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13 October 2009

What are you growing this season?

We are waiting for rain to fall. Our tanks are empty. There was thunder and lightening last night but only about five minutes of rain. We are using town water on the vegetables to keep them growing and each time I do that I think that we should get another tank. I thought 15,000 litres/4,000 gallons would be enough for us, our annual rainfall is 1200mm/47 inches, but it is apparent that if we are to produce backyard food on an ongoing basis, we need to store more water for these times of drought.

Click on photos to enlarge them.

But despite our water shortage, the garden is growing well and producing some nice vegetables. At the moment we are growing cucumbers, potatoes, tomatoes, capsicums (peppers), leeks, lettuce, sunflowers, radishes, zucchini, bok choi, celery, silver beet, the last of the kale and cabbages, beetroot, wild rocket (arugula) carrots, corn, eggplant, Welsh onions, parsley, chives, oregano, curry plant, marjoram, yarrow, comfrey, thyme, bay and a selection of fruit.

It's the first time we've grown this variety of cucumber and we haven't eaten any yet but they look like real winners. I'm definitely going to save some of these seeds for future years, and for a seed box swap over at the forum.

The first of the eggplants. These are heirlooms, Black Beauty.

Tomatoes and lettuce, all we need is the bread.

Our constant companions - the chooks. This is Cocobelle, the grand matriarch of the flock, with Heather, our little feather-panted Faverolles. Chooks provide nitrogen in the form of their manure for the garden, they catch bugs we don't even see and they provide us with hours of entertainment.

I have just harvested about a kilo (2 pounds) of ginger and a small amount of turmeric. They're still outside because I haven't had time to do anything with them yet but the ginger will be used in cooking and for ginger beer and the turmeric will be used in curries and as a tea.

These sweet potatoes will be planted soon. I'll take photos when I plant them. Basically you just need a couple of sweet potatoes that have sent out shoots. Waiting for them to shoot is the hardest part, the rest is easy if you're in a warm climate.

These are follow up tomatoes, beans, silverbeet and those tiny spots on the back tray will be little daisies. I always plant flowers in the vegetable garden. They bring the bees in and provide some colour amidst all the green.

Every time I walk through our garden I remind myself how lucky we are to live were we do. With the call of the wild ducks and geese, a wall of rain forest to shelter us from wind and prying eyes and our vegetables to keep us going, there is no other place I'd rather be.

What are you growing this season?


  1. How lovely to see your garden blooming Rhonda :) Sorry to hear about your water shortage! Is this fairly regular? Sounds like you weren't really expecting it?

    I was reading this thinking 'I'm growing nothing at the minute'... We're heading into autumn here, prime harvest time, but I've been so busy all summer, I've hardly paid any attention to the garden.

    However, we are growing perpetual spinach, rainbow chard, rocket, as well as rhubarb, rosemary, mint, parsley, lemon balm, lemon verbena, sage, oregano, and basil. Basically, mostly herbs, and all things that pretty much grow themselves with no input from me :)

    We've only got a small space here, so I reckoned high value, small space, low maintenance crops were the way to go. Use what you have and all that...

    Best wishes, good luck with the water situation, those cucumbers look great :)


  2. HI Jenni, I hope your writing is progressing nicely. This is the first time we've run out of water since we installed our second tank.

  3. Your garden is such an inspiration!!! I cannot tell you how much your blog has motivated me to work hard at my vegetable garden, and to try so many new things (knitting - I even knitted a teddy bear for my sister's birthday rather than buying a present, and have made a couple of very simple dischloths).

    For my birthday this year I asked for plants for the vegetable garden, mulch, flowers. I have found it much more motivating to look after my vegie patch now that I actually own it as a gift!

    I am growing snap peas, carrots, leeks, garlic, tomatos, basil, beetroot, shallots, lots of lettuces, rhubarb, cucumber, parsley, coriander, rosemary, lemongrass, tarragon, sage, bay leaf, rasberries, blueberries, white currant, gooseberries (although none of these berries are doing very well).

