Posts Tagged ‘potatoes’

In which I harvest like a crazy woman

March has been a big month for harvesting in the garden. My kitchen bench seems to be permanently covered in produce which needs to be dealt with urgently. Some days it seems to take all day! Cucumbers have been compulsory at every meal, and lots is being put aside for leaner days.

Other than a hand of bananas for some lovely guests, we didn’t buy any fruit or vegetables in March. We have eaten watermelon, rockmelon, apples and pears – two kinds of each. There are also grapefruit on the tree, but they will wait until the apples are all done. On occasion, the kids still look blankly into the crisper of the fridge and have to be told that the apples are still on the trees; such is the power of habit. I try to get them to bring in an armful when they go down to get one.

For this month’s blog, I thought I’d do a tour of the vegetable beds, and look at what I’m harvesting, what I’m planting, and what I need to do. It is quite long, sorry, as I have a lot of beds. At least looking at them all doesn’t take as long as weeding them! The first bed pictured here has some blueberries and artichoke at the back, and has had potatoes and zucchini this year. I took a before photo…

IMGP3913

Then went through and harvested the zucchinis and potatoes and took an after photo. I’ll plant some peas in here I think, because the soil looks a bit tired, and I think it could do with some extra nitrogen.

IMGP3914

Here’s the harvest. The potatoes, mostly kippflers, and some desiree came to the level top of my basket, and the zucchini, including the one that got away are on the top. We had a great meal of the potatoes last night. We picked up a BBQ with a lid for $40 at a garage sale, so I wrapped the spuds in alfoil with butter, chilli and rosemary, and roasted them in the BBQ. Very nice indeed.

IMGP3915
The next bed along has had beans, eggplant and capsicums and chillies. The eggplant is nearly all done, the capsicums are still going strong – just hitting their straps really, but the beans have all died really suddenly. The leaves went yellow and mottled, and they just stopped producing. I found quite a few juvenile vegetable bugs on the beans, but I suspect that wasn’t the whole story. Anyway, I grabbed what I could and pulled them all out. I think that I’ve neglected the soil a bit this year, and that could be the cause of my issues. I’m predicting a big manure week.
IMGP3919

IMGP3916

IMGP3925

IMGP3930

Still, the view as the Aunty Collector and I worked, and the lovely weather this weekend made for a pleasant afternoon. When we had finished our work, the Aunty Collector grabbed the stakes and corn stalks, and had a great time making a tepee of sorts, and then trying to keep the dog out of it.(Unsuccessfully)

IMGP3917

IMGP3962

The strawberry patch is a weedy disaster. I left the netting on too long so instead of grabbing a weed or two, or throwing on some mulch as I went past, things just grew like topsy under the netting. It’s a mess of runners, weeds, and I don’t know what else. Last year, I pulled everything up at the start of winter and just replaced the strawberry plants, and I got kilos of strawberries, so I think I’ll do the same again this year. Only with more mulch. And with remembering to take the netting off. And with more vigilance.

IMGP3921
This next bed is mostly clover since I pulled the onions and leeks. There are a few eggplants at the back, but although they have flowers, I may have put them in too late to get fruit. We’ll see.
IMGP3922
The corn and beans at the back are all done. Same bean problem here too. The silverbeet in the middle is THRIVING, and the beets are coming on well.
IMGP3924

IMGP3934

IMGP3926

Photo Credit: The Aunty Collector

The next three beds are where the rockmelons were. For the first time this year I’ve separated them from the pumpkins, and they’ve produced fruit. I can’t believe it took six years of swamped melons and no fruit to come up with that brainwave! There are still beans (fairly healthy) and cucumbers producing here.
IMGP3941

IMGP3942

IMGP3943
The asparagus is growing large and will be feeding the roots. I’ll need to get some manure here too.
IMGP3945
I planted some painted mountain corn. The ears are so beautiful. I’m drying it to see if I can make popcorn, but I have to admit I don’t know what I’m doing, and early experiments are NOT promising. Still, it’s giving me a great deal of pleasure as it graces the kitchen bench.
IMGP3953

Lastly the tomatoes and pumpkins are providing lots of colour and lots of meals. I’m roasting and freezing the tomatoes in Chinese food containers for winter meals. Between that, the lamb and the grated zucchini, the freezer is groaning. The purple ties you see here are an old pair of thermals!

