I sit here, exhausted! And boy does it feel good. 🙂 I am well ready for bed though.
Summer has finally arrived in my garden as far as crop are concerned. The jury is still out on the weather here at the moment but I’m just glad to know that at least some part of my world believes it to be Summer. We had 39°C last week followed by 34°C and then just yesterday Martin was contemplating lighting the fire again (it’s our only heating) as it was a balmy 13°C outside! Still and all, it’s time for tomatoes. I mean really, it’s now or never and well, I just hope we don’t get another New Years Day frost as reported a few years back.
So this morning my garden looked like winter. There are 2 leeks still in the garden (I’m waiting for them to flower so I can collect the seeds), garlic everywhere and broccoli over a metre tall and covered in seed pods. Another week back and there were broad beans still growing and flowering. It sure looked wintry to me. This afternoon though it looks like a summer garden, or almost. 😉
We started off by harvesting the 2nd half of the garlic. When about ½ the leaves have died down it’s time to harvest. Well, ours weren’t quite half died down, closer to ¼ but it was time none the less. With the garlic out I was able to bury some fish and plant out more sweet corn on top. Fish i hear you say? Linne, one of my readers assures me this is another part of the 3 sisters companion planting cycle of corn, curcurbits (watermelon, pumpkins, etc) and beans and I had planned to get my brother to keep the carp he caught (can’t toss them back by law here) and then follow this next year but nature and a foolish mistake I made provided me with another source of fish – all my pond fish died. 😦 So, armed with stinky fish in a bucket, trowel and seeds, the kids and I planted the fish in deep holes and corn on top to fill the holes where the corn had failed to germinate. Beans were planted at the base of the germinated corn and all watered in with some worm wee.
We then harvested the last bed of garlic and planted it out with pumpkin seeds. A fallow bed in my garden means a great big kitty litter tray for my cats so despite the fact that I should rest the bed for a while between crops, we got planting. The pumpkin seeds (yeah I already have over 70 pumpkin seedlings up I know) are of a tiny little one I bought from an organic store in Daylesford and I have no name for it but it might be jumping jack or wee be little or some such but either way, it was cute and 2 would serve a family of 4. Pumpkins, like spuds also seem to do a good job in turning average soil into very rich feeling soil in my experience so I’m happy to have loads of pumpkins planted. I have plenty of people whom I’m sure will appreciate a pumpkin or 2 come autumn (assuming I get a harvest of course).
Once that was all done it was onto the broccoli. We planted purple sprouting broccoli in punnets back before we even move up here and I planted them out before we moved once I had a garden bed in place. The cabbage moths all but destroyed them! 😦 I also saw no sign of a harvest so I left them there, miffed and disappointed as to why they hadn’t flowered. I left them there until winter, purely because I just couldn’t face the failed crop pull out thingy. I went out one day determined to cut my losses and use the bed for something else and lo and behold it was covered in beautiful sprouts of purple broccoli heads! We’ve been harvesting for probably 5 months now, less and less this last month as it warmed up. Many of the sprouts bloomed but it didn’t matter as there were hundreds more to harvest. 🙂 It’s prolific and delicious, raw or cooked. Every time we hit the garden Jas goes looking for more to pick and demands instant gratification should he see any purple. 🙂 He eats it raw! D Even the odd yellow bloom or two won’t deter him. It became a beacon for the bees when it was in full bloom too and then, as the purple sprouts kept on rolling in, I refused to pull out the plant as I hoped to collect the seed.
Today however, after a month of little to no sprouts and with the plants and seed pods finally beginning to yellow and die (just) Jasper and I picked the very last pathetically small sprouts and then harvested the seed heads. I have a LARGE poly bag full t the brim of broccoli branches laden with seeds only needing drying out. It’s almost a commercial harvest amount of seed I reckon! Not bad at all considering the garden bed is 7’x3.5′ in size or about 2m x 1 give or take. 😉 Due to lack of storage space to dry them all I’m going to spend an evening in the next few days (hopefully) bunching up the seeds and tying to strings or something easy and quick so I can hang them in the shed, along with the latest batch of garlic, to dry. 🙂
The broccoli bed was one of the few beds occupied when we added the raised beds. I added in the border and nothing else in there so, with Martin roped in to dig and barrow, we filled up the rest f the bed with compost, delivered courtesy of a dear friend Lynda and finally I planted out my seed grown tomatoes! 😀 I can’t tell you what varieties as I labeled poorly (read not at all) and to be honest, I don’t really care. We will pick and eat what looks good to pick and eat and bottle the rest. 🙂 Big, small, good for bottling or not, it all works well for me in a jar. I also popped in 5 capsicum seedlings I had and some parsley and then a thorough watering and powerfeeding and mulching and we were done.