    I found some old tyres on the side of the road and used them for planting potatos. I have never grown potatos before so a bit of an experiment.

    I recently put on the garden a layer of soil from the compost bin and since then lots of seedlings have come up! Including cherry tomatos, and pumpkin.

    I have been taking cuttings of lots of herbs and potting up the little tomato plants that are popping up every where. My plan is to make up pots of herbs and vegies as christmas presents for people. This should work out as pretty inexpensive presents (all i will need to buy are the pots!). Maybe others might find that idea good and start taking cuttings and potting up plants for in time for Christmas.


  4. HI Rhonda Jean - I'm another Rhonda - I live on a farm on the Far South Coast of NSW. And like yourself, we've been experiencing an extended period of dry weather - 8 years of drought and counting... Last month the Federal Government granted our region Exceptional Circumstances - in acknowledgment of the shocking drought we have been weathering.

    Our dam and tank levels are pitifully low (we don't have town water here - so we rely totally on what we collect). Each year we grow most of our own food (just like my grandparents, great-grandparents - and indeed great-great-grandparents have done beforehand here in the district) I'm worried about getting our animals and the vege garden through the coming summer... And more than that, I'm worried that what we are experiencing is not a once-in-a-century drought, but is a taste of the future - thanks to climate change.

    It's very hard to feel optimistic about farming and gardening

    Still - we're hanging in here (we planted potatoes, pak choy and lettuce this week) - I enjoy looking at other gardens (like yours!) and hearing how things are going in other parts of our country. It lifts the spirits.

    cheers from sams creek


  5. We got quite a bit of rain down here on the weekend - the first rain for months so maybe the wet season is coming. It was good for our spinach and lettuce! But that's all we can plant in a yard that gets no sun.

    I read in the local rag the other day that up your way runs out of water at this time nearly every year, so they're putting in a pipe to pump water up the hill. Bob reckons you won't have a shortage next year. ;)

  6. Our tanks are empty too and we have been pumping up from our dam which means brown water from all the tannin in the gum leaves. We have had a few showers to moisten the gardens but not enough to replenish our tanks. I am still amazed to see the plants still growing and the herbs flourishing. We have been harvesting mulberries and paw paws and I have discovered when fully ripe they make a wonderful substitute for bananas in cakes - in fact my paw paw cakes have been turning out even better than my banana cakes. I have two ripe paw paws sitting in the fruit bowl so I'm off to make another cake for morning tea!

  7. Hi Rhonda
    Your garden looks wonderful and its always lovely to see another chook fan. We have four at the moment and am hoping to get 2 more, I am hopeing to find some Barnevelders.

    I was hoping you may be able to help me with a small problem I have in the vegie garden. Here in Melbourne as you probably know we are still coping with little rain and quite unseasonally warm winter and spring. Ove winter I planted winter veggies, broccolli, cauliflowers and cabbage, with no luck at all then they went to seed. Any ideas as to why this may be?

    Now it is spring I will plant some zucchinis and pumpkin, tomatoes and some of your loofahs hopefully they will do much better.

    Thanks for your great blog.

  8. We just put in our Garden on Saturday. I live in AZ - very dry climate, so we use city water. We just moved into this house so its been a little bit of a process getting it started. Mostly I'm excited about the trees we just planted. Lemon, Lime, Orange, Grapefruit, Peach, Apricot and Apple. We shall see how it goes.

  9. Hi Rhonda,
    At the moment I am just trying to maintain a few of my outdoor plants. :) You have inspired me to work on planting some potted herbs for my patio this season....babysteps! I also wanted to share that I purchased fabric for a few aprons that I intend to make as a result of the apron challenge and even picked up some smaller knitting needles to teach myself to knit dishcloths. (I've never purled but will give it go.) Thank you for your encouragement! Andrea

  10. Hi Rhonda, I had no idea that your part of Qld was short of water. We have had some good rain here on the cpast but it's very dry inland. Currently we are growing lettuces, cabbage, tomatoes, capsicum, the last of the brussels, finger eggplant, radishes and carrots.
    Great excitement -- our girls arrived this morning! I am supervising one little excited dog for a few hours.

