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An Embarrassing Peek at My Neglected Edible Garden

Ihad a lot of internal struggle about writing this blog post. Normally I’m not a ‘warts-and-all’ type of girl.

While I’m not exactly a perfectionist, I do like to have things at least presentable before sharing with the world.

But then it occurred to me that we can all learn something from my incredibly neglected veggie garden… Which edible plants are pretty much indestructible. The food that can survive the last few months of my heavily pregnant / bringing a newborn home life.

So here we go. I hope you find this helpful!

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Veg garden April 16

Summer Salad Garden

Apart from herbs, my number 1 priority in veg gardening is to keep us well supplied with organic salad leaves. This is because buying leaves is expensive and they tend to be very perishable. Plus a green salad is my ‘go-to’ accompaniment to any meal.

Last year my salad leaves really struggled in the searing heat, so this year I put in a new little bed in a nice shady spot on the Eastern side of the house. Since Finbar was born it’s been completely neglected and over grown with rocket (arugula) going to seed. But over the Summer this little plot kept our salad bowl filled with butter lettuce, cos lettuce and rocket (arugula).

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Veg garden April 16

Abandoned Berry Patch

Ever since tasting my mum’s strawberries I’ve dreamed of having a berry patch of my own. One of my first garden projects was to plant multiple varieties of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries in this corner patch near our front door.

This year we had heaps of strawberries but unfortunately the birds and/or shingle back lizards got to them before Fergal and I had a chance.

Since water was scarce this Summer I turned off the irrigation which meant the raspberries and blackberries dried on the vine. Need to rethink my berry patch dreams and definitely include some bird netting!

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Veg garden April 16

Kitchen Herb Garden

We had another bumper basil crop this year so I’ve stocked the freezer with ziplock bags full of my Sicilian Nut Pesto which is dairy free. This bed also has thyme, tarragon and chives from last year.

I’ve also got a healthy stash of lemongrass which I grew from seed (proud gardening moment!). Very excited about using this in Thai inspired dishes and as fragrant skewers for kebabs.

My other ‘win’ in this garden bed is my flat leaf parsley.

The possums and I have been waging war over parsley ever since we moved into this house. It’s their favourite thing to eat. I wish I could say I’ve been winning but the truth is the possums have been ‘whipping my ass’… Until now.

I noticed last Summer that they left my basil alone so this year I planted my parley within a barricade of basil.

Finally a win for me! Take that possums.

The only problem is the basil is going to die off as soon as we have a frost so need to come up with a plan B for my parsley ASAP. Wondering if sorrel will work?

Not so successful was the sage and oregano I transplanted from another part of the garden. You can’t really see in the picture but they are well and truly dead. Will have to buy new pots of these.

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Veg garden April 16

Main Veggie Bed

My vision for this bed was to have masses of tomatoes, chillies and eggplant. I also planted some watermelon which I grew from seed from the melon one of our playgroup friends (thanks Linda!).

I also thought I’d have an experiment to see how tomatoes go if the aren’t staked. Not a good idea.

We ate a few super sweet cherry tomatoes. But the rest became fodder for a huge variety of birds my arch enemies, the possums. I did try to beat them to the punch by making a salad of green tomatoes but it wasn’t one of my finest culinary moments.

On the up side, having all the different birds eating the tomatoes has made for interesting viewing as Finbar and I have been sitting on the couch breast feeding!

And by now you can guess who mauled my beautiful glossy eggplant and my lone little watermelon.

The few chilli plants that survived did well. Now I just need to transplant them into pots so they can hopefully survive the Winter in my little greenhouse.

My next garden job is to plant this bed to winter greens and salad.

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Veg garden April 16

New Veggie Beds

Fergal and I spent most of last Autumn and Winter moving rocks and digging for two new terraced garden beds. They were a brilliant source of salad and greens during the Spring and early Summer.

And the spuds which we harvested at Easter were a success!

I have a bit of a paranoia that we are about to enter an extreme drought like the one from my childhood in the 80s. So I’ve been buying water for the garden to save our rainwater for the house. Of course, buying water to grow veggies isn’t economically the smartest move so I decided to stop irrigating these beds once the potatoes had died off.

Needless to say my zucchini, delicata squash, spaghetti squash and salad in these beds died off.

