I am going to be busy today!

I know the garden is producing well at the moment, but WOW!

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So, my to do list for the day is now:
1. Basil pesto for freezing
2. Roasted tomato sauce
3. Tomatillo salsa
4. Japanese pickled cucumber salad
5. Grate and freeze Zucchini
6. Tidy up and store onions
7. Dehydrate tomatoes

So if you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen!

February, in which which we may yet get some summery weather

It’s been a very mild summer here in Victoria. We’ve hardly had a day over 30 degrees. I love the cooler weather, but I’m starting to wonder whether any of my tomatoes are going to ripen before it gets cold again.
HARVEST
Just this week I’ve been able to pick a few for the table, but considering I have about 50 plants, that’s not a great showing.
The zucchinis are going great guns, and once again I’ve planted too many. I have three varieties, including this one, called tromboncino, which needs to be staked if I want them to grow straight. This one’s still young.

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With starting a new job, I’ve dropped a couple of balls, one of which was missing these monsters!

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The cucumbers are ticking along and we’re getting just a good number for tea each day. I’m growing about five varieties, but they’re all climbing over each other, so I’m not sure whether I’m getting fruit that’s true to each variety.

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In really exciting news, we now have a bee hive in the garden, and the bees are hopefully fertilising everything. They are certainly very active, especially on warmer days.
The corn is nearly ready and I’m really looking forward to that.

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Coming on well, but not ready yet are the pumpkins. Once again I have so many varieties, all jumbled in together. Here’s a selection.

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TO DO
Just keep picking and eating I think. I’m putting aside lots for the winter.

PLANTING
I’d like to get some more greens in the ground for succession, and I could do some mulching, but I’m not setting myself up for too much hard work this month.
Thank to Lizzie from the Garden Share Collective for hosting this blog hop.

December and January, in which my garden is left to fend for itself

Firstly sorry to the readers and to Lizzie from the Garden Share Collective for my tardiness in writing this post. We have been on a wonderful holiday, driving across Australia for Christmas and my Mum’s 70th birthday celebrations. December’s deadline passed in frantic preparations, and January was spent away. I did, however get to take some quick photos of the garden before I left, and photos from the same angle after we returned.
Do you know those days or weeks when you spend time in the garden and look back at the end of it and think “You can’t even see where I’ve been!”? Well, I now know what happens if you don’t do the jobs, and I won’t be fooled again. The kids were great when we got back from the trip, spending a day helping unpack, but also tying tomatoes, weeding, pruning and generally de-jungling the veggie patch. (Un-jungling, perhaps?)
The other blessing was wonderful friends and neighbours who kept the watering going, and hopefully enjoyed the eggs and fruit.
PICKING
At the moment I am picking zucchini (nine huge ones when I returned), bok choy, radish, mizuna, squash, onions, and cabbage. I’m also picking some Brussels sprouts, but they are so aphid challenged that I haven’t brought myself to eat any yet.

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On the fruit front I picked the very last apricots (we missed almost all of them while on holidays), gooseberries (the gooseberry sauce I made was great with duck), and citrus. Here is the Aunty Collector, collecting gooseberries instead.

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Before we left we enjoyed kilos of raspberries, cherries and blackberries, and I’ve frozen a lot of them.

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PLANTING
I have planted more beans (the rabbits enjoyed the last seedlings), and more carrots, having read an article on how much chemical goes onto a commercial carrot.
TO DO
I’ve read that I should be pruning my cherry and apricot trees at this time of year, so I’d like to do that this weekend, as well as clean out some things that are finished, like the last few cabbages. We also need to net the pear trees. Sadly it is too late for the apples. Parrots came and took the lot while we were away, according to the neighbours.
Finally here are some before and after shots of various garden beds.
Enjoy! (and let this be a lesson to us all)

Tomato beds before and after

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Asparagus, before and after

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Onions, before and after, with tomatoes to the right

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The pumpkin patch, with view which remains beautiful with no work from me!

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Zucchinis, before and the aftermath

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Corn, before only

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Tomatillos, no before photo sorry

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Capsicums and eggplants, before and after

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The herb garden, after

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Cucumbers, before

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November, in which I have a burst of energy

Firstly, let me state from the outset that I love Mr Gorgeous. He has been co-working with me in the garden, and the result are far more than double what I could achieve alone.
He keeps me out there when I could lose interest, he works like a Trojan, and he is much stronger than me, so big jobs get done. Not only that, his interest spurs me on during the week.
So, this weekend, we have been doing a big spring clean. Horse poo has been shovelled, beds have been weeded, planted and mulched, and the summer veggie patch is starting to take place.

