October in our Subtropical Patch

October in our Subtropical Patch

October is normally a dry month for us, the rains normally don't appear until Mid November, so it was nice to see some rain to breath life into everything. It's amazing how the colour of everything just changes with a bit of fresh rain.

What was growing

Front yard mandala

In the front mandala we have our quarters - zucchini, cherry tomatoes + basil, Swiss chard, kale and some carrots, and the starting of sweet corn.

The yellow zucchini has been the only thing that has been subject to fruit fly for us so far - even the un protected cherry tomatoes have escaped it. To deal with fruit flies we've been taking a wholistic approach with not just one thing - we protect the precious things with exclusion bags, we use protein bait stations and practice good fruit hygiene. No stung fruit goes into the compost bin. Starting this strategy last year has really got things off to a good start for this year as I was being lazy with the tomatoes and so far not a single stung fruit. We won't get complacent about it and continue to protect anything susceptible.

Mandala, lots of seed collecting happening in this area.

Font yard – the stage

Here we have moved out our metal raised beds to hopefully keep this under control a bit on the sweet potato front - if you saw last years sweet potato harvest you'll remember how crazy overgrown it became, good for a little blue tongue lizard to hang out, not so good for me walking through and not fearing for my life for potential snakes. I want to keep this area a bit tidier this year and at least have a path I can walk along.

So far we have butternuts, sweet potatoes (any that have just popped up), cherry tomatoes, beets and carrots and we're growing some jicama for the first year. We let dill go to seed here, I collected bucketloads but a lot was spread around in the breeze so we also have a lot of dill popping up everywhere.

The stage - moving the raised beds out here, just waiting on carrots to finish for the other one


I've moved some tiny tims tomatoes in here (a really good compact cherry tomato variety if you don't want to spend time staking and training). Generally the aquaponics is supplying us with plenty of Swiss chard, kale and herbs. Other than that, it really needs a clean out and organise which will be a job we do over the Christmas break.

Back raised beds

We finally made the final piece for our back raised beds. We have mostly perennials around the edges in the smaller beds, flowers in the middle then 4 main beds which include onions/eggplants, summer salad supplies (lettuce/cucumbers), the monster zucchini with eggplant and capsicums and the brand new bed with a new monster zucchini and some cherry tomatoes and lettuce.

Something is eating our onions, which is basically what I am waiting for this bed to finish up so I can convert it to a corn bed (and also a wicking bed in the process). Potentially another Christmas job for us to do.

New raised bed filled in the pouring rain. We will need to retrofit these as wicking beds due to the invasive tree roots.

The Vegepod

We're still not 100% on board with the vegepod so we'll figure out it's fate soon. We've harvested some good beets out of it and also added a tiny tim tomato and a capsicum. On one side it's all about beans, however with all the rain we got it's not dealing very well with major rust issues. I also have a feeling the bean fly may have found it's way in under the nets, so I'll know for sure in a few weeks. It may be time to park the beans until Autumn.

The food forest

This area was looking so sad all winter, and that bit of rain has just pumped it into life. The turmeric is waking up, and also a lot of the mint. I've popped in some elder berry in this area but need more understory things to really kick into gear. The damn trees behind it seem to suck the life out of it though so it's hard keeping anything small alive without constantly pumping it with water.

Finally starting to green up in our food forest

The hydroponics

I am hoping in the next couple of months a shade house will be setup and I'd love to expand this area. We've picked a couple of green capsicums and one of my yellow ones is looking amazing! Can't wait for it.

What I planted in October

We mostly planted the standard lettuce and cucumber succession. A couple more capsicums (I never grow enough). New things we're more beetroots (cylindrica ones do the best over summer), jicama and kang kong. Rosellas are self seeding everywhere but now is a good time to get them started. Luffa is all systems go as well! It's been a while since I had a good crop (truth be told I still have a box of them inside that I am yet to use as they last forever) but I love the way they provide shade when it's really stinking hot.

For a full list of things you may want to grow over October you can find my subtropical list here.

Harvests for October

The big ones this month was the finishing up of tomatoes we planted back in July and the start of cucumbers.

We harvested a total of 13.5kgs of produce this month (and that excludes most greens because I forget to weigh them).

We harvested:

  • Cucumbers
  • Beetroots
  • Capsicum
  • Kohlrabi
  • Tomato
  • Fennel
  • Zucchini
  • Baby carrots
  • Snow peas
  • Pak choi
  • Cabbage
  • Beans
  • Celery

We've also been seed harvesting, rocket, daikon radish, broccoli and loads of lettuce. After they finish drying we'll do some germination testing.

After some failed beet harvests over winter it's nice to finally get some. Around 2kgs harvested this month

Pest Watch

The big killer this month was russet mite. This one can wipe out your tomato before you realise you have a problem. I've tried to treat with eco oil unsuccessfully so I don't know what the answer is for this one just yet other than crop rotation, good tomato hygiene with utensils and avoid tomatoes in October. I did buy in some predatory mites back in July and that helped a little but I think my timing was off and next year I'll get them right at the end of September.

Other bugs on the go:

  • Cabbage moth butterfly
  • pumpkin beetles (a cordless vacuum works wonders on these)
  • Leaf hoppers

Something is completely eating my onions under the soil. I assume it's rodents but I am not 100% sure, could also be snails.

Russet mite damage to tomatoes

General Observations

Rain was welcomed, we'd run out of tank water probably about 2 months ago so having the tanks full was a relief. Hoping it stays around over the warmer months to keep everything ticking along. We got around 94mm over the month, we haven't had that amount of rain since March.

Also with the rain comes powdery mildew so that's lots of fun (but expected). We also got rust on some of our beans, we've topped with fresh mulch and trimmed any affected leaves to hopefully keep it under control.

Plans for November

Sweet potatoes I'll like to kick up a notch and get them well established.

We still haven't setup the green house, I've moved my worm-tub to a shadier spot and adding a boatload more bedding to keep them comfortable (check on them every couple of days to make sure they aren't getting too hot).

I am keen to setup a soldier fly larvae harvester at some point for the chickens (and more compost).

I will keep up succession of cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and lettuce - staples for us over summer.

If you need some inspiration of what to plant in November you can grab my lists here.

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