Not sure what my next move will be for these new beds. Thinking I might wait until the Spring when Finbar is older (and I have more time).

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Veg garden April 16

The Sad Story of my Orchard

Actually this could be a whole blog post on it’s own. But to cut a long story short, last Winter I planted about 18 fruit trees in a boggy patch I’ve been grandly calling my ‘orchard’.

As I now know, heavy clay soils aren’t idea for fruit trees so most of them hardly grew at all. Then in a cruel twist of fate the ones that did survive were eaten by kangaroos.

I know.

Anyway my plan to overcome the clay problem is to replant the trees into raised beds which will also hopefully keep the ‘roos at bay. Longer term I’ll need to net them from the birds which will also help with the kangaroos if the raised beds aren’t enough to keep them away.

All very expensive.

So I thought I’d plant the few trees that did survive into some raised beds near the house to wait until I’ve saved enough money to fulfill my grand orchard dreams. I’m now down to three survivors. A plum and two pears.

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Veg garden April 16

Trees in Pots

To end on a happier note, I have three healthy trees in pots along the north side (that’s the sunny side down here for you Northern hemisphere readers) of the house.

The closest one in the photo is a super healthy bay leaf tree that I’ve had since the 90s. It’s traveled with me from Sydney to Adelaide to the Barossa Valley back to Sydney then to Cooma and now here in Wamboin. We’ve come a long long way together.

The next skinny tree is a Meyer lemon my Irishman’s folks gave us last year as a wedding anniversary present. It doesn’t look like much but the first lemons we picked a few weeks ago are phenomenal. So fragrant and lemony.

The next tree along is a cumquat. Another gift from Glen’s parents which has masses of baby cumquats on it. Can’t wait for them to ripen!

What about you?

Let me know if you’d like to see more posts on my journey to become a better gardener. And if you have any tips for minimal effort gardening, I’m all ears! Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. If you’d like to see my edible garden in a healthier state check out this post I wrote last year.

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{ 86 comments… add one }
  • Carol 13 April, 2016, 3:23 am

    Hi. I’d love to see more posts on your garden. Have just garlic planted at the moment but have grown brussel sprouts and beetroot a few years back. Hoping to get planting some more this year. I love your photos. ?

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 3:33 pm

      Wow Carol! I haven’t had any luck yet with Brussels sprouts but would be so thrilled to grow them! Jx

  • Katie 13 April, 2016, 3:32 am

    I’d love to hear more about your edible garden journey. It’s a struggle we can all relate to… Especially since the number 1 threat to m dill is my toddler.

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 3:32 pm

      Oh toddlers! Yes Katie.. I forgot to even get started on that particular challenge!

  • Mel 13 April, 2016, 6:41 am

    I’m hearing you! It takes a lot of work to keep even a reasonably small veggie garden operating and nature often seems to be working against us. I live in central qld and for most of the year the sun seems to burn or wilt most things before they crop. For those things I do get to harvest the crop is often disappointingly small, stunted by the hot weather. Then in winter I have great plans to take advantage of the cooler weather, only to blink and find the season is over before my plants mature. My pests are less of the animal variety, but insects. Oh the destruction these little things can cause! And yet I persevere each year because it just feels so good to be able to eat food from your own back yard.

  • Sandra 13 April, 2016, 7:24 am

    Hi,
    I love your posts and this is very interesting, i have always wanted to have a small garden but i do not have a green thumb, and when i do finally get something to grow it dies before i can use it in any recipes, i have all these ideals of using the things I grow but I wait to late, I am currently growing Mint and Rosemary, lot of Rosemary and the Mint seems to being doing great, just need to get more recipes that my husband will eat, he is a very picky eater. :-)
    Thanks, for the posts, the laughs and pictures.

    Sandra

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 3:28 pm

      Keep at it Sandra! I adore mint and rosemary.. I actually used rosemary in my kale for dinner last night for the first time and really loved it! Jx

  • Barb Johnson 13 April, 2016, 7:36 am

    I really enjoyed this post. I live in a condo townhouse near Niagara Falls, Canada, with a tiny back yard, so our “garden” is about 8 ft. x 8 ft. We grow cherry tomatoes, and large ones, rhubarb, and herbs. I wash and freeze the herbs and use them all winter. We grow enough tomatoes that we can share with a lot of our neighbours. I’d love to grow lettuce but we are inundated with bunnies. Keep the gardening posts coming please, our climates are very different, but I got some good tips from this post. Plus some parts really made me chuckle. You write very well.

