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1 December 2009

From vegetables to green manures

Spaces are opening up in the vegetable garden after harvesting all those ripe vegetables. Hanno and I talked about it on the weekend and we've decided to rest the garden over summer. We used to always do this. Summer always brings with it very hot and humid weather and thousands of bugs so it's a battle to keep everything productive and healthy. In the past couple of months we've noticed our tomatoes haven't been producing well and there have been a few fruit fly strikes. That's not a good sign and it convinced up to stop producing for all of summer and let the soil rejuvenate.

Hanno took these photos of the sunflowers. He caught them just as the sun had highlighted them from the back. I love these photos. Didn't he do a good job!

Our plan is to harvest almost everything that is growing now. That includes cucumbers, tomatoes, sunflowers, silverbeet, beetroot, eggplant, potatoes, celery, zucchinis, capsicums, leeks, beans and corn. We also have various herbs, ginger, sweet potato and green onions growing, they'll all stay in and shouldn't have too much of a problem growing over summer. When we harvest those vegetables, we'll let the chickens in for a couple of days to clean up the bugs and insect eggs in the soil, then we'll plant green manures.

Green manure will keep the garden productive over the hot months, enrich the soil and make the worms happy. I'll go to Green Harvest for the seeds - they have a big range of green manures, we'll go for some kind of a legume and grass mix. You can read about green manures here.

Soon the bright yellow of the sunflowers will be gone and it will be all green out there. I'm actually looking forward to having the summer off and not worrying about whether our tank water will stretch or if they'll be more rain. We will use the valuable water we do have in the tanks to keep our fruit going and we will concentrate on making our fruit vines and trees productive and healthy.

So, it's back to the vegetable market for us soon. I know the vegetables won't taste as good, I know they'll not be as fresh and who knows what sprays will hide in what we buy but for now this is what we have to do. Our next planting will be in March.


  1. Goodmorning darling Rhonda! Your sunflowers look so lovely. It is always a mystery when you are finishing up your tomato crop when we are only just getting started. Love to you

  2. I am in Tasmania and we are only just planting our vegies now. nothing much growns here over the winter due to high frosts.

  3. Hi Rhonda, that sounds like a wise choice. Buying for a few months is probably a small price to pay for a break for the soil and for both of you. Have you considered having a few pots of things?
    We are having a break today, sometimes it's necessary for the soul.

  4. Thanks for sharing your decision and how you made it. Though we are not growing anything right now, it helps to file this away for furthur reference. I think you are using your resources, time and energy wisely!! And March will be here before we know it!

  5. Sounds like a smart idea! Just had to say your white cat is beautiful! Reminds me of my sweet Selby boy who passed a few years ago.

  6. Rhonda, we are having such problems with growing anything because the earwigs eat EVERYTHING before we can harvest it, even sometimes before it grows. We have tried spraying with pyrethrin, but there are still millions of them.

    Perhaps resting the soil is a good idea - maybe??? Any ideas???


  7. I have reached the same decision. I wish i'd done it sooner - as everything I have planted recently is almost dead - no rain - we have missed all the rain in recent storms - you must have had our share ;) and our water tanks are empty. i will be digging in the wilted and dying plants and planting green manures too. we are lucky and subscribe to Food Connect so get a box of (mainly) organic fruit and veg delivered every week.
    lucky really - because all I've harvested this week is a handful of snake beans....

    Paula in Brisbane

    ps im looking forward to having summer off in the garden too - it will give me a chance to perfect my bread making - and it is just too hot to be out there

  8. This resting of the soil over the summer is an excellent chance to remineralize the soil, and let it get ready for your fall planting. Check out for details.

    Enjoy the summer! James from Maryland USA (heading into winter - ~sigh~)

  9. How wonderful to see your sunflowers now from my winter grey corner of the world!

  10. Hi Rhonda Jean. The green manure sounds like a great thing. I have heard of it, but know nothing about it. Thank you for sharing. Emily in So TX

  11. Our gardens ALWAYS get a rest over these months, although I don't know if they are improved at all while frozen. I personally would love year-round fresh produce, but we always want what we can't have.

    Enjoy the rest though. I usually take up some projects indoors like sewing, reupholstering or trying to organize our messy lives. It's a time to go on school field trips and enjoy cooking (for me, I like the extra heat the oven brings). And this winter I'm learning to crochet. I like the balance of outdoors in the summer and hibernating indoors in the winter.

  12. Hi, Rhonda!
    What a wise idea about taking the summer off and planting some green manure. I'm sure you will be finding plenty to do with all the fruit trees, etc. Maybe Rose is right...a tomato plant in a pot on the patio might be a good idea! The little cherry tomato varieties are my favorite. That seemed to be the only thing that grew for me last summer after the snails made off with the rest of the garden! I'm kinda curious about Paula's remark about snake beans...whatever are snake beans?!
    Hugs, Aunt Bea

  13. Bea, snake beans are a thin green bean usually grown in the tropics.

  14. Some people call snake beans yard-long beans.

  15. When we moved to this house we also had way too many earwigs. I began reading about them and the books seemed to say they were a good bug. Good yes, but not when you have soooo many! :) I read to get rid of many put softly rolled up newspapers with a rubberband around the garden where you have seen many. In the morning shake them over the hard ground and step on them or into a soapy busket of water. They run fast so hurry! You'll be amazed at how many you catch each time. Keep it up till there are not many seen anywhere. They do a job so you don't need to get rid of allof them. If after trying for several days you do not catch any in one area try another. Put out catchers in as many areas as you think needed. Do not disturb these catchers so to frighten the bugs to come out before you want them to. I have left some in an area for a couple days at times. I also put around little lengths of old garden hose. They got in these at night. {I put the hose around in summer in longer snake like lengths around the berries as it scares some of the birds into thinking it is a snake.} The earwigs congregate between boards etc. Anyplace tight and moist. We got down our earwig population and it has kept down for years without any more problems. Without chemicals. Jody

  16. I think you have the right idea Rhonda. It really is difficult battling the extreme heat, the lack of water and the bugs over the next few months. It takes all the joy out of gardening when working in the hot sun is so uncomfortable. Perhaps after Christmas I will pick the last few cucumbers and tomatoes and follow your example.


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