Archive for the ‘Silver Beet’ Category

March update

March 30, 2017

Well, summer is officially over, but the weather remained warm all through March, with temperatures in the high 20’s and sometimes nudging into the low 30’s.

I’ve pulled out most of the tomatoes—the plants looked awful, with dead, shrivelled lower leaves, extending upwards in some cases. Surprisingly, yields were pretty good, especially of the cherries, but then there were more plants of those than the bigger varieties. I didn’t bother to dry any cherries, but instead froze a large box of them, to use for winter soups and casseroles. There’s still one self-sown plant going well in a wicking box down the back, just starting to bear fruits.

I picked 2 more eggplants and there are still 3 on the plants plus a couple more flowers which may produce fruits. I’ll definitely grow these again next season. Six fruits from 3 plants wasn’t a bad effort for a first-time growing :

I decided to try peas in a ‘tepee’. It’s worked well for beans in the past. These are a tall, purple-podded variety. They germinated well….. :

…..and after a week or so I put up the supporting strings for them to climb on :

I’ve put more peas in a wicking box. These are a short-stemmed variety which have a lot of tendrils so they hang onto each other. I’ll just put 4 stakes in the corners of the box with a string around them to keep the whole bunch from falling over and that should do. The tiny seedlings are self-sown chickweed which the chooks will get eventually :

I may get some pumpkins this year. There are 2 on this plant. With any luck they’ll get big enough to ripen before the weather breaks:

Capsicums, sharing a wicking box with climbing beans, are fruiting :

The prize for the top-bearing plants this season would have to go to the 5 thornless blackberry plants I put in 2 years ago. At the height of the season I was picking a small handful of delicious berries every couple of days. I decided I would definitely get more bare-rooted plants from my local nursery this winter and then discovered Bunnings had them for sale in small pots. They’re a Nelly Kelly variety :

I’ve put one in a large tub beside the deck and will train it up onto the deck :

I haven’t decided where to plant the second one yet. I didn’t keep the tag of the original plants and think they were just called ‘thornless blackberries’, without a variety name. They were just pencil-sized, bare-rooted stems when I planted them. These Nelly Kelly varieties have thin little stems and small leaves. Maybe that’s just due to being young plants in pots. It will be interesting to see how they turn out.

It’s been a good year for pepinos :

The new season’s silver beet is also bearing well in a wicking box :

I had a wicking box on the deck with Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) in it. Also known as arthritis plant, it’s native to Asia and is reputed to cure many ills as well as arthritis. I intended to use it to make a herbal tea, but didn’t like the bitter flavour and so it wasn’t used much. I planted a pepino in there to keep it company. A self-sown alpine strawberry also appeared :

The pepino grew well and produced several fruits but eventually got big and woody and I hacked it back, not caring whether it sprouted again or not, because I had others in the garden. It didn’t…..and the gotu kola took over. I trimmed it back occasionally but generally ignored it.  Finally, it occurred to me that the wicking box was just being wasted and I’d be better to plant it with something I would actually use.

So, I tipped it on its side and then upended it :

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As I suspected, the bottom half of the soil mixture was bone dry and the roots in it were dead. I’d been watering it every day, but the water was running out of the drainage holes before it was able to soak into the soil and saturate the lower reservoir. The plant had been living on its daily drink. The box just had too much growth in it.

The dry soil was friable and worth saving. There had been worms in it and they’d either died or moved on, so it was likely most of the soil would be worm castings. I broke it up with the spade and sieved it :

I got a large tub of soil that will be useful as a seed-raising mix :

I filled the wicking box with new compost and sowed seeds of mizuna, a fast-growing Asian green, which both I and the chooks like :

A few weeks later and it looked like this :

The grassy stuff is wheat. The chooks don’t eat the wheat in their grain mix and wherever I use the chook poo compost made with the floor sweepings from their run, I get wheat germinating. I decided to leave it there. The chooks will only eat wheat if it’s sprouted first, so it makes some sense to grow it for them for sprouting. I used to grow it years ago, but gave up when the parrots kept raiding the ears while they were green. Because there are still cabbage white butterflies about (and will be, until the weather gets colder), I’ve had to put a cover over the box to prevent the female butterflies laying eggs on the mizuna :

Mosquito netting is the only thing that will keep the butterflies out. I’ve always used half-inch netting in the past but was stunned to see a butterfly fold her wings back and actually squeeze through it. So now I have a (relatively) new wicking box with a more useful crop.

