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How does my garden grow? Odds and Ends Plants

My heart is heavy

Australia voted yesterday. There are two parties that could expect to form government ~ the right-wing Liberal Party and the more moderate Labor Party. The Liberals have been in government for quite a few years, and what a chaotic, mean spirited and clueless Government it was. The Labor Party was consistently ahead in the polls, although the leader, Bill Shorten, who happens to be my Member of Parliament, was always behind Scott Morrison.

So, I was quietly confident, and quietly excited, because the Labor Party was talking about policies that would give some hope to the issues we face. They talked about closing tax loop holes that would free up money to be spent on cancer care; the Liberals called it a Retirement Tax. Labor had policies and ideas to do something about climate change. The Liberals, who have a rotten record on climate change, wanted to know where the money was coming from; Shorten rightly pointed out that we couldn’t afford not to act.

And so it went on. Labor proposed ideas, the Liberals harped on about high taxes and ‘you can’t trust Bill’.

Watching the count last night was a shock. Not only did the Liberals return to government, but with a bigger majority. They won seats. Morrison is hailed as the Miracle Worker, winning the unwinable election.

Meeks has more detail on her blog Meeka’s Mind.

To add to my woes of the last 24 hours, there was no Democracy Sausage at my Polling Booth ūüė≥¬†and our teapot had an accident (yes, I am looking at you my Lovely Fella!).

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I had a restless night last night, despairing over what this says about us as Australians and as world citizens.

This election has been a choice, and I feel that voters have chosen self-interest rather than a better future for us all. The Liberals are no friends of the environment. Malcolm Turnbull was dumped as Prime Minister because of the climate skeptics in his party. The huge Adani coal mine will go ahead and the nonsense of ‘clean coal’ will be investigated. The talk about ‘future generations’ is simply talk.

My mind spun last night, and then got stuck on one thought ~ I felt powerless, without control. So, I need to take control of the things I can, starting with my garden.

Why the garden?

  • It brings me joy, digging and planting brings me peace, and I need that.
  • There’s exercise too, well known for regulating mood.
  • In my little patch I can encourage pollinators and microorganisms and birds and butterflies. The world needs havens for these.
  • It helps me monitor seasonal changes and moon cycles.
  • My veggie garden is in the front yard, getting maximum sun, encouraging others to see that even a little bit of soil can grow something. Many vegetables are very easy to grow.
  • Because it is in the front yard the Fella and I can do a little to help foster community. We often have conversations with people walking past. Indeed just yesterday I had a chat with a neighbour originally from Lebanon about rosemary. She told me that it made a very soothing tea for colds. Last time I wrote about my garden I told you that we have a system with another neighbour ~ her veggie scraps for our excess produce.

Fired up, today I went to the local nursery and bought:

  • pea straw for compost (organic, but in a plastic wrapper ~ go figure that one)
  • Zoopoo ~ compost from animals’ waste at the zoo!
  • Red mustard seedlings

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  • Seed potoates
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I don’t plant them very deep, and then cover them with mulch
  • Spring onion seedlings
  • Garlic
  • Seed packets of turnips, pal choy and swedes

Already growing are the peas, an earlier sowing of garlic and silver beet.

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We are heading into Winter, even though the weather is still warm and dry, but things are still flowering in the backyard.

Nerines

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a corn flower

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a foxglove (yep, that’s a bath at the back of it….don’t ask….)

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the white correa

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and who can resist a dandelion?

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The pots are doing well (can you see my new Japanese fish kite?)

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and the worms seem happy in their little worm farm. (This photo looks a little strange….the washing is hanging on the line a couple of metres behind the worm farm, not dangling in it!)

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There are other ways to help the world too, but my little patch of healthy garden is an important start for me. Let me leave you with this quote, where Leonard Woolf, husband of Virginia Woolf is speaking:

I will end‚Ķ with a little scene that took place in the last months of peace. They were the most terrible months of my life, for, helplessly and hopelessly, one watched the inevitable approach of war. One of the most horrible things at that time was to listen on the wireless to the speeches of Hitler‚ÄĒthe savage and insane ravings of a vindictive underdog who suddenly saw himself to be all-powerful. We were in Rodmell during the late summer of 1939, and I used to listen to those ranting, raving speeches. One afternoon I was planting in the orchard under an apple-tree iris reticulata, those lovely violet flowers‚Ķ Suddenly I heard Virginia‚Äôs voice calling to me from the sitting room window: ‚ÄúHitler is making a speech.‚ÄĚ I shouted back, ‚ÄúI shan‚Äôt come. I‚Äôm planting iris and they will be flowering long after he is dead.‚ÄĚ Last March, twenty-one years after Hitler committed suicide in the bunker, a few of those violet flowers still flowered under the apple-tree in the orchard. Leonard Woolf, ‚ÄúDownhill all the way: An autobiography of the years 1919 to 1939‚Ä̬†

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How does my garden grow?