IMGP3963

 

 

IMGP3966

This poor tomato must have missed out on water. What a sorry specimen

IMGP3967

IMGP3956

PLANTING
When my mum was here last year, she sorted my seeds so I could see what I should be (could get away with…) buying. Last week I finished the sort, and labelled the bags, and the resulting tidiness makes me happy.

20140406-205519.jpg

I’ve planted brassicas, leafy greens some late beets, and some onions. They’re happily residing in the little greenhouse.
20140406-205536.jpg

Thanks to Lizzie from the Garden Share Collective for hosting the garden blog share. If you’ve enjoyed reading about this, you’ll probably enjoy the other gardens there too. There are lots of ideas and lots of great gardens.

The Garden Share Collective

 

Advertisements

January, in which I chronicle the ups and downs

Firstly, Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. May this be a wonderful year full of blessings.

As I write this, it is pouring outside. I was just thinking I’d have to water the garden, but all is well. I grew up on the other side of the country, outside Perth where it seemed we were always on water restrictions, and waiting for rain. Rain was always a relief, and even now, after 10 years living in rainy Gippsland, I still feel safe when it rains. Even at the end of winter, I’m not sick of it. Even when it’s boggy outside, rain still makes me happy. Especially today, when the garden was just starting to look thirsty.

One of the best things about having a big garden is having lots of people in it. We were able to have an open house on Boxing Day, and the weather was perfect. We played our new Christmas games, Finska (like 10 pin bowling meets darts) and my fabulous new backyard Scrabble game made by Missy Moo and the Aunty Collector, with some help from Mr Gorgeous. Yay kids, I love it!
20140105-220447.jpg

The first sunflower has just opened. I think last year’s flowers cross pollinated. I had a sunflower called Lilac Spray from Diggers’ Club and this flower seems to be half Lilac spray and half Giant Russian, judging by the height of the flower.Does anybody else have problems with their sunflowers leaning over. Mine seem to start lurching from a very young age. This year, and last, I have planted them near the back verandah, and have strapped them up with a maze of strings. The bottom isn’t so pretty, but my flowers are all standing to attention….except the ones down the back that I haven’t quite got to yet. These sunflowers are also just near the kennel of Mollie the Collie so hopefully she’ll stop them getting in too early. The seeds will go to our chickens once they’re ready.

20140105-072313.jpg

20140105-215523.jpg
The herb garden is now a real riot of herbs, and is ready for another clean out. We’ve been eating lots of herbs in a happy accidental recipe discovery. We were given a sandwich press a few years ago, by some friends who stay with us when they go to the Phillip Island Grand Prix, and have discovered it makes great omelettes, cooking the top and bottom at the same time. So with our chickens giving us 5 eggs a day, it’s the perfect meal. I chop 5 or so herbs into individual dishes, then each family member can choose what herbs they want with their 2 egg omelette. Quick, easy, and the kids reckon they could eat it every day. Not to mention the fact that they feel like they’re ordering their meals a la carte.

20140105-072339.jpg

The tomatoes are a riot of leaves, and finally some fruit setting. I’m always late getting fruit, perhaps because I grow from seed, perhaps because I’m always late getting things into the ground. In amongst the tomatoes, (which are planted too close, but I’m quite thin, and I’m tying them up, and anyway I have a skinny kid if I get desperate) are a bit of calendula, and lots of borage. I’m pulling the borage out in succession to make way for tomatoes and putting it into the compost. We gave away an oven a few months ago to someone who turned out to be a permaculture teacher, and she told me borage was a compost activator. So far I’d only used comfrey. Are there any other plants that do the same thing? Anyway I’m happily pulling out borage. I’ll just leave a few to bring the bees.

20140105-072348.jpg

This year I’m trying tomatillos. Last year I picked up a few at the West Gippsland Permaculture Group’s Swap table. (They are so kind…I didn’t even have anything to swap in) I made salsa which was delicious, even though I can’t remember what a tomatillo tastes like. So this year I’m growing my own. Maybe I’ll even take some up to the Rokeby Market and sneak them onto the WGPG Swap table!

