Monday, September 24, 2012

Ingenious plants: onion weed

While we were giving the garden a spring clean-up and planting seedlings over the weekend, I also dug out a huge couple of handfuls of onion weed (Nothoscordum borbonicum).

What an ingenious plant it is too! It ensures its survival by growing smaller bulbs, or bulbils, off the main bulb, which, when disturbed, break away to take up a new, vigorous life of their own, multiplying your onion weed problem in no time!

Lyn Bagnall writes about onion weed on her Aussie Organic Growing blog (she also has a book available on organic gardening) and has some ways to rid your garden of onion weed. Lyn says:
To get rid of onion weed, you have to prevent the bulbs storing food for growth. Onion weed can also produce seed. Cutting off the foliage at ground level will prevent the plants making carbohydrates in their leaves, and also prevent seed forming.
In an unused garden area, you can do this by slashing, or mowing, the foliage to ground level, then covering the area with black plastic for several months. Anchor the edges of the plastic with planks, bricks or whatever you have to prevent it blowing away.
You might prefer to use mulch instead of plastic, esepcially if you are growing other plants and vegies nearby. Check the comments out on her post - some other ideas there too, like eating it! I'm not sure about that one, but you never know. :o)

Onion grass - one ingenious weed!
Onion weed by margoc

In our raised garden beds, I use a small fork to loosen the soil and pull out the main plant very carefully, to minimise the lose of the bulbils - then I fish out as many of the small bulbs as I can see, though this is by no means foolproof. In larger, more sparse areas a spade would be better to catch as much soil around the bulb as you can, minimising disturbance. Some of the bulbs are really quite deep, often a spade head deep or more! And, as many forums and gardener comments say, even pulling out the green shoots helps, as it'll stop the bulb receiving sunlight (photosynthesis) and nutrients.
It looks like many gardeners face onion weed, as this amateur gardener shows!

All we can do is keep digging...!

Happy gardening!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Spring plantings and seedlings

We had a very productive day in the garden today - the first in a little while in fact. Firstly, Alfie and I went to the gardening shop to pick up some seedlings, particularly capsicum and basil, the purple kind too. We found some nice looking yellow button squash too while we were there. After our last zucchini effort though, I'm a little sceptical about squash, but willing to give them another go.

Spring plantings
Capsicum and purple basil seedlings.

Also got some aged manure and sugar cane mulch and dosed the garden up, including the lovely looking tomatoes that came up from the compost - I just love these sort of visitors :o)

The lemon and lime also got a dose, plus the olive trees, papaya and guava. The lime and lemon got a good prune too - both have a number of flowers as well, so here's hoping for some fruit this year - although may still be a bit young, but we will see.

Simon also made a narrow bed on the outside of our boundary (to the vacant lot behind us) and transplanted some tomatoes and put in some of the purple basil seedlings as companions. He also popped a couple of the yellow button squash in the middle just to see how they go.

More Spring plantings
Boundary garden bed with tomatoes, basil and yellow button squash.

Now all we need is to monitor for bugs and nasties, and, more importantly, water regularly!

Happy gardening!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ah-choo! Spring is here

Ah-chooooo! Okay, it is most definitely spring! The bees are out in full force, flowers are everywhere, there's that familiar haze across the urban landscape that is no doubt full of pollens and other stuff small enough to tickle noses - at least my nose is telling me that!
Grounded stars
Star flowers at Lake Monger by margoc
Our garden has been ticking away in the background over recent weeks, so not much to report, except that a jolly good mow was required last week, as Alfie, being almost one and a half, nearly disappeared in the tall grassy weeds!!

The spuds are rocketing along and the rocket has been severly cut back to allow the spuds to do so :o)
They have needed a bit more water of late - we haven't been all that consistent in their watering, but they seem to have produced in spite of the neglect!

Our artichoke has three lovely big flowerheads which can almost be cut - can't wait to make a nice, fresh stew with them!

Artichoke by margoc
The snowpeas have finally finished and we pulled them out yesterday - this year we will plant some capsicums in their place and see how they go. I'm keen to make a capsicum puree for the kids, to replace lots of the tinned toms we go through (in the bucketload!) - it will be a nice change in flavour and sweetness I think.

We have had to water again after recent rains and it always amazes me how quickly the ground becomes quite dry and the sand once again seems to take over (as much as the weeds and grasses).

By the feel of the sun, Summer is just around the corner - it won't be too long before we are complaining about the heat!

Happy gardening!