Seed Swaps

Summer harvest

26 Dec 2011
Cloudy 30°C / 86°F

Whilst the weather is certainly warm, we’re reaping the abundance from our garden and the hard work put in over the last few months. It’s amazing what 15-30 minutes a day can reap in terms of food! I am constantly amazed at the kilos of home grown produce we gather from just a few square metres.

I’m only gardening in the early morning and late afternoon – succession planting seeds and seedlings as I need to … and watering when we haven’t had rain. Summer storms have meant we’ve had some leaching of nutrients but the gardens are coping quite well as we are building our humus content which is an amazing buffer and helps retain organic fertilisers and soil conditioners.

Here are some of my harvesting highlights:

Potatoes – treasure hunting for the humble spud must be one of the most enjoyable passtimes I can think of. Far more rewarding than Easter hunts and I’m well past that anyway. Pulling back the mulch and bandicooting around in the soil with bare hands, apologising to the plethora of earthworms in residence as they squirm out of the way … feeling around for the first firm roundness of a potato. Got it! Pulled it out and couldn’t believe it. A heart shaped Dutch Cream potato – all organic … grown in a soil that I put my love into. Perhaps the greatest reward of all. Since then, I’ve been harvesting more of these delicious spuds, with the Lady Christl and Sebagos still to come.

Nothing beats those home grown taters roasted with butter, cooked the day they’re picked.

Garlic – this was actually an experiment … I planted about 30-40 cloves of various sizes back at the end of August just to see what would happen and was pleasantly surprised by the success at what was technically the wrong time of year to plant soft neck garlic. In any case, they were dried and plaited up into a couple of braids which are now hanging in the kitchen and are saving us a packet on buying organic garlic. Won’t touch the imported Chinese stuff that’s sprayed with a cocktail of toxic chemicals ever again.

Pumpkins – of course they seem to grow feet overnight in the subtropics. These space hogs are, though incredibly generous in the kilos of food they supply. Sweet japs are our favourites and enjoying those at the moment with many more still on the vines to come.

Zucchini – two plants are reaping 3-6 a day on average and they are so versatile to cook with that I love this time of year. They seem to love the raised tank bed more than the on ground raised bed we grew them in last time so whilst they take up a reasonable amount of personal space, we are richly rewarded.

Cherry tomatoes – never planted any this year but again, they pop up everywhere and provide us with kilos of fruit. Frozen some for sauces but they are great on our pizzas and in salads too.

Cucumbers – this year I built 4 bamboo tepees so we could grow 16 plants in succession. (Instructions for making your own for under $1 are at This keeps our daughter happy as she’s been addicted to cucumbers ever since I can remember and it’s quite common for her to consume 2 or 3 a day straight from the garden. To keep up, these plants have had to be fed and nurtured – we’ve had some pest pressure but managing to keep on top of that by sneaking up on them early mornings and using the Green Thumb squashing method of extermination. So far, we’re still getting our fair share so all’s well.

Rhubarb – 7 plants have grown well during the cooler months but suffering somewhat in the heat. Really need to keep the water up to them and get some shade covering made asap. The stems don’t turn red here – too hot but the flavour is fantastic.

Eggplants – these have done tremendously well this year. Two kinds and both are heavy croppers. Put a lot of love into the soil and seems they like the compost teas and seaweed. Have had countless kilos of fruit and still coming off 4 plants.

Sweet Potato – these have been grown from what I call UFOs (Unidentified Food Objects) or those bits from the bottom of the pantry that look less than desirable to eat. Amazingly, when planted out, even the most alien looking cut offs can yield new plants and food. Several varieties growing at the moment and they are a great starchy tummy filler to have in the garden. They act as a living ground cover to keep the soil cool too.

Broccolini – we really shouldn’t be harvesting any of these in December but several plants are still shooting and I can only put this down to the compost teas I’ve been feeding them as they are a winter crop and we’re in the middle of summer! I’ll take it while they still want to produce. Who’s to argue with nature?

Shallots, onions, leeks and chives all producing well. These are my favourite ingredients to add flavour to dishes so have to always have some in the garden.

Bush beans – have a number of these as a back up crop of greens as they are not heavy producers and I’m pushed for space at the moment. Picking them while young and sweet and adding to our mixed greens.