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 3:27 pm

      Thx Barb! Glad to hear you were chuckling ;)

  • Melinda L 13 April, 2016, 7:53 am

    Chicken wire surrounding your small plant beds can help keep the critters out. Don’t forget a gate, in order to let yourself into the bed. Larger plants or small fruit trees can have slick surfaces place around the bases of their trunks, so they can not be climbed. Tubes of most any slick material (metal, plastic, etc.) can be slit on one side to open up and place around the base of the plant stalk/tree trunk, then strapped to stay closed.

  • Val 13 April, 2016, 8:09 am

    I have tried “Back to Eden” style of gardening and it works. We live by the beach and have to survive on rain water. The website explains how to do it.

  • jan dash 13 April, 2016, 8:15 am

    I loved your garden post- please keep us in touch with your green side.
    I’ve always thought I couldn’t cook without my garden…I am totally dependent on my flat-leaf parsley and spring onions always being available and then there are my lemons and limes that usually get me through the whole year. This year with the unprecedented hot December (I’m in SA) all the herbs went to seed and couldn’t be coaxed back until just now since Autumn has arrived. The lemons all dropped off the tree and I had to BUY THEM for the first time in 20 years!!!

    Also for your clay- There is an amazing product called: “Ground Breaker” – the brand is “Multicrop”. I’ve photographed it for you but cannot figure out how to attach the photo! This product will make the clay more root friendly and you don’t need to dig it in. It’s almost too good to be true. I used it for all my trees this summer and after two weeks I could see the difference in the health of the trees. I urge you to try it!

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 3:25 pm

      Thanks Jan! I’ve tried ground breaker and it worked really well but then the Roos are the healthier plants…

  • Adrienne 13 April, 2016, 8:16 am

    MULCH! Even stones can be used as mulch round friut trees keeps the moisture in the soil. And I see someone suggested “Back to Eden” style gardening. Well worth watching the video.

  • Kirstie 13 April, 2016, 8:20 am

    Hi Jules,
    I’d love to hear more about your gardening efforts. I have a bad track record of bursts of enthusiasm for gardening and then neglecting my plants and would love to break that cycle.
    I get a lot of tips from Instagram by following gardening accounts. Mostly live found investing in good soil and mulch pays off.
    Good luck!
    Kirstie

  • Claire 13 April, 2016, 8:34 am

    That’s a pretty good outcome given the demands of family and competition from wild ‘pets’. I think we always have to eventually discover which plants will be successful and which will be hard work. I too love growing my green salads and after a couple of seasons my kale, lettuce and beetroot they sadly gave up (funnily enough I never remembered to eat the beetroot and would just pick the leaves). So after having to supplement with market veges I’ve replanted my autumn crop, the late start to autumn here has allowed them to settle in nicely before winter and we’re ready again to harvest (I also planted extra beetroot with the intention of trying to remember to eat the bulb too). My shallots were also in for a couple of seasons and I thought they too were on their way out. But amazingly not having any time to sort them, they were left and surprise after a few weeks they started to sprout again from the dried stalks. Go me, so now they’re beautifully trimmed again and being picked. I have reluctantly put up netting. Much as I love listening to blackbirds they are a pest trying to keep them from disturbing my mulch around my seedlings. I’ve tried lots of little sticks poking out of the mulch everywhere (somewhat weird looking) and to some extent this worked. So this autumn hubby helped raise some netting off the plants while they establish and it’s worked a charm. Happy gardening Jules.

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 3:23 pm

      Thx Claire! I think there’s netting in my future too :)

  • Paula 13 April, 2016, 8:35 am

    I’m a fan of all gardening stories. My garden is in a similar state after having renovations done on the house and all time spent inside. So I’ll be on the same journey with you!

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 3:21 pm

      Glad I’m not alone Paula! JX

  • MerryB 13 April, 2016, 9:28 am

    This is a wonderful, interesting posting– thank you! Possums are a pain. Got to look and see if yours are the same variety as ours. Thankfully, no kangaroos here.