The last winter crop to be harvested is the potato onions and I am watching with bated breath for the tops to begin to die down. The white potato onions are looking like they’re on their last legs before beginning to die off but the brown ones are kicking along. I don’t really mind though. They’ll just keep getting bigger and the remaining tomatoes are in large enough pots to last. 🙂
Saturday afternoon/evening I had also been busy in the greenhouse. There had been a few things bugging me, both relating to wasted space. Firstly was the 2 citrus trees I have planted in there. Citrus are fussy in that they do not like anything in competition with their roots. No grass, no crop underneath, nothing. I hate it because it’s just a huge waste of space. I have planted spuds in a cage on top of that empty space and harvested a few too but it’s too hot now in the greenhouse for spuds so what to do? Firstly a very good watering and then a mulching as the soil is a little hydrophobic and I’ve found that mulch does need to help alleviate that problem. And despite loving organic gardening and doing my best to adhere to it at all times, I did use a little soil wetting agent. The purchased compost is all well and good but it just doesn’t have the rich moisture loving and holding texture of home-grown stuff. I’ve tried the powerfeed and seasol to no avail and it comes down to needs must. 😦
So, the mulch down and bed looking much tidier as well as being in better health I placed out my potted tomatoes around the top of the bed leaving the citrus trees plenty of room but at least the space is no longer going to waste. 🙂
The sweet potato and ginger bed was in much the same dry and dusty state so it got the same treatment and now looks much tidier too. The potato bed is nearing harvest time and has it’s rather untidy but nutrient rich mulch of used chook and goat pen straw which will be adding nutrients into both the soil and plants. 🙂 When we harvest the spuds I don’t know what I’ll plant in there next. Maybe some more beans? I’ll have to see what a good crop for after spuds would be that will tolerate the warmth and humidity. 🙂
The second part of the greenhouse that was bothering me was the wasted aerial space. I’ve an old kitchen wire shelf hanging in there which was moved slightly to allow for a stand to hold a small water tank and then I tried out an idea I’ve had about using old plastic pots as hanging pots. Wire threaded through the holes in the base and out the top to form a hanger and in went some soil and a tomato plant, worm wee and mulch. Then onto a much larger pot which was hung at an angle with 3 tomato plants. The plants won’t be staked and will then (hopefully) hang down in rich red and green colourful waterfalls. 🙂 It’s a lot less pleasing aesthetically than those lovely hanging baskets with coir lining or those self watering plastic jobbies but these cost me nothing except 5 minutes work each and if they work then I will be stoked and hang a dozen more. 😀
I moved around the geraniums I had potted (and neglected but still alive and even flowering) in there, chopped them up and potted the cuttings to grow more, put in my besser block tank stands and even moved the mint to a new temporary home and gave it a huge aromatic haircut. The greenhouse now looks mostly tidy, verdant, productive and I can’t wait to get back out in there and do something else in there. 🙂
In our spare time this weekend 😉 Jasper had his first archery lesson with the archery set that arrived today for him (with suction arrows), most of the washing got hung out, and we had some great time with the kids too. Jasper was a huge help to me whilst I braided up the first harvest load of garlic (6 big braids – photos to come) and then he helped me lay out the rest to dry off too. I have 1 more bed to top up (the old broad bean bed) out the back ready for tomatoes and then the broad bean bed out the front needs its crop to be planted in. I’m tossing up more spuds or zucchinis. Or something else altogether. It’s an ongoing mental debate is that one. 😉
All in all I feel like we’ve made great inroads into aiming for vegetable self-sufficiency and I hope over the Christmas/New Year break to tackle the front garden in a big way too. It’s in desperate need of whippersnippering and hardcore dock removal. There are still hugels planned that need to be built (they can wait) and the espalier bed to be built too. I don’t dare look under the canopy of grass to see if my hazelnuts and persimmon still live although I can just see the nashi leaves waving their greenness at me from behind the plantain flowers. The more formal beds out the front are yielding a harvest of nasturtium leaves and flowers, of rainbow chard leaves although it’s all bolted to seed and radishes all good to eat. There are also pumpkin seedlings, peas, strawberries, tomatoes, chives, chillies and capsicums, celery, yacon, spring onions, a few beans (the slugs and snails are a pain), thornless blackberries, raspberries and more all growing beautifully. My pond, albeit currently bereft of its inhabitants, is in colour with 2 water-lily flowers (pale pink and magenta), Ludwigia (water primrose) and the memory of the stunning violet water iris still lingering too. I am loving summer!
