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.

12 September 2013

The spring vegetable garden

After a fairly poor season in the garden last year due to cloudy weather and too much rain, this year it's ideal, although a bit drier than we prefer. We've scaled back a bit this year and haven't planted potatoes but they've been replaced with mushrooms in a box in the bush house. This year we're taking it slow because energy levels and injuries have slowed the main gardener down a bit. We're still growing as much as we can though and only what we eat. The good thing is that everything that was sown, has blossomed and we have a thriving patch that we're eating from every day.

Behind that leaf, the first of the Lebanese cucumbers.
 The last of the winter strawberries - we bought these "Joy" runners from Green Harvest.
We polished off this bowl before the day was out.

 Waiting for leaves and damaged strawberries to be thrown over the fence.

We have a lot of parsley growing and I use it nearly every day. Sunny is a big fan of parsley too, so we make sure we have enough to share. Recently our flat leaf parsley went to seed, we're still eating the side leaves but Hanno planted a new seedling last weekend.



This is a mixed bed of silverbeet, daikon radish, various types of lettuce, onions, parsley and ruby chard.
 Bok choi is eaten by all of us - including Sunny and the chickens.



Daikon radish - I was told this was in short supply in the shops over recent months. Lucky we had plenty here.
 Above and below - purple topped turnip.


And here at her favourite resting place is our old cat, Hettie Waintrope, private investigator (retired). She's 16 years old now and doesn't do much except eat and sleep. She loves sleeping here under the elder tree during the day. I'm going to harvest these elder flowers on the weekend to make elder cordial - a summer essential.

Hanno will harvest our year's supply of garlic tomorrow or Friday. It will dry out for a while and then be stored in the kitchen. I have one garlic head left from last years crop. We'll plant up another crop in February/March next year, using cloves harvested from this year's crop. The never-ending cycle continues.  That is the same bed the strawberries have been growing in so apart from pineapple sage, parsley and a chilli bush, the bed will be empty. But not for long. It will be dug over, manures, compost and worm castings added and seeds sown for corn, beans, daikon, cucumbers and more lettuce. He'll also plant up a stand of sunflowers in another bed so we'll have those nutritious seeds on hand for us and the chooks.

If you have a garden, or a backyard with the potential for a garden, I encourage you to try your hand at growing some food. No matter how much money you have, you cannot buy the freshness of vegetables from your own yard. You'll know exactly what's gone into growing them and what has been added. Here we use only organic methods and have been producing fruit and vegetables this way, on and off, for over 30 years. Another good reason to grow your own is that you'll be getting the full measure of the land you live on if you make it productive. If you're not sure how to start, leave a comment and let me know. If there are a few of you, I'll do a post about starting a vegetable garden from scratch.

There is nothing to compare with walking out into the fresh air every afternoon to pick fresh vegetables for the evening meal. Whatever is left over is shared, frozen or put up in jars. It's an enriching pastime and a wonderful way to live. Are you a new gardener? Have you been growing vegetables for a long time? What have you planted this year?


48 comments:

  1. I live in the UK, so our main growing season is coming to an end - for us, the winter is coming... I love the knowledge that somewhere in the world it's spring though, and summer on the way - a daily reminder that nights might be drawing in here, but the year will eventually make a full turn and it will be summer again :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Rhonda,
    Your head lettuce looks great! I grow leaf lettuce because the heat and humidity of our summers bolts head lettuce, seemingly over night. Head lettuce is so pretty though, almost like having a flower garden.
    Sue

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree gardening is very rewarding. My garden this past summer { I'm American } has been WONDERFUL. I am already planning next year. In the garden that we enjoyed lettuce, beats, onions, corn, beans, peppers, tomatoes, radishes, kale, zucchini, horseradish and potatoes. Oh the taste and the incredible dinners...just add protein.
    I have tried to find your book here in the USA and can't figure out where to buy it. Amazon here does not even sell it in e-book format. Any ideas?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Likewise! I can't seem to purchase it anywhere in the States!

      Delete
  4. Hi Rhonda. I've recently discovered your blog and have thoroughly enjoyed reading it - thank you!

    Your garden looks beautiful.

    I'm already an avid gardener and from a family of avid gardeners, but I never tire of reading about or seeing other people's gardens.

    I do so completely agree there is no taste like that of freshly picked vegetables. Vegetables picked fresh from the garden and on the table within minutes have a wonderful flavour.

