Garden Notes – Raspberries and Rocket

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We have fruit trees and a vegetable garden.  Some years the vegetables garden does better than others.  A lot depends on the weather and how organised I am.

This year I have decided that I will make a concerted effort to successfully produce more of our own food.  Since the hot summer is over and we finally have some moderate autumn weather I have made a start on planting.

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The lettuce and kale seedlings which I planted about 5 weeks ago are now thriving full-sized plants and we are enjoying plenty of fresh lettuce.  I planted red cabbage seedlings about 10 days ago and they are established and looking healthy.

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On the weekend I sorted through a pile of seed packets which I store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Many of them are expired but I decided that I had nothing to lose by planting them.

There are bush beans interplanted with the red cabbage. Coriander and rocket are in the freshly-dug strip in the background of the same photo.  I am excited to report that exactly 48 hours after planting them, the rocket seeds have germinated and I now have hundreds of tiny, two-leaved seedlings.  Other beds have carrot, red onion, peas and radishes.  If they all grow I will have a bumper harvest, if not I will try again with some fresh seeds.

Some seeds are best raised in seed trays before transplanting them.  These include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery and spinach.  Here they are on a temporary potting table which I created from a couple of sawhorses and a piece of pool fencing.  There is another piece of pool fencing over the top in an attempt to prevent the chickens from digging them up when they are free-ranging.

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Here is a close-up of the trays with their labels cut out of an old ice-cream container.

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Finally, I wanted to show you the raspberry canes on the left-hand side of the photo below.

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We have a substantial clump of raspberry canes from the original 4 canes that we planted about 3 years ago.  In an attempt to control the growth of these we have tried to contain them using star pickets and a couple of strands of wire.  When we dig up the canes which are beyond the designated area we will plant them in the vacant area beside the gate.  Our goal is to have a raspberry patch stretching from the front boundary to the gate and extending 600mm either side of the fence which forms part of the garden enclosure.

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Many people are quite surprised that we can grow raspberries in our climate.  Ours are an autumn fruiting variety which are suited to our climate and we are very happy with the yield.  This year has been the best crop so far.  While we are not exactly inundated I am picking about 50 – 100g every few days at the moment and that is definitely enough to have for dessert with some ice-cream.

Growing our own food means that it is raised without pesticides and artificial fertiliser, it comes with no additional packaging and it saves us money.  What is there not to love?

 

 

 

What I Do

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It is nearly a week since I last posted and you are probably been wondering what I’ve been doing.  Some days I wonder the same thing.  My full-time job keeps me pretty busy and t here is always plenty to do when I am at home.  So much so that I barely have enough time (or energy) to blog about it.

Here is a sample of one of the things I did today.

GMan picked up a large bucket full of passionfruit that had fallen from the vine.  The easiest way to store passionfruit is to simply scoop out the pulp and freeze in ice-cube trays.

Some of the fruit ready to cut.

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Work in progress.

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Ready for the freezer.

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Despite the fact that the garden gets minimal attention we still manage to harvest a range of produce.  Over the past few weeks we have picked passionfruit, pineapple, mangoes, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, lettuce and raspberries.

A Quick Return

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Today I picked the first zucchinis of the season.  For an outlay of $2.50 for a punnet of 4 healthy seedlings on 12th September I have harvested 4 zucchini with a total weight of 1.2kg.

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This is only the start as there are plenty more small zucchini and flowers yet to mature.

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In just less than 6 weeks – 40 days to be precise – the transformation was complete.  The leaves are drooping in the heat of the day.  You can also see the last of the lettuce and bok choy which were planted at the same time and we had been harvesting for about 3 weeks.

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I have not grown a great deal over the past couple of years as I just seem to have been too busy but I am determined to make more of an effort and successes like these definitely inspire me to keep going.

 

 

 

 

A Bumper Crop

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It is just as well we like sweet potatoes.  Here is what we dug up on Sunday.  i Have not weighed them but there would have to be at least 20kg.

2016-04-05 01We dug these up from where they had become established in one of the cut down water tanks that we use for the compost.  The sweet potato vines were entwined with the raspberry canes so we decided it was time to pull them out and this was the result.

Sweet potato mash, fries, curry and soup – the options are endless.

I will definitely be trying this one, too.  Thanks, Julia.