  11. Hi Rhonda,

    I always enjoy looking at your garden. You have inspired me to expand ours some. I am looking for free concrete blocks(on Craigslist) to build some more beds. We are also heading into autumn and the only thing growing are the herbs. I regret not planting sweet peas!I check the forum almost everyday. What a good idea that was

    Kathie in South Carolina

  12. This year we are growing a beans and corn garden in a section of the yard that had an odd patch of lawn that was a pain to mow. We are experimenting with a variety of different beans, including soybeans, sword beans (these are HUGE)and lazy housewife beans. We are growing an open pollinated corn variety - Golden bantam. Hopefully we will be harvesting before Christmas. I also have as perennials: lemon grass, rosemary, sage, garlic chives, spring onions, perennial leeks. Carrots are grown in tubs, and I might manage to save some seed this year if I can keep the ants out! We are also growing rosellas (the plant, not the bird), small patches of oats (for the guinea pig)and basil and warrigal greens. Plus some Monsteriosa which came with the house and has 4 fruits this year.
    Quite a long list really, when you write it all down!

  13. Unfortunately, we've been hit with snow and freezing temperatures already. I still have a few potatoes until the ground and I'm hoping they haven't frozen yet. I finally harvested the kale two days ago (it likes some frost, so I'm good there).

    Indoors, I am trying to root some sage and geraniums. I'm not sure yet if they've "taken", but I'm hoping to keep them alive through the long winter so that I've got more than enough pink geraniums for next summer.

  14. Here winter's coming on. I still have carrots to be dug, maybe some beets but since there is a call for snow tomorrow our season is over.

  15. In my container garden I have a blueberry plant which is just new and needs transplanting into a bigger pot. I've got one strawberry plant which has set a few strawberries. Two types of garlic, and an oregano plant which is going crazy.
    Yesterday someone gave our house a coriander (cilantro) plant that has been delegated to me cos I'm the one with the 'green thumb'. The poor thing is literally bursting out of the tiny pot it is in, roots are growing out the drainage holes at the bottom. Today I'm going to go pick up some potting mix and transplant both the coriander and the blueberry.
    I'm going to buy a cherry tomato plant as well and have some chilli seeds to plant.

  16. It seems so strange to me that you had such a short winter and are already growing again! Our high temperature yesterday was 28 degrees F, or a little less that 0 degrees C. We are growing nothing in the garden and won't be for another six months! Our frost free growing season is only 143 days!

  17. Greetings Rhonda!

    Autumn just started for us a few weeks ago. We also just moved into our home about 6 weeks ago so our garden is small at the moment. I am a fairly new gardner. Right now I have Carrots, Swiss Chard, Radishes, Leeks, Onions, Broccoli, Lettuce and Brussels Sprouts.

    We also got new baby chicks (6), they just turned 2 weeks old so we are "growing" them right now.

    I am so thankful to have found your blog! Such an inspiration in so many ways. How you are living is how my husband and I envision our lives to be. Your blog is almost a "how to live simply for dummies" resource! HAHA

    Thank you for your time and openness. I know I probably speak for a lot of people when I say your blog is truly a gold mine!

    Take Care, have a blessed day!


  18. Good Morning Rhonda, Your garden looks wonderful to spite the water shortage. It is one of those things we try to cope with. I live in Western Australia right on the coast, so I have serious trouble growing veg.. I grow most of my herbs in pots, which is what I will do wih tomatoes this year.. everything I put in the ground seems stunted, and I see a lot of others here with the same issue. We have only been in WA a year, moving over from Vicotira, so I do really miss having a prosperous garden..
    I do so love your posts they are such an inspiration, and after a long drought on my own blog, you have lifted my flagging spirits on many days and stirred the muses within. Blessings to you and Hano

  19. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    We too are waiting for some much needed rain here in southern California...

