The first day of the southern Australian summer arrives, ushered in by contrary weather marked by dark skies and light rain. The garden and seed trays have survived a one week absence by cook and gardener, but the pressures of watering and transplanting the last of the seedlings gets mixed in with the cook’s birthday lunch and tea plus various social catch-ups.
So silverbeet, spinach, lettuce, coriander, fennel, dill, eggplants (aubergines) and red cabbage finally make it into the garden beds, and remnant seedlings are given away at a seed-savers swap meet on Sunday afternoon. The seed table is almost empty, and the gardener will soon shift gear from planting mode to maintenance mode.
I’m planting into deep straw mulch; this will cover these beds permanently until clean-up in late autumn somewhere in May 2014. Each time I dig out a small scoop of soil to make way for these seedlings, I find a half dozen earthworms enjoying the moist soil and the rich organic matter that is their food source. Recent deep watering has brought these worms to the surface, where they will work around the plant roots to the benefit of both parties.
Capsicums and chillies are slow-growers and need a week or two more on the seed table, along with some late-planted celery. These solanums are pinched out of smaller trays and spaced out in a home-made deeper tray filled with new potting mix. In here are my Chocolate capsicums and various chillies such as Purple Tiger, Mettano, Serrano and Bishop’s Crown chillies.
This week’s water bill: 14 kilolitres, or 3700 US gallons. That’s 14 tonnes of water, or 14 cubic metres. Whichever way you look at it, that’s a lot of water. But the earthworms are there, so these soils are alive once again after the Spring dry out, and now I just need to exercise care in bringing these hundreds of seedlings through to the kitchen table in the months to come. Wet soils are soft soils, so both worms and the delicate roots of seedlings will have no trouble pushing out into these wetted areas and getting established.