7 June 2011

Planting winter vegetables

I haven't shown you around our vegetable garden for a long time, so here we are today, walking through it. One of my tasks yesterday was to sow seeds. I still have the parsley soaking, which is a good thing to do before you plant the seeds, but the rest of them are in their containers hopefully preparing to germinate.

I did up a full trough of crispy hearted lettuce - winter is the only time we can grow that here, as well as Crimson Globe beetroot, paw paw pumpkin, a seven colour mix of heirloom capsicums (peppers) and a couple of tomatoes. Already germinated and ready to plant are curly kale, cauliflowers, spinach, beans, Portuguese cabbage and nasturtiums.

You may remember that I planted up an elder tree last spring. We had instant success with the flowers but it was too hot to develop elderberries. I was hoping that would happen in winter. It has! I checked yesterday and the flower heads are developing berries - not all of the head, but enough to make elderberry wine.  Hopefully, in the midst of winter, the entire flower heads will produce fruit.

 Here is the elder as it stood yesterday. It's been in flower consistently since it was planted.

These are a couple of cuttings of the elder that are now ready to plant out or give away.

I do my seed sowing in the bush house and here, in the door way, mint is overflowing into a pot below.

This is the bush house you can see here in the background.  It's a simple structure Hanno built for me many years ago. It houses the germinating seedlings, sick plants, cuttings, ferns, orchids and the worm farm. It provides protection from the wind and sun and even in summer, it's much cooler in there than in the rest of the garden.

Over in the garden, there we are growing snow peas.

Lettuce, potatoes and bok choy.

 This area still needs to be weeded. It is where the new seedlings will go.

 The tomatoes are already showing signs of wilt. It is that brown speck on the leaves.

 Further over there are capsicums (peppers), and a hot chilli.
 Here we have black kale, turnips, potatoes, red cabbages, zucchini and tomatoes.

 Cabbages, peas, lettuce, garlic, daikon radish and oranges.

This is the black kale - Cavolo nero.

And of course, our girls, wandering slowly over the backyard in the late afternoon, having their last feed for the day and hoping for something to be thrown over the fence.

The lemon tree is waiting to be picked and the juice frozen for the stockpile.

Our garden is late this year because we've been so busy with other things. But with prices rising and vegetables still very expensive after the floods, it's one of our main priorities from now on. What are you growing this season?


  1. Oh I do love to see your garden!
    Here we're heading into summer. This weekend I harvested the first of the tomatoes (and I'm seriously worried about how I'm going to handle the vast quantities I'm expecting), and the first radish.
    I've also planted some carrots, several different lettuce, cilantro (corriander), brussels sprouts, leeks, cucumber, savoy cabbage, and beets. I've already harvested a few strawberries and a LOT of swiss chard.
    This is my first year of gardening and I'm loving it!

  2. It is the start of summer here in the Netherlands and I am growing as much as I can. Prices here are rising sky high as well.
    I have, Beetroot, different kinds of lettuces, runner beans, Andive, Cucumber and pumpkin in my front garden. And my father is kind enough to let me grow food on the land around his house.. there's potatoes, broad (lima)beans, beets, snowpeas, onions and a lot of other things! Here's hoping for a great harvest huh?

  3. I have loved my visits ever since I found you in 2007. The simple yet elegant beauty that you share is my goal with my humble farm. I know with diligence, elbow grease, and much hard work we will have something similar.


  4. Annemarie (netherlands)June 07, 2011 5:47 am

    Your garden looks beautiful!
    Do you know what kind of mint you have? It is so nice with the rounded leaves, I have several kinds, but all with pointy leaves. would love to know, if you know it of course!

  5. I love your garden and it makes me realize how puny mine is. I don't even think mine qualifies as a garden - he, he...
    I wish I could clone myself have time to tend to the garden and do all the million projects around the house :-(.
    Enjoy all your goodies, they look so fresh and yummy!

  6. It's summer here in Michigan and we are attempting growing for the first time. Spinach, kale, potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, snow peas, and broccoli.

  7. Wow, can't believe you are planting capsicums right now...what a great climate you have. We are planting broccolli,broad beans,kale and red migonette lettuces.


