15 October 2008

Out back in the vegie patch

While I was at work yesterday, Hanno planted up a lot of seedlings for our summer garden. When we first came to live here 12 years ago, we only ever planted in autumn and winter because the bugs and heat of summer made gardening too much of a chore. Things have changed now; we changed the way we thought about our garden, we changed how we shopped and our garden changed with us. We eat from the garden every day - sometimes our entire meal comes from our back yard. Last night, for instance, we had silverbeet (swiss chard) omelettes - freshly picked steamed chard was added to our backyard eggs, salt and pepper and a sprinkling of fresh chives. I would usually add a salad but was too tired to make one so I served the omelettes with a dollop of tomato chutney that I made about three months ago. Delicious!

The garden is important to us and allows us to eat healthy, organic food at a fraction of what it costs to buy it in a shop.

We eat a lot of tomatoes. These are beefsteaks and the first of them should be ready in about two weeks. Nothing beats the taste of heirloom tomatoes. If you've never tasted them, you're missing out on a real treat. They are real tomatoes, that taste like tomatoes should taste. Tomatoes at the store are gassed to produce a rich red colour and although they look good, they're often hard and tasteless. You never have that problem with the heirlooms - particularly the salad varieties like beefsteak, oxheart, Brandywine and German Johnson.

More tomatoes have been planted along the new lattice. These are oxhearts and Topic, which we're trying for the first time. They are supposed to be a good hot weather tomato.

And, you guessed it - more tomatoes. These little babies will be producing well into January, as long as the sun doesn't frazzle them. We do have sunshades for the garden. We didn't need them last year because we had a mild summer, but they're on standby.

Further over near the chook house we have corn at the top of the photo, more chard, and seedlings of capsicum (peppers) and beans. We grow a lot of chard and green leafy vegetables because we always share it with the chooks. They love green leaves and it makes the yolks of their eggs a rich golden yellow.

Between us and the chickens we plow through this stuff. Silverbeet, and most leafy greens, are rich in iron so being non meat eaters, it helps us keep our iron levels healthy.

And finally, just to show you that we are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, our failed nectarine tree. Remember when we wrapped it up? It didn't work. After the first storm, gaps appears and the fruit fly got in. Every nectarine is riddled with fruit fly grubs. The chooks will happily eat every one of these fruit. We, on the other hand, will have none. Hanno thinks the trees are too much trouble and want to cut them down. I'm still undecided. We have some peaches protected from the fruit fry by exclusion bags. I think that one bite of a good peach will convince me not to get rid of the trees. We might just have to beat the fruit fly at their own game next year. I'll keep you posted.

I'm going to be away for a few days. Tomorrow I have to go to a conference related to my voluntary work. I'll be back on the weekend. I hope you all have a good week. Thank you for visiting and for your support with the co-op. I'll see you again next week, my friends.

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