I planted garlic on the equinox. Only a few cloves have sprouted—not worth a photo. I’ve failed dismally with garlic the last couple of years, but I still keep trying. Last year the plants rotted away in winter; the year before that they didn’t produce any bulbs. I’ve had good garlic in the past—don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I felt a bit better when my Italian neighbours told me their garlic has failed too—if Italians can’t grow garlic, there must be something more at work than my own incompetence.

I tend to divide my growing year into 2 seasons—spring/summer (October-March) and autumn/winter (April-September) and always grow more food in the spring/summer season. In total, in the season just finished, I managed to grow about 30 varieties of food, including more than a dozen different fruits; 6 greens; 4 root crops; onions and leeks and asparagus, plus a variety of herbs. Oh, and eggs (the Girls helped with those). There wasn’t a huge amount of anything (except maybe tomatoes), but I’m aiming for diversity anyway. Pretty happy with what I’m able provide for myself.

We had 37 mm rainfall in March; 32 mm in the 3rd week and 5 mm in the final week. Melbourne’s average is 44 mm. Let’s hope the warm weather and rain continues through autumn.

Postscript

Those thornless blackberries from Bunnings—

I went out to take a few more pics for this post and noticed that the blackberry I put in the large tub by the deck had a flower on it :

It’s white! The other thornless blackberries I bought at the local nursery had pink flowers :

So there is a difference. I think I need to do some research on thornless blackberries. As I understand it, they’re hybrids of the normal blackberry with something else. Something else what? The first 5 plants I put in have had really good yields. I hope these 2 new varieties are as good.

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January update

February 5, 2015

The best thing about January was the weather….only a few days with 30+ temperatures and rainfall (64mm) which exceeded Melbourne’s average for the month (57mm). I was well pleased…living on a bush block in a bushfire zone, with a warming climate, I tend to get rather paranoid in summer now.

Tomatoes were the biggest bearer. I seem to have a lot of cherries this year, but that’s alright. They’ll be sun-dried :

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The goal is to fill this jar with dried tomatoes :

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San Marzano, a Roma type. Most of these will be frozen for winter cooking :

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There are still Black Russian, Green Zebra and Debarao to come. This is my first time growing Debarao (sometimes called De Barao). It’s a Roma-type too, with egg-shaped fruit with less watery pulp and will also be useful for cooking. I freeze a lot of tomatoes and use them over winter for making relish and pasta sauce. Rather than juicing them and bottling and storing the juice, it’s much easier to just defrost the quantity of whole tomatoes that I need, when I need them.

 

Pepinos are forming. This plant is in a wicking box on the deck. When I plant them in the garden, the rabbits demolish the fruit. I wish I could fit the whole garden up on the deck! (then I suppose the pesky rabbits would learn to negotiate steps!) :

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It’s amazing how much growth can be fitted in a wicking box. Not only is the pepino in this one…:

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but there’s gotu kola…:

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self-sown lemon balm…:

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a cucumber…:

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and what looks like a self-sown tansy…:

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but wait, there’s more…:

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…a self-sown alpine strawberry.

An example of what permaculture guru Geoff Lawton likes to call, ‘abundance’.

 

I forgot to mention in the December update that I had a visit over the Christmas period from Maree, who writes Around The Mulberry Tree blog, and who brought me a healthy-looking elderberry plant :

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I’ve sent away for elderberry seeds so many times and have never had any germination, so I was delighted to get an established plant. I can see elderflower cordial and elderberry wine somewhere in the future. Thanks Maree!

 

I’m disappointed in the cucamelons. The plants have climbed skywards and wound themselves around the deck railings, but there’s no sign of fruit. There are plenty of female flowers with little pre-cucamelons behind them and some male flowers, but it seems no pollination is occurring :

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The plants in the strawberry wicking buckets have done well after a poor start in which the first fruits were badly deformed, due I think, to poor pollination :

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I’ve picked a steady supply of strawberries, not a huge amount, but enough to have a few on my breakfast mueslii each morning, so I’ll plant a few more buckets for next year. I haven’t even had to net them because they’re up on the deck where birds don’t usually come. The plants are putting out new runners at the moment and it’s easy to pot up a few. Runners grow a tuft of new leaves along their length :

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At the base of each tuft of leaves is a collection of roots-to-be :

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I peg the runner down into a pot of potting mix with a piece of bent wire, but leave the runner attached to the parent plant :

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Once the roots have grown down into the new pot, the runners can be cut away from the parent plant. I wish all plants were as easy to propagate as these.