20140105-072356.jpg

I know I say this every year, but I’m giving melons ONE LAST TRY. My excuse other years is that they were crowded by the pumpkins, and that’s why in the last three years I’ve had one measly rockmelon and not a single watermelon. I grow varieties that are designed for short summers (though perhaps not for the wintery conditions outside at the moment), so hopefully an improvement in their living conditions will encourage them to fruit.

20140105-072402.jpg

This bed is the site of the latest rampage by the chickens. The gate has dropped, and the wind blew it open I think. Then in marched the chickens. They dug for potatoes, scratched around the melons, and dug up quite a few of the capsicums, chillis and eggplants in this photo. I replanted those I found and gave the bed a good water and apart from a few that disappeared completely, they will almost certainly recover. No real harm done, despite first appearances. Some of the plants had been buried 4 inches deep.
At the back of the bed are the scarlet runner beans. They are just showing a few small beans now, so probably 10 days or so until our first beans. My other beans got completely waterlogged, and so I replanted them yesterday. Perhaps it will work out for the best, and they’ll be ready after these scarlet runners are finished. Who knows?

20140105-072413.jpg

The potatoes are being dug up bit by bit as we need them. This end is the Kipflers which have been doing overtime in potato salads. The sweet peas behind are well and truly finished but have been beautiful enough for us to bring them inside despite the allergies.
20140105-072423.jpg

The zucchini glut is, I suspect, just beginning. All seven plants have thrived, and that is too many. Let me know if you need one!

20140105-072432.jpg

20140105-072440.jpg
The corn is up and doing well. Oh, and more beans! I forgot about those!
20140105-072447.jpg

So, what to do next?
I’ve got a small time window in which I can plant a few last summer crops.
I still haven’t pruned the lemon tree.
Also, I need to rethink how I do the chickens’ roosts. Every month or so, they all get a big fright as the roost collapses, and I rig it up again using wire loops and nails. There has to be a better way.
That should keep me busy…

In which November has rushed by

December already?
What happened? All month I’ve been taking photos of interesting things in the garden,ready to blog, and life has taken over. It’s been a month full of happenings for the children, with our boarder “daughter” moving out, our eldest finishing school, with the associated exams and end of school functions, and our son getting ready for an overseas exchange.
The gardening has been done in very small bursts in between all this. Firstly, I’ve harvested all the broad beans. I’ve been harvesting for over a month taking some here and there as we’ve wanted them, but now I needed the space for summer vegetables, so they all came out at once. (6.5kg of pods to be exact). They were very lush, and produced really well.

20131130-071606.jpg

Of course I have had the help of Mollie the Collie, who has had the decency to leave the beans alone. She loves most other vegetables though, happily sticking her nose into the basket to pinch peas, asparagus and strawberries if I let her.
20131130-071624.jpg
Some of the beans have been pilfered by birds. I’m always impressed with the way they cut straight to the chase, taking only the sweet beans, and leaving the pod. (not impressed enough to let them get away with it if I spot them though)
20131130-071652.jpg
The family all like broad beans, but I suspect they’re not their favourite, as all the ways they like them best have the beans well disguised with garlic, soy or other flavours. I still grow heaps of them though because they add nitrogen to the soil. I took a photo of the roots to show the white beads of nitrogen. I scrape most of these off back into the soil before I compost the rest.
20131130-071703.jpg
The long awaited berry harvest has begun. First the strawberries, then red currants, and now the raspberries are fruiting. The raspberries in particular need picking every 48 hours, and freezing on trays before putting them in zip lock bags. My stash last the whole year of raspberry cordial, jam and desserts.
20131130-071735.jpg
I thought I’d include a pic of one day’s harvest to show what’s coming in at the moment. Picking is most of what I’m doing in the garden at the moment, and our evening meals are structured around what I’m getting. A recent cold snap has helped with using up the root vegetables, but I think that next weekend I’ll do a big pick and freeze of Swedes, Kohlrabi and parsnips.
20131130-071757.jpg
Even the flowers are in full bloom (just a month too late for open garden) We received this lovely vase from visitors a few years ago, and it’s perfect for this time of year.
20131130-071814.jpg
There’s a lot that’s ready. The onions, root crops and peas are all giving us food at the moment.
20131130-071855.jpg

20131130-071904.jpg
The potatoes are completely taking over this bed, but they’re flowering, so it won’t be long now til I can start burrowing.

