A small vegetable garden

I had a sore back yesterday so all I did was make bread and butter cucumbers, rye bread and some sweet potato soup for lunch. In the morning and late afternoon I walked around the vegetable garden and took some photos. It's not much to show for a day but my back is feeling good now so I think it was a wise investment.

Morning in the garden, looking south.

My afternoon walk, looking south west.

Most of you will know that in the past couple of years we've gone from a very big vegetable garden to a small one. Our current garden is about a quarter of the size of the old one. We struggle at times with it but we keep going because both of us love gardening, we love the fresh, organic produce and gardening has been such a big part of our work for years, it doesn't feel right to let it go completely.

Hanno is bringing in some organic sugar cane mulch for the nests.
You can see Hanno above with some of the chickens.  We have rare breed chooks and at the moment we have Barnedelvers (my favourites), Light Sussex, Plymouth Rock, Wyandotte, Rhode Island Reds, Australorpes and one farmyard cross.  They have a large enclosed area to run around in but we let them out most days to graze on the grass, catch insects and to add interest to their days.
We have a lot of fruit growing in the backyard. Strawberries are growing in hanging baskets and we have containers with youngberries and raspberries. Planted in the ground are two Washington navel oranges and one Lane's Late orange, two Eureka lemons, a Brazilian cherry (Grumichama), a few passionfruit vines, banana, loquat, elderberry and pecan.
We grow a lot of herbs, which, along with being a great way to add flavour and nutrition to our food, are a great money saver. We also grow comfrey, it's one of the herbs I'd never be without, and we use it as a fertiliser and mulch for the garden.  
Above and below: comfrey that I picked and cut up to add to the potted tomatoes (below). It makes a great mulch for tomatoes and potatoes and when it breaks down, adds high quality NPK fertiliser and minerals to the soil.
And next to the comfrey is out compost heap.  You can see the rich compost that Hanno has started to dig up in the corner of the heap.  It is added to garden soil most of the year and always when we replant.

We can't grow tomatoes in the soil anymore because we have a wilt problem so I bought these Cherry Falls tomatoes which grow extremely well in pots.  Unfortunately they're not an heirloom variety but give a superb flavour and yield nonetheless.

Here we have a sea of parsley and below, curly kale and garlic.  Hanno's been eating kale all his life and curly kale is his favourite.  It's a great vegetable and grows well here both in winter and summer.

What would any garden be without flowers.  These salvias, stocks and society garlic attract a lot of bees and the salvias - these and many others in the garden, are in flower most of the year.

So that was my day in the garden. It's good to go out there and wander around. When I'm in a place that is covered in plants, with trees growing, vines climbing over lattice and birds and insects buzzing in and out, it always relaxes me.  There is a running creek at the edge of our garden and along its banks remnant rainforest grows, a reminder of what once grew here before it was all cleared for "development" a hundred years ago. I think it's our responsibility to look after this land and to provide a safe haven for the wildlife that live here with us. Most of the time we don't see them, but they're here and while we live here, they're always be welcome to share the land with us.

28 comments

  1. Your garden may be smaller Rhonda but its looking good.

    Does Gracie chase your chickens? We got Aggie in the middle of a serious mouse plague when we were living among cropping country. The farmers lay their crops with poisoned grain, and then some still had to re-seed three times because the mouse plague was so bad. We were trapping dozens a day and disposing of them, despite everything being shut tight, like the rest of the town. As a result Aggie is an excellent hunter as she has been catching mice/rats since she was 12 weeks old. She will kill a chicken given half a chance which is a real pest, our big rooster once got adventurous and flow over the fence and Aggie got him and would have killed him if I didn't hear and rescue him. He was fine fortunately, but he never made that mistake again. Shes an absolute terror.

    xx

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    1. Thanks Emma. Gracie sometimes chases the chooks but she doesn't grab or bite them. I think she does it to show them who is boss. Most terriers, Scotties included, are bred to chase and kill vermin of some sort. We've always introduced our dogs - Airedales and Gracie, to the chooks and Hanno spends time doing this when they're very young. The dogs have always come to our home with the chooks already here so they had to be shown how to behave with them.
      Hanno has now trained Gracie to chase bush turkeys and most of the time she leaves the chickens alone, although she does spend a lot of time in the yard where the chickens are. She will sit there waiting for a turkey to come through - they come here to eat the chook pellets, and she's chase them out and runs around like a mad thing, without going near the chooks. But it took a while for her to settle into that pattern. Gracie will be 3 in august and I think she's been like this since she was 2. Maybe Aggie needs a bit more training and a bit more time. How old is she now?
      Even though we think Gracie won't attack the chooks, we'd never leave her alone in the yard when the chooks are there. It's the dog's natural instinct to hunt and chase and that might return at any time.

