Saturday, November 10, 2007

What's Growing in My Garden?

Given I list gardening as one of the things you might find on this blog, I thought it was about time I did a post about my garden. I seem to have finally graduated from only being able to grow lettuce in the garden. LOL. Which is nice.

I HAVE to start with a photo of my very first strawberry. And yes, I did get to eat this one myself. In fact, I ate both of the first 2 that were ripe. LOL. Don't tell the rest of the family! I've lost count of the number of times I've attempted to grow strawberries without success. At our last house the soil wasn't great and we were still very much novice gardeners. I managed to get a few growing but nothing of much value. Last year I was determined to grow some but my chooks had other ideas and scratched them all up again!

Well, this year I seem to have finally had some success. These are growing in pots on the front verandah. Away from pecking chooks! I'm not sure how clear it will be in this photo but I counted 30 strawberries on 1 plant in this pot. This is my most successful plant and I bought it as a single, more mature plant. Those that I bought as smaller plants have struggled a lot more and while those that survived seem to be going better now, I think paying the extra for a more mature plant might be the way to go.

Here is the garden bed we set up at the beginning of August. It looks a bit different now to how it looked back then . It's not easy to tell from the photo but a number of the "empty" sections have seeds in them which have sprouted. Unfortunately I was a bit slack when I planted the seeds and didn't record what went where. So being a novice gardener we may have to wait until the "fruit" appears before we can tell which plants are where. LOL. Oh well, I don't mind a bit of a surprise. :-)

This is a view from the other angle. We have lettuces and silverbeet growing like crazy to the left and some beetroot plants to the right. Some of the beetroot is ready to be pulled and eaten. Fresh beetroot will be a new experience for the family. The yellow-ish colours you can see dotted around the plot are Marigolds I planted from seeds my Grandma collected. I'm hoping they'll work well as companion plants amongst the tomato plants I've planted.

Here are some seedlings I purchased yesterday. I decided to just "go nuts" and buy a heap of seedlings. I am having some success growing things from seed but I do find with a lot of plants, it's fighting an uphill battle with bugs to get them to a healthy seedling stage. Those I've started as seedlings have thrived a lot better in the garden. The store was kind enough to give me a seedling tray to hold my seedlings while I was choosing (and to take them home in too). I think that worked out in their favour because I ended up deciding I may as well fill it up so the seedlings would make the 2 hour trip home a little better.

I bought 3 punnets of sweetcorn. DH LOVES his fresh sweetcorn so crossing my fingers we can grow a bit for him to enjoy. Then 1 punnet each of celery, apple cucumber, jap pumpkin, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, strawberries and zucchini. Now I just have to grow at least $35 worth of food from that lot to recoup my investment. Most of these will be planted in my first garden plot where the peas, lettuces and broccoli are just finishing.

I honestly never expected that I would *ever* grow much of a garden, especially a vegie garden. It just didn't interest me at all. But now that my life has slowed down a little, I'm finding the time to potter in the garden and it is a wonderfully renewing experience. I'm afraid I may be well and truly addicted to growing our food now. LOL. It's so exciting watching things grow and then being able to EAT them. The rest of the family seems to be enjoying the process as well. :-)


Snoskred said...

I was reading somewhere one of the secrets to a healthy veg garden is planting flowers as well - to attract the insects which will kill the bugs. ;)

I bought a healthy bug spray which contains garlic, chili and pyretheum. or however you spell that. The natural insect repellant you get from daisies, I think it is. The bugs did not like this. You only have to leave it one day before using the vegetables unlike some of the other pest killers.

Another answer is spiders. I have developed a new love for (some of) them since I found an orb weaver eating ladybirds which were eating my herbs. I tried to help him out by adding a few ladybirds to his web, but they wouldn't stick there. I need tweezers for a surgical strike, I think. :)

I just went outside and found this HUGE green caterpillar knocking the flowers off my hibiscus! I went looking for the tweezers to add him to the spider web but I couldnt find them so I ended up with a pair of tongs. I picked up the caterpillar but couldn't seem to make it attach to the web without breaking the web- it was probably too big.

I never thought I'd grow a garden either but I am loving it. I never thought I would LIKE a spider, let alone have a spider friend I visit daily and talk to!


Kez said...

It's looking great! I have a couple of seedling tomatoes in and that;s it atm.. Very sad!

Ali said...

13-14 years ago I could never understand why people liked gardening ~ now I'm a horticulturalist and I couldn't imagine not being able to tend to my plants and growing and eating home grown vegies :)

Your vegie patch looks so healthy ~ Are those string lines I can see for square foot gardening?!

River said...