With the netting over the raspberries, we’re now getting good crops.
20131201-164245.jpg
The netting on the strawberries is about 10 times what we need, but the netting that was the right size got completely mauled by the dog when a bird got stuck in it. This, although completely over the top, is doing the job nicely.
20131201-164253.jpg
They cherries are so close! We tried a couple today that had turned pink and fallen off, but they were still a couple of days away.
20131201-164304.jpg
So, finally, the to do list. Still on the list sadly is sit and enjoy the garden, which I haven’t had time to do. Not on the list, thankfully, is mow the grass in the picture above, as that got done today. (thank you Mr Gorgeous)

I still have a few last seedlings to put in, and I need to reseed some more beans which I think probably rotted in a fortnight of rain after I planted them. I want to learn how to prune the lemon tree hard, as it’s become too rangy.

I also need to work out how to keep swede do that I can use it later, so that’s a research job for me.

Also, try new egg recipes. We’re up to three dozen in the cupboard, and nobody’s let the chickens know we have enough. We have three sheep to pick up from the butchers this week, so I think lamb chops will also be on the menu.

Perhaps also, I want to blog once during December, just to show I can do it without a deadline looming.

Thanks to Lizzie from the Garden Share Collective for getting me going to share now. You can have a look at other gardens here:

In which I wish my motto was “small and often”

I have done too much in the garden and not enough on the computer this week. Now I have so much to tell you all!

Firstly, one of our chickens has gone clucky, sitting, staring to space, even being willing to let me change the straw all around her without getting startled. I’ve had trouble getting the girls up and going once they go clucky, so this year I decided to give her some eggs to sit on. As we really have enough chickens already, I figured three eggs would be sufficient. So I labelled them to stop my helpful children from gathering the wrong ones, and set them under her. What I didn’t account for was the level of attrition. After 10 days, we are down to one marked egg. I don’t want to give her any more, as the hatching times will be too different, but I really hope this one is alive!

20130907-080407.jpg

The labelled egg

I’ve got the potato crop in. I chose three varieties; one for potato salad, one for roasting, and an all purpose. This won’t feed the family in just these quantities, but will keep us in potatoes for several weeks at least.

20130907-080553.jpg

Desiree, Kipfler, and Russet Burbank

The garden bed where I’ve planted them is not really finished, but I couldn’t wait any longer. This is the place where we ripped up the old passionfruit rootstock earlier in the year. In breaking news, I had a big win at the local hardware store. I’d been trying to get untreated sleepers to edge the bed, and was going to have to settle for something fairly quick to break down, but the store had just five hardwood sleepers left over from an earlier ordering mixup, which they gave me very cheaply, so I was a very happy gardener. It did involve me getting them home on the courtesy trailer, but even that is seeming less scary these days, since the nice man at the tip showed me how to back one.

20130907-080601.jpg

The soon to be boxed up bed

I would consider that our garden has two really big events each year. One is the raspberry harvest, and the other is the flowering of the magnolia. This signals time for our annual family photos, and is one of the main reasons we have stayed in our older house – the magnolia and all the other older trees.

20130907-080545.jpg

Magnolia

20130907-080624.jpg

Our beautiful carpet hides the missing grass!

We’ve moved the sheep back home as the grass is on the move. There are lambs galore at the moment.

20130907-080610.jpg

One of my favourite bucolic scenes!

The garden is getting back into full productive swing after winter, and to celebrate, I’ve gone off shopping again! I need to buy dairy and some fruit, but with two sheep in the freezer, and about five eggs a day, we’re not really needing much at the moment.

20130907-080617.jpg

Tuesday’s harvest

We even have too much of a few things, so I was able to give them away. I’m not always so generous with the extras, as I try to preserve what I can, so that I have vegetables through the winter. By this time of year, I have enough veg left in my freezer to make two big (tomato-ey) meals if you’re OK with lots of spinach. I used the last of the pumpkins on Thursday, so perhaps a little less Kakai, and more eating pumpkins this year!

20130907-080642.jpg

We are blessed

I’ll update on the grass front in my next post. We have some green, but not a lawn by anyone’s definition!