We meet on the first Sunday of each month between 8.30am - 10.00am. Venue: 145 Ilkley Road, Ilkley, Sunshine Coast.
All welcome to come along for a chat, cuppa, local organic gardening tips, seed saving and plant swap! Gold coin donation.
If you have any seeds that need processing or you'd like to contribute to our community seed bank, bring them along.
Follow us on Facebook @ facebook.com/eudloseedsavers for regular updates.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Growing Food & Seed Saving in a Dry Garden

The next 'Seedy Sunday' will be on 2 November from 10.30am - 12.00pm. Come join our table and enjoy meeting like-minded locals.

On the menu this month:
  • processing, labelling and storing dill, coriander, lettuce, spring onion, mustard and rocket seeds.
  • identifying drought-tolerant crops for seed saving.
  • a variety of crops to plant now and how to prepare for them. 
  • strategies for growing food crops in hot, dry weather.

Dill seeds ready for processing

Many leafy greens like tatsoi, baby spinach, mustard, some lettuces, coriander and rocket often bolt to seed, now warmer weather has arrived. Bring along any seeds you would like to process for the seed bank, especially if you have winter crops that have finished.

Just grab a paper bag and collect up any seed heads that are fully developed and turning brown. The seed pods should be full and ripe. 

It's time to sow crops that can take the heat. We'll be discussing some varieties and sharing experiences and growing strategies. 

'Salad Bowl Red' and 'Green' Lettuce Varieties are more heat tolerant

Trees that are in stress may be dropping leaves. Use these to build your soil.

If you have some spare cuttings, seeds, surplus produce, questions or ideas to share please bring these along to our meeting.    

We love new faces so bring a friend or neighbour - perhaps someone who'd like some company or needs a little support in their garden. Our group welcomes beginners, visitors and people new to our community area. We also sow seeds of friendship when we are together.

Activities for November

If you are growing brassicas like kale or cabbage, you may find white cabbage butterflies and the diamondback butterflies laying eggs, with caterpillars taking their toll.

Using sacrificial trap crops (those that attract the butterflies to lay their eggs on) is one organic strategy that may help. I use nasturtiums for white cabbage butterflies but Asian cabbages like Bok Choy (Brassica rapa) are attractive to the diamondback butterflies. The idea is to check the leaves of your trap crop plants for eggs and remove before they pupate, ending the life cycle. Alternatively, plant Land Cress (Barbarea vulgaris). When the diamondback larva hatch, they eat the leaves, but die from the toxic natural plant chemicals (saponins).

Some grasshoppers are appearing. They are best removed by hand early morning when they are more docile. If you only have a small area with these crops growing, you may want to consider netting to exclude these visitors who take more than their fair share!

Grasshopper party on Sweet basil leaves

Time to plant summer crops but make sure your soil has moisture holding capacity or an irrigation system. In this dry weather, establishing seedlings can be a challenge. You may have to be a vigilant 'plant parent' for a few weeks until they are established.

Try putting in zucchini, beans, cucumbers, eggplant, capsicum, corn, pumpkin, basil, tomatoes and sweet potatoes. It's also a good time to prepare for turmeric, yams, yakon, galangal, arrowroot, taro, cassava and ginger that thrive in our humid, wet summer.

If you're growing food in containers, these are some dry season strategies to get the most from your crops in pots.

If you haven't already, make some bamboo tepees for climbers like beans, tomatoes and cucumber. Bamboo is a cheap sustainable material and easily to grow in our climate. Why not put in a clumping variety so you have your own building materials on hand?

Cucumber growing on bamboo tepee frames with repurposed baling twine

Consider what shade structures you are going to use in the coming months to protect your crops in the heat. Position tall potted plants to help shade vulnerable ones or start planting shady microclimates now.

What to Plant in November

Check out these sites for tips and planting guides:

  • Gardenate - Subtropical zone.
  • ABC Vegie Gardening Guide.
  • Aussie Organic Gardening.

  • This month's Seed Savers Meeting

    We meet at Sweethearts Cafe who offer us a large space to get together for free (saving us a hall hire fee so no cost to you) but as a business are in effect hiring out that area to us for a couple of hours.

    So as a courtesy please remember to at the very least order a tea/coffee or a yummy meal, to support the cafe. They have a delicious local and organic menu. Visit their website for more info @ http://www.sweetheartscafe.com.au/aboutus.html.

    Venue: 2 Anzac Street (cnr Rosebed Street), Eudlo.

    FREE to attend so bring a friend and carpool! Hope to see you soon.

    By Anne Gibson

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