as it is still firmly under wraps with my publisher for an upcoming title of mine but here I am working away at the linocuts. There is a very large manuscript that goes with these and I am also working diligently away on that alongside the artworks. 

🌻 FLOWER SPELLS
IMG_4051
There are a lot of lovely messages from people who have found my new books 'The Book of Flower Spells' and 'The Book of Herb Spells' and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to now continue this series with another two books coming out later this year and I'm working on the next two after that! Thank you everyone for connecting with and loving this collection of my plant spells, stories, wisdom and tips. 
IMG_4061


🌸 AROUND THE GARDEN
BDBFDEBC-7FE9-4386-B679-C961F9CFBB5D
Nasturtiums everywhere! 

IMG_3592
The last of my Cosmos. They are a legacy plant that obviously have either been here before me or they have drifted from someplace else. I love the colours and the way they delightfully dance on the late summer breezes. 

🌿 IN THE GARDEN THIS WEEK
This week I am harvesting: baby eggplant, rosemary, thyme, creeping thyme, black chillies, cos lettuce, candy stripe roses, nasturtiums, Tom Thumb tomatoes, chives, radishes, cucumber. 
This week I am planting: nothing the moment but I have begun to propagate a couple of fiddle leaf figs from my ridiculously high tree (mine is about 40 feet high)
This week I am working on: tidying up the vegetable garden as there are a lot of annuals that need attendance, cutting back my kangaroo paw, gladiolus and dahlias. Saying goodbye to the cosmos and zinnias. 


Hope you are having a fabulous week. 
bunches of love, 
Cheralyn 🌻
Cheralyn roses small