DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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23 September 2015

Garden photos and tips for beginners

Well, after all this time, I finally feel that the garden is ready to be photographed. We usually start our annual planting in March to take advantage of the cooler weather but this year, we're only gardening in spring and summer and that means Spring planting. Our crops now will be mostly salad related, herbs and fruit. Cutting down on how much we grow allows us to continue growing food in the backyard while reducing the workload that was getting too much for us.

In addition to the in-ground crops, we've also done some work on the back verandah which faces north-west. A few months ago we had shade blinds fitted and in doing so, we're now able to grow plants in containers and have a table and chairs to sit at. In high summer, when it's hot and humid, we'll either be on the front verandah, which is on the cooler side of the house, or inside with the fan or air conditioner on. But the way it's set up now allows us to use the back verandah much more.

Before that hot weather arrives there is still a lot to be done outside so we have a constant supply of organic salad leaves and vegetables over summer. Right now we're growing all the herbs we use: parsley, Welsh onions, thyme, basil, sage, oregano, comfrey and rosemary. Our winter crops of curly kale and turnips have continued into spring and will continue to grow well right into summer. We also have ginger, several varieties of chilli, capsicum (pepper), rosellas for tea and jam, lettuce, silverbeet (Swiss chard), beetroot, cherry tomatoes (Rapunzel) and large tomatoes (short beefsteak), red radishes, Lebanese cucumbers, bok choy and Daikon radishes. Our fruits include: raspberries, blueberries, Young berries, elderberries, passionfruit, lemons, oranges, mandarins, loquat and bananas. As you can see in the photos, we've planted flowers dotted here and there to attract the pollinating insects. And I've planted up a tray of thickly sown mixed salad leaves in the bush house. They'll keep growing when the lettuces in the garden bolt to seed in the hotter weather. These mixed leaves are a cut-and-come-again crop and I hope they'll see us through summer.

One of the gardening team sets up the work station for the day. Yesterday was our first hot day and we needed that umbrella.
Washing on the line, umbrella up, it's time for some work in the garden.
I loaded up the garden cart with my organic fertiliser, seaweed extract and sulphate of potash and went around adding different mixtures to each of the plants.  Those little stakes with up-turned pots that we have on the corners of our garden beds allow the hose to safely glide past the garden and not over it, which would ruin the plants.

The Herb Robert is growing well.

The up turned pots are a safety device to prevent us poking out an eye when we bend over to weed or pick. I think they look pretty too.

It's a nice addition to any garden having ceramic or wire ornaments around. They add interest to each garden and show a little bit of the gardener's personality.

A mix of beetroot, silverbeet (Swiss chard), cucumber vines and nicotine plant (the flowers).


This is the inside of my bush house where I repot, plant seeds and look after sick plants.

I am using this Burgon and Ball trowel now and I love it. It's made in the UK, very strong and fits beautifully in my hand. This one is from my sponsor Odgers and McClellend Exchange Stores. If you're looking for garden tools, buy the best quality you can afford because it will allow you to keep using that one tool for many years instead of buying cheaper tools every couple of years when they break or rust. 

Over on the back verandah we have an Australian flag. Jamie's been learning about flags at day care so we're carrying on the conversation with him here.
This is our new seating - it's second hand and repainted, but new to us.  The stand that the plants are on is our old BBQ stand, circa 1990, that we never used and no one else wanted. Apparently BBQs are all silver and multi-purpose now. Who knew! Also in this photo are the new sun shade blinds. You can see two of the three pulled down half way to shade the plants from the sun. They block out 80 percent of the harmful rays.






