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A tiny harvest

flowering rosemary

Jamie is good at tending to yardwork, but let’s be honest, he only really cares about the plants that he can eat. We planted a heap of seedlings in the veggie beds, and some of them even became food!

veg beds dec 13

The veggie beds were here when we moved in, and we’re planning to rebuild them eventually. This super-photogenic netting was good for keeping out birds and rabbits. The guy next door promised us that if he kept seeing wild grey rabbits around our backyards, they’re getting turned into rabbit stew. That’s a delicious plan and I wish him the best, but in the meantime we just blocked as many holes as we could find in our fences.

Since we’re gardening rookies, especially with growing our own veg, we just tested out various seedlings over the summer to see what works and what doesn’t. Summer here is mild, most days maxing out at 19-23° C. The only things I added to the beds (other than the plants) were sprinklings of blood-and-bone and sugar cane mulch.

Apologies in advance, I’m mainly writing this is to use it as reference next year when we try the veggie patch thing all over again. It’s one big Note To Self on growing edibles. I also want to show off the things we managed to grow!

tiny harvest

ravioli

SUCCESSES! (also shown in their final evolution, as pasta sauce)

  • Kale, ‘Red Russian’. A+ would plant again. So prolific! Tends to attract aphids, but those can be hosed off.
  • Cos lettuce, with netting. Eat it young and eat it before it bolts, or it goes bitter.
  • Tomatoes, ‘Tigerella’. These were an heirloom variety that I grew from seed, so, I felt proud of my handiwork, but the plants took a while to get going. We didn’t get any tomatoes until late summer (March). Next year I’m getting seedlings rather than growing from seed.
  • Assorted herbs – basil, spearmint.

silverbeet

  • Silverbeet (swiss chard): Bolts like mad in summer, but readily sprouts from the base again and again. It’s very lush right now.
  • Cos lettuce, with netting. Eat it young and eat it before it bolts, or it goes bitter.
  • Strawberries. We had 4 plants, in different varieties, which worked well for different times of year. ‘Tioga’ likes it cooler, ‘Red Gauntlet’ likes the longest days of summer. Reasonable supply of berries, tons of runners. We clipped and planted all the runners in a plant trough, and are digging and potting the plants themselves too. They’ll stay in the greenhouse over winter and go back in the ground next year. As I’m writing this, in late autumn, one of the plants is still producing berries. (And no, these weren’t in the pasta sauce.)

tom and zuch

FAILURES:

  • Zucchini – It didn’t fail us, we failed it. We planted a seedling in mid-summer, which was far too late. It gave us one zucchini, which was quite tasty, but, yeah.
  • Snow peas. Planted in late spring; they dried out and withered.
  • Broccoli and cauliflower. Better wait until winter for these, because they just bolt in summer.
  • Rocket (arugula) – bolts in summer.
  • Carrots – I don’t think the bed was deep enough, and besides, they are so cheap that I don’t see the point in using the space to grow our own. Same with potatoes.
  • Potato patch – rampant growth, no spuds!

herb bed

I DIDN’T PLANT THESE BUT I’M TAKING CREDIT ANYWAY (Perennial herb garden)

  • Rosemary: very, very established. I sheared off a third of this bush and it’s still bananas. It also has pretty blue-violet flowers twice a year!
  • Rhubarb: it looked dead when we moved in, but it sprang back and sent off shoots all spring and summer. Lop off the flower heads when they appear! Confession: I’d never tried rhubarb until this year, and I’m glad I did because it tastes like extra-tart Granny Smiths. Strawberry rhubarb anything is delicious.
  • Sage, thyme, and mint (in its own concrete trough)
  • For next year’s harvest: the bush cordoned off in its own section is a blueberry! Housewarming gift from a couple of our friends (thank you!). It’s a cool grafted hybrid that only grows 1m tall and wide. We sunk in some 150mm steel colorbond edging and added sulphur to acidify the soil, since blueberries like a low pH.

fig tree pot

SUCCESS AND FAILURE

C’mon little fig tree, why won’t you grow more? 🙁 It’s a ‘Black Genoa’ cultivar that’s meant to be cold-tolerant, so I’m holding out hope for next year. It’s healthy, it just put on barely any growth!

potted chili

OTHER STUFF IN POTS

The chili farm – jalapeño x2 (pictured), habanero, Thai chili, yellow cayenne, ancho, rocoto. They all did well over summer. Give ’em as much sun as you can throw at them. I don’t have a giant north-facing window to act like a greenhouse for these guys in the colder months, like I did in our old apartment, so we set up a mini-greenhouse outside that will house these guys in winter. I hope they can survive the cold!

habanero and co

Habanero and catnip. These live in one of the few north-facing windows in our house. This habanero plant is a less spicy variety than one I’ve grown in the past, but it’s far more vigorous. (That said, I still have fun getting people to taste-test these.) It seems to be tailor-made as a window plant, it’s got at least 15 little chilies on it right now.

mishka concrete bench
Boss Cat oversees what’s happening in the garden.

ASSORTED LISTS

Plants to grow in winter: Broccoli, other brassicas, garlic, Asian greens, green beans and peas.
Plants to grow indoors: watercress, fenugreek, other microgreens, lemongrass, catnip, certain chilies.
Plants I want to try next year: tomatillos, banana peppers, peter peppers (I got these joke seeds okay), French lavender in the herb patch as a bee attractant.
Plants to go indoors or in the greenhouse over winter: All chilies, Tahitian lime, strawberry runners.

Friends, do you have recommendations for edibles in a temperate climate? I’d love to hear from anyone who’s experienced with this!

2 thoughts on “A tiny harvest”

  1. Lucky on having a rhubarb plant. I once went to a fair amount of trouble to remove an old plant because I wanted the space for flowers but missed it later. Also, I very much agree about buying tomato plants – it doesn’t sense to raise 12 seedlings of the same variety. Go and buy four different plants – Brandywine is my favorite (but fussy) and Sungold. Of course Tasmania may not have those, but look.

    1. Done! I just planted four different varieties of seedlings. They came in a mixed, unlabeled punnet (why?). I look forward to our surprise tomatoes.
      We actually had to transplant our rhubarb plant, since we’re renovating the bed it was in, and it’s slowly adjusting.
      Any chance you’d plant a fresh rhubarb plant?

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