We only have one rainbow chard planted at the moment and cutting it constantly had meant it just keeps producing. It just seems to thrive on having a haircut.

The dill, nasturtiums and rocket have all self seeded so beds are full of new herb seedlings – will need thinning out very soon!

To see some more pics and a gift basket to make with garden produce visit




Posted on 27 Dec 11 (over 4 years ago)

Thanks rainymountain – had a look at your latest journal. What a contrast – you have snow and we have hot sun & summer storms! Our green garden’s overgrown and yours has a blanket of white. The contrasts are amazing. The worst cold temps I’ve had to deal with were this year’s frosts for the first time. You must live with such issues for much of the year. I guess you spend more time on indoor gardens during winter.

Posted on 27 Dec 11 (over 4 years ago)


Folia Helper

United Kingdom8a

It’s very interesting to read about what you get out of your garden! I grew Cucumbers for the first time ever this year & we got quite a few fruits from the plants in the GH on the allotment but the plants growing outside were a big flop! Hardly more than a couple of fruits from each plant. I’m interested in your wigwam method & may give it a go myself on the allotment this year.

On my allotment the previous tenant had made a frame for runner/green beans that I am going to leave in place. I thought of using it to grow Cucumbers up but I may use your wigwam method & train something else up the frame. I may put some Sweetpeas on it.

Posted on 28 Dec 11 (over 4 years ago)

Hi Amarylis, I’m convinced that any of the climbing/fruiting crops do better on frames – be they a simple, low cost A-frame tepee construction like the ones I make or some other kind of vertical structure (if you haven’t seen the photos at, these might give you some other ideas you can use). There’s also a local guy here who has been experimenting with different kinds of bamboo frames/tepees (he calls them Snakes & Ladders so plants can grow up AND down) and you can see some of his ideas at and We do live in a sub-tropical climate so creating some shade in the garden so some edibles don’t expire in the heat is a factor in some designs! However, these pics might inspire you to create your own design.

Not only do you maximise your space (vital in an allotment siutation I would think!), but the aeration is much better for the plants; access is easier (better for the back!) so it’s much more comfortable to harvest, fertilise and water; and the plants themselves seem less prone to some pests/diseases.

Getting them up off the ground in my experience is a key to plant health and vigour, especially for cucumbers that can be prone to downy mildew here in hot summers. I’ve had no problem with this at all using this growing technique. I’ve used the tepee/tripod method for snow & sugar snap peas; beans; tomatoes; cucumbers; chillis and capsicums. They all work well. It’s easy to plant one seedling at the base of each of the legs of a 4 legged tepee and then train them up each stake. I have one chilli plant that has grown so large and productive that I’ve added a second tepee just to prop it up so it doesn’t snap with the weight of the crop.

Keep in touch – would love to see a photo if you give it a go! Have fun.

Posted on 28 Dec 11 (over 4 years ago)

Wow fantastic!! We have just started our veggie garden this year- still a lot more work to be done before we can plant but we hope to have the beds ready in a week or two! You have excited and inspired me!! My partner and I are beginners at all of this and really we don’t know what we are doing but if I can produce anything like your crop I will be extremely happy!
Thanks for sharing.

Posted on 18 Jan 12 (over 4 years ago)

Hi HoneyBadger thanks so much for the feedback and good on you for getting started with your veggie patch. It’s amazing how quickly your garden grows if you just ‘sow little and often’. My advice is to start with what you love to eat, and get to know those plants and then move onto others.
I love your herb garden – it’s one of the cutest I’ve ever seen. I gather the metal pots have drainage holes? They look fantastic on the horizontal poles and great use of vertical space.
My experience with metal pots though is they can get hot in the sun and reflective (sunburn your plants). I put together a post on the advantages/disadvantages to consider when choosing containers at It has some insights into metal and other kinds of planters that might help if you intend growing more in pots.
On my blog ( I write about my experiences growing edibles in containers and small gardens, how to solve common problems and lots of tips/techniques – you’re welcome to drop by (just posted my DIY Make your own Potting Mix Recipe) which saves heaps of money too and is super easy. All the best with your garden adventures – look forward to following your progress. Let me know if I can help anytime.
Cheers Anne :)

Posted on 18 Jan 12 (over 4 years ago)

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