How does my garden grow?

It’s quite a while since I have done a gardening post. But before I get to that, let me wish each of you the best for 2019. I hope it is a calm and healthy year for you. We can certainly do with both.

In my last post I spoke about my lack of New Year celebrations. Well, this year I did see some fireworks. The Fella and I walked to Footscray Park and watched them on the bridge over the Maribyrnong River, then walked home! Fireworks always make me smile.

The walk home was good too, because all the families were leaving the celebrations, and I could see how diverse my community is. We had all come together for this. That made me smile too.

Now on to the garden….with a slight detour to talk about the weather, like all good Melbournians love to do. It does affect the garden, so there is some connection.

Many parts of Australia, including my favourite arid inland place, Menindee, have been experiencing prolonged hot conditions, with many days well over 40 degrees C. Our Summer has been pretty mild. Then we copped the blast of heat yesterday.

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But we were really lucky because the cool change came through mid-afternoon and the temperature plummeted, 10 or so degrees in about 20 minutes.

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Melbourne can be like that. My Fella says “Melbourne doesn’t have weather, it has samples”. ūüėČ

Today it is 18 degrees, with a misty rain, which my garden will be loving. Nice way to bring it back to the garden. But a little more weather…..Our Winter was dry, but we had some good Spring rains. I mention that because the garden loved the rain and flourished.

The garden has been something of a work in progress, as gardens usually are. Over the last couple of years some plants have gone and some planted. Then, in the lead up to my Open Studio, the Fella and I had a Big Clean Up. It helped that it was the annual council  hard rubbish collection. We got rid of buckets of unknown garden stuff ~ potting mix? worm castings? ash? We cleaned and cleared and weeded and swept. Very satisfying.

The other difference was the garden hose we bought this time last year. I have no connection to the company, but I am quite happy to spruik my Hoselink hose. It wasn’t the cheapest on the market, but it works wonderfully. It is a relief to not battle old bits of hose snaking the way through the garden. It retracts like a dream.

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The fitting is brass, not plastic that breaks up in the sun. It has so many settings and a great feature that allows me to adjust the flow without having to go anywhere near the tap. That’s the yellow lever three quarters of the way down. My only slight criticism is that it is heavy, and might be an issue for someone with arthritis.

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Now, let me show you some pretty pictures of how my garden is growing…..

The roses are abundant. I love salvias and this one is a stunner ~ dark blue and black. It looks great with the nasturtiums that are taking over. Nasturtiums make me smile!

Many of the plants have flourished with the Spring rains and repotting.

These plants (I forget what they are called) cause me grief, as they want to take over the garden. However, they fill in the area under the maple and I enjoy their flowers, and the bees love them. I am ruthless whenever I see a seedling trying to escape the strict boundaries I have set for it.

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Our vine has featured in posts before. We don’t have air-conditioning, instead use the vine to shade the house. The pesky possums are still eating the new tips and slowing the growth. That makes the vine more determined to grow, and it is getting up over the supporting wires. In fact, I can see further growth when I compare these photos of a week ago to today. It might be there next time the really hot weather hits. Yay vine!

The front yard, where we grow the veggies is doing okay too. We have corn and beans powering along. The strawberries continue to be lush and have started to produce for the Summer.

[You will just have to imagine these photos, because the gremlins are in my WordPress photos and not allowing me to upload. Anyone else having problems?]

The marjoram is something else that the bees love. You wouldn’t think these flowers would be a bee magnet, would you? So it stays, even though it does get droopy (but then, don’t we all!)

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While I haven’t been blogging much of late, I have been creating. I’m sewing more pumpkins¬†(scroll down the page in the link to see a previous one) and creating landscape trees¬†(again, scroll down). My Letter From the Studio will start up again for the new year soon. So, if you would like to keep in touch with my art work, sign up for the letter, or leave me a note in the comments and I can add your email address to the list.