  8. Oh what a place you've made for yourself. How wonderful. Thanks for the tour. It is amazing.

  9. Benjy and I harvested the first of the potatoes today, always a cause for celebration.

    The garden's looking good Rhonda.

  10. Hi Rhonda,
    I have a question about lemon trees. I have a bush lemon tree in my backyard that hasn't been tended to for ages (our house has been a rental one for over a decade I think). It has over a hundred lemons but they are all bumpy lumpy and not that clear yellow on the inside. It is also almost the height of our single storey house. Is it wise to chop (now) half the tree and prune it heavily? Or maybe wait for spring/summer? Or maybe bush lemons are just naturally bumpy lumpy/not-so-yellow and not-so-juicy....
    Love to hear your thoughts!

  11. It's so good to know many of you are growing vegies.

    Monday's child, good luck with your garden. You're off to a great start.

    Humble wife, thank you. Yes, that is what it takes - hard work, often and consistently. Good luck with your harvests.

    Annemarie, I'm growing 'common mint'. It is what I use in drinks and for mint sauce.

    Hi Jamie! Bush lemons are bumpy all over and they have a thick skin, but the juice and rind should be good. We have a Eureka lemon which has slightly bumpy skin, unlike the meyer or lisbon lemons that are both smooth. Cut a few of your lemons off and open them up. I reckon you might be surprised. They should make excellent lemon curd and cordial. If you strip the tree of fruit you can prune it back by about a third and if you do that, give it a good feed of blood and bone and potash or chicken manure pellets and potash. That will bring it back well from the pruning and you should have and other harvest in late spring or summer.

  12. Thanks for letting us walk around your garden Rhonda....unfortunately mine is not so bountiful at the moment...I didn't know that Kale grew that big....mine is only tiny, so I guess I should stop picking it and let it grow a lot....lol

  13. We are planting much the same as you except that there is no way we can grow pumpkin. capsicum or tomatoes over winter. Next month we will get them started with an underheater so they will be ready for a spring planting.We've also got garlic, onions, and leek growing.

  14. Hi Rhonda, loving your garden at the moment mine has been sadly neglected of late :(

    A quick question, what do you know about root stock and fruit trees? The reason I ask is we planted a lime tree years ago (not sure what type) and this year is the first we have had plenty of fruit except the fruit have grown really big, round and are yellow (they look like a large orange) but when we opened them, they sort of tasted a bit like lemon but a little sweet. Everyone says the root stock must have taken? I will try and blog some potos later today :)

  15. Your garden looks lovely. We are just going into summer here in the UK , though on June 1st I was wearing a polo neck sweater, and after 2 days of warmth at the weekend I am back in a sweater today. At the allotment the potatoes are flowering,and we tasted the first strawberry of the season at the weekend. We also have lettuce, courgettes, sweetcorn,broccoli, cabbages, cauliflowers,broad beans,parsnips,beetroot,peas,French beans,pumpkins,leeks,spring onions, red onions, white onions, raspberries, gooseberries,rhubarb, blackcurrants, apples,pears,blackberries. At home we have tomatoes, some peas and courgettes.Writing it all down has made me realise that we aren't as far behind as I thought we were. I'm just hoping for some more stable weather - the plants are either wilting in the heat , or being battered by torrential rain and strong winds.

  16. sadly, no garden for us this summer. My daughter and I are staying with a cousin for the summer who has absolutely no yard. :( We just got here and it looks like there is a community garden at the college, so I am going to have to check that out. I miss those delish tomatoes!!!!

  17. I enjoyed seeing your garden. When we moved to our property the idea was to get a vege patch going, (we even have usable bore water). I just seem to grow grow little bits and pieces never on a grand scale. Will have to get started one day.

  18. When I was working at Northey St City Farm in Brisbane I learnt a delicious Elder Flower Fritter recipe.

    I highly recommend it. Savory, sweet and crispy! Do a google search and you'll find plenty of recipes.



