Harvest Monday: winter garden

Despite the cold and wet, the garden is doing pretty well. The wicking beds are perfect – I haven’t topped them up since March, as the rain has been more than enough to keep the reservoirs full. And the mini worm farms seem to be working as well – they are full of happy-looking red wrigglers.

I’m harvesting carrots, broccoli, radish, beetroot, swiss chard, lettuce, rocket, kale, celery, peas, rhubarb and herbs, which is more than enough for our meals! We’re hardly buying any veggies anymore, which is great. Cabbage, brussels sprouts, lemons and strawberries are all well on their way.

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The broccoli has had a hard time – it all bolted before forming proper heads – I think because we had such a mild autumn. It’s also been terrorised by cabbage moth, which I am valiantly attempting to deal with by hand. Lesson learnt – next year I’ll net the brassica bed until winter. I made an excellent pesto with bolting broccoli, walnuts, garlic, olive oil, rocket and parmesan. We are also using the flowers as garnish in everything – salad, pizza, risotto, stir fry. They are very tasty.

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That other thing I’m growing

I’ve been a bit reluctant to post about my pregnancy.  I’m used to keeping my private life relatively private, because I have a public life. And also I’ve been paranoid that I’ll blog about it, and then it will all go horribly wrong and I’ll have to deal with not only my own grief, but the sympathy of strangers. I actually wrote this post a week ago, but wanted to wait until we’d had our 20 week ultrasound and checkup before posting, just in case. Anyway, people seem to be interested, so here I go.

It took us exactly one year to get pregnant. In the end, we were using an app called Glow (which I highly recommend) to track my cycle, along with OPKs and temperature charting. I honestly don’t know if any of those things helped, but they certainly made me feel more in control.

The pregnancy has been thankfully uneventful. No real morning sickness to speak of – just exhaustion and some mild nausea. Oh, except for the one time I nearly fainted in front of a class of Year Nine girls and had to be sent to sick bay. The first few months of pregnancy aren’t fun. Even though I wasn’t sick, I was pretty useless because of exhaustion and paranoia that the little bean wasn’t going to stick.

At my first ultrasound (8 weeks), I was told that I had endometriosis, on one ovary, and in a place called the Pouch of Douglas*. This came as no massive surprise to me. It explained A LOT (as well as making me feel totally vindicated that my periods always had been more painful than average). If you have to be informed you have a treatable but unpleasant medical condition, I recommend you try and swing it so it also comes with the good news that your baby is alive and healthy. It’s like being told you have a parking ticket, but that you also won the lottery. If the sonographer had told me she had to cut off one of my fingers, I still would have walked out of there with a smile on my face.

There are lots of unpleasant things about pregnancy. Heartburn, heart palpitations, headaches, dizziness, period-style cramping, sore boobs, sore back, constipation, trouble sleeping, a coccyx that always feels like you just fell over ice-skating. And I’m only five months. But then you see the little face on the ultrasound, and feel it turning over inside you. And that’s pretty special.

Yesterday we found out the gender. I’m not going to put it on here, I don’t know why. I’m happy to tell you if you want to know. Mj and I didn’t really mind either way, but we weren’t expecting to feel this weird simultaneous joy and grief. Because up to that moment, we both had two hypothetical babies in our heads – a little girl and a little boy. Like Schroedinger’s Baby. And although we could not be more excited about meeting our baby, we had a moment of sadness that one of the babies we imagined never really existed. It passed very quickly of course, and now everything feels MUCH more real. The baby feels like a person now, instead of just a concept.

Okay, back to the gardening.



*I KNOW. THE POUCH OF DOUGLAS. Useful for storing loose change and displaced endometrial cells. As my midwife said “it’s probably named after some dead guy who didn’t have one”. She was correct, I googled it. You have one too, unless you’re a bloke, then you have a Pouch of Ben.


It’s perfect autumn gardening weather – lots of nice heavy rain followed by hours of glorious sunshine. I haven’t filled up the wicking beds for four weeks, but after testing today the reservoirs are full.

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We’re harvesting lettuce, spring onions, radishes, coriander, parsley and silverbeet by the armful. We eat so many more veggies already, just having the convenience of greens out the back door.

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The garlic has all sprouted, and the broad beans have just started to flower. It’s a bit hard to tell how effective the mini worm farms are at this stage, but the worms are looking fat and healthy and they’re munching through all our kitchen scraps, so I’m taking that as a good sign!

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Holiday potato harvest

My parents have some land down on the Great Ocean Road, where they’re building a very exciting underground house. There’s also a very exciting veggie patch and the beginnings of an orchard. Over the Easter Long Weekend, Mum and I harvested a massive tub of potatoes (about 20kg), then replanted some as well as garlic and broad beans.

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And now I have about eight kilos of potatoes. What to do?

Leek and potato soup (made about six litres and froze most).

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Roast chicken with kipflers and beets.

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Leftover chicken and veg pot pies.

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Bubble and squeak rosti (made enough to freeze)


We had the rosti with salad greens and radishes from the garden, and the radish tops were added to the bubble and squeak.

Still have a pile of kipflers left – I think they’ll become potato salad.

With the exception of the leek and potato soup, all of these were new recipes. I love how gardening makes me a more adventurous cook!

Glorious rain

It’s been raining all week here, and the garden is loving it. It’s been two and a half weeks since I planted up the veggie beds, and all of my seeds have sprouted, so it seems like a good time to document what I’ve got growing in there.

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Now the fun begins

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After so much planning and hard work, the garden is finally all in place. The beds are all up and planted. We’ve also added some dwarf trees along the fence – a Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Moorpark apricot and Goldmine nectarine. They’re interplanted with a Jostaberry, rhubarb, nasturtium and a Cape gooseberry I grew from some seed from my mother-in-law’s backyard. I’ve also planted ginger, Vietnamese mint, garden mint and scented geraniums along the front of the studio, in a little bed that gets no direct sun but plenty of light.

The seedlings in the veggie beds are all looking healthy and strong. Lettuce, rocket, radish, carrot, spring onion, coriander, snowpea and broad bean seeds have all sprouted. The early garlic is in. Potatoes are in.

Now I just have to wait to start harvesting!

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But in the meantime there’ve been a few delicious things from the garden to keep me going. One of my two potato bags was a dismal failure, but the other was… okay. I think Melbourne summers are just too hot for potatoes – mine got frizzled several times. I’m going to try growing from early autumn instead. We’ve also had a handful of the most delicious raspberries – I wasn’t expecting any until next season, so it’s a nice surprise.

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The Sound of Worms

The wicking beds have one extra feature – each has its own mini worm farm.


I used a bunch of $4 bins from Kmart – I think they’re 5 litres. Drilled holes all round (so the worms can get in and out).

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Buried in the garden beds, and then filled with straw, damp shredded newspaper, and WORMS.

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Once they’ve had a day or two to settle in, I’ll start giving them finely chopped (or roughly blended) kitchen scraps. The plan is that the worm juice will fertilise the soil, and the brave worms will travel in and out of their little house, aerating the soil. photo 2-1