    I live near the Texas-Oklahoma border in the southern U.S.– a totally different climate zone from yours. What is indestructible surely differs from place to place. Your summer parsley, arugula, and lettuces are late fall, winter, and early spring veggies here. Our current list for summer salad leaves is Swiss Chard (silverbeet?), sweet violet, salad burnet, light green sweet potato leaves, Mexican Mint Marigold, elephant garlic, Chinese chives, mint, and alfalfa sprouts. (I kill alfalfa sprouts, mind you.) Some of the plants do go dormant in high heat, and must be used sparingly. Can anyone say if any of this grows where in your area of Australia? When you write sorrel, do you mean French Sorrel?

    Please keep us posted about the heavy, poorly draining, clay plus lack of water in your area. We have that too– mulched, raised beds or large pots like yours are godsends, although an automatic watering system that goes off two or three times per day would surely be grand in high summer. Supposedly “keyhole gardens” are really good for droughty places with poorly draining soil. I’ve never made one yet.

    You and your Irishman have done a lot of work on that garden.

    We wish you and your family all the best. (And we will totally understand if there are no blog posts before your wee one is five.)

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 3:21 pm

      Haven’t head of keyhole gardens Merry.. Will have to investigate!

  • Daryle in VT 13 April, 2016, 9:33 am

    Hi Jules,
    I grow over 40 full-sized cucumbers every year in Vermont. I know the seasons are backwards, but I plant four seeds on July 4th. To give you a reference point, the season ends about mid September. My planter is 22 1/2 inches square and about 10 inches deep. There is a 4-foot 2 x 2 in each corner, they are braced at the top. I stretch a ring of sturdy twine every 6 inches, to form a trellis. Just to amuse myself, I closed in the bottom and added 4 casters. Actually that allows the planter to rotate so each side gets some sun.
    I see that I have left out the secret that makes the miracle happen. How dreadful. The cucumber variety must be parthenocarpic and non-bitter … Socrates F1, for instance. Do ‘roos like cukes?

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 3:19 pm

      Good question Daryle.. Love the precision of your cuke gardening !

  • Bronnie 13 April, 2016, 10:19 am

    Hi, a trick I found this year for growing tomatoes without staking, is to use a wire cage. All you need is some light fencing wire. The wire I used was 15cm squares. I made the cylinders about 50 cm diameter and the height is about 1.2mt. I secured them to the ground using garden pegs and tent pegs. I didn’t have to tie any of them, I just guided them up the cage, much less work and very easy to do.

  • Sue J 13 April, 2016, 10:22 am

    Hi Jules, I’ve always found Gardening Australia on the ABC a fount of information. (Sat 6.30 pm and Sun around 1.00 pm, I think) They usually have a presenter from each state and cover both food crops and flowers. Our soil in WA is sand so we have the opposite problems. I have to use Wetta Soil several times a year as the soil becomes water repellant. I use those water storage crystals in containers. 1tsp makes a salad bowl of jelly-like beads which you mix into your potting mix and retains water. The same stuff they put in babies nappies. I’ve had the most success growing edible things in containers. The hot easterlies are the biggest problem in summer. I’ve got a couple of blueberry bushes in containers which are doing well. I hope they fruit at some stage! ?

  • Amber 13 April, 2016, 10:32 am

    Hi Jules! Oh thank you for sharing your garden. Mine is woefully neglected and gets tended in seasonal fits and spurts as little children and my energy levels allow. But I love whatever it produces.

    Here is a neat resource for conserving water in your garden. I’ve met Paul and seen his garden, and he’s for real. http://www.backtoedenfilm.com
    http://www.backtoedenfilm.com

  • Gayle Cooper 13 April, 2016, 11:36 am

    Hi Jules, Loved the post about your gardening adventures. Or misadventures. I am so tired of seeing Home Beautiful or Burke’s backyard gardens that look amazeballs when the reality of gardening is just as you have described. Bugs, Critters, lack of water, too much water, clay soil, all of it! My garden bed looks like yours, there isn’t a hint of house and garden to be seen but we’ve had great beans, some good zuches, some tomatoes unfortunately I never seem to get a decent crop of tomatoes though one that did grow next to the house this year all by itself did better than any plant we ever put in the garden and tended dutifully. It’s all a learning process but it feels so good to whip something up, go outside and grab a handful of this, a few leaves off that, a snip of something else. And knowing we don’t use any herbicide or pesticide and hoping the dog didn’t lift his leg on it while it grew is a great feeling. Thanks and keep them coming.