  19. Hello Car, you'll be able to tell if it's the root stock. Check on the trunk of your tree and find the grafting point. It will be towards the bottom, probably about 2 or 3 inches up from the soil. It will be a swollen bump in the trunk. Whenever anything grows below that graft line, you should cut it off. If it is root stock fruit, you'll have to cut it all off, then prune what is left of the foliage and give it a good fertilser and water. It should come back in the spring.

    Thanks Candice, I'm at the neighbourhood centre at the moment and have promised one of the elders to a friend here, I'll tell her about the fritters too.

  20. We've had a very cold, wet spring here in the Pacific NW USA, so we're just getting started on many things. Just yesterday I put in 4 tomato starts and three pepper starts. I've had butter crunch lettuce,spinach and bunching onions going for about a month (raised beds). Also put in some bush beans and more successions of carrots yesterday. I grow mint, oregano, rosemary, cilantro and parsley outside my kitchen door so they're handy!

    Several years ago we planted a plum tree which we are espalier-ing. It is loaded with little plums right now! --Kay


  21. Fantastic. Your garden is looking amazing. Here in Tassy most of the veggie gardens have been put to sleep over winter, except for the garlic, a few cabbages, and celery and rainbow chard. My chooks are ankle deep in mud. They don't seem to mind. Take care.

  22. as it's so cold and wet down here I am only growing onions, garlic, beetroot and brassicas. I am hoping to plant some carrots in the hot house this week along with some capsicums.
    I have been searching for quite a while for an elderberry, hopefully one day I will be successful and be able to make yummy cordials and wine.

  23. Love your healthy vege garden Rhonda!
    Jamie, does your common lemon have lumpy things on the branches because it could have wasp galls. There are wasps that lay eggs in the bark of the tree and damage it. The only solution to this is to cut the affected limbs off and burn them as the effects of the wasp infestation is that the fruit ceases to be juicy and sometimes develops brown spots inside and the tree will eventually die. If your trees are badly affected remove the worst parts, wait until the regrowth is healthy and remove some more affected limbs. Be sure to burn the cut off limbs as otherwise the eggs will still hatch and you'll have a reinfestation. Do the fertilising as suggested by Rhonda to support the tree and a good spray and watering with seaweed solution will assist with regenertion of the new growth and add necessary minerals to the tree/soil.
    Our common lemons make the best lemon curd/butter and are a darker yellow skin than Eureka's etc. The flesh should still be clear if they are healthy fruit but will be cloudy if they have wasp gall disease.
    Good luck,

  24. such a great garden. i've left mine behind in the south of england, hopefully being cared for, and i'm helping my mother with hers on the west coast of canada. i wish growing season and my desire to see my family didn't conflict! i hope to forage, to make up for it. x

  25. I love the pictures of your garden. It's been so cold and wet this spring we are just starting to till the soil. I didn't start any plants so I'll have to buy them. I just hope we have time to harvest a few tomatoes and peppers. The lettuce and kale are doing OK. I would sure like to take a walk through your garden. It looks simply lovely.
    Jeri from Utah, USA

  26. I loved seeing your garden! It is beautiful! What an inspiration!!

  27. How wonderful it is to see your mature garden! Ours is an infant in comparison...only 3 years down the line this month.

  28. Hi Rhonda, It was nice to have a look around your garden again today. I have planted Kale for the first time this year. Can you tell us a bit more about the Tomato Wilt as this looks like what my tomato bushes have. I am wondering if it is harmful to them.

  29. Caroline, I think it's spotted leaf virus we have here. Here is a good rundown of tomato diseases. Use this and google images to identify what kind you have, then you can work out how to deal with it.


  30. Hi Rhonda,
    Loved to see the elder tree. My Grandma used the flowers to make elderflower champagne. The recipe invloves a square of toast spread with yeast so I'm not too sure of how to translate it into a more up-to-date method. It tasted delicious though.
    We've been harvesting rhubarb and radishes and waiting on beans,brocoli,strawberries and potatoes.

  31. Here in Wales UK we have had a very dry start to the year and April was like mid-summer so a strange growing season. I am growing peas, spring onions, pak choi, carrots, potatoes, cauliflowers, french beans, several sorts of runner beans, tomatoes (several sorts), courgettes, sweet peppers and cucumbers.