Categories
How does my garden grow? Odds and Ends

Trump

 

That title is deliberate. If you are sick of the whole election you can skim over this post. However, I am, like the rest of the world, and especially Donald Trump himself, trying to work out what happened this week and what the ramifications are. Not living in the States I can only understand the broad brush stokes of the election, not the fine details that are seen close up. But I can see that his victory has given heart to the Right Wing around the world. We saw Pauline Hanson and her cronies cracking open the champagne to celebrate on the steps of our Parliament; Marie LePen was jubilant, knowing that her Fascist movement has just been given an almighty boost.

Because of the time difference in Australia we watched the¬†whole train wreck of an election in real time. Every time the maps and graphs were shown I was hoping that what I was seeing would change. There is always a happy ending….right? The princess gets saved, the murderer gets caught, the cavalry rides to the rescue. Not this time.

Now people are anxious and afraid, people whose lives are already affected by hatred, poverty and discrimination ~ people in the LGBTQ community, Muslims, people of colour, Latinos,¬†women who need an abortion, women in general, migrants, those on food stamps and so the list goes on. To state the obvious, being President of the United States means that Trump’s decisions will affect the whole world. There are real concerns about climate change and humanitarian programmes.

The distrust with mainstream political parties and structures and feelings of hopelessness and alienation are common features around the world. Racism, homophobia, sexism, intolerance are pouring out through the cracks and being encouraged by the political right, both ‘respectable’ and extreme. But at the same time there are¬†those who refuse to be cowed by intolerance, like the thousands have protested against Trump’s victory

While dismayed and concerned for the world, I have been heartened by the blogs I have read. Below are a few that have encouraged me to believe that humanity and inclusiveness are still strong values that are held dearly. If you have a post to share, add the link in the comments below.

In her pre-election post Alys showed me that Americans have an enthusiasm for democracy, and she has an official polling booth in her garage! Her post Dashed hopes sums up her despair. I love that her son wore black to school the day after. The comments are worth reading too.

Celia, who created the Fellowship of the Farmy over at The Kitchens Garden, is a New Zealander by birth but now lives in the US. In her very heartfelt post she writes about how her idea of Home and being Other has been brought into focus by the election. The comments on her post I am an immigrant need to be read as well.

Marina from Letters From Athens, puts the Trump victory in the wider global context in her post A general malaise  Follow the discussion in the comments too.

Francesca rightly points out that it is not the time to sit around anxiously navel gazing; it is a time to protest and speak out. Her post is A Saturday perspective.

Ailsa from Where’s my backpack? has challenged us to do something great. In her¬†post,¬†Great¬†she has written the most amazing poem in response to Trump’s victory. It is worth reading just for that, but she goes on to say:

Do something great. What that involves is entirely up to you. Create something beautiful and share it with the world. Write something true from the depths of your humanity and share it with the world. Do something kind for someone in need. Embrace a different culture. Volunteer. Plant a tree. Tell someone how much they mean to you. Reach out to someone in your community you’ve never even noticed before. Try to understand someone else’s point of view. Learn something new. Teach your kids something new. Stand up to bullies. Protect those being victimized. Be brave. Be gentle. Be vulnerable. Nurture. Encourage. Forgive. Love. Shine.
‚̧

Many of us see that we are in a period of transition, of flux. However, the outcome of that transition is not predetermined. If we want this period of transition to be a transition back to humanity and inclusion then we need to act, to make our voices heard, to stand up for what we believe. How, where and when then become the questions to be answered, and I am still working through those.

But in the short term I am planting my veggie garden. It may seem an unusual thing to do in response but gardening is always soothing. When you plant a seed you are investing the future, and building hope.

As well, our vegetable garden is in the front yard and in full sun and full view of passerbys. It gives the Fella and me a chance to chat with others and strengthen community bonds. I know that others have been inspired to try their hand at some veggies too. So our garden is growing trust and hope as well as potatoes and tomatoes ~ well I hope so!

[Below¬†are some photos of the work in progress. The plants by the fence are from the Last Chance section of our local nursery; slightly battered, but at half the price. The wooden planks are to make edging for the beds and came from our neighbour’s hard rubbish pile. The potatoes are very wizened because they have been sitting around for a couple of months. Even the worms benefitted, as they got the cardboard nursery tray!]

Categories
How does my garden grow? In My Kitchen

In my kitchen

In my kitchen in February was produce from the garden. Of course, being home grown, there is an abundance of the same ingredient. While it is lovely to have, you do have to be inventive to come up with different ideas!

Firstly there has been corn. I am amazed at how easy it was to grow. My vegetables grow in the front yard and I planted the corn by the side fence. It must have been the perfect spot ~ that and the Fella, who loves to make sure the area is well watered. (We call him the Undergardener, but lately he has been the one keeping everything going!)