 

The New Girls are 24 weeks old and there’s still no sign of eggs. The Old Girls laid at 22 weeks, so I’m anxiously checking daily. The Newbies are so full of beans; any unsuspecting butterfly stupid enough to get through the wire is snatched out of the air with a huge leap; they rocket up and down the 7 metres of connecting corridor between the two runs like mad things; they come when called (well, most times); they love the green grubs off the kale (Molly and Cheeky won’t touch them), and they’re into everything—a perfect trio of lively, alert, naughty kids. That’s two of them on the left (looking good, eh, Julie?) :

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And the remainder of the trio. She’s wondering if the camera is something to eat. (Cheeky behind on the right and Molly bringing up the rear) :

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If I can ever tell them apart, which seems unlikely, their names will be Bonny, Missy and Clover (the last after the rabbit in Watership Down….there’s no connection, I just like the name), but until then, they’re just the Newbies, or Newbs, for short.

I’ve been giving Molly & Cheeky a daily treat of grated carrot and yoghurt, which they love. At first the Newbs weren’t interested—they didn’t understand ‘treats’—but lately they’ve taken an interest. Of course, M & C won’t allow them anywhere near, but Molly is moulting and a bit off-colour so less aggressive and Cheeky has become a bit indifferent to them (only whacks them occasionally), so they’ve managed to elbow their way in and steal some and they like it. So I call them down to their own quarters and give them a bowl on their own. The squeals of delight as they wolf it down and peck splattered yoghurt off each other’s faces has me in stitches.

Not a happy Moulting Molly :

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I’ve finally got my act together and planted kale and broccoli seeds early. I always seem to leave it until autumn and then have to wait as they grow too slowly through the cooler winter. I was reading someone’s blog where they said they sowed their winter brassica seeds at the summer solstice (21st December), so I did the same and now I’ve actually got kale in a wicking box growing well. Of course, Cabbage White butterflies are still around, but if I inspect the plants every few days and rub off all the eggs before they hatch, I’m able to keep on top of the problem :

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These are Tepary Beans. I have to thank Fran of Road to Serendipity blog for sending the seed a couple of years ago. The first year I grew them I just left them to set seed. I forgot to grow them the following year and thought I’d better put them in this season and collect more seed. I’ll probably leave them for seed again this season then finally grow them to eat. They’re said to be extremely drought tolerant :

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Pods are forming :

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Basil & endive going well together in a wicking box :

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And what’s that in the back left corner? Looks like a seedling plum :

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You wouldn’t believe it, but under all that growth on the left, there’s a planter box just like the one on the right :

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In the left-hand box there are two cherry tomatoes and some beans that didn’t have a label (looking like climbers). This box had a liberal dose of chook poo compost before planting, hence the rampant growth :

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The other one has Purple King climbing beans at the back and basil, kale and silver beet in front. These aren’t wicking boxes, so they need watering every day :

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Well, that’s about it for the January wrap-up. I hope February will be as good temperature-wise, but next week is forecast for over 30 C every day, so all I can say is, “roll on autumn”.

Before I go, here’s a really useful post from the Permaculture Research Institute about tomatoes. And check out the link to fix.com given in the article. Another useful site worth bookmarking.

More mini cuttings

October 20, 2013

I’ve written about taking mini cuttings here, here and here. I’m still trying various varieties and now I can add two more: silver beet and cucumber. I was surprised at the cucumber; it didn’t seem that it would grow new roots up the stem like tomatoes do, and it didn’t. They grew out from the cut bottom edge. I can’t imagine that this will make for a very robust plant, since roots like that will easily break off, but I wouldn’t normally want to increase cucumbers by this method anyway. It’s just nice to know it can be done.