    I just love seeing pics of your chooks!

    Is ginger hard to grow?
    I would love to grow some!

    Wishing you a day filled with sweet and simple joys! ♥

  20. Sounds wonderful. I'm in the States, so cold weather is coming our way.

    I'm curious about your tumeric root. I take tumeric capsules for inflammation (migratory arthritis).
    I have seen the curry plant here - not edible, but if you rubbed the leaves, it smelled like curry. No mention was made of harvesting the roots. What exactly is the name of the plant/herb that produces tumeric roots? I am intrigued!

  21. Rhonda~
    You must be in the growing month over where you live!
    Here in the USA we are finishing the harvest season and getting ready for the cold weather!
    We had frost the last 2 days!
    I still have a few things out side that need harvested!
    Potaotes,tomatos,peppers,carrots and a few zuchinnis!

    Great garden!


  22. We put in our vege patch in the front yard when we moved here a couple of years ago. The back doesn't get enough year-round sun, so the front got it! It's not massive, but we've had some great crops so far. Recently we planted some heirloom tomatoes, eggplants and capsicums. We've got peas that are cropping now, and a few beetroot left. The broccoli and cabbages have now gone to seed, so I'm hoping to try to collect some seeds before we pull them all out. We also have stacks of parsley, sage, chives, oregano, rosemary, mint, thyme and lemon thyme. Oh, and a few red onions that self sowed from last years crop! And some lettuce in a pot. I think that's it :-)

  23. In my main patch right now I have broad beans finishing, tree-onions, snow peas, silverbeet, parsnips, cucmbers, rocket (seeding), and celery. Planted some Yin Yang beans, radishes and carrots last week. The tomatoes, eggplants, ground cherries and other things are still in pots as it's been a cool October.

    For the anonymous reader above, tehre are two curry plants. Helichrysum angustifolium is an ornamental that smells like curry powder. Murraya koenigii is the edible curry leaf used in making some curries.

  24. Growing things that use only water from the sky..globe arthichokes,broad beans,parsley,herbs, garlic,omions.I don't have mains water and couldn't justify using it on vegetables if I did.I leave the other things to the expert producers at our Farmers Market who use water economically and grow things better than I do.

  25. jerusalem and globe artichokes, tatsoi plus a curry plant are my new adventures for this season. Tomatoes, pumpkins, beetroot, leeks, various salad greens, potatoes, zucchinis, garlic all either in the garden or in pots or going in later this week.

    I have a request for you Rhonda. Would you consider writing about your wardrobe please? I am the lucky recipient of clothing gifts and hand me downs for my children so I only have to alter or extend a few items plus I have knitted for them. I have mended some of my husbands clothes to extend their lives and done a little sewing of new clothes for him. For myself, I mostly shop at charity shops and I have done some knitting for myself. But I can't always find what I want for workwear at charity shops and I am beginning to use my sewing machine to fix the 'gaps'. Fabric isn't often cheap and I am mostly using gifted fabric (I have been lucky in this respect this year) for most of the sewing. Would you share your thoughts and choices around your own clothing? Thank you for considering this request Rhonda.

  26. Hey Rhonda,

    Glad to read about your sweet potatoes. I am really interested in harvesting some potatoes. I am going to put some out to sprout and in the meantime find a large container to plant them in. The rest of my little urban garden is going strong. I've put lots of photos up. I walked out this morning to find my tomato plants had ALL bent over due to growth. I had to tie the ropes higher up the stakes because they're getting so tall. I use drained baby bath water from my bubs portable tub to water the plants. It basically covers everything. Love to see the photos of your garden! It's so lush! xo Meagan