Ok, nearly 2500 words. Time to be quiet and go to bed. Good night hippies and Merry Christmas if I don’t post again before then. 😉
Im exhausted just reading this post. Goodness, all this and an afternoon of laughter too. Time for bed. Yawn……. PS. Im seriously impressed!!!
Any reason for the “21 feet long” garden bed?!!! The size and scope of it terrifies me! ;). I spent a different kind of manic sunday here on Serendipity Farm. On tuesday, we are off to a communal family Christmas lunch. We all decided that we would like to celebrate Christmas our own ways and with 3 “families” combining now we were all aware that a communal get together was going to be on the cards. I was asked to provide nibblies so Sunday became “nibbley day”. Luckily we too had winter like conditions. We lit Brunhilda early and spent 9 hours producing batch after batch of “nibblies” in the end I managed 4 enormous pork pies (traditional lard pastry and all) for Steve, a large batch of small Asian influence (that means chilli, ginger and garlic) pork pies for the get together, a batch of small Indian influence (garlic, cumin and coriander 😉 ) turnovers with homemade butter pastry, 2 kinds of mini quich with homemade butter and cheese pastry, 2 batches of sausage rolls and a simple cake to use for Steve’s “You-beaut” English trifle. Then we had to make the trifle (pour port over the cake… LOTS of port! Set Port wine jelly over it and then make a vanilla bean custard to smother it all) and inject chicken stock and gelatine into small holes dotted all over Steve’s precious pork pies. I started before 9. I finished at 7.30pm. I was tired but it felt amazing to get it all sorted. What do we still have to do for Christmas? Bugger ALL! (my favourite kind of “bugger” for reference 😉 ).
Love all that garlic! Fish, dead chooks, livers (mum used to buy them to plant under passionfruit vines that she would plant) or simply good old fashioned blood and bone are all plant boosters. I bury any chooks that shuffle off under our mulberry tree. It seems to be loving all of the extra nutrients and the run off from the outdoor chook run with its captive chooky crew. I would love a few of those purple sprouting broccoli seeds if you would like to send me some Jess. We are allowed cabbage family seed here. The seed we can’t get are tomatoes, capsicum and chilli’s. I will have to find something to swap with you (that you actually want 😉 ).
The rest of your post was a maze of “DOING” that has me twitching. Where do you get your energy girl?!!! Great idea about the tomato pots. Once Christmas is over I am going to renegotiate my entire veggie garden. I need to get more beds laid out and planted and our Crazy American friend has told me that I can have more hardwood sleepers so I will be taking advantage of that offer before he decides to gift them to the heavens ;). He has 8 large old blueberry bushes that are covered in fruit. He has told me that I can take cuttings from both them, and his rampant kiwi vines (both make and female) and he has a special peach that he smuggled in from America when he came here that I am going to try to propagate from. Might graft some of the material onto our existing peach tree in the new year. Just got to get organised! It sure feels good getting organised and into action doesn’t it? 🙂
The 21 foot long garden bed is because that was the size of the space I had available at the time. I’ve since reconfigured the fence and we could have changed it around but meh, it’s working ok none the less. 🙂 The other 1 is 14 feet long. The lengths are determined by the 7 feet long sheets of corro we have. 😉
Wowee your day was as busy as mine except inside. I can just imagine the delicious miasma of cultures wafting from your kitchen. What vegan treats did you bake up in there for yourself?
I can send broc seeds? yay! I shall bring them over when I come then. 🙂 How many kilos? 😉
I was planning on a Christmas craft with the kids the other day and then it was set up on Saturday for Martin but it hasn’t been done yet so whilst the kids paint toilet rolls with red paint (later on we will add pink face spaces and then later again, glue on cotton ball beards and draw on permanent marker faces) so I can sit and hang my seeds up to dry out. We buy lucerne chaff for Anna to eat and it’s one of those lucerne chaff bags that is filled with the seeds. The equivalent of 2, if not 3 chook food bags!
Nice score on the blueberries, peach tree and kiwi fruits. Kiwis are awesome. I love them and loquats for their winter fruiting. Means fresh fruit when none is available elsewhere. I just need something to fruit in spring now but I guess that’s where rhubarb comes in (bleuch). I was so proud of my wonky little peach tree. My first thought was that Narf would be well proud of this budding little horti – peach trees from seed, geraniums from cuttings (about the easiest of all gardening jobs to do but hey) and my hanging baskets and spuds and all. I had a blast and I feel so much calmer because of it. 🙂
Anyway, better get on getting on and get Xmas finished. We’re not far off bugger all but not quite there yet. 😉
Bugger…I forgot to mention your scorey peach! It should do really well because it has had a hard start in life. I find that most things that have done it tough reward you with amazing stamina and staying power. I bet you get the best peaches from that little tree :). We are all together on the Bleuch rhubarb. I just got given some by a friend…smiled broadly and will gift it to my rhubarb loving daughters to use. I will keep the blueberries though! ;). Excellent score on the Lucerne seeds and about 10kg of seed should almost see me clear ;). Not long till February now (note to self PANIC!!!! 😉 )
No lucerne seeds, just a bag left over from the lucerne chaff we buy for Anna.