Treating silver beet this way, though, IS useful. A single silver beet seed is actually a composite of many seeds and several plants will appear from sowing one seed. Usually the recommendation is to thin to the strongest. Now I can snip off the extras with scissors and put them in as mini cuttings.

When a potato does this…..

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…..I make a small space somewhere in the food forest, place it in a hole, cover it with a pile of chook poo compost and a bucket of leaves and leave it to itself. It’s great fun digging up the progeny. Growing your own potatoes couldn’t be easier!

I’ve finally been able to harvest a decent-sized pepino:

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And there are two more to come:

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In the past, the rabbits or possums have taken them when they’ve been on the ground like this. When I saw these three rapidly expanding, I protected them with apple socks and thought I’d better put a wire cage over them as well. It’s done the trick. I’m going to enjoy these on my breakfast mueslii.

I bought the apple socks from Green Harvest. They call them apple pouches but they’re actually little nylon sockettes. They’re great to slip over fruit to keep birds and possums off. I wouldn’t want to do a whole tree with hundreds of fruit on it, but they’re OK to do enough of the best (and low-hanging) fruit to get a useful harvest. Here’s the persimmon with its socks on, a couple of seasons ago:

I managed to collect and eat every one. No problems with possums, blackbirds or parrots. Persimmons are really vulnerable because they lose all their leaves before the fruit ripens, so you’re left with a naked tree covered in bright orange fruit that can be seen by every bird for miles around.

Around the garden

February 16, 2013

I was weeding under the quince tree, stood up and was donged on the head by this:

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A quince! It’s the first and only quince the tree has borne! There are three trees, all grown from seed, planted in a group. They’ve flowered each year for the last 3 years but have never set any fruit. See the brown spots on the leaf. That’s a fungus disease. I think it’s quince leaf blight. The trees get it each year and generally lose all their leaves prematurely. It’s spread by water and since it hasn’t rained for a while, most of the leaves haven’t been too badly affected. The recommended controls are chemical, which I don’t want to use. I might try a seaweed spray.

These are Diva cucumbers. The good thing about them is that all the flowers are female! And they don’t need a pollinator. They’re bearing like crazy. I’ve already bottled five jars:

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The three large jars are using my standard bottling recipe and the two on the right are using Suburban Tomato‘s bread & butter cucumbers recipe. I’m looking forward to trying them.

These are some of the pumpkins growing in the hugelkultur bed. They’re Red Kuri, a variety I haven’t tried before:

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These plants haven’t been watered at all and are looking remarkably green and healthy:

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They’re all self-sown from seed dropped last year. Just a single tall stalk, 2 metres or more high, with clusters of yellow flowers at the top:

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It’s Evening Primrose and its seeds contain a very high concentration of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid that is found mostly in plant based oils such as borage seed oil and blackcurrant seed oil. Omega-6 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids: they are necessary for human health, but the body can’t make them—we have to get them from our food. Along with omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development. I’ve been harvesting the seeds for a few years now and mostly put them in my bread and sprinkled on mueslii  (I need to work on brain function!).

My Black Kale was nearing the end of it’s life and was being attacked by Cabbage White Butterfly caterpillars. I was gradually taking off the lower leaves (plus grubs) to give to the chooks (they go mad for it) and in the end, completely cut off the tops of these 2 plants, leaving bare stalks which I intended to deal with later. In the meantime we had 16mm of rain—the only rain in January—and the stalks started to shoot again:

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I’ve noticed this happens with silver beet—when it’s gone to seed I don’t dig up the plant, just cut it off at ground level, cover the stump with fresh compost and mulch and it usually shoots out new growth. I’ve been wondering about perennialising plants by cutting them back severely and then feeding and watering, to promote new growth. It’s worth doing some trials, I think.

I’m not a great fan of summer any more (let’s be honest, I hate it), but it is good drying weather. Today I put tomatoes and chopped pumpkin out on the deck (the wire frames standing up at the rear go over the drying racks to keep insects off):

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Last but not least (it was hard work!), I’ve finally finished clearing out all the water plants from the first pool. Waiting now for some rain to fill it so I can see real water again:

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Around the garden

October 4, 2012

I’ve planted out the tomatoes I bought at the Sunday market. They’re big enough and the weather is warm enough and I hope it’ll stay that way.  I notice Suburban Tomato (who also lives in Melbourne), has planted hers out too, so I feel encouraged. My own seedling tomatoes are still too small to go out.