A plot which has had above ground leafy crops should be planted with below ground crops such as carrots which don't need high nutritional requirements. The leafy vegetables are "gross feeders" taking much from the soil. Ideally your bed should be growing a green manure crop to be dug back in to replenish it, or grow beans which will fix nitrogen back into the soil. Beans double as food and green manure. When they've finished fruiting, slash the plants and dig them in. If you need to use that same bed straight away, refresh the soil with a bag of chook manure (dynamic lifter) or cow manure and sprinkle in a couple of good sized handfuls of blodd and bone, then dig it all in and water thoroughly. Wait a day or so before planting it.

lightening said...

Snoskred - wow. Not sure I'll EVER develop a liking for spiders. LOL. Had a giggle at you actually attempting to feed your "pet" spider. :-) I was thinking ladybirds were a *good* thing in the garden. Must depend on what plants are growing I guess. I have HEAPS of them. Actually I *have* heaps of bugs full stop but as long as I'm getting something from my plants, I'm not too worried about them. My winter crop was a disaster though - plants didn't grow fast enough to outgrow what the bugs were eating.

Kez - I reckon if you only grow 1 thing over summer, tomatoes should be it. So you've made a good start!

Ali - yeah, it's divided up into a square foot garden although the overall bed is too large for what they recommend. I have a bit of a path cutting through the middle (both ways) so I can walk the 1 track and not stop on the rest of the garden. It makes planting so much easier having it all divided up like that! I love it!

River - thanks for all that information. I'm still trying to get my head around crop rotation etc. Lots of trial and error type learning happening here. :-) Our recycled water adds a certain amount of nutrition as well so I'm hoping that will help. I've been adding our chook manure to the compost but it isn't doing all that well. :-( Keeping it wet seems to be a problem.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for showing us your vegie patch. Just started our long awaited square foot garden too and it is looking good! Can hardly wait to eat some of it!
Madly Saving

Anonymous said...

I just placed started a blog to keep track of my sfg ( Hope mine ends up looking as healthy as yours!
Madly Saving

Frogdancer said...

I am with you on your last paragraph. Veggie garden?? You've got to be kidding! Why would anyone want to do that???

(Of course, for 13 years I was living with/married to a fruiterer, so that may have had something to do with it!) I had a whole fruit shop to live out of.

Don't silver beet and lettuce grow crazy? I've also got spinach that is as big as dinner plates. One of today's jobs is to chop it and freeze it. I envy you having the time to potter around in the garden during the day. I normally just have time on the weekends (along with eveything else), though now daylight saving is here I have a bit more time up my sleeve. Did you get yellow cherry tomatoes? Extra yum.

Simple Blog Writer said...

Okay, that's it. I'm jealous.


lightening said...

SBW - that was my whole aim - to make you jealous. LOL. What's the weather like where you are? Can you grow anything this time of year?

Frogdancer - I kinda feel like a grandma. Mine was always the gardener in the family so I associated gardening with being "old". LOL. I think you do an amazing job to fit in everything you do.

Madly Saving - WELL DONE on starting your own blog!!!! Your garden is looking great. I'm glad you've finally got the garden you've been hankering after for a while. Setting up is a bit of a chore but I LOVE my garden all divided up into squares. If you want to, you can sign in when you comment on here which will create a link for people to find your blog easily. I MUST remember to add you to my blogroll too. :)

Jill said...

Your garden is looking great, it looks to me like you are VERY experienced and knowledgable!

rhonda jean said...

Hello Lightening! I made it over. LOL I love your garden. You've done such a great job, I'm really proud of you.

I hope you plant all your corn fairly close together in a block so they can pollinate each other. Corn needs a lot of water too, they soak up every drop you give them.

I forget where you live now, is it SA? In the middle of summer you might need to give your plants some sun protection. I am an old fashioned gardener and use blood and bone and potash. They're organic and will help you produce good crops. Basically the blood and bone (nitrogen) goes on leafy crops, and thing that fruits - tomatoes, strawberries etc need a bit of potash. It encourages flowering. Make sure you water in well. Don't give your flowering plants too much nitrogen as they will tend to produce a lot of green leaves and not so much fruit.

Good luck with your garden. Don't be put off by your failures, you will have them, but you'll get better each year. The food you grow is the absolute you can eat, so you're doing the best thing for your family.

lightening said...

Jill - you're too kind! :)

Rhonda Jean - thanks for dropping by. I'm a bit worried that my corn might be *too* close together but we'll see how it goes. Thanks for your help - will see about getting some potash. I wonder if the nitrogen might explain why my broccoli grew magnificent plants with very little heads?