    I have a lot of soft fruit too and I am picking raspberries already - just a few - but NEVER EVER this early before!

  32. Lovely to see your garden. I wish I Knew how to grow vegetables.
    And that I lived in wee warmer climate....

  33. I'm still not growing much... Trying at herbs, but I'm not sure it worked out. There are always cherries (the tree is full! I plan to swap some for homegrown pork lard as I have before) and some gooseberries, and hopefully some black currants, although not much. And apples - the tree got some kind of illness when we tried to graft it years ago, so most apples fall down before they're ripe - hopefully some will survive.

    Your garden looks amazing, and so productive. Although it's rather ironic that you have trouble making your elderbushes grow the way you want them to, and here they're just weed that we had to weed out from our garden recently, because otherwise they would overgrow it... :D

  34. Wow! I can't believe I see two other people from the Netherlands (how cool)!

    Our garden is racing ahead this year with all the sun we've been having. We've steadily been eating spinach, radishes, and lettuce, and now some of the strawberries are ready. The tomatoes have flowered and the fruit is forming, much earlier than last year, even though I planted much later.

    The thing I'm most excited about though are the onions, shallots, and potatoes that we planted for the first time ever! They are all extremely healthy and I'm so curious to try each and every one... patience!

    Great to read about everyone's gardens, and you do have a lovely garden Rhonda.

  35. Oh my goodness, whaat a wonderful garden, your produce is doing so well, and the bushes, it is lovely my friend, you sure must put lots of work into it. You have a great day

  36. Hi Rhonda and all,
    my Winter garden here in Victoria is in limbo right now. We are in the process of moving from 1/4 acre to 2 1/4 acres. So many things are in pots, some dug up, and some seed sown. I have pots waiting to take the garlic, I am waiting till after the shortest day to put them in. I have to lift my asparagus crowns as soon as I get a mild day, poor things they have never had a go, always being moved around. My small up to 4 year old fruit trees are coming with me, the deciduous ones anyway. I have to leave my avocado it is 3 metres tall.
    Oh the fun of planning a new garden!

  37. Hi Rhonda! We are growing many different peppers, tomatoes, onions, spices and herbs, beans,swiss chard, summer and winter squashes and sugar pumpkins. We also have lemons, oranges, avocado,peaches,plum,and lime trees and several types of berries. Your tree is beautiful! You can't go wrong with a beautiful tree that also gives you something to eat from it ! :) Sarah

  38. I am 'biting at the bit' as we speak :)
    In our islands we traditionally plant on Corpus Christi (23rd June). This is not because of any religious significance but because it heralds the start of the best weather conditions for fostering new growth.
    I am busy sowing seeds, preparing beds and pruning. Everything seems to be growing in gigantic leaps.
    This coming weekend we shall make a trek to our regular garden centre to stock up on some seedlings. At home I have seeds for pigeon peas, sorrel and watermelon waiting to be sown. I am trying ginger this year as I love the jam I made from it last year. I hope to redo my sweet potato barrels as well.
    In fruit right now we have breadfruit, pommerac, pigeon peas, passion fruit, limes, mangoes and tomatoes.
    This year our Tilapia were big enough to cook. Tasted quite good curried with coconut. We are thinking of increasing the size of the pond and thus our harvest.
    It seems everyone is getting into the spirit this year. Our government farms had sales on fruit and vegetable plants this week to encourage agriculture and self-sufficiency. They sold out in 1 day!
    I feel excitement in the air. It is good.

    Trinidad & Tobago

  39. Gardens looking lovely Rhonda.
    My seedlings were eaten by snails so I will be looking at ways to protect them.


  40. I always enjoy the photos of your garden!

    Have you or Hanno ever stuck your hand into one of the beds to weed or pick veggies, and been surprised by a SNAKE in there? (I hate snakes.)

    Here in Vermont, USA we've had a very wet spring with a lot of flooding.

    I planted a bush cherry and two blueberry plants, and I think they've died already.

    We're just now getting ready to put in tomatoes, string beans, carrots, radishes, and stuff like that.


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