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!

Harvest, er, Wednesday

We went to Perth for a week to visit the in-laws, so it was exciting to come home and see how BIG everything had gotten. And how many caterpillars had infested the brassica bed (hint: LOTS). Our garden path is now coated with the green smears of ex-caterpillars.

The peas are starting to make peas, and the carrots are starting to thicken. All the garlic is up, and the lime tree is covered in blossom. The garden is growing!

Last night I harvested chioggia beetroot, celery, radishes, lettuce, and parsley to go in a salad, as well as a few sticks of rhubarb which we had stewed with ice-cream for dessert.

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Roses and garlic

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Spring is such an exciting time in the garden. The bare sticks that we put into the ground in winter have turned into roses! They have the most gorgeous citrusy scent.

And I have pulled a couple of experimental garlic plants. Some are nice and fat, and others are small and weedy. But they’ve all fallen over and look very sad and limp, so I think I’ll harvest them this weekend.  Or should I wait? They’re not getting much sun now, as the raspberry bushes have leapt up.

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The concrete for the studio is being poured next week!

Progress

We are making progress with our studio plans, and we might even have the veggie beds installed by November, which would let me plant out tomatoes and peppers in time for summer cropping. Fingers crossed!

Other things are progressing too – my experimental winter potatoes are looking healthy, and the garlic also looks happy, except when Dame Maggie tramples all over it.

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And remember my succulent planter? It’s filling in very nicely.

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Impending Spring

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Spring is coming to the garden. The magnolia tree is looking glorious, and the camellia has started to put out flowers. There are bulbs popping up all over the place, and I saw the first signs of life on the bare-rooted roses and the dormant pomegranate, and the tiniest speck of a bud on the Denise blueberry. It’s not just a stick after all!

I’m harvesting plenty of lettuce, rocket, silverbeet and herbs, as well as our first Tahitian lime. Keep forgetting to take photos, though.

I also planted my first seeds for summer on the weekend – tomato, eggplant and capsicum. If the veggie beds aren’t in on time, I’ll just grow them in pots. I’ve never grown eggplant or capsicum before, so here’s hoping I don’t screw it up. I’m using one of those little plastic greenhouses, but with toilet rolls so I don’t have to fish out the seedlings once they’re ready to be planted – I can either plant them roll and all, or peel the roll off.

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FTWinter

We’re having beautiful cold snap here in Melbourne. Icy nights and glorious sunny crisp days. The lawn is white with frost each morning, and all the branches are bare.

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But there’s still stuff going on. New strawberry flowers.

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Sweet peas starting to climb

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Limes starting to swell.

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I’m trying this new method for growing coriander – more like a grass that can be snipped at. I’m not sure it’s right for me – I like to use huge handfuls of the stuff, and this way it grows too slowly.

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Lettuces looking good.

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I’m also harvesting huge armfuls of silverbeet. Those plants have been going strong for over a year now! We had it for dinner last night, sauteed with leek, garlic, oregano, lemon and chickpeas. Yum!