The summer garden

Well Xmas and New Year (seasons greetings to you all) have come and gone since my last blog (how time flies) and the garden is just starting to produce enough to eat. We’re harvesting zucchini, tomatoes (early ones only), purple king beans, radish, green bull chillies, beetroot, assorted greens and herbs of course! The eggplants are just starting to fruit – hopefully we’ll be inundated with tomatoes, zucchinis and eggplants in a few weeks time. I’m not having much luck with florence fennel, the seed just doesn’t seem to strike well, anyway I’ve just planted another lot (organic local seeds) so let’s hope they take off. The zucchinis are an organic italian variety, they’re so pretty and seem to grow long before filling out – a lovely striped fruit too. I’m hoping the golden beets grow as big as the ones I bought from Magic Meadow (organic farm produce) and can’t wait to be able to pick our own carrots too.

The plums pictured above come from a friend whose plum tree was getting attacked by birds – she  had to pick them before they had fully ripened – I’m in the process of making plum sauce and jam. I tried one of our apricots today, it was nearly ripe and probably fine for cooking, might have to pick some tomorrow. We’ve netted the apricot and mulberry trees (as well as some of the tomatoes) or we would have lost the lot to birds. I don’t mind sharing some produce but the birds indiscriminately peck at everything in sight and don’t eat the ones that drop on the ground! What a waste!

We usually buy about a dozen advanced tomato plants, the rest of the crop being the self sown varieties that pop up all over the garden. This year we only bought two tomato plants (the ones that are producing now) and the rest we’ve grown from seed collected from two sources – a huge Italian variety brought over from the “old country” years ago and an Italian small green striped heirloom tomato. It was fun growing our main tomato crop from seed and we ended up planting about 10 of each variety  plus kept a crop of self sown tomatoes too, so we probably have about 40 tomatoes growing! We weren’t going to plant so many this year!

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A few years back I rescued a small half dead San Pedro cactus from our daughter’s share house (it was strewn in the garden amongst a tangle of weeds) and it certainly rewarded us this year with about thirty blossoms all in different stages of development. On Xmas day 7 blooms opened at once – absolutely amazing!

The weather has been crazy lately – too much wind and scorching heat – I hate seeing the garden being blown about like that – but at least it’s raining tonight!

Until my next blog…cheers Lemmie

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.