Planning Out the Cool Weather Plants & Aquaponic system..

Posted February 26th, 2015 by Rob Bob : )»

Seeds for the Patch..

It's time to get cracking on planning the winter/cool weather crops for the patch & thought I'd run through a few of the seeds, as well as how they will be started off..
One of the reasons I like this time of year so much is that it's brassica time :-) Over the past few years I've tried to get least 3 progressive sowings of brassicas (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage & kohlrabi) through the patch.. This is called succession sowing & is basically a way to stagger the sowing of your seeds so the crops won't all be ready to harvest at once.. While some folks I know, due to climate restrictions, do like to harvest a crop all at once & preserve their pickings, like Wendy at "Grow Your Own Food".. I find that due to having a year round growing season succession sowing works best for us here..

First brassica seeds to be sown out were broccoli, cauliflower, sugar loaf cabbage, kale, collards & wombok cabbage.. Am also looking at sowing out some Tuscan kale & collards as continual cropping brassica greens.. I'm going to be more diligent with starting off new batches of cauliflower, sugar loaf & wombok cabbage seeds with a couple of seeds sown out every week or so.. This way I hope to be able to successively sow out enough of these plants to see us picking some every few days..
A quick tip I learnt for planting out brassica seedlings is to firm down the soil their base.. I heard about this method a while back from a fellow YouTube gardener & have found that it does help form larger firmer cauliflower & broccoli heads.. I've run through this process in a clip a while ago, for those interested at a closer look..

A few of the other plants that were sown out at the same time were okra, acorn squash, perpetual spinach, angled luffa, miners lettuce & land cress (Barbarea verma).. Am also looking at sowing out Rosella seeds after we received some as a gift.. They will hopefully be a part of a garden bed I will be expanding soon..

To start the seeds I've decided to make up a fairly basic seed raising mix from some ingredients I had on hand.. This lot was made up of 4 parts homemade compost, 2 parts coarse river sand & 1 part coconut coir.. The resulting mix is fairly lose yet will retain a decent amount of moisture.. I am thinking that next time I might only add ½ the sand to see how the mix turns out..

The plants have been placed into a tray in a warm position down the side of the house & a little bit of water was added to the tray so it can wick up through the base of the planets keeping the mix & seeds well hydrated..
Am happy to say that after 4 days of being in the tray we have a few punnets that are showing signs of life..

Some saved & purchased carrot seeds have been sown into a purpose made wicking barrel.. Carrots like a nice loose soil texture so this barrel had some course sand added to it..
Into this went around the same amount of seeds saved from Kira's carrot plant (Left) & some seeds a mate sent me (cheers Nathan).. After they were scattered on the surface I covered them lightly with some more coir, gave it a light misting & laid some shade cloth over the top to help prevent the soil from drying out..
I'm not 100% certain that Kira's seeds will produce the greatest carrots as there was only one flower blooming at the time & they normally require a lot more to prevent inbreeding depression.. I suppose there is only one way to find out through ;-)
Something folks may not know is that carrot greens are edible so when it comes time to thin the seedlings out, the green tops will be used in salads & not go to waste at all..

For those folks that find thinning out carrots a chore you could always have a crack at making up some carrot seed tape..

It's a great project to do with the kids & makes a great gift for folks that have issues working with small seeds..

Here's a couple of planting guides that might help folks work out what seeds you can start to get ready for the coming season..
For us Aussies the Gardening Australia planting guide is also a valuable resource as it covers all climates & a load of plants..

The Gardenate guide is an international guide that covers all the climatic zones in Australia, New Zealand, North America, the UK & South Africa.. I have found this to be a very helpful guide as it covers a few veggies other guides don't..

Both guides also provide you with cultivation details to help you with specific plants which I've found quite useful too..

Aquaponic Update..

The aquaponic system is going really well at the moment..
The Okinawan spinach & kang kong (water spinach) have been harvested quite regularly to be used mainly in salads.. The growth in the ginger & jalapeno chilli has been quite noticeable.. Was very happy to see a few fruit already set on the jalapeno so will need to bag them up soon to keep the QLD fruit fly from them..

A fair amount of my spare time over the past 3 weeks has been spent cleaning out beds & modifying the plant growing side of the aquaponic system.. 2 new beds have replaced some that I wasn't very pleased with & have also moved a few others around to make room for a small expansion.. One bed has been planted out with a few tomatoes & herbs with the second bed yet to be sorted out..
Have included the latest update clip of the system for those that are interested in a closer look at how the system as changed..

A New Course of Action..
I've been contemplating changing the layout of our garden as a couple of the wicking beds are not working as well as they should be.. I was hoping to get stuck into remaking a few of them before planting out the seedlings mentioned above but that is not to be.. I've had a bit on my plate of late so think that job will be put off for a few months over winter..
I did mention in the last blog that the top bed from the patch would be removed but now I think I'll wait until some of the brassica crops have been through the bed.. This bed will have the cauliflower & cabbages in it so it should be harvested & ready to tinker with well before the end of winter..

Another bed that I was planning on moving was the turmeric & ginger bed in the hoop house.. As this bed has sprouted some very happy looking volunteer plants like squash & a few tomatoes I think it too has earnt itself a reprieve until the plants have finished producing come late winter..

There is however one small job that I'll be undertaking straight away and that is the extension of the lime/herb tree bed..
I've been intending on taking the tin off of the front of the bed and extend it into the yard another 600mm/2 foot.. This will be one of the jobs next weekend.. Some cardboard has been put aside to mulch the ground to help kill the grass & prevent it from growing through the bed.. A mix of hay and horse manure will then be placed on top of the cardboard lasagne style to help create some new soil.. As soon as the compost we have cooking has matured, a layer of that will be placed on top providing us with nutrient rich medium to plant in.. Hope to have some plants in that bed before the next blog & be able to share some pictures with you all..

That's about it for this blog methinks.. Hope everyone is prepared for the coming season & has all there seeds organised & ready to go..
Cheers & have a great one..

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