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 2:36 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement Gayle! xx

  • Sharon 13 April, 2016, 12:42 pm

    Just reading your email about your garden. I have to say even in your winter/spring its a nicely laid out and attractive garden. Hats off to you. Being in Canada our winters are opposite yours and of course much colder so our growing time and zones are very different. But I found growing ‘patio’ veggies great for us. They are compact and plentiful and can be planted and nurtured in large planters on your deck or walkway. I don’t know if you have that type of plant in your neck of the woods but well worth checking out for tomatoes, cucumbers and even hanging strawberry plants. They have been genetically modified to be high yield in small spaces – I could not keep up with the produce. You might want to try your hand at growing pumpkin or butternut squash in a corner where you can allow some vine growth at ground level – I am speculating the animals may not be that keen on the harder rind of these veggies but I could be wrong (I had raccoons try to eat my pumpkin once). While these plants require moist soil you could try putting water in pop bottles and pushing them into the ground as an ongoing source of moisture. Perhaps the heat will cause condensation in the bottles as well for some natural replenishment). I have seen lean-tos (sp?) of plastic sheeting and old sheets where condensation drips down into the bed and also provides shade (could deter the birds too). Something to think about.

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 2:35 pm

      Lots to think about! Thx Sharon Jx

  • Gail Plaskiewicz 13 April, 2016, 1:39 pm

    I have a garden on the side of my house. I live in CT so my growing seasons don’t match yours either. I love to work in my garden and see things grow. It’s amazing what you can do with your hands and seeds. I always plant heirloom seeds so I know they are non-GMO and I know the seeds are older then I am! We have a huge picture window in our living room that has radiators underneath. Its like a greenhouse there so I plant things in pots and put them on the windowsill. I have parsley there right now. I want to plant some basil too. I usually plant in my garden tomatoes although I didn’t get any last year, green and yellow beans, dragon tongue beans, potatoes, peas, and corn, yellow and popcorn which I didn’t get either last year. I have strawberries too and they took over the garden. By now I might also have some starting to grow. I also have part of a place in our backyard that used to have a tree but it died and there is or was just a stump there. Some critter has been eating some of the stump. I plant stuff there too. My herbs I plant in pots along with my carrots. For some reason carrots don’t grow in my garden but they grow in pots just fine. Since it’s hard to tell the weeds from the herbs and I think I have pulled up some herbs that I thought were weeds, I plant them in pots. We have a ton of pots that I use and put them out on our patio. I use that black plastic stuff that you put over the soil so you get very few weeds. We don’t have kangaroos in CT but we have plenty of bugs and slugs. Slugs love beer and will dive into a tuna fish or car food full of it and die. For bugs, a good bug spray involves using spicy things that are Italian in flavor and water. You have to strain it but then you put it in a spray bottle. Your garden will smell like an Italian salad or dish of pasta but the bugs will stay away.
    I like seeing your garden and what you are growing. I hope to see more. Oh yeah, they say coffee grounds that are used are good for the soil. Keep up the good work and I hope your garden does well this year!

    • ibtisam 13 April, 2016, 9:06 pm

      I loved reading about your garden adventure as well as the other readers comments. i would like to start gardening in the latter part of the year (once my third is born in Oct and once we have completed our home renovation). can you perhaps write something on gardening 101. where do I start?! i am also from CT and we don’t have roos here, but loads of other creepy crawlies instead. also, what would you say is the optimum place for an edible garden? at the moment we have a few trees and plants outside our bedroom window and it freaks me out as I am scared the bugs will come in easier that way.

      • jules 18 April, 2016, 2:24 pm

        Hi Ibtisam! Check out milkwood.net for help getting started… I don’t think I’m the best person to learn from at this stage. Good luck!