  27. Hi Rhonda,
    we are down here in SA enjoying heavy rain today..the sound to me is joy after last Summers searing heat and water restrictions. We are still on those, and the sight of our two HUGE tanks still unconnected on the lawn is making my husband feel bad...we still have the concreting to do behind the shed to put them....we keep saying, 'if only..' lol....but we will get there....
    I have growing down here in SA, tomatoes, broad beans, peas,leek,cucumbers, baby spinich, gourmet lettuce, capsicum, corn, eggplant (my first go) and zuchini...the children have carrots to plant and bean seeds on our new trellis...
    Its all exciting, and I too would rather be no other place than wandering through my garden does my soul good...xx

  28. maybe we can send you up some water, we're at the bottom of SA and it doesn't stop raining here.
    Lets see, I have just harvested all my beetroot and broccoli and are busy picking lettuce and asparagus whenever we want them.
    I have just planted tomatoes, butter beans, garlic, chilli, carrots, spinach and some herbs. I also just put in a cherry (stella), 2 way apple (granny smith/golden delicious), a two way apricot (moorpark/trevatt) and a nectarine tree.
    I think that's it for this week, I have one more garden bed free and that will be planted out this weekend.

  29. Hi Rhonda,

    Love your garden. We are in our Fall season and heading into our Winter (SNOW! UGH!) season so I'm done with growing.
    I did my first garden this year and our green beans and peas did awesome. Not so good on the carrots, broccoli or peppers. Hopefully next spring we'll do better.
    Have a super day!

  30. Hi, from Northern Indiana. We don't have much room and it is all cement patio so we have several large containers. I have already cleaned them out in preparation for winter but they did nicely for us. We had eggplant, broccoli, brussels sprouts, three varieties of tomatoes, five varieties of peppers, yardlong pole beans, lettuce, acorn squash, globe zucchini, double petunias, portulaca, lavender, and high scented sweet peas. Looking forward to next spring and some experiments in extending the garden upwards since we have no more room to go out.

  31. Beautiful photos. I am not a gardener, but I do a find job at tending my ponies. <:O]

  32. Karen - Morrinsville NZOctober 14, 2009 6:24 am

    Dear Rhonda - about the water problem. Have you thought of using grey water? Water from the washing machine/dishes/bowl in the hand washing sink or in the bottom of your shower etc??? I have a friend who used grey water when her water tanks are low and they do not want to use town water because of the chemicals put in to it like flouride?
    I am growing pretty much the same as you are and begun my plants in the tunnel house. I have a vegie paddock!! and today am planting out different types of beet and pumpkins. Do you know about the Austrian Oil Seed pumpkins? They are the ones you save the seeds from to eat like you buy in the supermarkets. They are hull less and you can still eat the pumpkin as well. You can get them from and I must say I think the seed swap idea is a very good one.
    Karen - New Zealand

  33. I am just starting to harvest zucchini. I also have bush beans, beets, swiss chard, cucumber, snap peas and multiplying onions. Just planted some spinach and lettuce now that it is cooling down a bit. I feel like a kid before Christmas going out there a few times a day to see how if any of my "presents" (zucchini) have grown. I just bought a freezer today and so I am ready to freeze what ever we don't eat. Loving every minute of it - except for the part about fighting the inch worms and grasshoppers for things. I am working on that battle and by the way I PLAN TO WIN! Emily

  34. so things look well here, even with the tanks on empty!

    I always love visiting here. Just wish I had more time!
    aka living off grid at eclectic culture farm

  35. no growing anymore :( I am tucking the garden away for winter, we are freezing regularly every night now. It is time to hunker down and enjoy the hours of time I spent preserving my harvest. :)

  36. Hi Rhonda,

    You have a very nice garden. :D Wooot!! I'm just doing some blog hopping in the blogs of my fellow nominees.

    Are you also going to Singapore this Oct 23? I hope to see you there. :)

  37. Hi Jazheel, thanks for stopping by. I have declined the invitation to go to Singapore.


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