    Happy Spring and warmest wishes to you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for this post, very motivating.
    I would love to see a post about starting a garden.
    I grow vegies in aquaponics, but have never had great success in soil.
    - Andy Holloway

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Rhonda,

    I've been reading your blog for a while now and find so much inspiration here. I wanted to recommend a book to you, if you haven't read it already. I borrowed it from my local library. It's called, "Folks, this ain't normal" by Joel Salatin. It talks about the industrial food model, the loss of local foods, and has practical suggestions and things to consider at the end of each chapter. He advocates exactly what you do...growing your own; living & working & contributing to local community; supporting local farmers; the value of family. Joel Salatin is a farmer in US (he featured in Michael Pollan's book "The Omnivore's Dilemma") and is both old-fashioned and new-fashioned (if that's a word!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that book and have it sitting in my book case. Joel visited here last year and gave a talk in the next town. I wanted to go but the entry fee was $155, so I bought his books instead. He and Michael Pollan really are an inspiration. I put back the Amazon book shelf in my side bar recently because I want to continue reading books written by these intelligent and generous teachers. Thanks for the recommendation because it may lead others to him. :- )

      Delete
  7. Hi Rhonda

    Has something changed on the website? I can no longer see anything when I use my Ipad so am doing this on a PC.

    Leah, England

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Leah, I haven't changed any settings recently. I just checked and the settings all look in order and I just checked on my ipad and it's working fine.

      Is there anyone else who is having problems accessing with a tablet or phone?

      Delete
  8. Hi Rhonda I would love a post on starting a veggie garden. My attempts have had mixed success - melbourne weather is unpredictable but I think my issues have more to do with bed preparation. Do you ph test the soil for each type of seedling and adjust soil accordingly or is that not really necessary?? Thank you Michelle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michelle, it's not necessary for every seedling but it's handy to know if you're setting up from scratch or close to a pine forest. I bought a ph testing spike about 15 years ago that I still use every so often to check the acidity of the soil here. We're right on the edge of a pine forest and have pine trees front and back. However, if you're in suburbia and the soil has already been cultivated, with the addition of compost etc, it should be fine. If you're setting up for the first time, it's wise to test.

      Delete
  9. No problem on iPhone.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Rhonda- this post is near and dear to my heart :) I am very passionate about growing food - it is such a valuable and enriching pastime. The current industrial food system requires a tremendous amount of oil to keep it going and it isn't sustainable (now or in the future).

    About an hour ago, I harvested tonight's supper ingredients:

    eggs
    greens
    squash
    beans
    tomatoes
    potatoes
    herbs

    ...when those are combined with an onion that we picked a week ago, we'll have a fantastic meal tonight all from our land. What a GREAT feeling!

    ReplyDelete
  11. oooh yes please i would love to read about starting a vegie patch from scratch, i have planted lettuce, spinnich, tomatoes, chives, garlic,spring onion, for the past 2 years, i only have terracotta pipes to plant in at the moment, im hoping to expand to a small raised garden bed soon.. Thanks for letting us all be a part of your life by Blogging xxx julie (shilo)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Having recently moved from our country town to a bigger town in temporary accommodation, I am trialling laundry basket and trolley gardening!!
    I needed something small and mobile to follow the sun around the yard (lots of big trees around this joint).
    So laundry baskets lined with hessian and plopped into old-fashioned laundry trolleys are working so far.
    Fingers crossed no unforeseen problems crop up
    (pardon the pun!).

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have just started to set up our first real vegie patch. My hubby and I have always had a couple of tomato plants, zuchinni and silverbeet in different parts of the garden but we are finally getting a permenent bed established. In fact last night I added some blood and bone as well as some dynamic lifter to the soil to help enrich it. Our soil has improved a lot over the years especially since we took out all of our big trees but still needs some work. I will let it rest a few weeks now and then when the weather improves I will turn the compost and add some of it to our new patch. We can then begin planting our vigies. I can't wait for my kids to go and pick the vegies straight from the plants and eat the in the garden for afternoon tea. Nothing tastes better!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Rhonda, you're veg garden is fantastic!! A beginners post would be great! I've just started to dabble in growing veggies and have had success with silverbeet! We have a tiny practice patch at the moment that I'm experimenting with but we're getting ready to build on 33 acres in country Victoria and I have big plans for our food garden! No reason we shouldn't be producing most, if not all of our food with that amount of space. I'm just starting to document that aspect of our journey on my blog. I'm also working my way through your archives slowly but surely and have been inspired by each post!

    ReplyDelete
  15. We have just moved, only some of our garden could be transplanted. It was so hard for my husband to walk away from his garden.
    Might I add another benefit of gardening is that it is very addictive ( in a good sense) once those seeds you carefully planted and faithfully watered etc come up then all your attention changes to bringing them into maturity.
    My husband is the main gardener here to and is very much known to come home from work give a quick hello and a kiss and then go on down to the backyard to see his "other" family :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have plans of building a new vegetable patch so I can expand on what I'm already growing. A refresher in starting a vegetable patch from scratch would be great. Miirih

    ReplyDelete
  17. I absolutely love growing vegetables. I love the physical work of digging over beds, I love getting my hands dirty, I love feeding and watering and watching plants grow. And then I love cooking with fresh vegies. It is the most rewarding pastime, and so calming too. And I love seeing snippets of other gardens too! Yours is certainly very abundant.
    Jacqui

    ReplyDelete
  18. Rhonda, we always had gardens until we moved into town. Now I have soil that is slick and greasy when wet and rock hard when dry. Started working sand and compost into it several years ago, still not good for growing anything (although weeds will thrive if you let them).
    My goal is to retire next year and begin again, probably with raised beds filled up fresh. I read everything you write so would love to see a garden basics series!