Two Rouge de Marmande in a wicking box. I haven’t grown this variety before and Suburban Tomato has a stunning photo of one at the link above. Hope mine are that big!:

And two Roma, also in a wicking box (with silver beet for company):

The two small plots of wheat I planted (bread wheat & cake wheat), started to flower and I was determined to keep the parrots from getting the developing seeds this year. I’ve netted both plots and if there’s no wind, will give the plants a shake regularly, because grasses are wind-pollinated:

It looks like some nice plump grains in those heads:

The daikon (Japanese radish) is running to seed and I’m disappointed that it hasn’t produced roots of any size. Obviously I planted it too late. Back to the drawing board. I’ll let some plants go to seed and hang the rest up for the chooks to gorge on:

Now I know why I always get such a good crop of blueberries from this plant in a pot on the deck. This Noisy Miner is doing a spot of pollination:

The six redcurrants in the greywater line are flowering for the first time. The plants have been in for three years and most are over a metre tall. They were all grown from seed, which is probably why they’ve taken so long to flower:

I don’t know what pollinates these tiny flowers, but fruits are already forming. More netting needed:

Nearly all the garlic in the ground has died. First it got garlic rust fungus and then black aphids finished it off. I sprayed the aphids, but had already given up on it for this year. But the garlic in the wicking box is doing well. Minimal rust and no aphids. I can’t explain it; I’m just happy that I might get some sort of a crop this year:

Shallots in a wicking tub. There are flower buds appearing, so I hope I’ll get seed and be able to grow more that way. Buying shallot bulbs to plant can be expensive:

This year, for the first time, I’m planting leeks in a wicking tub:

The problem with leeks in a tub is the depth of soil, or at least, not so much the depth of soil as the depth of the tub. The tubs I use are 25 cm deep. When I grow leeks in the garden, I cover the stems way up with mulched bracken, so they develop that nice white colour out of the light. They’re also in a wire ring in the garden, so the bracken stays in place. The tub is too shallow to do that, so I’ll have to build up the sides with some wire or timber to get more depth. Shouldn’t be too much of a problem. This tub is right next to the Girls’ playground fence. The row of leeks at the back might suffer the dreaded beaks-through-the-wire syndrome. THAT will be a problem!

Lettuce seedlings almost ready to plant:

Are you following me? Native Crested Pigeon wanting a feed. Friendly little birds; they’ve become very tame:

And finally, beans. I normally start planting beans in October and plant a batch every month until February. They invariably take 2 months to bear and that means from December onwards I have beans to pick every week until May. I grow Purple King climbers wherever there’s something for them to climb on and French beans everywhere else. French beans grow very well in wicking boxes. This year I got a head start with the climbers and planted them in early September in one of the two corrugated planter boxes where I’d prepared a trellis for them. It’s up against a north-facing wall and I hoped they’d germinate there, even though some days were still a bit on the cool side. They did germinate and so now I’m a month ahead with beans. That’s silver beet in the front of the box:

The autumn garden

April 2, 2012

I love autumn in Melbourne.

Warm, sunny, windless days; gentle rain (hopefully); new growth from all the plants that went dormant over summer. It’s a good time to get into the garden and re-assess progress towards self-sufficiency.

This persimmon is starting to colour up:

There are 12 fruits on the tree this year. It’s the third year of flowering. In the first year it set 2 fruit, but they dropped off before they matured. Last year there was just one and I pampered and mothered that fruit like it was precious gold. All the leaves fall before the fruit is fully ripe and a leafless persimmon, covered in bright orange globes, is a sight to behold. I swathed my single fruit in netting to keep the parrots and possums off and allowed it to ripen till it was soft. I cut off the top and spooned out the pulp. It has the texture of rich apricot jam and is something to die for.

So I’m determined to enjoy that sensation 12 times over this season! I’ll have to cover each fruit individually, since the tree is too awkward and brittle to net. I’d better start thinking about it soon, before the leaves drop.

The plants in the greywater line are continuing to grow well despite no additional water over summer. Every time I shower, do a load of washing, use the kitchen sink or clean my teeth, they get watered. All the greywater from the house goes down the line. When I want to feed them with seaweed fertiliser, I fill the laundry trough with water, add a cup of Seasol and pull the plug.

