Winter flowers and vegetables

It’s always nice to have flowers in the garden but especially at this time of the year; the maroon pansies haven’t stopped flowering for months and the vibrantly coloured cinerarias are in full bloom. There’s also camellias, grevillias, some roses, wattles and the lovely ornamental quince blossoms.

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The broad beans are looking good, they have a long growing season and we won’t be eating them for a while yet, the celery can be seen poking out of the milk cartons – they don’t seem to mind the cool weather. I’m still picking beetroots and a variety of greens and not a lot else. We’ve been resting and building up the main garden beds, preparing them for the growing season, thankfully we live in a temperate zone and can grow some food all year round. The garlic, shallots, purple cabbages and romanesco broccoli plants are slowly growing, I bet they’ll take off when the weather warms up a bit. There is so much parsley growing – I really should use it more – I put it in everything already – so versatile and good for us too! Until next we meet…..

The autumn garden

Well I am finally back onto the computer and my blog, life seemed to get in the way for the last few weeks. So what’s happening in the garden? The only summer crop left are the chillies, everything else is over and out. There is however new life in the garden, the garlic and shallots are showing their new growth, the first crops of broad beans and peas are about 3cm tall and the next plantings are yet to show themselves (we are tending to plant small crops over several plantings so we don’t get too many at once). There are several varieties of spinach growing and a whole patch of self sown ones  too, the silver beet and kale are looking good, I’m looking forward to making spinach, potato and cheese pies especially. I love all greens and if we could only grow one crop it would be a green crop of some sort (my favourites are spinach and rocket). We usually always have staples of lettuce, rocket, herbs, beet root and carrots growing but we are having to buy carrots for now until the next crop is ready (we use a lot of carrots especially in the juicer). The miniature purple cabbages and brussels sprouts were infested with aphids so I sprayed them with an organic spray otherwise we would have lost them I think, I’ll have to check them again to see if they need another spray. I was hoping that some natural aphid predators would do their job but alas that didn’t happen. The broccoli plants in another area of the garden have no aphids on them at all, hooray!

I didn’t realise there were so many oranges on the Washington navel as they blended into the deep green foliage but now they are changing colour they stand out more. The younger blood orange hasn’t got any fruit at all which is disappointing but actually good for the tree to help it develop more before putting it’s energy into fruit. The flower seedlings I planted are growing well, the pansies are flowering but the cinerarias and hollyhocks still have some growing to do before they flower. I’ve been admiring the cosmos flowers in gardens on my walk to work, think I may have to get some of them soon. The pressure is off me to cook so much now as the produce has nearly come to a standstill but there are still things like rhubarb, citrus and beetroot to play with. I used to give the beetroot tops to the worm farm but have been saving them to use in pasta sauces and for a lovely filling for omelettes.

 

I hope to do a bit of weeding tomorrow and maybe feed the young seedlings with some seaweed emulsion to help them along. We are so lucky with the mild weather lately, we may as well enjoy it while it lasts.

The floral garden

A couple of years ago I noticed a spectacular climbing plant growing over the wall of the old Geelong gaol and grabbed a piece to identify it. I couldn’t find it in any of my books or on the internet but the local nurserywoman named it “Russian Lady’s Slipper”. She thought it looked easy enough to grow from a cutting (it looks like a succulent) so I did just that, one little cutting and now it has taken over a large part of the fence and will climb into all the neighbouring plants and across the ground if we let it. I wonder what I have introduced into  our garden it is so vigorous, I imagine that if left alone it would eventually cover up the whole block, house and all. It has a tendency to damage the fence too so I think eventually it will have to go or at least have a massive regular prune. When flowering it is absolutely amazing as you can see in the photos….

I’ve spent a couple of hours in the garden this morning and now it is raining, I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome! I just wish I had planted the broad beans, peas and spinach seeds, it would have been perfect timing. I did plant 3 punnets of flowers (mixed coloured hollyhocks, red pansies and white cinerarias) and a french tarragon plant to add to the herb collection. I found a lovely curry leaf tree at Van Loons yesterday and had to buy it, our last one died while we were on holidays last year and I’ve missed the convenience of being able to pick the delightfully fragrant leaves to use in cooking. We decided to plant it in the bank of shrubs that are growing to form a colourful screen or hedge dividing the lower garden and the newer top garden and helping to create a much needed wind break and gentler climate. Our back yard garden is slowly being transformed from a desolate, windswept, barren piece of dirt to a lush environment with the addition of split levels, lots of plants, time, water and muscle power. Our garden is a mixed up blend of herbs, vegetables, fruiting plants and our favourite ornamentals, we want to create different rooms or aspects in the garden and so it is evolving and changing as time goes on and as we do too. I do like my ornamentals but I’m more interested in edible plants lately, there are so many amazing edible plants available it seems silly not to grow as many of them as we can (space is the key).