..... my not so exciting ventures into gardening, self sufficiency, getting solar electricity & hot water & pretty much life in general in a small country town .....

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Patch at Present...

Well this is what I've got at the moment.

In the left hand side of the tub are 4 Sugarloaf cabbages & in the right, 3 Cauliflower & 1 Brocoli.

Hiding amongst the mulch at the back are celery seedlings.

There is a mix of Sugarloaf cabbage & cauliflowers in this bed.

In the open bricks at the front are a few Forono beetroot which are supposed to be cylindrical.

Time will tell as this is the first time I've ever grown beetroot.

On left, the more advanced plants are Brussel sprouts. Now normally I would not grow these horrid nasty things but they are a special request from my mother-in-law Ann.

She is still getting her patch going & really enjoys them. Strange woman......fantastic lady but very strange!

At the back are mini cauliflower & at the front mini Leprechaun cabbages.

Next is the rhubarb that just won't quit.

Mum told me that they die down over winter & can be safely transplanted then which is what I would like to do.

Not this sucker!

I harvested about a 1/3 of it last week to stew, thought yes, it's finally going to die back.

Looking at it today, what do I find but more regrowth.......arrrgghh!

The pea patch was a bit (ok well quite a bit) late going in. I'm trialling Melbourne Market dwarf peas on a teepee/trellis.

In front of the peas are more brocoli for Jon.

Brendon reckons I can't grow enough vegies to feed 1 person let alone the 5 in our family (7 if you include Ann & her husband Les).

So I just have to prove him wrong!

Along the fence are the potatoes that I missed last harvest.
Yep they are covered in old lucerne hay to hopefully provide some protection from the frosts.
Our first one was in the 2nd week of April & there are plenty more of them to come.

You can just see their tops except for the big one on the right. It's just too big.
There are 6 more Sugarloaf cabbages towards the front & the the vine is a Sultana grape in desparate need of pruning.

Last but not least is the wasteland which will become the main summer growing area.

There will be four 8x4 raised beds constructed from railway sleepers.

Now just to enlist the aid of Brendon (19yo son)
to throw a few sleepers around.
Preferably where I need them.....hmmm... is it ok to bribe him with beer?

2010 Self Sufficiency Challenge

Have just accepted a challenge from Sara to become self sufficient in the garden for 2010 & hopefully beyond.
Now I've tried to be realistic when setting my goals as finding time will be my biggest hurdle so here goes.

From a typical suburban backyard I would like to be self sufficient with;
80% vegetables - spuds will be my downfall as we really enjoy them
15% fruit - all my trees only went in over the last 2-3 years
50% preserves/jams/sauces
50% herbs

Number one priority is to make time to garden - stop putting it off!

As for the rest

Aim 80% vegetables
Plan 1. Work out how many kg of spuds & other vegies I use a week & go from there.

2. Get a better idea of what to plant when - read Earth's Companion cover to cover as a guide/ask experienced gardeners in the area

3. Get stuck into making my 4 8x4 beds - have everything ready to go except a helping hand with the very heavy railway sleepers.
Need to recruit son.....

4. Keep a gardening diary for future reference ie what planted/when/where, frost dates, rainfall etc.

Aim 15% fruit with young (2-3 yo) Trees & first season berries.

1. Purchase more rasberries & put trellis in place before planting.

2. Plant the kiwi fruit vines (male & female) instead of just looking at them in their pots!

3. Mulch, fertilize & protect from frost

4. Learn about diseases that can affect them & prevention where possible eg curly leaf

5. Prune sultana grape in July

Aim 50% preserves/jams/sauces

Plan 1. Train my family to eat only homemade.
I am using trickery atm by decanting HM tomato sauce into existing bottles!
I will be concentrating on sauces as I am the only one who eats jam (which I've not made before but want to) & DH is the only relish eater.
I do make Worcestershire sauce but need to find recipes for thick mint sauce (have common mint growing), sweet chilli, Fountain Mustard sauce & a sweet n sour dipping sauce that they will eat. No use making heaps only to have them turn up their noses at my efforts.

I do have a headstart with 50 jars of tomato relish & 12 jars of pasta sauce that were made March 2009

50% herbs
Plan I usually use a few dried herbs & not a great variety at that.
The usual supermarket mixed herbs I get is comprised of Majoram, Sage & Thyme.
My favourite seasoning is 'Spicy BBQ' & is comprised of Salt, Garlic, Paprika, Onion, Soy Bean oil, Bell pepper, Dill Seed, Coriander, Rosemary, Chilli & Mustard seed.
So these are the herbs I will be planting.

I do use a lot of minced garlic so would like to grow enough to supply me all year round.