What has been happening at our place during January?

January is Tamworth Country Music month. It is often hot

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and dry but some years it can be wet, very wet, enough to flood the campers out of their make shift camping sites on the sporting fields next to the Peel River.

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We have had a few storms around recently, but no where near as much as the coastal areas.

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As a result, our grass is growing and our plants don’t need as much water as normal whereas during heatwave weather they do need more. In the 2nd week of January we had some days in the high 30’s°C and one day 40°C.

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Last year we recorded 756mm of rain, about 83mm of rain above average, even though we had some months closer to zero. Too, last year we had an early winter frost in May which did a lot of damage to our perennial plants which was followed up by a late frost in September, again doing perennial plant damage, resulting in some of our fruit trees producing less than normal, or even no fruit.

One of our grape vines

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usually starts picking in mid January but came early in late December and another variety

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started the 1st week of January

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rather than mid January.

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The apricots usually finish picking in early January but were all this year, all being finished in early December, and with a very small crop. Although we missed out on our breba fig crop, our normal summer fig crop has started on time, although 3 of the youngest trees have failed to flower this year, I think due to the frosts.

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Our other stone crops of peaches and nectarines are producing very small crops this year too.

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In the vegie patch

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it was great to see the bees collecting pollen.

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I have been busy growing gold bantam sweet corn

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which we started to harvest in the past couple of days as well as planting a new, but late, crop of red Aztec corn.

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Our spring potato crop

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was harvested in January this year rather than December as per normal.

Our new autumn potato crop is being planted in mid January.

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Just as our October plantings of lettuce came to an end in early January,

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my December transplanted lettuce of 4 varieties became ready to pick.

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I have been too busy and exhausted to get my second tomato bed (a new wicking bed) ready,

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so unless I can do it now I will probably leave it this year and concentrate on getting the winter tomatoes happy in the hot house.

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I have also picked a couple of water melons, rock melons

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and canteloupes.

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I will also be planting peas at the end of the month for an autumn or early winter harvest before the frosts come.

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I was speaking with an old mate the other day and I suggested he plant peas on the day school goes back. He just looked at me and said “they are too much bother for an old fellow like me” because he can’t bend over now. I said what about climbing peas and he just looked at me as if he didn’t believe me. I told him I had purple pod peas and again he looked in an unbelieving manner. I will give him some along with climbing snow peas.

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Throughout January (and every month as far as that goes) I have put chook turned compost or composted cow manure on most plants as well as worm leachate on all plants. Every day the worm colonies have been watered and fed some sort of organic material, the cow manure compost pile has been added too and the chooks get at least a bucket of greens and other organic materials for their chook turned compost pile.

As we head into the last week of January and 15.5mm of rain overnight and showers predicted for coming days, it is time to sow more seeds of lettuce and beetroot.

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Seedless Strawberries…..anyone?

You have heard of seedless melons and apparently there are near seedless tomatoes, and many plants like potatoes don’t even need seeds to continue their line.

My parents used to hate strawberry and fig jam which had seeds in them. The seeds would get under their dentures.

Did I mention strawberries?

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Well during December I ended up with seedless strawberries. I didn’t realise I had seedless strawberries at the start but what I noticed were picked green and partly ripe strawberries laying in the inter row areas of my strawberry patch.

 

The strawberries started to run at the beginning of December so I was pinching off the runners as I saw them during picking each day. I also had cut my finger nails about the same time so I was having a little difficulty pinching off the runners and picking the fruit for a few days so I thought I must have somehow flicked the fruit so they fell off the plants.

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So I took extra care and observed what I was doing by looking back behind me and even walking the rows after I finished and noticed it wasn’t any of my activity knocking off the odd strawberry.

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A few days later a lot of strawberries were coming off each day. I knew I had a few slaters and slugs but had never seen this type of damage before so I started to check at night time and could hear crickets around too. I spoke to a few fellow gardeners and none could help.

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A few more days had passed, then all of a sudden I noticed that the fruit were being gathered into clusters and I noticed when I handled them they were smooth, apparently seedless. A closer examination showed seed hulls on the ground.

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Damage was fairly high. I had been picking at peak time 3 litres of fruit per day during October but by December it had dropped back to about 1 litre per day. In mid December after a very favourable fall of rain production rose to 2 litres a day again and on one particular day I picked 1 litre of fruit and retrieved 1 litre of fruit from the ground.

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The chooks really loved this period of strawberry eating but unfortunately no strawberry flavoured eggs.

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I solved it then, MICE!!!! There had been a few around. I reset my bait stations and within a few days I could smell the offenders. It has taken at least another fortnight to get the last of them.