Wednesday, June 13, 2007

In the Garden

These past couple of months we have been making our first attempt at vegie gardening. Actually it's technically not our first attempt. We did try to grow some tomatoes and herbs at our last place with very limited success. This is however, our first attempt here and our first attempt at "serious" vegie gardening.

It took him a little while but in April DH finally built and filled in a small vegie patch area for me. He's built a frame for the second area but our soil here isn't real good and so we plan to buy in some compost to fill the second plot. We do have our own compost heap but I think it might take me a decade to make enough compost. LOL. With chooks the compost is only growing very slowly - especially at this time of year when growth of lawn and weeds has slowed down considerably. I have started to fill in the bottom of the plot though. Started with some cardboard boxes (recycling) and have shifted a pile of grass clippings and some partly decomposed hay that I found around the place (outside of our house yard). When it's done I actually want to try square foot gardening in that plot (rather than planting in rows).

I would love one day to be able to grow most of our own fruit and veg. That has to be a long term goal as we only have one struggling to survive orange tree at the moment. Babysteps, babysteps. No point in buying any more fruit trees until DH has the chance to dig up some of our clay and add gypsum or whatever he plans to do to give the soil better drainage. I also like the idea of using the chooks to help compost and fertilise sections of the garden. That will require some more building by DH though so I guess it'll be a while before we get that happening.

So far I have discovered that I can grow lettuce!!! Well, it's a start but we can't exist on lettuce alone. LOL. We've been using on the lettuce for about a month now and it's been lots of fun to actually eat something from the garden. I changed the menu plan tonight to have Tacos while we can still eat the lettuce from the garden. It was quite funny to have DH pop out in the middle of dinner to pick a bit more lettuce as we'd eaten all he picked before tea. Mmmm...freshly picked organic lettuce. Don't think we can get much healthier than that. It's so great the way you pick some leaves of lettuce and the plant just grows more. I've heard you can only do that a certain number of times before the leaves start to get bitter but so far so good. As soon as the frosts set in though I think that will be the end of the lettuces until the end of frost season. My lettuce seeds cost me a whole $1.10 to buy and so far we've saved ourselves buying at least 3 heads of lettuce at $3.50 each. So at least we're well ahead there.

Unfortunately lettuce is the only thing we've managed to successfully grow so far. There's no problem with getting the seeds to pop out of the ground. In fact, I've had a lot of satisfaction seeing those tiny seedlings emerge from the soil. I never imagined that gardening could provide such a buzz!!! But we are fighting a losing battle with BUGS - they keep eating my seedlings! :-( I have found some organic methods for deterring bugs (and shhh - did use a bit of poison stuff we had on hand - so much for my organic gardening) but with all the drizzly weather it's hard to keep up. I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to keep fighting or give up for now. I know my grandmother (who was an avid gardener) used to say she couldn't be bothered with winter vegies because of the amount of bugs around.

Our peas started off well and they haven't been consumed by creepy crawly things. But they have developed some kind of disease that's affecting them from the ground up and so they are growing very slowly. Some of them are flowering so *maybe* we'll get a few peas yet. Whether we'll get enough to make it worth our while remains to be seen.

Well, I'm not giving up yet. We're new to this and we're still learning. Gotta expect a few hiccups along the way. I must admit it's been a lot more fun (despite our setbacks) than I ever thought it would be. :-)


Anonymous said...

Hey, now you are beginning to scare me - maybe you are my secret twin!? We are starting our sfg method vegie patch (this weekend hopefully). We have cleared the area but have been saving up to buy sleepers, compost, etc AND we have one straggly-trying-to-survive orange tree which we found in the corner of our yard when we chopped down our big old pine tree! It has 3 pale oranges on it though! I have heard that bugs are the biggest problem when trying to grow own vegies - have you looked into companion planting at all? Don't know if it would make any difference... Hope you have some success despite them though!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot to mention above post was posted by Madly Saving from SS! (must be my bed time)

lightening said...

Hey Madly Saving - that is quite interesting how similar our lives seem to be running at the moment. :-) I've not grown any oranges on my tree so you're doing better than me! I've seen some stuff about companion planting but haven't really tried it (or gotten my head around it). Wasn't really wanting to take up too much space in my vegie patch but then again - if I'm not growing any vegies cos the bugs keep eating them, it's probably worth sacrificing some space.

Anonymous said...

Last summer we planted capsicums, snow peas, strawberries, tomatoes and butternut pumpkins which were actually qld blues! Must have got the seeds mixed up from dad! LOL! I prefer butternut but will use the other too.Even our boys really enjoyed watching the plants flower, then fruit, and picking etc and I am still using some of the capsicums which are smaller but tastier than shop ones! We had an overabundance of tomatoes but we got lots of joy from giving many away as well as using them up, freezing them as puree etc and even mum made chutney for us! Delicious. Beware that cherry tomato plants can give thousands of fruit but also lots of joy and fun too.
We have planted a couple of silver beet and cabbage seedlings this winter, due to lack of time and motivation right now!
Not sure if we will be able to grow more in summer because of the new tighter water restrictions coming in. What a pain!
Great to hear you are enjoying eating your lettuce though. It makes ones day hey?