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 2:34 pm

      Good for you Gail! And love your anti-slug measures ;)

  • Jennifer 13 April, 2016, 2:23 pm

    I’m a Sydney city-slicker and found this post about your country garden experiences fascinating. We only have a small garden with orange and lemon trees, but we do grow lots of herbs. You mentioned sorrel which we have and nothing can kill it off it’s so robust. Love to see photos of your boys too!

  • Chris 13 April, 2016, 2:44 pm

    For easy care raised vegie beds explore ‘wicking beds’. This is a system where the beds have a liner, and can therefore have a reserve of water that is soaked up into the soil as needed, that’s the wicking effect. The beds can be left for days without watering even in the Australian summer. There are plenty of examples on the internet of how to do this.
    Cheers

  • Chris Ann 13 April, 2016, 2:46 pm

    I had to laugh, sorry! I have been doing the “five acre folly” as my husband calls it for just over 9 years now and at times my gardens have looked just like yours! My latest excuse was double knee replacements. Anyway, this year a possum, some bower birds, crimson rosellas, king parrots and cockatoos got ALL of my peaches, plums, apples and pears, even though they were heavily netted. However joy triumphed because they didn’t get a single cherry! We harvested about 20 KG from 2 trees – our first ever decent crop and every one of them was eaten fresh by marauding friends and family! This year my potatoes and tomatoes were a waste of time, but I got lots of beans, eggplants, broccoli and cucumbers, and kale and Asian greens are growing like weeds. I have just come inside after harvesting the last of my saffron – three big pinches!!!
    Apart from weeds (i even grow nettles in a pot), herbs by the back door like you, and fruit and vegies, I also have 5 chooks of various ages and breeds, a rooster and 3 beehives from which we have just harvested 20 kg of delicious honey so I keep busy. My garden looks terrible though with nets thrown over absolutely everything (parsley is on the menu for my possums too but fortunately it has self sown everywhere so there is more than enough for me too). Our big project this winter will be to enclose as much as possible in a giant wire cage, or anti-aviary. DH reckons that it would be cheaper just to go out and buy everything – until he gets a mouthful of tree-ripened fresh fruit – then he stops talking nonsense!

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 2:31 pm

      Wow Chris Ann! Those cherries! And honey! Sounds so inspirational! I’m thinking longer term a covered in garden will be the only way to go… It might be ugly but will be glad to be over these battles! xx

  • Larissa 13 April, 2016, 3:17 pm

    I know this pain all to well! I am a total wiz at growing herbs, probably because they don’t mind a bit of neglect, but when it comes to the bountiful harvests of fresh veg straight from the garden….yeah, no, it just hasn’t happened. I have the same issue with wildlife (no roos, thankfully) the cranky possum next door that loves to un-fruit my blueberry, the birds poking holes in the tomatoes and chillies, I’ve even had sunflowers pulled clean out of the ground and flower heads decimated by nocturnal creatures unknown. Then things like lettuce bolting, scale and weird blue and black caterpillars attacking the citrus….*sigh*….all I can do is keep on trying.

    • Chris Ann 14 April, 2016, 7:16 pm

      Those caterpillars on your city’s turn into beautiful big black and white butterflies! They don’t do excessive damage so I let them alone

      • jules 18 April, 2016, 2:10 pm

        Caterpillars also make great food for the chooks Chris Ann :)

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 2:27 pm

      Keep at it Larissa! Jx

  • Linda 13 April, 2016, 5:25 pm

    Hello! I’m glad you planted the melon seed… if it’s any consolation ours were a massive failure this year too. Boo! Oh well, there’s always next year.

    So we found the only way to stop the kangaroos eating the fruit trees was to fence them in. The fence is not high, but they (nor the wallabies) will jump it.

    We’ve planted a few bits and bobs for winter, mostly leaves and brassicas. Hopefully we get a bumper crop. I’ve planted cabbage so that I can try your easy sauerkraut. I think this is the year for me to finally get fermented foods into my gut – mainly as there’s no plan to be pregnant and ill for the better part of a year ha ha.