 

Foodie Friday – Fit for the County Fair?

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Just a reminder that real food comes from real dirt.  We never actually set out to grow pumpkins – they come up self-sown in the compost and some are more successful than others.  This is by far the largest I have ever grown.  I picked it today and it weighs 8.7 kg or 19.2 pounds.

Pumpkin
I placed a 2 litre ice-cream container beside it in the photo for comparison.  This will make a lot of pumpkin soup!

Foodie Friday – Keeping it Local

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I am sure it is still Friday somewhere – my apologies for the lateness of this post – it is Saturday morning here.

How do we feed ourselves?  Food prices keep increasing, labelling laws are ambiguous, processed foods contain unfamiliar additives and food allergies appear to be on the rise.  Add to this, a desire to eat organically-grown food which I believe is better for my health and the health of the planet and it starts to feel a bit overwhelming.  While we are at it, the wasteful packaging needs to be minimised as well as transport costs, both monetary and environmental.  Don’t forget ‘food security’ – the latest catch-cry.  This is the ability for us, as a nation, to feed ourselves in the event of natural disasters or major changes to the world order.

Have you thrown up your hands in despair?  Fear not.  You can begin to solve all of these issues with a single action – grow some of your own food.

The Duke and I have a somewhat neglected but productive garden which sometimes surprises us with its bounty.  We both work full-time and have minimal time to spend on tending a garden.  We try to grow some annual vegetables but the real secret is in growing trees and perennials.  We have an avocado, peach, fig and several citrus trees.  There are blueberry bushes as well as self sown cherry tomatoes and pumpkins.  The clump of parsley has been in one spot for so long that it has a stalk that looks like the trunk of a tree.

It may seem obvious but it is also important to eat (or preserve) what you grow.  Do not let the harvest go to waste.

Keep your eyes open for food producing plants in your neighbourhood that are not being harvested.  Don’t be afraid to ask if you may have some.  There are many reasons that people do not harvest – lack of time, knowledge or health are but a few.

The last few weeks we have had access to the following (either fresh or frozen) from our own property or nearby – corn, blueberries, avocadoes, mangoes, figs, lemons, beans, pumpkins, and pineapples.  At times I have felt overwhelmed by the excess on the kitchen bench but I have endeavoured to make sure it was used or stored for later use.

Last weekend I kept track of what we ate.

SATURDAY

Breakfast – buckwheat blueberry pancakes

Lunch – platter of cheese, cherry tomatoes, avocado, dried figs and mango chutney

Dinner – Salmon with mango salsa and vegetables – everything came from the garden except the salmon and onion which I used in the salsa.

Dinner
SUNDAY

Breakfast – mango and pineapple smoothie

Smoothie
Lunch – Pumpkin soup

Dinner – grilled chicken with cherry tomatoes and mango/avocado salad

We certainly will never be completely self-sufficient but being able to produce at least some of the food that we eat goes a long way to addressing the myriad of issues that I identified in the first paragraph.  Eating local food also gives you an appreciation for what is in season in your area.  I really look forward to the new crop of things such as figs which have a short season.  We eat them constantly while in season then it is but a distant memory until next year.

You do not need a huge amount of space and even though you could not grow some of the thing that we do in your climate, the reverse is also true.  What do you grow?

 

Must Watch

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There is a relatively small amount of information and resources for Australians and it gives me great pleasure to share a link to a video which is made by Australians, about the Australian situation, using Australian statistics and information.  The video is titled ‘Waste Deep’ and was produced by the group at Sustainable Table.  The headline is “Waste Deep, a documentary that will change the way we cook and eat”.

This is not an over-the-top production designed for its shock value.  It simply and eloquently states the case for all of us to dramatically reduce our acceptance of plastic packaged, perfect food and the culture of convenience.

Please watch the video, preferably more than once.  Listen to the message and commit to acting to make a difference.  We all can make a difference.

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Some of the themes are menu planning, growing your own food, reducing the amount you buy at supermarkets, supporting bulk/loose food stores, taking you own containers to be refilled, buying direct from the farmer or Farmers’ Markets and reducing before recycling.

Although this is an Australian video, the message and actions are applicable wherever you live.

What are you already doing?  What are you going to do?  Please share your thoughts and ideas so that we can build an online network to follow these principles and make a difference.