Here’s the post that explains how I did it and here’s how it looks now:

There are feijoas, redcurrants and yacon and I’ve just planted a few tamarillos into the gaps. The large leaves of tamarillo transpire a lot of water in the hot weather and they need a lot of water to feed their shallow roots. I did very well last autumn with tamarillos because it was a wetter than usual summer. They were planted right down the back (silly, in retrospect), where dragging the hose is a real pain and luckily they didn’t need it. This summer was much drier and I just couldn’t get the water into them, so I gave up. At times, after a scorching day, the leaves hung limply on the branches and I thought I would lose them. A shower of rain at the right time saved them, but it wasn’t enough to produce decent-sized fruit. I’ll get some fruit, but they will be pretty small. So in future, tamarillos will be planted closer to the water tank, in fact I’ve just planted 3 right at the base of the tank in amongst maidenhair fern. If they don’t do well there, they won’t do well anywhere!

I noticed this beautiful little web early one morning between the wires of the deck posts. The sun was low in the east and illuminating it from behind and there was a bit of mist in the air as well. The tiny spider was still in the web—it’s the little white blob to the left of centre (the flash went off and has reflected back off the spider). What a masterpiece!

Celery is doing well in a wicking box. Celery loves plenty of water so I wouldn’t grow it anywhere else but in a wicking box now:

Basil is also doing well in a wicking box. It’s in flower and I’ve left it for the bees. I’ll use it all up in a final batch of basil pesto before I pull it out and might get some seeds from it if the parrots don’t get them first:

Silver Beet in a planter box. It’s the variety called Spinach Beet or Perpetual Spinach. I like this variety and after growing Fordhook Giant for many years, I think this one is far superior in taste and texture. Of course, it isn’t really ‘perpetual’, that’s a phony advertising ploy. It will run to seed in it’s second year just like other biennials:

In the front of the box is some form of bunching onion. I don’t know the species or variety. It was given to me and the giver called it spring onions, but I don’t think it’s that. Whatever it is, it’s very useful. It just keeps on producing new growth at the edges.

Oh, and I love it that daylight saving is over. I’m a morning person and now it’s lighter earlier, I can get out into the garden at a reasonable time and get an extra hour of work in before lunch.

How much am I growing?…3 month update

February 6, 2012

I wrote this post back in November about how I was going to record all the food I bought and all the food I grew, for a whole year. I want to see what percentage of my food I’m actually providing from the garden.

I’m writing it all in an exercise book and I’ve also put it on a simple spreadsheet which adds up the totals and calculates the percentages.

So far, in the first 3 months, the average is 25%. In other words, of all the food that’s come into the house in that time, 25% of it has come from the garden.

Not too bad, but it’s summer—the best season of the food-growing year, with tomatoes, zucchini, beans, cucumbers & carrots in abundance and fruit (not a lot this year) from the trees. I know I won’t be able to keep that up over the winter. There’ll be peas, leeks,  plenty of greens (silver beet, chinese cabbage & kale), but my broccoli leaves a lot to be desired (I really must do something about keeping the Cabbage White Butterfly off the plants and I must learn to grow better broccoli). Right in the middle of winter there will also be oca & yacon and asparagus in the spring.

So it looks like I’ll finish up with something less than 25% for the year. The only thing that might boost the % is that I may not need to buy much over the winter. The fridge is bursting at the seams with bottles of pickled veggies, pesto, tomato paste, pasta sauce and marmalade. There will be tomatoes in the freezer and jars of dried tomatoes in the cupboard, plus potatoes under the sink and pumpkins, if I’m lucky. I have enough bread flour and wheat to make a year’s supply of bread and enough pasta and rice for at least that time, too.

Oh, and I forgot eggs. A dozen eggs a week will help boost the totals, too (speaking of which, top egg weight this past week was 53 g—going up!).

In no way am I self-sufficient in food and I doubt whether I ever can be, especially where meat protein is concerned, but it’s an interesting exercise anyway.

Winter food

May 10, 2011

The weather’s cooling down now, but the garden’s not exactly in limbo.