Of course, when you have super fresh corn you only have to boil it for a few minutes, add butter and a sprinkling of salt and enjoy. A favourite of children as well!

 

I have made chicken and corn soup, which would have been better with proper stock, and corn fritters. These worked well. I cut the corn off the cob, added some finely chopped capsicum and chopped roquette, which is also growing well in the garden. Then I mixed in flour and an egg to bind, and fried lightly.

 

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I am going to try a herbed corn soup tonight with the last few cobs.

After they have been pulled out the corn plants go on giving. They make great compost and I have used a couple of the stalks to stake the begonia. Gotta love a plant that gives so much!

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There is an abundance of beans, super tasty when young and fresh and a treat as I picked them. Now they are becoming more fibrous. So I have been shelling them like peas, instead of cooking the pods. I have been tossing them into lots of things. I am thinking of making a dip. Any thoughts on how I would go about it?

Some of the pods are drying on the plants and I am collecting those seeds for dried beans in soups and stews.

There are eggplants too. One bush is rich, glossy and purple and the other is a heirloom variety that produces sensational stripy fruit.

Eggplant = ratatouille, of course. It’s a great dish, because it includes so many of the vegetables currently in season. I cooked up the eggplant, onion, garlic, a potato, capsicum, beans (of course!) with a tin of tomatoes and extra tomato paste. It was delicious just with a piece of toast.

Then I used the mixture the next night mixed with some cooked mince meat, added to a halved eggplant and roasted in the oven for a while. I do love these sorts of dishes, where I can just throw in a bit of this and an extra bit of that; no precision required!

Yesterday a little pot of sunshine was given to me. EllaDee, Kate and I (and the G.O. too. of course!) met up at the Botanic Gardens. We had such a lovely natter, and it was as delightful to meet these interesting, vivacious women as I hoped. EllaDee gave me a pot of honey that came from the area of NSW where she now lives. Doesn’t honey just sum up warmth and sweetness? Just like these wonderful bloggers ~ and the G.O. ūüôā

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I am going to leave you with photos of the rampant beans and sweet potatoes. If the bean plants had been able to reach the sky I am sure that Jack, followed by a giant, would have come skidding down. Th plants had to be satisfied with wandering here on earth. The sweet potato is growing from remnants of last year’s crop. It will be interesting to see how many tubers, if any, are being produced. The strawberry plants have stopped producing, but are still flourishing.

A big thank you to Maureen from Orgasmic Chef. She has had a horror time lately, and yet still hosts the In My Kitchen series with such dedication. I wish her all good things over the next while.

What’s happening in your kitchen this month ~ or indeed in your garden?

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How does my garden grow?

What does my garden grow? Potatoes!

I love growing potatoes, and I am always so surprised at how many I can plant in my little patch in the front yard. I find them really easy to plant and they don’t require much looking after as they develop.

I can’t claim this as my own method. I learnt it from that fabulous Gardening Guru, Peter Cundall. How I miss him on Gardening Australia! At the end of this post there is a video of him using this method to plant potatoes right on top of lawn.

You will need certified seed potatoes, available from garden stores. [I got my potatoes last year for free. It was past the best planting time, so the nursery gave me the bag. The staff weren’t optimistic about my success, but the plants came up wonderfully! They are actually a funny, knobbly species, with tubers growing out of tubers.]

You will also need compost, or good quality extra soil, quite a bit of straw for mulching, animal manure and blood and bone.

I loosen up the soil in the potato patch and then place the individual spuds over the bed. They don’t spread very far, so about 40 cm apart seems to be fine. Don’t bury them, because the next step is to cover them all with a thick¬†layer of mulch. Spread around the compost, add more mulch if you like. Sprinkle the blood and bone around. Then water in.

As the plants grow  add more mulch and compost, covering the new growth. Apparently potatoes will root at nodes and there is the chance of a bigger harvest from each seed potato.

The advantage of this method is that the tubers stay on the surface of the soil. When you harvest there is no need to dig. Simply pull back the mulch and compost and there they are, like a nest of Easter eggs!

There are a couple of disadvantages. Firstly, you have to keep the developing potatoes covered, otherwise they turn green and are poisonous. Secondly, you may miss some that have burrowed further into the soil. They will probably reshoot later. That’s fine with me — more free and unexpected produce. ūüôā However, some people might not like potatoes coming up on what is now a bed for different veggies.