    ReplyDelete
  19. That is one happy looking garden. I've been gardening for a few years but this is the first year that I have been able to eat from my garden every day. I love it!

    I know what you mean about the satisfaction of walking to the garden for dinner.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh, it really is such a wonderful way to live!! With a new baby in the house, my garden has taken a bit of a backseat, but I've been trading eggs for tomatoes, and my low-maintenance potato, garlic, and onion crops produced fairly well this year. I also have some very late-blooming, gorgeous sweet pepper plants that I'm really hoping ripen before first frost!
    -Jaime

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi Rhonda, your garden looks lovely, down south we are just coming into our summer planting season so there isn't much happening in my veggie garden apart from some beetroot and onions. I'm interested in the daikon radish, I have seen it in the shops but never tried it, how do you prepare/eat it xxBrenda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brenda, daikon is a large, long, white, mild radish. You can eat the tops are well but they have to be very fresh as they turn yellow quickly.

      The root can be eaten raw in salads, grated into coleslaw, it's part of a traditional kimchee recipe and it can be stir-fried.

      Delete
  22. Yes please Rhonda!!!
    I had a veggie garden back in Adelaide which didn't go too well. Since moving to Victoria we have only got as far as setting up the planting boxes, we haven't got the soil or made a start on filling them up. I would love to see how you started yours up :)
    Some inspiration is just what I need,,,,,,that and a bit of a how to lol.
    I would be forever grateful if you could kind of point me in the right direction :)
    Cheers
    Colleen

    ReplyDelete
  23. Rhonda, does your garlic store well and last until you pick the next year's crop?

    Last year I grew heaps, but it only stayed nice for about 6 months before starting to sprout and the cloves to become dry and crumbly. I blamed the hot weather, but I know your area gets very warm and humid, so what is your secret?

    Best wishes,
    Lyn in Northern New South Wales.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lyn, I don't know what our secret is. We planted the pink French variety, only the large outside cloves (keeping the smaller ones for cooking). They take about 9 months to mature, we dry them outside for a week or so then store them in the kitchen. You might need to preserve yours when they start to sprout.

      Delete
  24. You always seem to have lovely food growing in your garden - I am sure you have plenty of secrets to share. I know that I have gleaned lots of good information from your posts over the years, thank you for that. I wish I had known before I started that growing good soil is the place to start. So many people put in raised beds and then truck in soil to fill them. I am a big believer in compost, and recently got a compost tumbler hoping to process the compost in there and then move to my old bin where it can mature. So far the system seems to be working well. I know you also got a tumbler - how it is going? I imagine that you dont stockpile your kitchen waste to fill the tumbler up in one go since you have chooks that manage that. that is the only area I am still sorting out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most of the work is done by Hanno. I take no credit at all. Yes, we have the tumbler. We love compost too. We started it off by 3/4 filling it with whatever we could find - shredded newspaper, cardboard, grass clippings, kitchen waste, old potting mix from pot plants that were potted on. I added about half a cup of molasses to feed the microbes and water if it gets too dry. As it decomposes, we add more greens and dries. Soon we'll use what's there for the new garden.

      I like raised bed that are slightly raised, not those that are a metre above the ground. It takes too much to fill them up and I like to dig the soil for the minerals and the microbes. I think in our climate, compost in the soil and mulch covering the soil is the key to good crops - presuming you're starting off with good soil.

      Delete
  25. Hello Rhonda. You vegetables look lovely, delicious lettuce and strawberries. My vegetable garden is coming to an end and cool weather is forecast from now on so l don't think there will be much more to harvest in a few weeks. Strange thing with my pumpkins though, the plants were full of flowers but the flowers all fell off and no sign of pumpkins. Perhaps not enough bees for pollinating? Today l am taking in the rest of the spices for drying and freezing - lovely in soups for winter. Freezer is full of strawberries, blueberries, lingonberries, cloudberries, rhubarb, redcurrants and rowanberries for jelly. Nothing tastes as good as what one produces or harvests onesself. Pam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a treasure trove of berries! Well done, Winkel. I think it might be too cold for the pumpkins if you're coming into your cold seasons. Maybe, if the pumpkins had set, they may have lasted but it doesn't take much to upset the flowers.