10kg seed hey. Well, lets see what we get first! 😉 And yep, Feb is mere months away now. It’ll be abut 50 days methinks. *sings badly – It’s the final countdown – air guitar* 😉
The little peach tree has so many titchy tiny leaves and is shaped like one of those bamboo doovy thinga mabobs you can buy, all curvy like a spring. He’ll be the most interesting peach tree in Ballan that’s for sure. 🙂
Just went out and weeded the veggie garden and it was incredibly satisfying to do it without having to play twister to do so. Found tomatoes growing outside the garden beds where they must have dropped seeds last year and the compost that I moved in earlier this week is now covered in small pumpkins. Planted out Queensland blue pumpkins and butternut pumpkins and some honeydew melons that Madeline (daughter) gave me and am feeling quite productive today. I am SO glad I cooked everything yesterday. Today the trees are thick with cicada’s clicking and you can see their small black bodies against the trees. Just dropped off Glad and Wendy (her daughter’s) large English pork pies that we make for them every year. Thinking about starting some new tradition for tomorrow evening…something to do with booze probably or food (or both!). Ready for Christmas whatever it wants to be this year and by the sounds of it, we will be sharing it with a chorus of thousands! 🙂
All this vicarious summer activity! I need to lie down and maybe nap a while . . . 😉 I am seriously in awe, Jess! I’ve done bits and bobs over the years, but never anything on this scale. In my dreams, of course . . . Loved that pic of Orik taking a ‘bath’ . . . they are so cute at that age, aren’t they?
Narf7, I hadn’t thought of liver for underplanting . . . have added it to my mental reference file. Especially for trees . . .
I can’t imagine Christmas in mid-summer; either there’s a tonne of outdoor work calling to be done or there’s a beach or at least a hammock and a good book calling . . . adding Christmas cooking, gift making, etc. to all that . . . well, I need another rest now. 😉
It’s warmed up to -22C (-32 with the windchill) now (1:30 pm), so the lovely summer garden pictures and stories are more than welcome. I’ll be thinking of you all as I trudge to the grocery store in a while . . . I’d send you some coolness, but it wouldn’t help with the harvests. (although I guess it helped on Narf7’s cooking day)
Jess, you and Narfie7 both deserve a medal for accomplishments! If I could command my dreams, I’d be walking through your gardens in a happy, hot daze (and pinching a few of your well-earned fruits, too) . . .
We grow up with images of a white Christmas so that’s no real stretch of the imagination here. Indeed a few years back we had a Christmas day so cold that there was snow on the nearby hills and even in the suburbs at mums we had a white Christmas of sorts – it hailed so much the grass was almost completely covered.
Thanks for the offer of coolness but aside from that 1 day, summer has been awfully cool so far. I want heat! Lots of it too but not too hot. 30-34 for a few days, dipping down to 25 then back up for a few more. My plants need it! 😉
I noted that liver for underplanting too. I think I have a lambs liver in the freezer which if I am perfectly honest I am not likely to cook at the moment. I’ve memories of liver and steak and kidney pie as a child that I didn’t enjoy at all so I’m not in a hurry to go back there (although I really should) but at least it won’t go to waste. 🙂
Christmas day here won’t be really warm – mid 20’s C I think which is pleasant though. I remember Christmas day in central NSW as a child, 39*C, afternoon sleeps and waking up to thunderstorms. Ironically, it’s only been more recently in my memory that we haven’t had the whole hot Christmas dinner. Yep, even in the heat. These days it’s cold meats cooked earlier in the week, roasted veggies (can’t miss the roast spuds), warm gravy and ice-cream plum pudding. Seriously, if you like plum pud then ice-cream plum pudd is TO DIE FOR! 😀
Trifle a la my nanna involved a LOT of sherry or one memorable year, a lot of stone’s Green ginger wine, red and green jelly, local cream (proper raw freshly skimmed stuff) and oh, I’m losing myself in the memories. 🙂
Come wander in my garden any time Linne. Whether virtually or IRL, please help pull the weeds though. 😉
Fabulous update Jess!
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