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Posts Tagged ‘growing vegetables at home’

I’ve missed you all!

We’ve had a fun couple of weeks, although the weather here has been a bit bonkers. The combination of mild sunny days with heavy rains has led to a burst of growth in the garden.  The irises, which were slow to start this year, are finally greeting passersby from our front yard.

In the enclosed verandah, the tomatoes seem to have stagnated, possibly due to the lack of light and heat. Hopefully October will bring warmer days to ripen the fruit.  The plants are now eleven weeks old and festooned with dozens of green tomatoes in varying sizes.  Here are the largest…

A tiny Venus Fly Trap has taken up residence with the toms in the verandah. We brought it back from the Better Homes and Garden Show, and it’s been quite the talking piece at dinner. We couldn’t resist setting off one of the traps (just once) to see how quickly it closed!

The potatoes that we planted in hessian bags a month ago are growing tall and strong.  They’re almost ready to hill up…

The assorted dwarf beans from New Gippsland Seeds have all germinated, but no luck so far with the snake beans – I suspect we’ve been a little overambitious and sown them too early.  We’ve planted more in seedling pots on top of the fish tank to see if they’ll shoot…

Our bed of kohlrabi is thriving.  We’ve been really happy with these plants – they taste like cabbage, are incredibly easy to grow and use, and they’re not plagued with pests in the same way that other brassicas are.  They also grow well from directly sown seed…

We peel, julienne and stir-fry the swollen base, then feed the leaves to the chickens and the scraps to the worms…

We made a decision this year not to plant any heading lettuce.  This small patch was grown from scattered seed, and I harvest salad leaves with a pair of scissors every two or three days.  It grows back remarkably quickly – even though I’d given the section below a severe haircut just a few days earlier, the gap was indiscernible. Wouldn’t it be lovely if all bad haircuts grew out that quickly?

Despite our decision not to plant heading lettuce, we were delighted to find these green oaks (at least that’s what we think they are) self-seeding themselves all over our yard.  They’re deliciously sweet and surprisingly hardy…

The celery is growing very well this year.  The nice thing about having celery in the garden is that you can bring in stems as needed, without pulling out the entire bunch…

The blueberries have survived their transplant shock-free and are ripening up…

Our young lemon tree is in its second year and trying to fruit, but Pete’s not confident that any of them will grow to full size yet…

The first crop of peas are finished, but this new batch are just starting to flower.  We have an entire month of rain predicted, which will really test this variety’s claimed mildew resistance…

And some photos for Joanna of a lovely acrobatic Soldier Bird feasting on a neighbourhood bottlebrush tree. Also known as the Noisy Miner (not to be confused with the pesky Indian Mynas), both the bird and the tree are native to Australia.  Aren’t they lovely?

Please, catch me up!  How have your past couple of weeks been?

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Sydney has been drenched for weeks, so when the sun peaked through for a couple of days last week, we raced outside to see how the garden had fared.

Leeks are the garden success story of the moment – the large annual ones in the top photo were transplanted from a previous bed and have continued to fatten up.  They’re just about ready to be eaten.

The true marvels though have been these perennial leeks.  Bless you Christine for putting us onto these – I know I keep saying that, but they’re such a wonderful plant!  All the ones in the photo above are self-seeded – we planted a single leek in that spot last year, and this year dozens have appeared from nowhere.

If you’re in Australia, you can usually buy them from Cornucopia Seeds – and if anyone knows where to find them in the UK, please let us know, as my friends over there have had trouble tracking them down.

Also, as I mentioned in a previous post, Ian gave me a small sample of his wild rocket seed.  Here’s my happy little patch growing…

All these broccoli plants are self-sown.  We’re overjoyed at how well our “let them go to seed” approach has worked…

Some hardy potatoes are pushing their way through – both the ones we’ve planted, as well as some that have self-seeded…

Pete’s beloved chickweed – growing like a weed!

Our crazy bed of nasturtium triffids, all self-seeded from last year…

On the herb front, oregano is thriving…

…as is the impossible to kill continental parsley…

…and the rosemary is doing fine too.  The sage, however, seems to be dead, possibly because of all the rain.

The rhubarb has survived its first year…

…and the sorrell is growing happily in its little corner.  Both the chickens and I love it!

Can someone please tell me what the trick is to growing strawberries?  We can raise beautiful plants, but every berry seems to be eaten by slugs before they’re ripe.  We even caught Bob the dog having a nibble recently!