For me the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Not only is it fun uncovering the new potatoes, but you can also ‘bandicoot’ them. That’s a Jackie French term meaning that you can burrow under the mulch, feel for the larger ones and harvest them. You don’t need to harvest them all in one go.

The other advantage is that all that mulch, compost and organic fertiliser has given you fantastic soil for the next crop of home grown deliciousness. Remember though, try not to plant potatoes, or any crop really, in the same place each year. That encourages a build up of disease.

I don’t have photos of the first stages, but these show them growing and then the harvest.

I love the flowers of the potato tribe. They are like interesting hats! (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)
I love the flowers of the potato tribe. They are like interesting hats! (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)
They are ready to harvest when the plant starts to die back and look ratty.  (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)
They are ready to harvest when the plant starts to die back and look ratty. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)
Be careful  to fully cover the growing potatoes, otherwise they will go green.  (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)
Be careful to fully cover the growing potatoes, otherwise they will go green. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)

As I said, these were a funny species of potato. However, I harvested 5 kgs from an area that is about 1.5 x 1.5 m.

And as Peter Cundall would say “That’s your blooming’ lot”!

Categories
How does my garden grow? Kindness

How does my garden grow?

It is quite a while since I have talked to you about my garden (aside from reblogging an earlier post about the jacarandas in my street). That’s partly because I have had so many other things to write about, and partly because when I got home from the Flinders Ranges it was an overgrown jungle. How could there be so many weeds in such a small space?

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)
How many weeds could there be? (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)

Let me remind you that my vegetable patch is actually in my front yard, because that is the part of my garden that gets the most sun. It is a good size, about 3 x 2 metre. I have built up 4 beds and do my version¬†of crop rotation. One of the advantages of veggies in the front yard is that you have all sorts of interesting conversations with the neighbours and people walking past. It makes it very easy to give away vegetables. I thrust broad beans on anyone who stopped for 2 seconds! ūüôā And we have had some generous donations in return, as you will see if you read on.

Once I conquered some of the weeds I found that I had a silver beet tower and a glut of  broad beans. I was forced to be inventive when cooking them, and wrote about some of the recipes here.

I thought we¬†would have a break from silver beet…until a thoughtful¬†¬†neighbour brought me some more seedlings. They could not be abandoned, so they have gone in, and are doing well.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)

I had some strawberry crowns that were past their best. So I dug them up and replanted them on the street front, where the non-existent fence is, as well as along the path to the front door. They are doing very well. I love strawberries so much that I bought 2 more plants, one is ‘Red Gauntlet’ and the other is ‘Bonnie’, a white strawberry. Such sweet little flowers and delicious fruit — if we can get to them¬†before the snails!

The neighbour who gave me the silver beet also gave me lots of tomato seedlings which are powering along. In the photo you may see a pumpkin leaf or two. It has come up out of the compost. Pumpkins tend to take over, so¬†if it wants to stay it must be well behaved. There are also photos of potatoes. Would you believe me if I said that they were free too? When I went to the nursery to buy seed potatoes they told me it was past the time to plant them. However, I could help myself to the bags over there, for no charge. I had nothing to loose if they didn’t come up, so I planted them out. They all sprouted¬†and are growing very well.

Next time I will tell you how to plant potatoes the easy way. And remind me to tell you about the sweet potato too.

I love the flowers of the Solanaceae family — tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants. They look like very fancy turbans, and are great fun to draw!

So, from mayhem to order, with a little help from the compost bin and worm farm and a lot of help from the Under Gardener (aka My Fella ūüėČ )

Categories
How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my veggie garden grow?

I was going to show these photos in my earlier post about Autumn in my garden. However, I was using the WordPress app for the first time and finding that adding photos was a little trickier than I was expecting. I can’t seem to add captions, and that surprised me.

Let’s begin anew, with apologies for any glitches in the last one and glitches that may be there in this one!

I have told you that my veggie garden, which is in the front yard, had been a waste land over summer. In March I dug and mounded and added compost. Then I planted. Look at what is coming up.

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Remember this silver beet that had been lingering in a pot? It is much happier now. Behind the 5 silver beet plants are rapa. Nope, I had never heard of it either. It is a relative of broccoli, but you eat the leaves instead. I will keep you informed.

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The leeks are not quite big enough for leek and potato soup, but they are doing well. That’s garlic growing behind. My neighbour told me today that she gets a severe reaction from garlic. Wouldn’t it be sad not to have garlic in your diet?

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The broad beans are also doing well. I planted more seeds about two weeks
after these poked their leaves through the soil. The idea is to crop beans over a longer period. Good idea only if you like broad beans!

