2014 winter garden – taking stock

Last weekend I ripped out a lot of the remaining winter veg, and composted everything up ready for the summer seedlings to go in. I think on balance it’s been a very successful winter, especially since it’s the first season for our veggie garden. We’re eating heaps more veggies, and are saving plenty of money – especially on high price items like herbs.

Lessons Learned:

  • Next year I’ll net the brassicas in autumn to avoid the worst of the cabbage moth.
  • The back bed doesn’t get any sun for about three months in winter. Next winter I’ll try putting the silverbeet and leafy greens back there and see how they go.
  • I have to get better at succession planting.

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Successes

  • Mini worm farms – they are full of baby worms! And I often spot worms in the actual beds, so they are venturing out as well.
  • Wicking beds. I filled the beds once all winter – rain did the rest. They’re awesome. Barely any weeds. At a good height for this heavily pregnant lady.
  • Carrots (grown from seed – I planted a punnet too and they were pretty dismal). I was sure my carrots were a failure, until I went digging around and found heaps of good ones.
  • Snow peas
  • Broccoli – the broccoli went to seed pretty quickly, but we ate all the flowers as well, so it was a good producer
  • Leafy greens: rainbow chard, cos lettuce, rocket, black russian kale. All excellent.
  • Celery – the celery harvest has been epic and ongoing. We have WAY too much celery.
  • Rhubarb – so much for waiting two years for a good rhubarb harvest, ours was great after only a few months.
  • Radishes
  • Chioggia beetroot – and whatever the yellow ones are called. But the red ones were disappointingly small.
  • Holiday house potatoes – epic harvest.

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Failures

  • Backyard potatoes. Only got a handful of decent spuds. Trying again for spring spuds.
  • Native fingerlime. Killed it.

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Undecided

  • I’m pretty sure my garlic will fail this year – the back bed just doesn’t get enough sun in winter, and they’re covered in aphids despite my best efforts.
  • Leeks – looking quite promising.
  • Onions – less promising.
  • Red cabbage – of the six I planted, I got three small heads. Meh.
  • Brussels Sprouts – sprouts are growing, but I’m worried they won’t stay tight. I’m not sure when to harvest, they’re still pretty small.
  • Broad beans – they were fine, but not a bumper crop, and they got blown over in a storm so their lives were prematurely cut short.

Summer seedlings go in this week – a bit early perhaps, but as the babby is due in a month, I thought it’d be better to get it over and done with before I’m too busy!

Backyard eatings: kaffir lime and cucumber syrup

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I love kaffir lime. The scent of the leaves has to be one of my top 5 favourite smells, and I frequently find myself wandering into the backyard for a whiff.

I’m also quite fond of gin. For my birthday I was given a bottle of Hendricks, which has such a delicate, floral flavour I hate to overpower it with supermarket tonic. In the past I’ve made my own tonic, but I’ve run out of cinchona bark and can’t source it in Melbourne, so it was time to try something different.

Kaffir lime and cucumber syrup

2 cup sugar

2 cup water

rind of 2-3 kaffir limes

good handful of kaffir lime leaves, crushed

2 grated lebanese cucumbers

1tsp citric acid

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Let it boil for a minute or so, then turn off the heat and chuck in all the other ingredients. Stir, and leave to cool. Strain into a bottle. Mix with gin, soda, ice and a good squeeze of fresh lime. And a little muddled mint, if you’re feeling fancy.