New Garden, Using What We Have


A couple of weekends ago I spent six hours gardening. It had got to the point where I could not see the brick path under my apricot tree. Not only could I not see it, I was having trouble walking into the garden, because spring. By afternoon, it looked like this:

At last I can walk in the garden again. Well, that part anyway. The state of the vegie garden is currently 'impassable jungle'. More on that next time, when hopefully I will be able to show before and after photos, the 'afters' being hopefully more conducive to planting delicate little vegie seedlings than the 'befores'. 

I have been planting the baby veg I grew from seed, some of them in the big old wine barrels in the front yard. This is when I planted them out on October 3rd:

And here it is today. I think I'll be able to start picking in a couple of weeks. Various greens plus lettuce:

I have potted on the cabbages, kales and tomatoes, and they are still in my front porch greenhouse until I can get some beds weeded for them. It's also still kind of cold for tomatoes here. There was a frost last week:

Meanwhile, I spent last Saturday afternoon digging up a section of wild garden bed just outside the back door to make it into a mini-vegie garden. It's an experiment as this area gets a lot of shade and I want to see what vegies will grow here. It may be a complete failure! But experiments are how we learn, right?

Here is the before, lots of self-seeded herb robert and a mystery tree seedling I thought was an avocado, but isn't:

Here is the middle. A lot of dirt being moved because I discovered a large sheet of corrugated iron about a foot below ground level. Further excavations revealed it goes under the brick wall. I thought about this for an hour or so, cup of tea in hand, but concluded that doing nothing is sometimes the best solution, so I shovelled the dirt back on top. I will just plant shallow-rooted plants in that bit:

And the after. I adore new baby gardens, don't you? This was its birthday, on October 6th:

And here it is today. I had to put some wire over it because the dog kept walking on it. It has daikon radishes, leeks, lettuce, rocket, red radishes and snow peas:

I brought home some sticks from Paul's house to grow the dwarf snow peas up. Pea sticks!

I am loving using up all the seeds I bought last year, or before. I cleaned out my seed basket the other day, and I am going to try jalapeno seeds from a friend, given to me in 2017. All my vegie gardening activities this year have been free, except for some potting mix, compost, and four packets of seed. Gardening can be very expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Re-using what we have, and re-assessing every bit of garden to see if it can produce flowers or bee-attractors, or native animal habitat or food is also a cheap and very fun exercise, one that will keep me out of trouble for some time to come..

Now, from gardens to food. I am attempting to use up every single thing in my freezer. I only have a tiny freezer at the top of the fridge but I can pack a lot into it. I used up some very old puff pastry to make sausage rolls, and made pork and cabbage dumplings with wonton wrappers. Red thought my dumplings looked hilarious, like tiny Christmas puddings, but they tasted good..

Christmas pudding dumplings:

I am also trying really hard to only buy enough vegies that we will eat in a week, that is, not the amount of vegies that I think we ought to eat, but the amount of vegies we actually do eat. Not always the same thing. Ironically, this has prompted me to eat a salad every day for lunch and I have been including something from the garden every day. Today I added sage, parsley and wild rocket. My favourite new salad dressing is a teaspoon of tahini (add water to stir into a paste if it's that hard bit at the bottom of the jar), a squeeze of lime (limes from my friend Monique's prolific lime tree), salt, pepper, and, here's the important bit, a drizzle of pickle juice from the pickle jar. Yummo.

How is it with you with gardens and food? What are you using up and eating, and what are you planting? If you live up the north of the planet, do you plant a winter garden? Tell me all.

PS Paul update: He has only three treatments over six weeks to go. That is still a long, hard slog for him, of dealing with pretty constant colitis symptoms, but he has good painkillers.. and some days he feels pretty good and can get outside and do a lot of physical work, which makes him feel even better, both mentally and physically. He still has his hair!


simplelife said…
i've given up trying to grow veg, either the wallabies or possums eat it or the twitch grass takes over the bed, or the crop is a dud. decided i'll do more for the planet if i support my local growers at the market and our local veggie shop. as for the only buying the amount you will consumer rather than the amount you think you should eat...genius. a habit i too shall attempt to adopt.
and thanks for the paul update, so close to the end i really hope he feels much better soon.

cheers kate
Deborah said…

I too have spent this afternoon clearing the garden path. It is half done. I have been spraying the weeds with Non Toxic Weed Killer (vinegar, salt, detergent} as WA has had more rain than ever before and I have millions of weeds...or so it seems.

Thankyou for the update about Paul.
Best wishes to you both,

Jo said…
Kate, I love your approach to gardening! This is what i did over the winter, or since April and Paul's surgery really - I completely neglected everything garden-related, and now it is an impenetrable jungle out there. Meh.
I hear you on the wallabies - Paul and I are constructing something like Fort Knox up at his place to keep the critters out. We are going to have to produce SO MUCH veg in order to recoup the incredible costs of fencing..