We've been growing some of our own food for decades now and it's still exciting to plan what we'll grow each year. Before the seeds and seedlings go in, there are weeks of planning and preparation. Here is a short list of some things that will help you if you're new to all this.  Gardening is one of those activities where there is always something new to learn, no matter how long you've been doing it. So don't be afraid to start, none of us know it all. Here are some quick tips that might help you when you're starting out:
  1. Adding organic matter to your soil is the most important thing you can do before you plant. The addition of compost, old manures or leaf mould will give your plants a much better chance of producing good crops and remaining healthy enough to survive the season. Nothing you do after planting will replace this one activity, so make sure you put aside time before you plant to enrich your soil.
  2. You probably won't have your own homemade compost in your first season, so make do with aged cow or horse manure to add that essential organic matter to the soil. If there are no generous farmers nearby, you can buy bags of pulverised cow manure at the nursery or hardware store. But make sure you start a compost heap as soon as you can. It will take most of your garden waste and some of your household waste and it will add essential nutrition and organic matter to your garden soil. Here is an old post I wrote about making compost.
  3. The difference between average and excellent vegetables is good nutrition - both before and after planting.  If you grow a small crop of comfrey, you'll be able to make your own fertiliser that is as good as anything you can buy.  Here is a post on how to make it.
  4. When you water your garden does make a difference. I live in a warm/hot climate so I water in the late afternoon. This gives the plants the chance to absorb water (and the nutrients in the soil made available when the soil is wet) when the sun goes down. The plants then have about 12 hours of darkness to fully hydrate themselves for the following day. If you're in a cool climate, you should water in the morning. You won't have the problem of hot sun on plants but you will have a problem if the leaves remain wet or damp all day and into the night.  That will encourage damping off in seedlings and mildew in older plants. So the rule of thumb is to water early in the day when it's cool and late in the day if it's hot.
  5. We use the rainwater we collect from our roof on our gardens. If you don't have water tanks think carefully about how you'll provide water to the plants, before you start. Water costs money and it's getting more expensive so having a water usage plan will stand you in good stead. If you have short periods of frequent rain, that may be enough for the garden but if not, think about rigging up some down pipes and collection points so you'll produce your backyard food in the most thrifty way possible. Here is a post I wrote about water tanks and water conservation.
Gardening is more than planting and growing. You're also creating a space you feel good in and where you can breathe fresh air and reconnect with Mother Nature. Use things around the home to add interest to your garden and make your space unique to you. My garden makes me smile when I see it. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but it does my heart good just to be there.  ♥︎

26 comments:

  1. Your garden and backyard area look lovely. You and Hanno have certainly created a wonderful living space with your outdoor sitting areas. Where I live, in the middle of the USA, the gardens are offering their last bits of goodness and soon the leaves, then snowflakes will fall. Life is good, in every season.

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  2. I feel so relaxed just looking at the photos of your garden and veranda, thanks for posting.

    Also love the colour of your outdoor furniture and matching pot stand. Even though we live on the road I have been thinking about having a few pots with the herbs I use most...mint, chives and coriander and would love to paint the containers in that colour, What is the name of the colour Ronda?

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    1. Hi Gail, I think growing some herbs would be doable in a caravan and certainly cheaper than buying them every week. I'm sorry I can't give you the name of the paint colour. We get our local paint shop to mix colours for us and that is one of them. I would describe it as being a milky greyish-greeny blue. I can't be more precise, that's what it is. Good luck with a match.

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  3. Interesting... I'm just getting out in the garden after my 9 week trip around Europe and I was interested in your blinds for the verandah. Putting a verandah in at the back (the back of my house faces the same way yours does) is one of my projects for next year.

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    1. Hi frogs. I bet you had a good time on your trip. Here is the link to the business we bought the blinds from. BTW, they extend right to the ground, I have them pulled down just half way in the photo. http://www.ozriteblinds.com.au

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  4. Love your garden Rhonda!wonderful photos! You have now inspired me to get out in my tiny patch today!thank you for sharing!☺

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  5. I love this post! It's so lovely seeing the ins and outs of other people's gardens, it gives me so much inspiration for my own! Also those blinds look fantastic! I've recently extended my veggie planting capacity, my dad, hubby, kids and I had a "working bee" last week. We built 3 new 180cm x 60cm x 30cm raised beds. I've since lined them with newspaper and cardboard and layered sugar cane mulch and cow poo in them. They are now covered with bird netting and are "cooking" for a few weeks before we'll start growing. I've also got a full compost bin breaking down a bit more which I'll use to build up our other beds once they're emptied.

    I'm interested you mentioned horse poo! I've recently gotten easy access to it (my eldest daughter changed schools and we now drive past many larger properties which always have bags of it available for free or for a gold coin donation), but have only grabbed a few bags to fill up my compost. My Dad ad I were discussing if I could add some to my new veggie beds, and he concluded that it was best to let it age a bit in the compost bins, as the heat will help kill any grass seeds, so there won't be as many weeds. This made sense to me, but I'm wondering if you know if that's true? I've done a little research online but mostly found articles saying to age it to help get rid of earwigs that love the stuff!

