My Edible Garden Springtime Update
(the possum ‘wars’ continue)

Veg Garden Spring 16

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] T[/dropcap]here are many things I love about not being pregnant. Drinking wine in the evenings with my Irishman tops the list without question. But being able to bend down in my garden is definitely up there. It’s the simple things.

Since my last edible garden update where I shared a warts-and-all ‘tour’, I’ve been spending more time tending my veg.

So things have definitely improved!

Now that Spring is in the air around here (well at least it is today, I might be lighting the fire again tomorrow), I thought I’d share how things are growing…

Veg Garden Spring 16

My Salad / Greens Garden

At the moment my main goal is to grow enough salad and greens so we don’t have to buy any. Basically because home grown greens taste so much sweeter and more alive than store-bought veg. Plus they’re more perishable so having a handy supply in the garden means I’m less likely to waste them.

To kick start my Winter garden I planted a heap of seedlings from this old guy at my farmers market. He’s a real old Aussie who calls everyone ‘mate’. I love him.

Anyway, after planting my tiny lettuces, kale, spinach and chard (silverbeet) I was feeling like a proud mamma. So you can imagine how devastated I was when I woke up to find there had been a possum attack leaving my ‘babies’ decimated.

It. was. the. last. straw.

No more Jules-nice-girl. It was time for the big guns. Enter ‘the nets’.

All I can say is ‘why didn’t I do this sooner?’

Oh and ‘take that possums’.

Luckily with their new protection my seedlings (except for the Tuscan kale) recovered and we’ve had salad or greens in some form on the go. Not enough to cover all our needs but heading in the right direction.

Now there’s also some broad beans which are coming along nicely. Can’t wait to make this Addictive Broad Bean Pesto again.

I also have bok choy, more rainbow chard, rocket (arugula) and Asian salad greens in my future. Yay!


Veg Garden Spring 16

My Herb Garden

So as my Dad says, ‘you wouldn’t read about it’. In my last garden update I shared my ‘crafty’ trick for out-witting the local possums in their hunt for flat leaf parsley. Basically just planting basil (which they don’t like) around the parsley. It worked for months.

BUT get this…

The very next day after publishing that blog post, I came out to find my parsley completely mauled by you-know-who. Who knew that possums read blogs? Or that they had such excellent taste to read Stonesoup?

Now that we’re netting positive, my herb garden has really come into its own.

OMG! I can’t tell you how much better food tastes with a variety of fresh herbs at my kitchen doorstep.

Ever since reading ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ I’ve dreamed of this little luxury and this year I’ve finally ‘nailed it’. I have masses of flat leaf parsley, chives, coriander (cilantro), chervil, sage, red veined sorrel, thyme and oregano. With mint and rosemary planted elsewhere.



The Spuds!

One of my favourite times of the year in the garden is our annual family potato harvesting sessions. This year was especially fun because Fergal was really into it. There’s nothing like the ‘magic’ of pulling potatoes from the ground. Plus we had a surprisingly bountiful crop.

Since my boys (and man) love their spuds I decided to go ‘large’ with our potato planting this year. I’m experimenting with more exotic varieties to make it even more fun. Have planted Carlingford, Red Norland & Purple Congo (which keep their colour when cooked!).


Veg Garden Spring 16

The NEW Strawberry Patch

Last year we had quite a few strawberries but either the birds or blue tongue lizards got to them before Fergal and I could. So this Winter we relocated the strawbs to a less lizard-infested part of the garden at the front of the house. And of course have added netting! Looking forward to some full-flavoured organic berries with lashings of double cream.


Veg Garden Spring 16

My Modest ‘Orchard’

After sharing my orchard sad story last time, I’m happy to report there’s some great news this spring! My three remaining trees are all still alive AND the plum actually had blossoms recently so I’m hopeful this will mean there is some home gown fruit in my future. I have a net ready so don’t get any ideas birds of Wamboin.

From left to right there is rhubarb which you can’t really see, a Winter Nellis Pear, a Moya Plum and a Burre Bosc Pear. Oh and my favourite 3-year-old. So far so good on the growing boys project.


Veg Garden Spring 16

Garlic City

One of my most successful crops last year was my garlic. Thankfully something neither the kangaroos nor possums enjoy.

It tasted amazing AND I got a little burst of pride every time I reached into the pantry to pull out a clove or two (or 40 for the time I made Lamb with 40 cloves of garlic!). We really loved that lamb so I planted 3 times as much this year.

Looking forward to being able to give home grown garlic as gifts in the future.



An Asparagus ‘Surprise’

Vegetable gardening has an element of unpredictability that I love. Especially when you think something is completely dead only to find it reappearing months later.

Can’t tell you how excited I was to find these baby asparagus growing in with my garlic a few weeks ago. One step closer to having a huge asparagus patch.


