November update

It warmed up for the last two weeks of November and we had several days in the low 30’s, fortunately punctuated by a couple of thunderstorms. The combination of moisture and heat has really pushed the plants into vigorous growth.

The redcurrants fruited very well this year. I can’t imagine why, but the birds never touch these, even though they’re highly visible on the bushes. I collected about a cupful and I’m putting a spoonful on my mueslii each morning. I must remember to save a few seeds. They’re easy to grow from seed and the smallish bushes can be poked into any odd space. I’ve found that they do like a bit of shade and some summer watering :

I’m in the process of making a new bed for veggies. As I leave the carport beside the front of the house and walk down the path, past the big water tank on the left and around to the back of the house, there’s been a nondescript sort of garden bed to the right of the path. It contained a native Midgin Berry, which never did much and a Scaevola ground cover which the rabbits would never leave alone :

This is looking back towards the small tank. I can’t remember offhand what the grey bush is, but it has curry-smelling leaves :

I considered removing the lot and just leaving the area gravelled, then thought…..a spot right next to a water tank is too good to waste, so I’ve installed one of those corrugated steel beds which matches all the tanks. I did think about a simple wire ring like the ones I’ve made down in the food forest, but because of the openings in the wire they tend to dry out too quickly around the edges. So :

Because of the slope I had to dig it into the ground at the rear and build it up slightly at the front. I’ve camouflaged the built-up front with some native daisies and local flax liles. I’m filling it with weeds and prunings which will eventually turn into soil, and when it’s ready to be planted I’ll rig up a watering system from the tank behind. It’s still low enough that the rabbits will be able to jump in, so I’ll need a higher ring of wire round the inside edge. I’ll use it for small herby things like parsley and chives and Asian greens in winter. It will be too hot in summer for lettuces :

I planted 22 tomatoes, all in either wicking boxes or large tubs. Species I’ve used are Green Zebra, Reisentraube, Grosse Lisse, Black Russian, Debarao (a tall-growing Roma type), Red Pear Cherry and Black Cherry. This year I gave them all a tablespoon of potash after planting and watered it in. This is the advice given by Aussie gardening guru, Peter Cundall and boy, does it make a difference. They don’t have stems, they have trunks! This is a Reisentraube in a wicking box (the name means small bunch of grapes). It produces masses of large cherry sized fruits which are good for drying or freezing for winter casseroles :

The milk bottle planters on the side of the deck are still going strong. I thought the plastic would have broken down and disintegrated by now but this is their third growing season and they’re not showing any signs of breakdown. Last year I put climbing beans in them and trained them up strings onto the deck wires. This year I’ve used fibreglass rods which a friend gave me. So much easier than fiddling with strings and they’re a stronger support for the tendrils :

I found room for two more on either side of the gas bottles. Snake Beans are just germinating :

Last year I grew eggplant for the first time. It was so successful I put in more seed this year. These three plants are in a wicking box. It’s possible I’ve overplanted, and should have been satisfied with two, but we shall see :

I’ve grown lots of endive this season. It’s more robust than lettuce as a summer crop (doesn’t run to seed and will grow right through into the winter) and the chooks love it :

I’m determined to grow good celery. I potted up a lot of seedlings and have planted them in various wicking boxes :

I also potted up a lot of silver beet :

I thought I’d try some unprotected in the food forest and see how it goes with the rabbits. They’re not eating the sorrel that has self-seeded, so maybe they’ll leave the silver beet alone too. Some will go into protected sites just to be on the safe side.

The cherries under their net are ripening :

I’ve tasted a couple but the full flavour isn’t there yet. This year I’ll save and sow the seeds again. Last year only one germinated, but that’s an extra cherry tree I didn’t have to pay for. It’s already been planted out :

Fortunately I had good germination of both red and yellow tamarillos this year, as the mature plants now look like their best years are behind them. They tend to be short-lived anyway. These are seedlings of the red variety. I’ll be planting out as many as I can find room for :

I have two baths now, filled with compost and growing more food. This one will eventually be a dedicated potato bed, but until disease-free tubers become available in winter, I’ve planted a pumpkin and a zucchini :

The box at the rear contains water chestnuts. I’ve put them up there as a temporary measure because I didn’t have anything to put them up on at ground level to keep them away from the rabbits. By the time they’re ready to harvest, I’ll have found a more suitable spot (they’re not doing as well as yours, Fran):

The second bath has cucumbers, a pumpkin and a zucchini. The cucumbers and pumpkin will eventually trail over the side, but that’s OK. The rabbits don’t touch them :

I replanted some of the turmeric tubers back into their original pots and they’ve just started to appear :

I’m still keeping them in the polyhouse because I’m not sure how they’ll go outdoors in winter. However I put a couple of small leftover ones in one of the baths and they’ve started growing also. If they survive the winter I’ll put them all outdoors in future.

