DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
I have a forum attached to my blog where people from all over the world meet to discuss simple life. There are about 7000 forum members now so we have an enormous amount of good information about growing food, cooking from scratch, family, simple living, routines, budgeting, baking and much more. Please click on the image above to go there. Newcomers will have to register. It's free, friendly and we're waiting for you.

26 April 2012

Food production in the backyard

The last part of my home review this week is the vegetable garden. The garden is one of four elements that we deal with to put food on the table every day. Those four elements are the vegetable garden, food shopping, food storage and food preparation. They work together, equally important and supportive of the end goal - feeding the family. We start planting our garden in March, it grows slowly at first, always dependent on the weather and what insects are around, and reaches full production around the end of May. As we harvest, Hanno plants more in those empty spaces. What we don't eat fresh is frozen or bottled for our use later in the year, or given away - either to our family or friends.

I took all these photos yesterday afternoon.

It all starts with the seeds. We collect seeds when we can, otherwise we buy open pollinated seeds from Green Harvest.   These are loofa seeds above and Easter Egg radish seeds below.



This tray of seedlings will be planted out soon. They are brussel sprouts, lettuce, mini kale and tomatoes.

Not everything we grow is in the ground. Here we have an orange tree waiting to be planted (to replace a pink grapefruit we lost in the recent rains), sweet peas, a bay tree, parsley, lemon myrtle, strawberries and nasturtiums.

And this large green leaf vine is my vanilla orchid. It's snaking its way through the bush house.

The garlic has just pushed through.

 Here we have petunias, parsley, beetroot, Chinese cabbage, pineapple sage, tomatoes, chillies and garlic.

Hiding in there is the first tomato.

There must be almost a hundred cucumber flowers on these vines.

We started harvesting the cucumbers this week.

The chooks are the constant companions of the garden. They don't get into the garden, they patrol the grassed area just outside it, waiting for insects and leaves to fall near them.


This bare patch is waiting for the potatoes. We bought some potatoes in Dorrigo on the way back from the book tour and they haven't sprouted yet. They're fresh, straight from the organic farm they were grown on. It's reminds me every time I see them how old the potatoes we buy must be when they often sprout within a week of us bringing them home.
 And finally, a second planting of bok choy and lettuce, just near, but out of sight, of the strawberries.

Further over, in another garden, Hanno has planted beans, peas, more beetroot, silverbeet, and green onions. There is one more garden to prepare and plant out and then the majority of the hard work is done. Then it's just harvesting and planting in empty spaces.

If you're starting your first garden this year, start small and only grow what you'll eat. Vegetable gardening is a wonderful supplement to the food you have in your kitchen but in those first years, take it slow while you learn what you need to produce vegetables without commercial fertilisers and insecticides. Vegetable gardening is one of the slow elements of simple life - it takes its own time, nothing will hasten a tomato or lettuce to maturity. You have to wait and watch, and while you do, that gentle pace slows you too.

Never expect perfection in the vegetable garden. This is nature working right in front of you. You will have perfect tomatoes and some with grubs, you'll have crisp lettuces then one full of slugs, there will be times when you do your best and it doesn't work, and other times when you don't even plant a seed but up will pop the best cucumbers. It's all part of it, all there for you to learn from. So take notes and record what you plant and harvest, so you can build on what you do this year and take it into the next season.

Gail asked for the Celery and Potato Soup recipe, it's a very simple soup and this method of making soup can be used with almost any vegetable or group of vegetables. The soup makes its own stock while it's cooking. The recipe will feed four people.
  • 2 large potatoes - peeled and chopped
  • 6 stalks celery - washed and chopped
  • 1 large onion - peeled and chopped
  • water
  • salt and pepper
  • a splash of cream

Place the above in a one litre/quart of water, add salt and pepper to taste and cook until soft - about 30 minutes. Blend in a blender or with a stick blender, taste for seasoning, adjust if necessary. Some celery is very stringy, if yours is, strain the soup through a sieve at this point. Then add cream and a sprinkling of parsley and serve. Simple!



32 comments:

  1. What a lovely productive garden! What type of fruit is on the bush above the garlic? It looks like a type of citrus?

    ReplyDelete
  2. A wonderful expanse of beds Rhonda and Hanno and I envy you being able to grow tomatoes and cucumbers now. Ours are just finishing. Your message about starting off small and only growing what you like is one I share.
    As always, another week of really good advice and helpful information. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Rhonda, I have been enjoying your blog for several years.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Rhonda,
    I've been reading your blog for a little while, now, and thanks to your posts, I've begun making soap and cleaning products, and changing a few things to make our house more homely. We grow fruit and veggies but I didn't know what to do with the excess fruit, this year, as we don't really eat sugar. I wonder if you have any ideas?

