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5 October 2010

Abundance in the garden

I haven't shown you around the garden for a while but the truth is it's growing like the clappers. We've had consistent rain over the past few weeks and it's made the world of difference. I've been pruning the tomatoes because they're madly falling over everything near them.

The elderberry is flowering and I've cut off three heads so far and have them sitting in the freezer. Has anyone else frozen elder flowers. I want to use them for champagne but I'm not sure if freezing will kill the wild yeasts on the flowers. I have no experience at all with elder so whatever you can share with me I'd appreciate.

The photo above is our rain gauge with 30ml collected from the previous two nights. Almost every night some rain has fallen so it's keeping the soil nice and moist. When we first moved to this land, the soil was all clay and impossible to garden in. So we started by adding compost and gypsum and have continued to improve the soil with compost, worm castings and straw between every planting. It's made such a difference and I'm sure it would grow almost anything now.

At the moment we're growing tomatoes, lettuce, silverbeet (swiss chard), turnips, garlic, Welsh onions, leeks, bok choi, cucumbers, bush beans and climbing beans, kale, potatoes, herbs, corn, zucchini, cabbages, capsicums (peppers) and celeriac. It's life affirming to be able to go into one's backyard to pick and choose from a wide variety of organic vegetables. Now is one of the best seasons for vegetables in Australia. What are you growing?


  1. Only yesterday I planted up the garden for summer. Here's what I planted: parsley, basil (lots of, pesto lovers here), tomatoes, eggplant, capsicum, zucchini, bush beans, cucumbers, celeriac, lots of lettuce and bok choy. Already there: garlic, leeks, cavolo nero, sage, galangal and rhubarb. These have gone in after lots of compost, worm castings and sheep manure have been added to the soil. We've had a lot of rain here too on the NSW south coast so hopefully these beauties will get off to a flying start...

  2. Lovely to see what you are growing, just finishing our season here in Portugal (mountains), still got tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, courgettes, rocket have planted winter greens for the chickens and winter salad. Also still picking figs and quinces and apples and now walnuts.......
    Re: elderflowers, persanlly I would make elderflower cordial but you need at least 20 heads, champagne requires less, here's the recipe my husband uses;
    2 heads of elderflower
    1 1/4 white sugar
    2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
    1 gallon water
    1 lemon
    Pick the heads when in full bloom and put in a bowl followed by the lemon juice, cut up rind (no white pith), sugar and vinegar. Add the cold water and leave for twenty four hours. Strain into strong bottles, cork firmly, wire or tie down (or use screw-stopper bottles) and lay them on their sides
    After two weeks it should be sparkling and ready to drink

    (unless of course it explodes, which it may do)!!!!

    Taken from The National Federation of Women's Institutes. Home made wines, syrups and Cordials 1959.....

    have fun and check out our blog sometime

  3. Your garden looks fabulous - it's always an inspiration. This year I had a go at growing some veg for the first time. It's all been in pots and growbags and window boxes. We grew pumpkins, squash, radish, beetroot, lollo rosso lettuce, tomatoes, ridge cucumbers and carrots. Oh,and strawberries too. Most things did ok. Next year I need to limit the growth of the pumpkins I think and feed everything sooner than I did this time around. I grew everything except the strawberries from seed and next time I need to start them all a bit earlier. My tomatoes are only just ripening but the weather is turning so I guess I'll be having a go at green tomato chutney. It's been fantastic to walk into the garden and pull up some carrots for tea. And everything tasted so sweet. We are trying to work out how to grow even more next year and thinking about what we can do over the winter.

  4. Good luck with your growing season, Paola.

    Rick and Sarah, I'd love to grow walnuts here. We have a pecan tree and get a couple of hand fulls of nuts every year. Thanks for the recipe. I'll try it.

    Tilly, well done on your container garden. I've found even now I'm learning every year. Each year you build on what you discovered the year before. Have fun with it.

  5. Your garden looks wonderful. I am now dreaming about next years garden. It has just turned cold in VA and our gardens are "resting" now. It will soon frost (it was 37 this morning) and we will clean out our flower beds. I like to clean them in the fall for the bulbs that will come up in the spring. I am going to give our chicken coop a good cleaning and get our hens good and comfy for the winter months. I will enjoy watching your garden grow while mine is sleeping!


  6. Looks great Rhonda. We just planted out our garden over the long weekend. I've aharvested the last of our cauliflower and am still pulling up carrots and beetroot as needed. And you've never seen so many strawberries! It's lucky my hubby makes a mean strawberry jam!! One thing I've got a bucketload of is silverbeet. We've got 2 different varieties, both full of flavour, though one is pale and doesn't look it, but it's the most flavourful. The problem is, hubby eats it steamed, but I don't really. So other than spinach pie (with bacon, onion, cheese, egg and a pastry top) or minestrone (which it's getting a bit warm to make every week) I'm really not sure what else to do with it! Any hints?
    Thanks, Kristy

  7. A wonderful garden... a true labor of love... :)


  8. All that green in your photos is a feast for my eyes! Thanks for a peek into springtime down under. We're nestling in for winter now, but on the south side of my house, my peas are still blooming! Enough sun on that side.

  9. We had frosts here as late as 2 weeks ago and now the area near the creek, which fortunately hadn't been cultivated (Slashed and weeded!) yet, is under flood water. Seriously thinking of potting up a few things like lettuce etc or there will be no fresh veges around Christmas time. Love your lush garden :).