And finally, I managed to get a yield of garlic this year after two failed years. The bulbs are small but I’m happy :

And now……onwards, to see what summer brings.

Whichever hemisphere you live in, I hope the weather is kind to your garden.


9 Responses to “November update”

  1. Chris Says:

    Hi foodnstuff,

    The place is looking good. Your rabbits sound a bit scary! Thanks for the tip about endives as I don’t grow them but probably should. I use nasturtium, horseradish leaves and perennial rocket as a summer green. I can’t see how deep the eggplant bed is, but they’ll probably be fine. I’m not sure what the Latin name is for that grey curry smelling herb with the yellow flowers, but it grows here as well and I may be wrong, but I call it a curry leaf. A lot of your stuff is weeks ahead of here. Hope the rain wasn’t too bad for your place?



    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi Chris, I take it you don’t have rabbits out there? I guess the wombats and the kangaroos are enough. The wicking box where the eggplants are is 25 cm deep…it will just mean more watering than normal I suppose. Yes, I call it curry leaf too…to find the name I would have to go through Penny Woodward’s herb book page by page until it hit me. Rain!! Yep, we had all if this month’s rainfall in the first 2 days. Washed away a bit of the gravel but has soaked in and will benefit everything for a few weeks until the real summer hits.


  2. narf7 Says:

    Great red currants Bev. I have a shrub but it’s only just managed to get to a size big enough to start fruiting in Sanctuary. I have lots of black currant shrubs and jostaberries but they have only been in the ground a year and are still establishing themselves so I am not expecting much from them yet. I did notice a couple of them have flowered so lets see how they go :).

    Great idea for a veggie bed near the tanks. Make a large cloche of wire for the top and bollocks to the rabbits! Grow hardy veg like beetroot there as you have easy access to your tanks. I think that curry smelling plant is actually a curry bush herb.

    I was just checking out midgen berries. I saw bags of myrtus ugni fruit for sale at a local fresh fruit market (frozen) apparently people actually eat them!

    Cheers for the tip about the tomatoes. I will do it next year as too late for this years lot. Your milk bottle jugs are going great guns. A perfect way to make the most of your vertical space. I might have to steal this idea as well oh great guru sage of mine šŸ˜‰

    I think 3 eggplants might be too many in that tub. Just dig one up and move it to another tub and you will get a LOT more eggplants. I am SO jealous! I bought a single eggplant for $7 at Bunnings as I couldn’t get any to grow. I have since had 3 grow but it might be a bit too late to put them in now šŸ˜¦ I adore eggplants and the only ones that I have had any luck with are the thin Japanese finger kind and I can’t find the sodding seed anywhere here!

    I grew celery in a couple of my wicking beds. I picked up the seedlings for 50c a punnet and couldn’t go past them so I planted them out and they grew like topsy BUT the stems were hollow šŸ˜¦ turns out they have very shallow root systems and weren’t getting enough water in the wicking fridges so they have all gone to seed now (I cut them off to the roots but they grew back) so I will at least get “something” from them.

    Silverbeet seems to constantly get mildew here. I can’t grow it any more. Spinach is OK but bolts to seed. I bought some perpetual spinach from Bunnings but it, too bolted directly to seed, “do not pass go, do not collect $200 (or any leaves šŸ˜¦ ) I am thinking I might just have to go back to the old fashioned white stem variety as I have had nothing but gip from the rainbow kind.

    I planted out a couple of little long suffering cherry trees a friend gave me that had been in pots for a couple of years as the thought of digging our rock/soil mix gave me the twitches (and its not even me that has to dig the holes!) but they got planted out into Sanctuary and are going great guns now but the fruit dropped off this year. I am guessing because this is their first year in the ground so I was kind of expecting it.

    My old sour cherry tree died but not before a small baby grew next to it so I now tend that lovingly in it’s parents memory. There’s another one up the road that is covered in glossy fruit that nothing touches as it’s sour BUT if you wait till they are really red they are quite tasty (I know, they are on my snacking route walk with Earl šŸ˜‰ )

    I couldn’t get tamarillos to grow so I might have to suck it up and buy a couple from Bunnings (if they don’t bolt and go to seed that is! šŸ˜‰ ) my pepino’s keep going from strength to strength (thanks to you šŸ™‚ ) and I have fruit on them. LOVE the bath beds! I have a spare bath now so might use it for the same. Is that your water chestnuts in that tub? Mine are still languishing on the kitchen table. Note to self “Get them planted out!” You just spurred me into turning that bath into a bed for the water chesnuts. Thank you! Mine aren’t doing well any more Bev as they are tired of living on the kitchen table!