    Linda. x

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 2:27 pm

      Oh bummer about your watermelon Linda.. Good to know the fence works for the Roos.. And yay for fermenting… It’s really addictive :)
      Jx

  • Barbs 13 April, 2016, 7:29 pm

    Loved this blog! Inspiring, helpful and very amusing. More please x

  • Kerry 13 April, 2016, 9:57 pm

    Hi Jules
    I loved your post! I live near Michelago NSW on top of blue granite. There’s no soil so we have raised garden beds. Over the years we had rabbits raiding the lettuce and eating every green thing in sight. So we invented Rabbit Radio to frighten them away – ie old radios in garbage bins broadcasting all night. Water is a problem and like you I fear another drought. This year has been very dry. Except for the huge hailstorm in February which really hurt the tomatoes. There was so much hail we had hail geysers springing up out of the ground. That is no lie! Honest! Then the beans were doing really well until Big Red our chocolate labrador decided he loved them too ….he ate the bushes as well as the beans! But there is always some good news. All the herbs have flourished: basil, parsley, rosemary, oregano, sage, mint, dill. And in spite of the hail, we have more tomatoes than we can eat. And Big Red fortunately very carefully eats the ripe strawberries only without damaging the vines.
    Good luck to us all. Lord knows we need it.

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 2:22 pm

      Rabbit radio! Love it Kerry.. We had the same hail storm here… Jx

  • Michelle 13 April, 2016, 10:11 pm

    For your raised beds convert them to in-ground wicking beds. You will save so much water. Here is a link: https://www.milkwood.net/2010/05/11/how_to_make_a_wicking_bed/

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 2:20 pm

      Thx Michelle! I love milk wood :)

  • sue 13 April, 2016, 11:40 pm

    love the gardening post. I live in a small patio town house in a suburban setting and am working on developing a kitchen garden that doesn’t make my home owners’ association go ballistic. So far I have some lovely kale plants that winter over nicely and provide yummy greens for soups, etc. Oregano and thyme are actually ground cover for a small section and they live forever! Rosemary thrives, chives come back every year, but salad greens are a challenge. tomatoes? Some, but not much space! Keep your adventures coming. Always good ideas to modify for “my” space! I recently put my newly pregnant daughter on to your site . . . :~)

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 2:18 pm

      Thanks for spreading the word about Stonesoup Sue! Jx

  • Denise 14 April, 2016, 12:11 am

    Thank you for sharing that! I have been contemplating putting in a garden and am a bit overwhelmed, so it was nice for you to share your trials and tribulations and remind me that perfection is not the goal, but the experience is what’s most important.

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 2:17 pm

      And keeping it simple Denise!

  • Susan Bovee 14 April, 2016, 2:36 am

    Love your blog! It’s so inspiring to read another’s difficulties with growing anything. The only success I’ve had growing herbs in my entire life: a huge rosemary bush, and a very nice, large clump of sage—both of which which my Darling Husband cuts back each fall to prevent their taking over the roses. We have a tiny patio area in the East Bay across from San Francisco, CA which is my DH’s fiefdom. My only efforts tend to be picking a few herbs, and choosing plants of which I then direct the placement. (Engineers only plant in straight lines; English teachers/psychologists like curved lines that relate to the other plants. My late mother-in-law lamented once upon seeing our patio that my late father-in-law only planted flowers in straight lines no matter where she placed the seedlings. At which he’d said that he did the planting, so he decided where to plant them. My DH remarked that it was easier to plant them where I wanted them, the first time. Privately I was amused. I knew that he likes how I organize things, decorate the house, etc. I’m an abysmal gardener, but I have an eye for composition—years ago an architect neighbor told me so—I was surprised and delighted!) Seeing that your talents in the garden, while equal to those in the kitchen and blog-writing, suffer from the vagaries of nature is a gift, providing lessons in perseverance and patience to all. How I envy you your salad and herb gardens! I am amused that kangaroos and birds are your garden predators, while ours are roof rats, raccoons, and birds. And as for you, drought. Luckily we have had a more normal rainfall this winter, so the patio looks nice in spite of our reducing water use by more than 25%. Our rationing will continue until such time as the water ground table rises to pre-drought levels, if ever. Again, thank you for your interesting, instructive, amusing blog!