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Lastly, the parsley is still growing strongly!

Categories
How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my veggie garden grow?

Summer is over, the crisp mornings of Autumn are here. So, how did my Summer veggie garden grow? (If you would like to see the beginnings of the summer garden, my post is here.)

I put in three tomato bushes. The fruit were really slow to develop, and in fact I thought one bush was not going to produce at all. Whitefly was a problem, even though we used yellow sticky traps. They breed so quickly that the traps need to be replaced regularly. The tomatoes were prone to the diseases the whitefly brought. We harvested some but I don’t think tomatoes are worth the effort. (Remind me of that in November, when I am raving on about planting out my tomato plants!)

The best bush of the three was Mortgage Lifter. While the fruit looked a little dodgy, the flesh was rich red, meaty and tasty.

Some of the better looking tomatoes, with an eggplant. These long skinny ones are great for stir fries.(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Some of the better looking tomatoes, with an eggplant. These long skinny eggplants are great for stir fries.
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)

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The flowers are really pretty (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
The flowers are really pretty (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
The leaves were quite broad. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Broad leaves.
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)

The beans were an experiment — yellow beans. Next year I will go back to the other varieties I have grown. This variety was not very prolific. I also found that the stems seemed to break really easily.

Enough of the grumbling. Did anything grow well? The strawberries continued to produce luscious fruit. And the eggplants are still producing. The capsicums were good. I had a couple of varieties:

These black capsicums were a glorious glossy colour. They were grown in a pot. (Photo copyright:  Anne Lawson)
These black capsicums were a glorious glossy colour. They were grown in a pot. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Orange capsicums (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Orange capsicums (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)

By far and away the most successful was the pumpkin. As for many gardeners, the pumpkin plants arrived via the compost bin and quickly took over. I worried that the tendrils were about to attack unsuspecting people on the footpath!

Watch out strawberries! The pumpkin vine is coming! (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Watch out strawberries! The pumpkin vine is coming! (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Out onto the footpath. It would have been half way up the street if we had let it go! (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Out onto the footpath. It would have been half way up the street in a trice if we had let it go! (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Out to catch unwary passerbys! (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Out to catch unwary passerbys! (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)

So far we have harvested 20 pumpkins!! Yup, 20. No typo there! Pumpkin soup, roast pumpkin, pumpkin pie, pumpkin scones….. anyone know some good pumpkin recipes? Please share!!

So now we are pulling up the pumpkin vines and the tomato bushes. We will work the soil, adding compost and manure, to get the area ready for some winter vegetables. Garlic usually does well for us, as do potatoes, and silver beet likes to take over. It is always so nice to plan what is to go in. It is always an optimistic time, as everything will grow well and produce kilos of veggies! (I am such a glass half full person!)

How did your vegetable garden go this season?

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How does my garden grow?

How does my garden grow?

This is a beautifully cool as it looks
This is as beautifully cool as it looks

Recently the temperature in Melbourne reached 37 degrees. This is not unusual, and we can have a quite few days around that temperature. (It usually manages to get really hot in February, just as kids are going back to school for the start of the year.) Some places in Australia have been having obscenely high temperatures. Moomba, in South Australia, hit the highest recorded maximum with 49.6 C. That’s 121 F. That’s horrible.

Unlike many people we don’t have air conditioning. There are times when I consider it, but I always come back to its environmental impact — and the fact that we really don’t need it.

Instead we use a ceiling fan and a pedestal fan. And the passive cooling of our vine and maple tree.

My house faces north. There are no windows on the west side, and house next door is pretty close. So the west is protected and little heat comes in that way. This leaves the east and south sides. As you can see the vine covers the area between our eastern fence and the back door (which is sort of at the side!). This blocks out the morning sun, and heat.

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The maple tree and rain water tank

The maple tree protects the house from the south. So today the temperature indoors was only 27, about 10 degrees cooler. The heat rises when there are a few hot days — but then even air conditioning can struggle. (I am sure that air conditioning, fans, vines and everything else would have little impact in Moomba.)

And of course, both the tree and vine are deciduous, so they let in all the glorious warming winter sun.

The back yard, from under the cool vine
The back yard, from under the cool vine

And the veggie patch…? Well it is a waiting game — waiting for things to ripen.

Ripening capsicums -- orange ones!
Ripening capsicums — orange ones!
Ripening tomatoes
Ripening tomatoes

But I have munched a couple of early beans, and there are always some strawberries to harvest. My next garden job is to fertilise with the worm juice from the worm farm.