Spot the persimmon. The leaves are putting on their autumn show and there’s just one fruit hiding in there. Last year the tree set three fruits for its first effort, but they all dropped off before maturity. This one looks as though it will make the grade:

Tamarillos are ripening, too. These ones are a bit late. I’ve already picked 2 kilos from the earlier-ripening trees:

Oca foliage. Oca is a South American plant with pink, wrinkly underground tubers. I’m hoping there’ll be a good lot of tubers under all that:

Another South American tuberous plant—yacon. Should be some nice tubers under there, too:

This Japanese Seedless mandarin is going to have a nice crop. Last year the possums showed a bit of interest.  I’m ready and waiting with the net at the first sign of damage:

This new little Meyer Lemon has a nice crop, too. Lemon butter coming up:

Wicking box with garlic and lettuce. First time I’ve tried garlic in a wicking box:

Celery, also in a wicking box. Celery just loves all that moist soil:

Broccoli coming on. No problems with Cabbage White butterflies now:

Silver beet going well in the new planter box:

And finally, Corn Salad, also called Mache by the French. It’s a delicate winter green, with a beautiful buttery flavour:

Miscellany

June 26, 2009

I’m never, ever going to be one of those supa-doopa bloggers who write one post a day. What I’d like to be, however, is one of those who manages one post a week, but here it is a fortnight since my last and…..oh, well…..

What follows is a hotch-potch of what’s been happening in the last fortnight.

I’ve sown the first batch of tomato seed for the season. I do it on the winter solstice, simply because it’s a day I can remember. I’ve sown it in the ‘little nursery’ I wrote about here and it’s sitting indoors, in a sunny window, on the heat pad. I’ve put 3 seeds of each variety into each cell and will eventually thin to one seedling. Varieties sown were Roma, San Marzano, Grosse Lisse, Green Zebra, Purple Russian, Red Pear (a cherry type), Black Russian and one billed as the original wild tomato (from Phoenix Seeds—I grew this one last year and it produced hundreds of grape-sized fruits, good for drying for snacks).  Later on (maybe around the spring equinox), I’ll sow a second batch, in the hope of extending the harvesting season into late autumn.

I’m in the process of putting together another row of water-wicking boxes for the spring/summer planting. These will be near one of the small water tanks and I’m going to set up a dripper line from the tank into the watering tube of each box so I can water them all automatically at the same time. Just in case we have another summer with a succession of days over 40 C, I’ll be setting up some polypipe arches over the row of boxes to support shadecloth.

I’m harvesting lots of greens from the garden—silver beet, kale, lettuce, chicory, bok choy and rocket. The peas sown in February are still bearing. I’ve got a half-dozen broccoli plants just forming heads. I should have sown much more. Leeks are starting to enlarge and I’m blanching the stems with sugar cane mulch. Four varieties of potato have sprouted and are doing well—Desiree, Bintje, Dutch Cream and Nicola. A patch of Kipfler which I didn’t harvest last year have also resprouted. The garlic is growing but the plants are small. I hope this doesn’t mean small bulbs. Maybe they’ll kick on when the weather warms.

I’ve sown beetroot (a tad early but it’s germinated) and radishes into wicking boxes and carrots into the garden. Haven’t tried carrots in a wicking box yet, but some years ago I grew a golfball-sized variety called Thumbelina from Eden Seeds. Maybe this would be ideal in a wicking box. I just checked their website and they still have it in the catalogue.

I harvested my first batch of jerusalem artichokes—boy, are these things prolific growers! I planted a couple of shrivelled tubers in May last year and harvested just under two buckets of tubers 12 months later.

The oca is dying back and I’ve bandicooted a few tubers. I hope there’ll be a few to actually eat this year. Last year’s crop was so small I had to forgo eating and replant them all.

The yacon hasn’t died back yet, but it always seems to produce a good crop of sweet tubers. These are nice sliced and fried and also grated in salads.

And finally, the winter solstice has passed, the days are lengthening and so far they’ve been fine and sunny. But alas, no significant rain.

Silver Beet on steroids

April 24, 2009

No need to tell you how well silver beet does in a wicking box. Just look at this:

silvbeet

The leaves are as big as dinner plates.  One leaf is a meal, chopped and lightly steamed with a knob of butter. Delicious!

I was going to put three plants in this box; just as well I didn’t, they’d have been pushing one another over.