    Thank you for your encouraging and inspiring blog:-)
    Vicky

    ReplyDelete
  5. How beautiful and productive your garden is! Thank you for the look around :) Most of our efforts this year are centering around the garden - and you said it so beautifully - nothing can be made to grow before it's time in this natural way. I wish for everyone to truly experience that!
    -Jaime

    ReplyDelete
  6. You have some lovely gardens!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ditto! This is what my blog is about this morning too. Great minds think alike. Thanks for the celery and potato soup recipe I'm going to try that next week it sounds delicious and we love potato soup.

    ReplyDelete
  8. i'm envious as your garden looks great! We can't plant the same things you have down in the south cold wet but i am planning to get the beds prepared this weekend to plant garlic and some seeds. I've got plenty of spring onions, silverbeet and loads of different lettuce & rocket that were self sown by my purposefully leaving some plants that had gone to seed -- I love it when when you get free plants like that as we are just finishing off the last of the self sown tomatoes also.
    I'm going well with the less meat challenge with approx 2 X week -- cooked lovely roast chicken yesterday for all the visiting family up on Anzac day for my fathers 84th birthday. We had a lovely day sharing & chatting together -- lunch prep was interspersed with my brother offering to set up a computer program and several wanders out to the garden with interested family to look at the progress (new fruit trees) -- my sister-in-law even weeded a garden bed as she said it was therapeutic!!
    Hope everyone had a lovely Anzac day as well.
    I

    ReplyDelete
  9. vicky, If you don't want the juice or jam, just give away your excess fruit, or barter with it. Maybe the neighbours have eggs, soap or candles they might like to swap for some fruit.

    Tanya, they're navel oranges. They'll be ready in June.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hello Rhonda,
    Thank you so much for the potato and celery soup recipe. The big fellow has planted lots of celery this year as I use so much of it in my cooking. Isn't it a good feeling to be able to make something like this soup and know that you don't have to buy anything for it. All these ingredients are from our garden, the water is from our own tanks and I'll use a splash of home made yoghurt as I don't have any cream at the moment. All this will simmer away on top of the wood heater. Today after i have finished my basic housework, I'll be sitting at my sewing machine making an apron and edging some old towels that I will cut up for cleaning cloths. I think of you and the other ladies who comment often as I go about my day and wonder what you are all doing. Like you I enjoy my home so much and i could never be bored in retirement. Life is good and we are blessed to live in this wonderful country.
    Blessings Gail

    ReplyDelete
  11. Your longer growing season must be so useful for producing food over more months of the year. In England we are starting spring seeds around now and hoping that the weather will be warm enough when the seedlings are ready to transplant.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Your garden looks great! We just put our tomato seedlings out this past weekend, but we've been enjoying lettuce for awhile now!

    I'm jealous of your citrus. I'm not sure if we can grow that here in Kansas.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Gail, we do live in a wonderful part of the world. I hope the big fella likes the soup. And thank you for giving me a wonderful idea for a post next week.

    Thanks everyone. The garden is Hanno's masterpiece and he deserves all the praise. As Dartford Warbler said, we are lucky to have such a long growing season and to be able to grow tomatoes alongside brussel sprouts.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Any advice on stopping bush rats and bats and other native animals from gnawing off new shoots and produce? I've been collecting old bird cages from council street pick-ups and using them as cloches. So far it's been the only thing that comes close to working but the clever buggers do learn to dig under them if they're keen. I stopped composting because it was a ready food source that kept them close. We're also monitoring the dog food so they don't get close and we're hoping to starve them out so they move on but it'll be shortlived. A new family always works out there's food in this urban garden and we're the only food producing garden for streets and streets.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I so love your garden it is beutifull wish ours looked like yours, maybe one day. Hubbies pumpkin soup turned out perfectly yesterday, he's very handy in the kitchen. Was reading your book when I got home from work at 330 this morning and spotted your recipe for scones and was wondering if you've ever tried using just flour, cream and a can of lemonade. A good friend of mine showed me that when we went camping one year she did it like damper but I've also done it like scones and they are soooo yummy. Have a great day Jodie from Adelaide.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Rhonda,
    Thank you for sharing your backyard with us, I love backyards, espiecially when they look like backyards and not Bali Resorts! Our backyard is like yours, winebarrels on the edge of the patio with some planted to strawberries and the some to herbs.All the ornamentals are natives, then we have our vegie patch, the good old Hills Hoist and the rainwater tanks. Then we have a back fence with grape vines and passionfruit growing on it and through there are Hubbies fruit trees and compost bins. The chooks live down there and are only locked into their pen at night they spend their days doing what chooks are meant to do under the fruit trees. They have plenty of shade in summer and sun in winter. I love our life I call it the "Good Life" I had a productive Anzac Day made soup and crusty bread for lunch, then lovely quiche for tea served with salad then custard and steamed pudding for dessert. I made the custard but the pudding was a bought one. I do make steamed puddings in my fowlers food preserver but we have used all of them so a reminder for me to make some more. We both agree that mine are better!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Jodie, I have eaten a lemonade scone at a CWA event and is was nice. I don't make them myself as I prefer to not eat the preservatives in soft drinks.

