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Jeffries Blog

Insect-attracting Plants

1 Oct, 2018

Insect attracting plants

Project 2 — Perennial veg and insect attracting plants (aka can not plant chilies this time of year)

This last month, I have spent admiring the veg that I have (seriously) fallen in love with. I go out in the backyard and just stand there looking at the veggie patch, admiring how well they have grown, how most of them have avoided attack by snails and telling them just how proud I am of them. Is this what’s it’s like to be a gardener? During June I planted a few more veggie seedlings and gave the garden a bit of a top up.

After a walk around the backyard (it didn’t take very long) with Mark Caldicott, I decided on the next step of this endeavour. The garden bed just up from the quickly establishing veggie patch seemed like a natural progression. This garden bed didn’t have much growing in it, not even weeds other than a ring of Agapanthus and Soursobs — not unlike a bald mans head with a fringe of hair around the sides. So I was curious to find out why and although it wasn’t the sunniest spot in the garden, it was going to offer a few veg and plants a nice home.

I originally planned for this bed to be a rhubarb and chilli garden — but the rhubarb hadn“t hit the nursery yet and planting chillies at this time of year wasn“t a good idea according to Mark. Not unlike my attempt to plant cucumber seeds out of season (see operation veggie patch — part 1), I figured enthusiasm had to count for something but heeded Marks suggestion of looking for something different to plant.

We had discussed the idea of perennial veg that would attract bees and predator insects, but Mark also suggested planting perennial herbs that would not only offer a bright and delicious attraction to insects, but offer us humans the opportunity to use the leaves for tea and other aromatic pursuits! I was convinced to leave the chilli plants shivering in their pots for another (warmer) day and happily packed my sweet smelling bounty into the boot of my car.

I chose to plant Globe Artichoke, Jerusalem Artichoke (from bulbs), Bergamot, Lemon Verbena, Hyssop, Horseradish, Borage and Asparagus. The Hyssop and Lemon Verbena smelt devine.  

The garden bed I was about to renovate didn“t look like it had been paid attention to in quite some time. There were gum nuts across most of the small garden bed as deep as my shovel could dig. After trying to remove as much as I could without filling my green bin completely (after all there were food scrap bags to put in there over the next fortnight) I tipped a couple of bags of compost into the bed and forked it into the soil. It was starting to look a lot less gum nutty but by this stage I was worried of the impact the gum nuts may have had on the soil pH. However I also knew that adding compost to soil would help bring soil pH to a more neutral level so I crossed my fingers and kept on digging.  

It was at this point I realised that my attitude towards gardening had changed. You might have noticed, that in the veggie patch I renovated and planted out last month, it had a reasonably thick growth of Agapanthus across the back wall. I had left them there for two reasons. One, I couldn“t be bothered to dig them out, and two, I couldn“t be bothered to dig them out. So while I was digging over the compost into the second garden bed, I decided to remove the Agapanthus from the top garden bed AND the already planted out veggie patch. What was happening to me!? Was a turning into one of those gardeners where no job was too big?

So there I was, trying very hard to dig out the Agapanthus that had a pretty strong hold on their position. I broke my first garden fork on the first try (that enthusiasm again) but eventually had removed all of the plants I considered in the way“. Note: a second garden fork could be a handy tool to keep around.    

Removing these plants made way for the flowering perennial veg and the beautiful smelling herbs that were apparently to grow to approximately 60 to 80 cm tall. Just perfect for this garden bed. I then planted the asparagus in the original veggie patch where the Agapanthus was removed (two snails were re-homed in the green bin).

After planting out, I gave everything a good watering in and a dousing of liquid fertiliser. I then set about mulching. I used a combination of Recover Mulch (a slightly larger sized mulch that contains blood n bone) as well as Forest Mulch, which is a finer mulch and breaks down a little quicker. I then gave the mulch a little watering in too.

Mulching made me also decide to mulch the veggie garden. In the past I have used pea straw which worked fine but broke down quickly and grew peas in my garden. I decided to mulch the veggie patch with Forest Mulch as it’s a softer, fine mulch and will breakdown in the garden reasonably quickly, feeding the soil as it does. Seeing as this garden really had been deprived of nutrients, I want to feed it as best as I can and at every opportunity. Plus the veggie patch is also an ornamental garden bed — so I get the best of both worlds.

Note the gum nuts in the wheelbarrow — this was after filling the green bin ¾ full!

No explanation needed …

Agapanthus is out!

The effort that went into this garden is not expressed well in this photo!



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