HARVEST
The asparagus is going well. I get about a bunch a day, which means enough to eat it for a side veg every couple of days.

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The strawberries, which are now netted, are producing the first red berries, although they are not super sweet yet, compared with last year. I transplanted them quite late, so they are not as robust as usual.

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In the other beds we have been getting a steady supply of kale, silverbeet, and snow peas. I also picked and bottled a batch of beet root. Also, the onions are doing super, and I’m picking heaps. I’m picking them green and using the stem and whatever bulb there might be, because they are all self seeded from last year, and I have no clue which will set bulbs, and which are spring onions. The leeks, at least, are easy to spot.

PLANTING
Going in at the moment are tomatoes, tomatillos, capsicum, corn, beans (in industrial quantities, because I can’t decide which variety to grow), pumpkins, melons, chillies, zucchini, cucumbers and leafy greens. Below are pics of the pumpkin patch, which has chicken visitors, and the seedlings, which are fewer in number now than when the picture was taken, because some have gone into the ground yesterday.

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TO DO
Keep planting. The rest of the seedlings need to go in, and I should start another batch of greens in punnets. Sort out the reticulation for summer. Mulch everything. I would like to look over my seed catalogues and check I haven’t missed anything. Net the fruit trees and berries. As you can see, we have a lot of fruit coming.

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If you enjoy reading about growing food, why not visit some of the other gardens in the Garden share Collective. There are some wonderful gardeners out there with great ideas.

In which my garden is saved by sunshine and friendship

Honestly, I thought I’d never get back into the garden. The weather has been miserable, the weeds had grown high, and Mr Gorgeous has been too busy to be of any moral or practical support.
I’ve been dashing past on the way to the chickens, trying not to look at my weed strangled vegetables, or the rabbit damage.
Fast forward to last week, when my lovely friend Jenny came and weeded with me for the day. She and I spend occasional days in each others’ gardens, chatting about books and children and life in general, while we prune, or weed, or plant, or whatever needs doing. Never has it been more appreciated than this week, when we cleaned out no fewer than five vegetable beds in need of weeding. I’m so grateful I could weep, as it then gave me the push I needed to get into another two beds, one of which is now planted with strawberries which have been moved from where they were last year.

Then, to my great joy, my Gorgeous got a free afternoon, and spent it digging with me and moving strawberries. I love that man!
For the last three years I have dug, separated and replanted my strawberries, and the yields have been way up. Last year I had two picks of 1.5kg each, and many more on the other days. I’m much later moving them this year. I know I should have done it a month or two ago, but better late than never, I hope.
The daffodils are blooming along the old fence line, so it must be spring!

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Here’s one of the beds Jenny helped me weed. The onions underneath are thriving, and the brassicas are coming along, but not ready to pick yet.

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I’m trying to decide what to do with these capsicums. In Perth I would have cut them off for another year’s crop. So far they’ve never survived this long here, so I don’t know whether to pull them out, or prune them hard and see. Does anyone else have success in Victoria with keeping capsicums over winter?

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No matter what state the garden is in, the view is always beautiful.

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The citrus are in full fruit. Here’s the grapefruit which sadly lost a couple of limbs thanks to the weight of the fruit, and my lack of diligence. If anybody wants a grapefruit, let me know!

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This bed looks great after weeding. The rabbits haven’t eaten the kale yet, but I was worried that now that the weeds are gone, they’d been able to find them, so I’ve sprinkled lots of blood and bone around just in case.

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The rabbits definitely HAVE been in the parsley. What a chomp they’ve had. Blood and bone has been sprinkled here also, so I’ll see if the damage stops.

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Yay! Asparagus season is just beginning, and with all the eggs we’re getting, I think there will be a lot of asparagus soufflé on the menu, and steamed asparagus with our lamb. Yum. (Plenty of blood and bone here too!)

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I’ve finally pruned my fruit trees, after a talk in church in which the speaker mentioned in passing that he had done his pruning VERY LATE, and since mine wasn’t even done yet, I went straight home and did it. Now I know that wasn’t his point, but I take inspiration where I can!

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Our satsuma plum is absolutely COVERED in blossom. We’ll have either lots of plums or lots of broken limbs if I’m not careful.

