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 http://themicrogardener.com/how-to-make-bamboo-tepee/). 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 http://themicrogardener.com/grow-your-own-groceries/.