Finally, I bought an expensive Italian sweet onion from the fruiterer and let it sprout – hopefully we’ll get some seed for next season!

What’s growing in your garden at the moment?

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Gardening on this scale will provide your family with a really healthy gourmet diet even if both your money and your time are tightly budgeted.  It will provide a true sense of security: whatever else happens you will always eat, and eat well.  It will provide an area of creativity in a sometimes treadmill existence, and an area of serenity in a sometimes madcap world.

Linda Woodrow, The Permaculture Home Garden
(photos below are of the fruits and vegetables harvested
from our backyard garden in December)

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The last post was green, so this one is red.  After all, it’s nearly December, and Christmas is just around the corner.

Above are unusual cherry tomatoes given to us by one of our neighbours – the fruit grows into little heart shapes.  We’re going to see if we can save the seeds from these ones.

These gorgeous red beetroots have added a splash of colour to our green garden beds…

…and grown into both small and ginormous beets!

We haven’t had a hugely successful strawberry crop, but there are a few bright red berries in the pot right now…

Pete finally agreed to let me crop some of the rhubarb – it’s mostly green with a little red, but it will make a lovely dessert or sauce one day soon.  There was nearly a kilo and a half (over three pounds) in the stems below…

A few tiny carrot thinnings from our rainbow seeds…these were too small to eat, but we marveled at their colour…

We’re waiting for most of our tomatoes to ripen, but these cherries will be ready for picking in a day or so…

And lastly, the Red Norland potatoes have stormed ahead of the other varieties – whilst the Bintjes and King Edwards are still tiny new potatoes, the Reds are now full sized and very delicious!

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It’s late Spring here in Sydney, and our garden is glowing green.

Two large clumps of curly parsley are thriving in the first bed, and I’m hoping to make a batch of parsley soup this week.  It’s hard to believe that I was lamenting about how hard this was to buy in June.

We’ve just started harvesting our first Lebanese cucumbers…

Our second bed of corn has been planted, replacing the peas that are now finished…

The first bed of corn is growing at an incredible rate – the plants are noticeably taller every morning, often by several inches.  Pete tells me that corn is a grass, and grows accordingly…

Some of the corn is already flowering – as these plants are wind pollinated, they need to be planted within proximity of each other, rather than scattered throughout the beds..

The garden is full of wee visitors, including dragonflies, bees, paper wasps and these tiny ladybeetles…

Our broccoli, from which we’d harvested a large head several weeks ago, continues to provide small delicious offshoots for our dinners..

This is a single cherry tomato plant.  And now we know to only ever plant one cherry tom in the backyard. The added bonus is that they grow so quickly that almost nothing eats them.

Our basil plants scent the entire garden, and seem to really enjoy their spot beside the tomatoes…

Our other tomatoes are standard romas – they’ve fruited heavily, but none have ripened as yet…

We’ve planted celery in every bed, but the ones in the first bed are now going to seed.  I wonder if we can harvest the seeds for use in our coleslaw?

My favourite vegetable in the garden this season – Tuscan kale, also known as cavolo nero. I use it in place of spinach, and it’s been producing for months now…

And finally, great excitement as our first eggplants are ready for picking! The capsicums are growing well too, but they’re still very green and not nearly ready for harvest.

I’m a little gobsmacked at how well Linda Woodrow’s permaculture principles are working in our suburban backyard. Her plan is clever, well laid out, and ensures that there is always something in the garden for dinner. And we’re all marveling at how fast the process has been – getting ready took a bit of time, but we only really started planting out a few months ago.  Our little patch is now providing eggs for ourselves and my parents, as well as all the carrots, cucumbers, beetroots, cabbages, celery, beans, leeks and herbs that we need.  Hopefully, we’ll soon have enough tomatoes to be able to process our own passata and tomato ketchup, and our potatoes will be ready for harvesting before Christmas.

We’ve been blessed with lots of rain lately, which has helped the garden no end, and we haven’t sprayed anything other than diluted worm pee on the plants. We don’t buy any fertiliser (apart from one initial bag of dynamic lifter), and we don’t worry too much about the insects. As Linda taught us, we don’t have bugs and weeds, we have chicken feed.

Almost all the hard slog is done by our lovely hens, who till and fertilise the soil, eating all the weeds and slugs in the process.  We repay them for their tireless labour with kitchen scraps and garden waste, like this spent broccoli plant.   I’d like to think they’re as happy with us as we are with them!

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