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PLANTING
I’ve been busy in the sunshine planting seeds. I’ve planted up 60 punnets of summer vegetables including tomatoes, pumpkins and melons, capsicum and chilli, as well as lettuce and other salad greens. I haven’t put any seeds in the soil yet, but I’d like to put in one more lot of peas while there’s some cool weather left. Is it too late for potatoes?

HARVESTING
Little Miss Sunny, who is 18, has discovered kale chips, so the kale harvest is going full speed, and they being cooked and consumed by the teenagers (and us when we can get our hands on them) at all hours of the day.
We have buckets of citrus -lemons, grapefruit, oranges, limes and mandarins.

TO DO
Still five beds to be weeded. About 400 strawberry plants to dig up and hopefully give away. (Any takers?) lots more manure to add to the garden. That will do for now!
Thanks to Lizzie from the Garden Share Collective for hosting a garden round up. Pop over and have a look at some other gardens if you’re interested.
http://www.strayedtable.com/2014/09/01/garden-share-collective-september-2014/

In which I climb onto the roof

Please, nobody tell Mr Gorgeous, but I have been up on the roof. Not that I’m a stranger to the roof, but I usually go up when someone else is home to either catch me, put me back together or call an ambulance should I fall off.
I blame the garden Share Collective. I’m doing my post for June, and there’s not so much happening, so I thought a wide shot would show the garden, and therefore me, in the best light.
I have three main sections of vegetable garden, and I’ve tried to get a picture of each, although there are quite a few branches in the way. The shed roof would have been better, but I thought that one roof was enough for the day.

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This month, I will be blogging a quick lick and promise, as I have very limited time, but I hope to have more to tell you next time.

PLANTING
Some of everything is in, except broad beans, but I will do some succession planting of lettuce, Asian greens and peas.

TO DO
Weed, or mulch. The horse manure we got has a bit of fine grass seed in it, so I’ll need to deal with those babies while they’re small.

HARVEST
Not a lot this month. Some late tomatoes, and some capsicum and chili. I also have lots of spinach in various forms. (Warragul greens, silver beet, English spinach).
On the other hand, thanks to bumper harvests over Summer, and even before, and my large freezer, I have gone through all of May without buying a vegetable, and I still have some left. I’ve been doing a no shop challenge during May, and frankly, at the end of the month, I still have an embarrassingly large amount of food in the house. I think I’ll keep going for a couple more weeks.
So that’s all I have to report for today, but I’ll do better next time.

In which I struggle to regain my gardening spark

We have decided not to enter our garden in the local open garden this year. The decision has left me a little short for inspiration in the garden, especially with a lot of digging due to be done. Mr Gorgeous came to the rescue yesterday and dug two beds for me, so I have finally planted some winter crops.

I have however been busy dealing with the harvest, and for those who are interested in what happens to it all, I’m blogging at Donnaisplayinghouse where this month I’m going to have a red hot go at not buying any food for all of May. This is the second time I’ve done this challenge, and it’s been a great way to get towards the bottom of the cupboard, fridge and freezer, and to really be frugal with my resources.

I have been most encouraged though by a visit from Linda from Chloe’s Garden who popped in for a look at the garden, and within a week managed to solve my two biggest garden searches. I have been looking for a small capsicum to stuff like they do at the supermarket, and have been growing different varieties for a couple of years in the hope of finding the perfect one. Well, thanks to Linda, I now have seeds! Also, I’ve been wanting to grow tree onions, and again thanks to Linda I have a supply to get me started. What a treasure she is!

Thanks (and congratulations on the new bub) to Lizzie from the Garden share collective for hosting this blog share, and getting me off my backside and into the garden so I wouldn’t be completely ashamed of myself.

What I’m picking
Tomatoes, still, but the quality and quantity are both way down. I got enough for two meals with yesterday, but only a handful were nice enough to eat raw. I oven roasted the rest, half for tea, half for the freezer.

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Pumpkins, all at once.

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Capsicums and chillis. These have been very late bloomers and I hope I get a few more to turn red before the cold weather really hits.

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The last of the apples and pears. The pears will mostly be cooked, as the kids don’t especially like this variety raw in their lunch boxes.

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Beets. Now cooked and ready to bottle, as that’s Mr Gorgeous’s favourite.

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What I’m planting
Lots of brassicas, greens like mizuna and lettuce and chicory and Pak Choy, onions, late beets, garlic, hopefully soon some peas and broad beans.

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What I need to do
Get enthused.
Dig.
Plant.
Compost.
Just do it.