  10. Hi Rhonda!
    Here in SW Arizona, we've been getting our fall seeds planted. We have cabbage, rutabaga, beets, cauliflower, peas & two types of broccoli already up and ready for thinning. We'll plant our carrot and lettuce seeds as well as onion starts within the next two weeks.
    We also have a few tomato plants that survived our summer heat (with a little help from some shade cloth) that are starting to set fruit for a second harvest.
    It's such a joy to be able to garden year round here--almost makes the summers bearable!
    Thanks for sharing your tips, ideas and photos.

  11. I love this time of year too. My garden is booming, and the cherubs seem to be growing like the clappers too! One thing that seems ridiculously happy is my silverbeet. The leeks, not so much.

  12. I enjoyed your garden photos - thanks.
    I'm still waiting on our seed order that I ordered well over a month ago - grrr...
    I love hearing that your soil was like that because our soil certainly isn't ideal up here on the hill where the house is (great down in the paddocks for crops) - I need to look into how to improve it.
    Have a good day

  13. tomatoes, eggplants, snow peas, sage, leeks, cucumber, zucchini, lettuce, potatoes, shallots, silverbeet, coriander, rhubarb, mulberries, beans, dill, strawberries, parsley and more!

  14. Rhonda, I love to see your gardens. They continually inspire me. We're starting to wind down here, but at least the terrible heat has gone. Cooler days and nights make it a lot more fun to work out in the yard.

  15. Your garden is amazing!
    I still have lettuce, parsnips, carrots and onions in the garden - it is very unusual for us not to have had a big frost by now! Normally my garden would be cleared by October.
    I see the beautiful picture of loaves of bread on the side of your blog - do you have the recipe somewhere? Thanks

  16. Your garden is amazing! My girls picked their pumpkins today, but I think our garden is done for the season. Time to plan for next year! You have inspired me so much! Thank you for the time you put into your blog!

  17. beautiful garden!


  18. Your garden looks lovely. Here in the UK we think of the elder as a weed, it is so rampant everywhere. I wouldn't put the heads in the freezer. You don't need many for champagne. Did you know you can batter the heads and deep fry them - delicious! We picked 13 pounds of berries last week in 20 mins from trees near our home. They are everywhere. you could pick 25 hours a day.

  19. Just discovered your lovely blog through Tina of Rubie's Place and am glad I have as this post is so inspirational. We only on the weekend bought a big planter to begin a vegetable patch (a much smaller scale than your gorgeous vegetable garden) and I'm about the prepare the soil this afternoon before deciding what to plant. Seeing your amazing produce has inspired me to get cracking :) I can't wait to be able to pop outside and pick some lovely fresh lettuce leaves.

  20. Your garden is looking lovely Rhonda and Hanno. We have the same plants in as you but also sweet potato and chokos (yum)
    Blessings Gail

  21. What a lush and productive garden!

    Re: elders. I`m not sure about freezing the flowers, but I do love to wait until the elderberries are ripe and then I make elderberry, blackberry and apple jam. The seeds are a bit crunchy, but fine. The taste is SO delicious. The ripe elderberries give an almost honeyed taste to the other fruit. The best jam I have made, so far.

  22. Your garden is absolutely gorgeous! We have only used the berries fro the elderberry bush, and made jam, jelly and pies. They freeze well,don't know about the flowers.

  23. oooh you are making my mouth water - I don't have much left in my veg patch now (it is very small!). I do however have a HUGE pumpkin - my very first successful attempt - I will blog on it very soon as I am so proud :o)

  24. Wow - your garden is amazing Rhonda!

  25. My garden is just about all pulled out and spread with compost. However, I left three brocolli plants standing and I think I'll actually still get one more meal off of them (we've had frost a few times here). And I planted some fall garlic for the first time. I'm very tempted to seed some carrots, swiss chard and spinach because I've been told you can do that for an early start to spring.

  26. Just to say that I have successfully frozen the elderflower heads and made champagne with them. I've also added them to gooseberry jam (tied up so the petals don't go into the jam) and the result is fabulous. I find that the flowers go a bit brown in the freezer so they don't look so pretty but the flavour is not affected. I also have friends who have frozen elderflower heads and none of us have had any trouble with using them afterwards. I also live in the UK but they are not as plentiful in our area as for the earlier British commenter so we like to pick them and freeze them whenever we can get our hands on some.

  27. how inspiring. i'm also in the uk, and just harvested a glut of green tomatoes. we're hoping to move to a sunnier patch of england someday, as it is a struggle to get much to grow. we did get lots of kale, and the brussels sprouts were beautiful if not productive!
    i made elderflower cordial, champagne and liqueur, best to use fresh if you can. though i missed the berries...dartford warbler, i shall have to try making that jam!!

  28. Your garden looks wonderful. How do you stay on top of the weeds? It's a loosing battle for me. We are heading into fall and I'm looking forward to picking my Brussel sprouts, just in time for our Canadian Thanksgiving. I still have Swiss chard that I pick whenever I want some, I just love doing that instead of going to the supermarket. I was happy to see fall this year, the summer was very hot and dry and I was tired of watering but already I'm thinking of Spring and the veggies I'll grow. Have a great Rhonda.

  29. IT'S SO GREEN.... I like it...!


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