Veg Garden Spring 16

My Cumquat Tree

A lovely gift from my super thoughtful mother-in-law for my birthday last year, I just love this little tree. There have been ripe cumquats ready for picking for a while now, but I have been ‘saving’ them for some reason. Although now it’s starting to flower again it must be harvest time. Can decide whether I should just eat them fresh or poach them with spices.

Decisions, decisions.


Do you grow your own food?

What are your latest triumphs and disasters? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

I have so much to learn!

Big love
Jules x

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ps. Looking to Simplify Your Life?

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  • We grow our own, kids have a great time helping (well as helpful as 3yr olds get!). I highly recommend growing your greens from seed. Direct sowing into the garden beds. You will have soooo much and it’s surprisingly easy.

  • Everything is going so well! We don’t have possum problems here, but for a while there were rats getting into our greenhouse and eating the broccoli. Argh! So annoying.

    We’re changing our set-up a bit this year (I’ll discuss with you in depth on Thursday night, I reckon I’ll be well enough and sick of my family enough to drive around the corner ha ha), which means we will plant most things in the greenhouse until we’re more organised.

    If you want kale, I have tons. I’ll bring you a bunch on Thursday. A couple of different varieties. I remember last year I gave Heather a kale bouquet for her birthday. Ha ha.

    Gosh I wish I had more time and money to just get into the garden and get it done! I love growing ALLLLLL THE FOOD! And eating all the food. ;)

  • Loved the garden tour, you are growing so much. Darn possums.
    How lovely to have your own cumquats. No question about it – make jam. It will be the best ever !

  • We live in the bottom of the South Island in NZ.
    Yes nothing like your own fresh vegies out of your garden.
    We have a tunnel house as well and my husband picked a savory cabbage the other day it was SO sweet.Have got potatoes through but have them covered still get the odd frost.Viv

  • I just posted a blog yesterday about a section of my vegi patch. I love my patch and it is often on my blog among lots of other bits and pieces.

  • I wish we were home enough to have a garden. I used to enjoy gardening a lot. At my first house I had a lot of fruit trees, and one of the things I learned was that plums need to cross pollinate, so you should have a second tree (there may be varieties that don’t need cross pollination, but I’d recommend you check on that). I always had mixed results with my veggie growing. Now that I’m old (and live in the desert) I’m not sure I have the patience or energy to have a vegetable garden, so I’m glad you are getting to enjoy yours.

    • Thx Susan! I did check and my prune is a self pollinator. Glad you’re enjoying my garden updates – I love growing my own food so much! Jx

  • Jules, you and I seem to have so much in common, we could be sisters…or perhaps mother and daughter, considering my extensive age! I am so lucky in that there are two (well, the male seems to pop in for a visit now and then!) very well behaved possums which sleep in our garage. They don’t eat any of our huge veggie garden, or the roses etc.All they eat are the peaches.They have a favourite maple tree they play in at night, and we find little heaps of peach stones under it in the morning. I love having the wild life here. I have a cumquat tree planted in the garden and we make cumquat jam which beats all other jams, also black berries and mulberries.Home-made jam beats all bought jam. Also bottle peaches and apricots.Our garden beds are raised, like yours as we are both about 80 and it makes gardening easier. We have a full bed of garlic as I use a lot in cooking.It is so lovely to read about what other like-minded people are doing.Do you have fruit fly? They are bad where we live so the trees have to be stripped as soon as the fruit is almost ripe, and put in the outside fridges.(We have three old ones which still do a good job).Aplogies for this lengthy piece but reading your blog and the comments, spurred me to write!

    • Betty!
      So lovely to hear from you. You’re lucky your possums sound very civilised compared to mine. I agree on the superiority of home made jam. I used to make my own but unfortunately with my diabetes it’s not something I can enjoy any more. So far no fruit fly here… sounds terrible. Really enjoyed reading about your garden. Jx

  • Love the garden update. I too have grown similar plants in my garden this year. I am fighting with the slugs this spring. I love the net to stop the possum. Last year I lost my chili plants to the possum.

    • We have a few slugs here too Margaret! One of Fergals all time favourite thing is to catch them and feed them to the chooks! As you can imagine I’m encouraging this behaviour :) wow I wouldn’t have thought possums would go for chillies… will make sure I keep mine protected.

  • Hahaha! I have the same problem after reading ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ – just the thought of the book makes me drool and long for my garden! Being from Canada (and now living in high-rise Hong Kong) our seasons are reversed but I can still thrill to the idea of Spring and new shoots appearing. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

  • I sympathize with your possum plight. Groundhogs have been the problem in my garden. Besides creating barriers with fences, sharp sticks or netting, I’ve found that baiting live traps with cantaloupe chunks works.

