Kitchen Garden Notes for August

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August – The Promise of Spring

After a wet winter over most of the country I am sure that we have all had enough of winter but the end is in sight and we see glimpses of it all over despite the mud. August, although sometimes the bleakest of months, brings the promise of Spring.

Once spring arrives starting next month, things will all happen at once so use this month to get ready.  Clean and organise pots, seed trays, tools, seed raising mix and seeds.  Mark out new beds if you are starting from the scratch.  Avoid walking on wet ground or cultivating wet gardens but get beds all ready for the new season planting.  As the soil dries up over the month get in and dig over your beds, removing any perennial weeds such as dock and couch, add plenty of manure and compost, turn over winter mulches, dig over green crops, add blood and bone and depending on what you plan to grow, some lime.  Leave the beds to settle and for the earth worms and all the microcosms in a healthy soil to do their work.  The more you can tend your soil at this end of the season the more successful your vegetable beds will be.

It’s too early to sow much outside except for peas and broad beans.  Peas need to go into a well manured trench with some added lime.  Autumn sown broad beans can be staked and the tops pinched out if necessary.  New potatoes can be chitted this month by putting seed potatoes in egg cartons or boxes of straw and left in a warm light place to sprout.  If you plant them too early, especially if the soil is wet, they can rot before they get a chance to grow.  At the same time prepare the soil in your potato bed as above and add some potato fertilser – by the time the potatoes have sprouted the soil will be warmed and ready.

You can get a head start on spring by sowing leafy green and brassica  seeds in a warm place.  Visit your local garden centre to see what’s growing, purchase seed potatoes and maybe the odd punnet of brassicas to pop in a warm part of the garden.  Don’t forget herbs such as parsley and flowers such as marigold or poppy and nasturtium to edge beds and bring the bees.  Make a practice of only buying as many punnets as you can plant straight away – I don’t know how many plants I have lost by leaving them sitting for weeks.  Protect everything from frost and once things are actively growing start liquid fertilizing.

Jobs for this Month

Sow. Beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, cauli, silverbeet, spinach, turnip – all can be sown in trays in a warm sheltered position. Sow broad beans direct into ground. Sow indoors; artichoke, celery, lettuce, leeks. Sow herbs like coriander, parsley and thyme.

Plant: Garlic can still go in.

Cultivate: Weed and fertilise growing plants.

Harvest: Silverbeet, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, leeks, parsnips, winter lettuce and mizuna.

Prepare: Beds for asparagus plants, rhubarb, potatoes and your potting bench for spring sowing.

Thoughts on Eating Frogs For Breakfast

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Someone once said one of the keys to being successful is to” eat a toad a day”.  This quote has been attributed erroneously to Mark Twain but It doesn’t matter who said it – the truth is that this is a very powerful habit to get into. Of course, you don’t actually have to eat any kind of cold clammy toad or frog – which I should imagine is a rather horrible thing to do – but it means doing the most unpleasant or difficult task at the beginning of your work day and now that’s not hanging over you, you can enjoy the rest of the day!  It’s not just at the office either. This is a good discipline to apply to other areas of our lives. If you need to do it then I suggest you  get organised the night before; have the telephone number ready, have all the documents you need in order and get clear on what result you are after.  This also prevents procrastination. Then as soon as you are at your desk  and ready to go, pick up that phone and make that call!  You will find the following good things will happen.

  1. Now you have got the hard stuff out of the way you can enjoy the rest of the day.
  2. You will probably find that whatever it was that you thought of as hard or difficult about that call wasn’t as bad as you thought and the fear and anxiety was something you brought to the problem in hand.  So you were worrying unnecessarily.
  3. That, in turn, teaches us the lesson that we can often make things harder than they really are and once we discover that, we can learn not to create so much meaning around what we think of as problems.  I know many times I have not made calls, sometimes for the lame reason that the person I am calling might be having their lunch and I am interrupting.  Powerful people make the calls that they need to make to get the results they need to take.   If there is an issue, communication is your best weapon.
  4. The act of actually making that call and resolving that issue is going to make you feel powerful   – so powerful that you can now confidently take on any further toads should they hop by.
  5. That feeling of personal power, accomplishment and achievement can be such a strong feeling that is can be a natural high. Learn to love that so if you have to coach yourself to eat that frog then focus on the great result you will get rather than the fear you feel right now.  The only way around some problems is through.
  6. And finally, you  will be developing a powerful habit to help deal with procrastination and therefore become more effective in living the life you want to live.