      Delete
  26. Nothing like spending time in the garden, growing and harvesting, to lift one's spirits! Love your garden Rhonda.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi Ronda,
    I would love to start a vegie patch but we are currently renting and we will be moving in another two months, can you let me know what are the best types of plants that do well in pots that will have to be moved?

    ReplyDelete
  28. I'm in germany and fall is here now. I'm new in gardening vegetables, it's much work :)
    There are still some carrots, yellow beetroot, tomatoes, parsley and bushbeans to harvest. Not to forget the 5 roes of potatoes! And the plums are riping now!

    I'm planting some kale and kohlrabies for winter and seeding rapunzel on the emty places. I was gifted some strawberries and planted them now.
    For greenmanuring (?) I seeded yellow mustard. Starflower is still blooming
    - my bees love them!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Yes please. I am very new to vegetable growing. I have a tiny patch (1m x 1.5m) and last year I grew lettuce, spring onions, brocollini, cherry tomatoes and chillis with great success. However my capsicums flowered, fruited and then rotted in quick succession. I have no idea what went wrong which is the frustrating thing, didn't even learn a lesson from the exercise. I would like to try again this season so before I plant up I would love some advice on how to give all my seedlings a fighting chance.
    Thank you Rhonda, much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi Rhonda - definitely a gardener :) I'm no expert, but with each growing season I learn more and more, and so does my partner. I love growing food in the tropics, the weather is amazing for most of the year (if you love warmth, that is!). This growing season we've harvested carrots, silverbeet, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, beetroot and a plethora of herbs. I love the joy of simply being in the garden and being reminded to take life slow and enjoy it :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hi Rhonda,

    Your garden looks delicious. We are planning to build some raised beds this fall in the US, and have been reading what we can, but I always feel like "hearing" what others do is an invaluable resource. I would love to hear what you have to say.

    Octavia

    ReplyDelete
  32. I would love to read a post on how to start a garden from the beginning! W just bought a home on one third of an acre that doesn't even have one bush planted on the dry, neglected, scrubby yard. We really want to do it right the first time, and any wisdom you can share would be precious to us! Our soil is dry, clay, crusty...kind of like a brick. Maybe we need to build boxes and garden from the grass up. But what soil? How do we keep bugs away once the plants grow? Do we have to use commercial soil enhances and fertilizers or do we have to wait years to build up a good soil?
    Thank you for your wonderful website!
    Kj

    ReplyDelete
  33. So entertaining to come back in from my autumn garden and see someone's spring garden. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the lovely veggies we need to eat, preserve, or give away, but far more grateful than the abundance--and we'll be more grateful yet come winter when we pull out canned tomatoes or frozen beans.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Rhonda,

    Thank you for the wonderful photos of your garden! Right now we are entering winter in the US (Northern California). I was wondering if you would be willing to share some of your uses for Daikon Radish, Bok Choy and some of the others. I have never used them but am interested in learning how they taste and what types of dishes to use them in. Any gardening information is enjoyed!

    Laura in USA

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hi Rhonda, I stumbled across a review of your book about 6 months ago... I was curious... thought about it... put your book on hold at our local library... waited ages for my turn... loved it!... showed it to my sister who is now searching out a copy... decided to subscribe to your blog... have been subscribed for a couple of months now, always read but never post (until now). I have a small herb garden which seems to wax and wane, and have just planted a lemon tree, lime tree and quince tree in our front garden. Would LOVE a post or two on starting a vegie patch from scratch as I am taking many small steps to a simple, sustainable life. Baby steps.

    ReplyDelete
  36. hi rhonda! i just love your gardening shots! well done to you both on a fabulous spring garden...
    i am an obsessive vege grower :) i'm growing just about everything in my garden this spring and the kids just love it! they eat all the veggies on their plate and tell me it's their favourite part of the meal. they have their own growing pots and are so proud of their "own" veges! nothing beats fresh picked veges!

    here's some shots of our garden taken a few weeks ago... it's got the leftovers from winter and the new plantings for spring... it's filled out a bit since these shots were taken- the heat has made it take off :)

    Virginia
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/49182185@N02/9639980373/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/49182185@N02/9643212320/

    ReplyDelete
  37. This year has been our best for home grown food. We've had cauliflower, brocolli, tomatoes,heaps of citrus from our manderine, red grapefruit and lemonade trees. We are now having a go with cucumber, beans and beetroot.

    ReplyDelete
  38. We will be moving to our new home (we rent) the week after next and can finally have a large garden and permission to grow all we want! I can't wait! I already have seedlings to put in the ground - beetroot, carrots, tomatoes (loads of them for sauce) as well as dwarf fruit trees - 5 of. May have to try and send photos when they all get growing .

    ReplyDelete
  39. A garden startup post would be welcome. I love your posts,

    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...