Sunday, January 30, 2011

Veg update whilst hiding from the 40c outside!

In case Melbournians had forgotten, it is actually summer. Today is going to be 40 C.
Batten down the hatches / awnings and tie up that shade cloth, water deeply in the morning and don’t water the leaves!!! For once I followed my advice and did all the previously mentioned things, except I ran out of shade cloth and my poor purple leaved beetroots are already wilting in the hot sun and its only 11am!  Poor beetroots. I did harvest the last of what looks to be a
chioggia
beetroot (after having no success finding any growing from the mixed seed pack Grr) and it turned out to be very confused. What could have been the concentric red rings were more bloody smudges through the creamy flesh. Do chioggias do that? 
Confused Beetroot in question
I noticed that I seem to only be posting pictures of single vegetables, for which I apologise. The novelty of harvesting from the garden still hasn’t worn off yet, and going by the blogs I follow, I don’t think it ever will!
To rectify this here is a veg garden update!

Just a general view of the veggie garden (and the neighbour's tennis court), comprising of four 3 x 1.5m beds. I have one completely devoted to tomatoes and basil, one to the 'three sisters' - corn, beans and zucchinis (should be pumpkin - same family though, does that count?), another has sunflowers, beetroot, rocket, onions and leeks and the last bed front right has the eggplants (or eggplums as they are known in my family) stuffing capsicums, more tomatoes (although the rabbits ate them down to the ground, so they are taking a while to come back) and burpless cucumbers! Phew! Oh and lettuces, oak leaf to be exact. They like the hot weather.

For two people, the size of the garden allows for at least 2 fresh things from the garden every night for dinner and leaves for lunch. Not bad.

There is also a little nectarine tree in front of the front right bed in the photo , which will be joined by some other stone fruit, which I will espalier to create a sort of green screen / fence to the veggie garden. I will also under plant the fruit trees with English lavender to encourage pollinators and create a kind of 'Mediterranean' hedge feel, that will be nice to look at from the house. I just need some time to get it all going!

 Yay tomatoes! I just wish they'd hurry up and ripen!
The corn is finishing up and so are the peas and zucchinis in the 'three sisters' bed, primarily due to the unseasonably humid weather that has induced a SERIOUS bout of powdery mildew!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

A 'stolen' harvest

I invited my parents over for dinner earlier this week and in doing so had harvesting rights from their veggie garden! So really, the goodies weren't stolen, as such... Just sounds better as a title.

We had steamed borlotti beans (sans pods) with a cherry tomato, basil and beetroot leaf salad to accompany some barbecued garlic chicken. Its so satisfying when most of your meal comes from the back yard - or in this case, my parents yard the next suburb over...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Whats for dinner?

CORN! The first corn to be harvested (a bit too early because I'm impatient and couldn't wait) and was relatively pleased with my small mis-shapen cob. Its a White F1 Hybrid form that is deliciously sweet and juicy and can even be eaten raw.


I also harvested a small beet that was from a mixed Heirloom seed pack from Diggers. I think it will be a Chioggia because of the colour and the stems are stripey, but I'll have to wait and see until I steam him and eat him!

Bounty Upon Return

Before unpacking the car after arriving home from my holiday (and pretty much before walking into the house) I went straight to my veggie garden to inspect what shenanigans my plants had been up to whilst I had been away (does anyone else do that?).

I discovered that my bean wigwams / bamboo tunnel had collapsed on itself with the weight of the HUGE beans that it was laden with and my sunflowers had drooped with the weight of the seeds forming within their happy, sunny heads.  The tomatoes had sent out laterals to match in size with their parent plant and the cucumbers had set little babies!

And then, to my delight, I parted the large spiky leaves of the yellow zucchini to discover a yellow monster sleeping on the straw!! All I can say is that zucchinis rock my socks off, they are so awesome. who couldn't love a vegetable that just grows (in what seems like minutes) without any special needs (although the spikiness is annoying)! 