Deborah, hello! A word of caution re the salt-based weed killer. I'm sure you know this, but only use it where you don't want anything else to grow - the salt makes the soil inhospitable to all plant life, which is how it works. It's ok on paths, as long as it doesn't run off..
Anonymous said…
So glad you got out and did some gardening. Isn't it great to clean an area of weeds, and plant seeds? I personally think the weeds sit and "laugh" when I clean any area, talking to each other about my naiveness at them being gone. They tend to be back in social gatherings within days but for a few days I ruled! I am planting tomatoes and peppers even though we are entering our "winter" season. This past year I planted trees: 3 Loquats, 1 Papaya (producing), 1 lime, 1 mango, 3 coconut palms. Hopeful to have fruits from some of them in the next years, specially the mango one. My grandson adores mangoes!
Thank you for the update on Paul, and you. Sending you much love.
Treaders said…
First off, I love your garden (and your attitude). And I think you're right about only buying the fruit and veg that you will eat, rather than what you think you will eat - that's something I need to do. And sending best wishes to Paul as he gets nearer the end of his treatment! He (and you) have been amazing!
Tracy said…
I am in the UK and I don't plant a winter garden as such, but I do have some box balls in pots to add a bit of structure to the garden in winter. I have a winter-flowering jasmine planted against the fence next to the back of the house which blooms during the darkest days and I also plant winter-flowering pansies in pots, which add a lovely splash of colour next to the front door. One thing I have done the last few years is to leave the dead stems of herbaceous perennials and grasses standing over the winter, rather than cutting them back. Touched with frost they have a beauty all of their own.
Jo said…
Patricia, yes, my weeds definitely laugh at me. I love that we are planting tomatoes and capsicums at the same time in different hemispheres! what a lot of food trees. Your place must be a veritable food forest by now. I am forseeing some excellent fruit salads at your place in the future. Papaya has some amazing health properties - you'll be living to a hundred. How long do coconut trees take to fruit?

Anna, it is quite difficult to restrain my inner bossyboots at the supermarket from telling me we 'ought' to be eating two heads of broccoli per week when I know for a fact we'll only eat one..

Tracy, your winter garden sounds lovely! Do you get snow? I looked up winter flowering jasmine - is that the yellow one? I have never seen it here in Australia, but it is just beautiful. There was a photo of the flowers covered in snow - exquisite! I do the same as you, leaving seed heads over the winter, especially sedums. The birds peck at them all the winter. This year I have planted my first native grasses, so i'll be interested to see what their winter forms are. And the little violas are such a deligt, especially in that they self-seed and once you have them, they are in the garden forever:)
Anonymous said…
JO: I know very little about coconut trees, something that will change in the next couple of years. I have a canal in the back of the property and periodically sprouted coconuts float by, never to turn down a gift of nature I plant them. The first one was planted about 4 years ago. It is about 9 feet tall, and I think will fruit for the first time. I'll let you know how it goes.
GretchenJoanna said…
I always drool, or turn green, something like that, over your garden. I don't care what is growing or not growing in it, it always looks the way I dream of a garden looking. Actually, some of my garden plots in the distant past have resembled your style, but I never had such a large space looking that way.

All the work you have put into it building terraces and beds -- your creative and muscular and time efforts have really paid off, and create charm. I know, it is overwhelming when the mass of vegetation is overabundant, but that's what we want to happen in the gardens we tend, after all.

Congratulations on the botanical wealth, and on making inroads on the jungle.
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Glad to hear that Paul is recovering. That's great news.

A bit of benign neglect in a garden was once described as allowing the land to go fallow. :-) You have to admit that it sounds all super technical and stuff?

It's looking like another cold and wet growing season here. Unhappy emoji. Oh well. Have only just planted out the peas and beans, and they're growing strongly. Next will be the corn and tomatoes. Maybe after that will be chilli's, eggplants, basil, coriander, zucchini and cucumbers.

At the moment we're harvesting asparagus, kale, broccoli, all sorts of mustards / rocket - and they over winter here anyway. Winter gardens are very useful as what you can't eat becomes feed for the chickens. It's all good.

The King Parrots have eaten the entire apricot crop, which was severely reduced anyway due to a random act of nature (i.e. a hail storm and then a late frost).

To be honest, I'm mildly neglecting the garden this year as we're resolving a few major issues in relation to sheds. That's hard work that is.

On the other hand, the massive soil feeding program a few months ago has produced results that I never would have expected. Thus proving that there is always more to be learned!

Didn't you make some vague hint as to establishing a vegie patch at Paul's property? Or am I imagining this?


Anonymous said…
Jo, I'm very late with this, but I wanted to say that I agree with Gretchen Joanna. To me your garden appears to be a place of enormous charm and character, and perfectly complements your home.

I am loving Patricia's story of capturing floating coconuts to plant in her garden. It makes me smile just thinking about it!

And good news about Paul's progress. That makes me very happy too.

Linda in NZ
Jo said…
Patricia, I love the image of you with a fishing net waiting patiently by the side of the canal for a passing coconut.. I am all agog to hear of your coconut adventures..

Gretchen Joanna, ha, I always drool over your xeriscaped California garden. This year has been unusually wet here in Tasmania, but we normally experience more of a mediterranean climate, and it will likely only get drier going forward, so I am planning to reduce the number of plants that need water and increase the beautiful local natives. Likely this will also reduce the amount of weeding I need to do over time, with any luck..

Chris, I am just now planting out tomatoes due to unseasonal cold weather. Usually they go out in mid October, but like you we have had cold, wind and hail. Happy spring!
Yes, we will be establishing a vegie garden at Paul's place, but it needs to be fenced like Fort Knox, as you know, wallabies, possums etc, and that part of the plan is still in execution.

Linda, I am glad you enjoy my garden! I do too! But I want to use less water and expend less energy on it. I am hoping it will be just as beautiful in the future, but less energy intensive..

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