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    1. Larissa, your dad is spot on. There are two things to be careful of with horse manure. One is that you should ask the horse owner if the horse has been wormed lately. If you use manure from a horse that's been recently wormed, it can kill worms in your garden. The other is the weed problem. If you know the horse is stabled, there is no problem, but most horses in Australia are pasture animals and they eat the weeds in their pastures. Most weeds survive the quick trip through a horse's gut and will continue on if used on a garden bed. So do what dad said and compost the horse manure to kill the weeds. If your compost is not hot enough, you could also solarise it in a black plastic bag in the sun for a couple of days.
      Also, I just thought I'd give you a quick tip with your raised beds and compost. The microbes that you're trying to promote in the compost and garden love a drink of molasses mixed with water. The ratio is ½ cup of molasses to a watering can full of water (9 litres). Make sure the garden or compost is wet BEFORE you apply this.

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    2. Awesome, thank you so much! I'll be sure to try the molasses too! :)

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  6. Lovely backyard garden Rhonda. Great tips on growing our own food. We also plant a few things, but we've been renovating our garden, removed the lawn making it a more sustainable garden, so the veggie patch has been a bit neglected.

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  7. Great pics of your garden! I am sure you will have a bountiful harvest in the coming months!

    Do you still have an aquaponics system?

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    1. No, we sold it, Sharon. We killed a couple of lots of fish and I think we would have persevered with it but we had enough coming from the soil garden.

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  8. Ohh I love your garden:
    I dream of having a little garden with vegetables and all.... someday my dream ´ll come true!
    Thanks for sharing.
    I´m just waiting for your new book!
    Regards
    Ale

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  9. It is always fun to see what others do in their gardens and how we all have a 'look' to our areas! We are winding down now and getting ready for fall temps but still have the tomatoes and will put in lettuce and garlic soon! It is kind of comforting to be so connected to the seasons and the cycles isn't it?

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  10. always soooo inspiring to see your garden, well done, all that works is paying off
    xxx

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  11. I love strolling through your garden. I'm excited because my hubby has shown some interest in gardening with me in the Spring. Can't wait!

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  12. Your garden pictures make me long for Spring. It looks so tidy cosy and peaceful. Thanks for sharing and giving us all inspiration. Pam in Norway

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  13. Those terracotta pots on top of the stakes.....I have been looking at those for the last 18 months on your blog and have been too embarrassed to ask what they were about. I was convinced that everyone else must have known and I was just the duffa who did not! Thanks for explaining - and yes they look great as well as being practical.

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  14. My garden makes me smile too. I just wish I had more time to get out there and keep on top of it. Rhonda - do you have a mulberry tree? If not I could drop one off via Sunny if you'd like one. I have a couple in pots and they are fast growing. I'm picking a small handful each day of the one I have in the ground. I have grown a ton of beans this year but I wish I'd been more organised and blanched/ frozen some of them. I'm trying to grow sweet corn this year butt the wind is making that a challenge. Thank you for sharing

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  15. How lovely and tidy you are. I'm afraid our garden currently looks like a junk shop in a jungle!

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  16. Thank you so much for the garden tips! I have been gardening for 5 years and consider myself a beginner. My weak areas are compost and fertilizing and you have helped tremendously with this post. I have printed off your tips on each. could you do one on organic pest and disease control? Thanks again for all your inspiration and help!

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  17. Here in the SW USA, our garden is slowing now as the nights become cooler. But we're still in tomato season--I canned spaghetti sauce and froze Swiss Chard yesterday, tomorrow I'll do diced tomatoes. Trying something new this year for me: freezing potatoes. The ones we've used so far taste wonderful. I agree with all your recommendations here, by the way. And your patio is lovely!

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  18. Thanks for the tips, I need all the help I can get when I am gardening!

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  19. Thank you for this! I'm just getting into gardening this Spring, so it was an interesting and helpful read. :)

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  20. The garden always looks great and inspiring.

    One thing I would stress is good quality tools. I love Burgon and Ball too - they are well designed and stand up to proper hard garden use. I have small hands so some handles are uncomfortable after a time. I have special narrow handled garden shears, and for my birthday I got some proper Felco secateurs. Not the cheapest, but so easy to use and maintain, it makes pruning so much less of a chore.

    We're into Autumn now, time to plan and prepare for next year. I have onions and shallots ready to go in, and I'm off to my favourite Autumn garden show to get next's year's seed. Will be foraging sloes for gin along the way. This time of year fills me with optimism.

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