  • Good luck with the possums Jules! If I sound a little cynical it is because I have had my own battles with the pesky blighters! last year we got very little fruit because they ripped into the netted trees, managed to cross the electric fencing and ignored the security lights with motion sensors. National Parks actually gave us permission to shoot them as they destroyed a couple of heritage apple trees, but we found another solution – relocation. Unfortunately it doesn’t solve the problem long-term as others move into the empty niche and eventually find something else to their taste – I have just noticed that our beautiful oak tree’s upper branches have been denuded of all its spring shoots, and i don’t know if they are also guilty of stripping the geraniums on our front verandah or whether to blame our resident wombat or a wallaby.
    On the positive side I have a super abundance of Italian parsley (as yet undiscovered by possums) , mint and other herbs and greens and my asparagus has yielded several feeds already. My broad beans are flowering [tip pruning encourages branching and increased yields and the tips can be eaten] and my “Yakumo” snow peas are a mass of purple flowers and tiny pods. I am hopeful of getting some strawberries this year under the netting. The kale is going to seed, as is the giant rocket, and the rhubarb needs to be cut! The next step is to plant out my tomatoes and sow beans, cucurbits and corn – we are liable to get frosts here until the end of October – in fact, we had one Monday morning.

  • PS Undoubtedly cumquat marmalade, or even better, cumquat liqueur – you can then eat the leftover brandied-liqueur fruit with cream or ice cream

  • We grow apples, raspberries and blackcurrants. The raspberries were a big surprise for how little maintenance they need; they are practically the weeds of the fruit world for how they spread!

  • Every year I have a garden. I plant everything from seeds and I plant heirloom seeds as they use no pesticides or GMOs, although Monsanto is even getting into the heirloom seeds too. It makes me so mad that a company is so big that they can do whatever they want and no one does anything.
    I love to plant a garden and from seeds because I love knowing that my 2 little hands and they are child sized so they are little grew everything in their. I started a garden this year. I planted green and yellow beans, purple beans (but the purple comes out when you steam them), tomatoes, potatoes, green peas, corn, and yellow squash. I think that’s it. The garden is on the side of our house and then I will plant more in the back as there is a spot that used to have a tree but now is part of my garden. We have slugs but not many and I don’t think we had any this year. 2 ways to get rid of them. Dig a hole and put in the hole a tuna fish or cat food can. Fill it with the cheapest beer there is. The slugs will be attracted to the beer and will drown in it. One year we had tons of them in there! You can also put salt on them when you see them but they explode when you do that. Yuck! This year though we have had mutant ninja squirrels all over our yard! Our lawn is full of holes and in the back of our yard is a huge hole where the grass used to be right in front of where another part of my garden is. I’ve almost fallen a few times trying to plant things. They have even dug up my potatoes before they grow or at least I am guessing it is them. We live in the city and other then squirrels and the occasional dog or cat, we have no other wild animals. I even planted flowers from heirloom seeds but some of them like my pretty violets didn’t grow because the squirrels dug them up! I planted 2 kinds in a big pot and that night I heard this heard this horrible noise outside kind of late. It sounded like 2 cats fighting and I almost called the police but realized it was animals and not people. In the daylight, the whole pot was dig up and dirt was everywhere! I was crying both times. They go onto the roof of our house and climb down the side of our house and ruin our window screens among other things. I can’t put the pots up high or down low because they get to them no matter where they are. I hate squirrels! Oh yeah, I have strawberries and Italian Oregano too.
    This year though I managed to plant part of my garden but had to redo some of it. I put this black material down so I don’t get weeds. I cut holes in it and plant the seeds in the holes and use something that is metal called staples to stick into the material and the dirt to hold the material down. It can stay up in the winter and it should last about 2 or 3 years. This year and last year the material and the staples, which should only come out if we had a hurricane or tornado which we didn’t have were gone! I can’t imagine who took them or what managed to take them but I had to put new stuff out. Then on July 4th weekend I was standing on a stool to reach something on a high shelf when my foot slipped and hit the side of the stool and I broke my foot! It was a long time before I could even tend to my garden and by then a lot of it was not so great. What with the squirrels and the drought we are having and my foot my garden this year was the worse one ever! Let’s hope next year my garden is great again and yours is good too. I forgot to mention that my living room has a huge picture window. When my pots of herbs can’t grow outside anymore, our picture window ledge with the sun and the radiators underneath is kind of like a greenhouse. I plant some in the winter and I am even going to plant those beautiful violets that the squirrels got but can’t get in my house. I can’t wait to see how they look. I’ll post photos if I can.

    • Forgot to mention how much I loved looking at the pictures of your garden and seeing your son. I love when I can eat stuff from my garden. It just tastes so good!

    • Oh Gail! I loved reading about your garden… sounds like those squirrels are as bad as my possums… sorry to hear about your foot… and here’s to better luck in the garden for you next year! I love your picture window / greenhouse idea for winter pots… we’re planning on doing a renovation at some point so will have to figure out a way to use your idea! Jx

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