    Lainie, I too like a backyard to look like a backyard. Yay! a fellow steamed pudding girl.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Love your posts Rhonda and I am sooo jealous of your beautiful market garden.
    A quick question, do you take the outer leaves off and use your Bok Choy much as you would lettuce leaves, or do you pull the whole plant, I am asking this as we have only 2 (they were a gift) plants and I want them to last as long as possible..

    ReplyDelete
  19. Maureen, you can pick only the outer leaves but bok choy cooks down a lot. For us, a full bok choy along with other vegetables, makes a meal.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Rhonda,
    Your garden looks beautiful. We are getting ready to put our seedlings in right now. We live in the Rocky Mountain area of the U.S. We usually wait until our "frost free date", May 15th, to plant our tender plants.
    We have had some strange weather lately, unseasonably warm. I have a feeling it's going to be a scorcher of a summer.
    I really enjoy your posts. I read your blog every day. You are such an inspiration.
    Jeri, Utah, U.S.A.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh Rhonda! Thanks for another peek at your beautiful garden. I was wondering..is your vanilla orchid what you get the vanilla pods for flavoring from? Sarah

    ReplyDelete
  22. Yes Sarah, it's the same vanilla. It has to grow a long way before it sets orchids. I think it's about 100 feet, but I am hopeful.

    ReplyDelete
  23. You really created a paradise around your house. And how wonderful must it be to live in a climate where you can even grow vanilla orchids...

    ReplyDelete
  24. Like Hadassah, I'm also envious of the range of things you can grow during a Queensland winter. Our garden has already been blanketed by some frosty mornings and we'll probably get a few light snowfalls this winter too. I'd love to hear what people in similar climates manage to grow. I'm going to try growing broad beans and peas for the first time and perhaps some onions.

    I've been reading with interest the amount that people are spending on groceries and have realised that I still have a long way to go. But as you say Rhonda, I'll take little steps first so that our changes will be lasting ones.

    Thanks for your amazing blog.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Rhonda,
    If you love steamed puddings thought you may like to know Fowlers actually make a pudding jar, wider at the mouth than the base. I like to make a day of it and put up a dozen and put them in the store cupboard, the longer they sit the better they taste then we just make some custard and warm up the pudding. Easy dessert!

    ReplyDelete
  26. What a great post Rhonda....i am hopeful our winter planting will be a little more productive this season! Do you have any tips for growing tomatoes? We had no trouble the first year but now wherever we plant them we end up with black spot all over the vine and a shrivelled plant not long after! Am just about ready to give up!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Oh, now I am itching to grow something! Your gardens are gorgeous, Rhonda. Our chickens are not so well-behaved as yours and will jump into our raised bed garden if given the opportunity. We also have the struggle of keeping the deer away from our veggies!

    This year, my garden plan is herbs and pumpkins and quick growing things like lettuce and radishes. Very simple, indeed, but workable with everything else that keeps us busy on our homestead these days.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi Rhonda, Our family has been enjoying your blog for years now and we are so thankful that you take the time to post. I just had a quick question, what do you do with your pineapple sage? I just planted some because I love the smell but I have no idea what to do with it. Many thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Dear friends

    Good idea for Healthy food is Organic Food
    so
    Visit us- http://www.downtoearthorganic.com

    Thanx

    Abhishek Erach

    ReplyDelete
  30. Dear friends

    Good idea for Healthy food is Organic Food
    so
    Visit us- http://www.downtoearthorganic.com

    Thanx

    Abhishek Erach

    ReplyDelete
  31. hi!,I love your writing very so much! proportion we keep up a correspondence extra about your
    post on AOL? I need a specialist in this area to resolve my problem.
    Maybe that's you! Taking a look forward to peer you.

    Prescription Swimming Goggles
    Here is my website Prescription Swimming Goggles

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for your comment today. I love reading your opinions and thoughts. We have built up a wonderfully diverse community here that I'm very proud to be a part of.

A link to your blog will be automatically added to your comment. Please don't add another link to your blog in your comment. Those comments will not be published.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...