    My turmeric is very slow to emerge every year. I just leave it in a freezer end fridge wicking bed and hopefully it’s still alive after the long cold (lots of frosts, even here!) winter we just had. It rarely shows it’s nose till January anyway.

    I bought a lovely big head of purple garlic from some nice Asian people at the Evandale markets and broke it up and planted it out in Sanctuary. I am just going to leave them in the ground as they seem to grow well like that. I have elephant garlic growing year after year down near my long suffering weeping mulberry that despite being munched down by wallabies (they LOVE aliums) grow tonnes of bulbs each year. I thought I pulled them all up a few years ago but nope…tonnes more grew back.

    I love your updates Bev. They galvanise me on to greater things. šŸ™‚


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi Fran, I’m growing Myrtus ugni as well as Midgen Berry, but haven’t written about it yet as the current plants haven’t fruited. I had it years ago in a pot which was too small for it, but the berries were very tasty as I remember. I think its common name is strawberry guava and I got the original seed from Phoenix Seeds down your way. Now it grows easily from cuttings.

      I think the eggplants will be OK in the wicking box. I’ll just need extra watering and maybe feeding but that’s the good thing about wicking boxes…all the moisture and food stays within reach of the plants and doesn’t leach away into the subsoil or get scavenged by other plants.

      Thanks for the tip about celery being shallow-rooted. I’ll give it extra care. I think the wicking boxes are the way to go for it. I also think it loves water. We have a local plant in the same genus (Apium prostratum = Sea Celery) as edible celery (which is Apium graveolens) and it always grows in wet areas and the water’s edge.

      I should get some more elephant garlic. I lost mine. I had better success with it than the ordinary stuff.

      Re the silver beet running to seed…you’ll often find that with Bunnings seedlings. They are always selling them at the wrong time of year for planting and they are probably too old anyway. I love the perennial variety called spinach beet (it’s not really perennial) and would never grow the one with the white stems and dark green crinkly leaves again. Try growing your own from seed. It should be sown now for a winter crop. If you can’t find seed over there, say and I’ll send you some, although Bunnings should have it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • narf7 Says:

        I will hunt for spinach beet at Bunnings. Thank you for the tip Bev. If you want some elephant garlic I could send you some? It’s apparently time to be pulling them up soon isn’t it? I had a myrtus ugni but Bezial sat on it and broke it off at the stem ;). I know that the dog at the nursery where Steve and I were doing work experience when we were studying horticulture in 2009 ate all of the fruit from the Myrtus ugni plants and loved them so its obviously tasty enough. Interesting that they grow from cuttings. I wouldn’t have thought that but I will now be on the lookout for some to take cuttings from. Thank you Oh great guru! šŸ™‚


        • foodnstuff Says:

          Would love some elephant garlic if you have some to spare. Did you get my FB message about the sweet potato.?

          Liked by 1 person

          • narf7 Says:

            Yeah, I did šŸ™‚ I was busy out in the garden yesterday and by the time we got inside I was knackered. I actually got up on to the roof yesterday to help Steve clear out the guttering so that we could get enough sticks to fill up the last 2 wicking beds. We picked up some pea straw to mulch the beds with and today we pick up some seedlings including beans now that I have read about your successes. I will harvest some elephant garlic soon and send you some. It grows like topsy here and you can’t kill it (despite the wallabies best efforts!)


  3. Frogdancer Says:

    It’s been around 18 months since I had my veggie gardens, and I have to admit that I’m starting to miss it. Loved seeing your update. I’m seeing a landscaper to Get Something Done with the backyard. I’m thinking of putting long wicking beds in and gradually filling them with clippings etc as you’ve done. My 2 hour commute every day doesn’t leave a lot of time to do much, but I won’t be at work forever!


    • foodnstuff Says:

      That’s good, Lisa. I was disappointed that you seem to be focussing on this financial stuff to the exclusion of self-sufficiency which is just as important, if not more so, IMO. In fact, when you sold the house, I was expecting you’d buy a larger property somewhere and set it up as a permaculture system for the future for you and the boys and their (future) families. Of course I realised that you also needed to be reasonably close to work, too.

      Things are going downhill very fast now. Time to really focus on preparations for a future with less oil.

      (Would be happy to visit and design a permaculture system for you. No charge, of course.)


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