He weighed 800 grams and as you can see, was almost the length of my seat, a whopping 40cms!!!!!!
I also managed to harvest over 2kgs of beans and have been eating them with every meal. (and still am a week later).

I'm thinking that everything seems to grow so well when I'm not around. Maybe I need to go away more often...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Beachside inspirations

I managed to get away for a little holiday within my holiday last week, and after my first day back today I'm wishing I was still there. Wouldn't it be great if we could ease our way back into work after a break? Say, work for only a couple of hours a day and gradually build up over the week... ahh, wouldn't that be the life! Still. I cant complain, I have a great job that I love.  Anyway!

Going to the beach is just one of the few things that can completely calm the 'soul' I think, and I really love closing my eyes and just listening to the sound of the waves wash over me.

The beach that Joel and I frequent is a particularly lovely one close to the most southern part of mainland Australia and so there is a great variety of niche ecosystems as well as the most southern population of mangroves in the world.

Parks Victoria (government organisation managing state parks etc) has recently established a walking / bike trail, through some of these lovely coastal ecosystems that shows of the amazing diversity of habitats behind coastal dunes. I have taken a few pictures to illustrate the diversity along the trail, that is only 4.6km return! To think there is so much jammed into such a small distance!

Here are the snaps:

Tidal swamp with an array of sedges, grasses & rushes.
Swamps merge into dense, dark tea-tree thickets.
On drier soil the tea-tree makes way for open Banksia woodland.
Further back the woodland becomes open Acacia scrub & grassland.
Its really a lovely ride and its great to see the progression of the coastal landscape that one would otherwise miss driving along a road to the beach!

I also saw a Koala!

Hi there little fella!
Ollie got his first experience of the beach and he loved it!



Its experiences like these that reinvigorate my love of the environment and emphasise the amazing complexity and power that the landscape can have on a human...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Veg Garden Update

Things have been cracking along in the Veggie garden. We have had plenty of warm weather between the high 20's and low 30's C, which has meant plenty of garden time in the mornings and evenings and watering at the beautiful quiet time of 6am!

Garden update in pictures:


Zucchinis taking over the patch!
You may notice that the paths around the raised beds now have a mulch covering. Although gravel would be better, mulch at the moment is the most cost effective option!

First Tomato!!!!!!!!!!

First Corn
Heirloom mix of Beetroot
I harvested 6 Zucchinis and half a kilo of Purple King beans. They have been, by far the heaviest cropper out of the lot!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Forgotten Beauty

Some plants completely amaze me. This Giant Russian Sunflower in my veggie garden stopped me in my watering tracks this morning as it presented its back to me. 


The detail to the back is so striking and crazy looking in contrast to the bright, happy glowing petals that scream summer! Maybe I'm just silly, but it think its cool!

And Emma if you are reading this, I planted these for you! X Phoe

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Garden Tidying / what to do with 500g of Rhubarb?!

Don't you love it when you start out with the great idea of weeding a small bit of the garden and it turns into a HUGE operation full of little green (and powdery brown) treasures that pop up into your field of vision to remind you that they need attention?
I don't.

I started out weeding the 'permanant' veggie bed (planted with Mary Washington Asparagus and 2 kinds of Rhubarb) and ended up with nettle stings, a handful of purple podded peas with a serious bout of powdery mildew and 500 grams of rhubarb. Yep. 500grams. Ever wondered what that looks like? Ill show you:

What do I do? There's no vanilla ice cream so crumble and pie are out of the question! Crisis! Jelly? Jam? Stewed? Or do I freeze it? What dilemmas!


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Whats for dinner?

Fresh beans!! A mix of Purple King, Lazy housewife (both Diggers seeds) and some young borlotti from The Lost Seed in Tassie.

They will be steamed and tossed with some olive oil and finely grated Romano cheese to accompany steak and BBQ'ed potatoes (not home grown unfortunately). Should be great!

And also HAPPY NEW YEAR! May it be happy, healthy and productive!


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