[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] I[/dropcap]had 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!
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).
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
ps. If you’d like to see my edible garden in a healthier state check out this post I wrote last year.