Sunday, 6 April 2014

Breaking the rules

Ok so the theme of this post is about breaking the rules

1. Thou shall pull your tomatoes out right about now?!

It seems everyone is busy pulling tomatoes out. Am I the only one who's hoping mine will linger on a little longer? A few weeks ago I got an email from my one of my planter box neighbours to say that she had noticed that the tomatoes I had put into the planter box that had been abandoned by its original owner had been pulled out and replanted. My neighbour was curious as to who had taken it over. Turns out it wad another neighbour N who 'thought it was time to pull tomatoes out and plant winter vegetables'. Never mind I was hanging out for my last batch of yellow pears that were hopefully only one more 29 degree day away from ripening. Over at the community gardens I can sense the old guys getting tetchy because the weeds are coming up between my tomatoes there. With days in the last week hitting the 30s I will leave them for the next week or so before I bite the bullet!

April tomatoes and a leek from last year that's taken this long

2.Crop rotation versus use of micro climates

Gardening rules 101 talk about the principal of crop rotation. Beginners gardening books feature nicely drawn diagrams of how to rotate your crops between nicely arranged square beds. The problem with this is that it assumes you have access to each bed with the perfect conditions for each kind of plant. My original garden bed runs along my southern boundary (12m x 2m), with the sun/shade patterns moving the sunniest areas throughout the year. The soil on the western end is sandy as a result of imported  top soil whilst the soil at the eastern side is the original heavy clay. As a result I have never really been able to rotate my crops in any significant way because certain things grow better in certain spots.  Moving things around for the sake of 'rotation' seemed to create less results than keeping them in the same spot with the bests conditions for that particular plant year after year. Now that I have opened up new growing options that should allow rotation I am still finding other issues over-riding crop rotation. Differences in sun, heat, soil, pests (harlequin bugs), pilfering rats, chooks and neighbours will be guiding my planting schedule over the coming year. For the winter I have decided the focus of my backyard will be on plants that are regularly picked- leafy greens, peas and broad-beans. I am moving root veg- daikon, leeks, onions, garlic and parsnips out to the community garden and using the planter boxes and laneway for back up brassica crops- (away from chooks- see rule 3)

My back lane has performed well for heat loving plants- like these 'capsicums' (urmmm surprise padron chilies) and my first baby bitter melon)  

3.Disobedient chooks- Rule: don't keep chooks in the same space as your edible plants-

The impacts of this form of rule breaking goes without saying. There is a simple reason why your average chook yard is a dust bowl. Mama hen 'Boss' has recently figured out a new way to 'pull' the wire fence so the pegs holding the fence panels together come away and she can squeeze in. As a result my late crop of climbing beans is now one significant plant down.


  1. I can't believe someone pulled out the tomatoes in your garden bed! Mine are still ripening so there was definitely time left for them. I do always feel the pressure of replanting for the changing seasons though, there's never enough bed space for everything I want to grow :(

  2. I love the joys of communal gardening :)- at least this person mean't well and replaced them with what she thought was appropriate.