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 2:17 pm

      Thanks for sharing Susan! Sounds like your husband is a very wise man :)

  • Amanda 14 April, 2016, 12:45 pm

    You can always grow parsley in a pot and keep it close to the house. That might help keep the “burglars” away. We have to put netting over all our freshly planted veggie plants, as well as veggies started from seed. We have a lot of quails and they eat the seeds and the tiny plants AND they take a dust bath in the soil! We have learned the hard way – netting to the rescue! Like Sharon, I live in Canada and agree with her that growing tomatoes in pots works well. The so-called “patio veggies” are a big hit with people who do not have a proper garden but grow things on their balconies.

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 2:13 pm

      Thx Amanda! I’ve been resisting netting because the veg beds are right outside our lounge and dining rooms so we look out onto them.. But it might be time to get on board with the netting! Glad to hear it works for you ;)

  • Ann 15 April, 2016, 5:38 am

    I loved your blog about the gardening.. i live in the city of Glasgow Scotland UK… Did have an allotment at one time and had considerable difficulty growing potatoes and not much else, I do have some sage and chives and may have blackcurrants again this year.. Well done you for growing so much and baby too!
    Good luck with next season

  • Robin Coates 15 April, 2016, 4:58 pm

    It’s midnight here in Chilliwack British Columbia Canada! I just read your blog…always enjoy it, Jules…This was the BEST! I am dealing with warts and all myself right now, so this was perfect for me. (My home took a hit from a hurricane force wind and rain in Nov. Repairs ongoing. Worn-out.) All my things are back from storage now, and boxes (lots) to sort out and put away. I love your garden. The rocks! And your saga re: Jules vs Nature. ;) Best to you and all. Robin

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 2:04 pm

      Oh Robin… So sorry to hear about your ‘run in’ with nature… Hope your home is all back to normal soon Jx

  • Ann 16 April, 2016, 10:49 pm

    Enjoyed your very realistic description of your garden experience! I’ve used a natural product called plantskydd to deter deer and racoon here in eastern US. It is a nontoxic spray and lasts til it rains. Perhaps it would work on your “friends”.

  • Kate 17 April, 2016, 7:43 am

    Hi Jules,
    Lately I’ve been reading about Masanobu Fukuoka, who was a proponent of “natural farming.” He is, in many ways, a father to the ideas in permaculture, which I understand is very popular in your neck of the woods. These ideas are all new to me — and I am an experienced organic gardener! Check them out. Both schools of thought will definitely address ways to remediate your soil. Cheers.

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 1:59 pm

      Thanks Kate! I have a few permaculture books but need to actually read them… Jx

  • Jen 17 April, 2016, 3:15 pm

    I would enjoy more posts about your garden! Your website is among the best I’ve seen in layout, writing, and pictures. The idea of 5- ingredient, healthy recipes with variations offered is amazing! It’s great to see minimalism applied in a specific way that I can learn from and apply too. Accessible and wonderful! I would appreciate posts that touch on other aspects of minimalist living too from you.

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 1:56 pm

      Thanks Jen! You say the nicest things :)

  • Rami @ Tasteaholics 19 April, 2016, 1:55 am

    Great post! I’ve been getting into gardening recently for my food blog (to get the most natural, organic fruits and veggies) and this is perfect info!

  • Bebs 24 April, 2016, 4:21 am

    Hi Jules,
    I enjoyed reading your post and I envy the space for gardening you have! Like you, I also like having an edible garden, but mine is in a smaller scale as yours…and they are all in containers since we do not have a garden but a wide terrace. I used pallets to create planting boxes and I used them every year to plant my salads, herbs, tomatoes, bell peppers, beans and cucumbers and I had to say they all did well, this is the third year I will be using them. At the same year I planted fruit trees (2 cherries, apple, pear and peach) on really big plastic pots and on slightly smaller pots are my blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and currant and they all already bore fruits last year and they are starting to blossom now as it is springtime in Germany. I also made hanging strawberry planters from wood panels that work great and gave us a lot of strawberries for the past 2 years. I wrote about them on my blog as well. Anyway, I wish you best of luck on your garden and I hope to read more about it.

    • jules 27 April, 2016, 6:51 pm

      Thx Bebs! I’m lucky with space for sure… Now I just need the time :)

  • Marianela 9 May, 2016, 10:46 pm

    I always loved to grow my own edible garden. It not only makes you eat better but lets you save money too =) Thanks for being an inspiration. Hope you’ll get them all back up soon. Good luck!

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