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    2. Ahh good to know. Aggie is two and a bit, and she is getting easier to train. Once we get chickens again in the near future I will have another go at training her, there has been a big break since we have had them with the move so it might help to start fresh. That's very clever that Gracie knows the difference between bush turkeys and the chooks! The ancient Labrador has never bothered any small animals, she just spends her days working out how to break into the yard to steal eggs, and I suspect this will be her final year so she spends most of her days sleeping in the sun. The collie is fine with the chickens as long as they are fully grown, he just likes to round them up. We are not sure about the new guard dog Bear. He is very smart, loyal and easily trainable. He quickly learnt to leave livestock well alone, the boundary of house paddock where he is allowed to roam free and he comes readily when called. It's the littlest that's the problem! Though she knows the boundary now and she no longer runs off into the hills. She also returns straight away when called even when there is something enticing in the bushes she wants to explore, so all in all she is doing very well. Though like Gracie she cant quite be trusted fully yet.

      xx

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  2. I always enjoy the posts and photos about your garden. Hoping your back continues to mend.

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  3. I was really proud of my two springer boys. One of the chickens got out. I always go out with the dogs and saw them in hot pursuit. I told them no and they backed off. I was able to get the chicken over where I could pick her up and put her back in the fenced area.

    I am having to get rid of my chickens though. My new pulmonologist wants all the birds gone. I just have four chickens and only one is young enough to be laying. I should turn the old ones into stock but just don't want to butcher chickens. I'm trying to find someone to take them. I'll miss them.

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  4. Your garden looks very abundant Rhonda. You and Hanno do a fantastic job keeping it so well looked after. The chooks are happy with all that green and that compost looks so rich, no wonder your garden does so well.

    My days are so much better if I can spend some time outside in the garden. I hope to keep gardening well into my later years.

    Take care,
    xTania

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  5. It looks lovely. I have a small garden, too. (because we have watering restrictions in California.) The citrus always seem to do well. Like you, I love the vibration a garden and wildlife gives. I sleep with my bedroom window open, and the fresh air is filled with oxygen from the trees. I love the lushness of it. Sitting out there to have coffee, read, or knit is my idea of heaven.

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  6. Your garden is lovely and so green. And odd as it sounds, your compost looks lovely too! We are now in a place that has neglected soil. I am working at it, but it doesn't happen overnight. I'm glad you've kept a small garden. You need the things you enjoy.

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  7. Your garden looks wonderful Rhonda. You obviously get a lot of enjoyment from it, and it repays you with all that lovely food. Thank you for sharing it with us. Margaret

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  8. The tomatoes in the pots look like a great idea.

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  9. as always, your posts are full of life, love the flowers & kale, am hoping to get another garden made on my chook pen, next to the one i already have, they are long & skinny, they will be full of vegies for the chooks, eventually;
    lovely post
    thanx for sharing

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  10. Stunning photos Rhonda. How beautiful is the clear blue sky, the red tree and the green vegetation in your first photo. I hang out for the weekends to have more time in my garden. Can you hear the creek running when you’re in the yard?

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    1. We can hear the creek running after heavy rain - the catchment is Maleny and surrounds. Most of the time it just meanders along and empties in Pumicestone Passage.

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  11. What a lovely, peaceful place. The veg looks fantastic, and what a blessing to be able to grow kale year-round! It looks as though y'all are nurturing the land and all its inhabitants. Continued blessings...

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  12. Your place is looking wonderful Rhonda. I love your hens - what gorgeous and magnificent girls. Warmest good wishes, Wendy

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    1. Yes, they're wonderful these girls of ours.

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  13. Compliments to the both of you for persisting with your bountiful and beautiful garden, Rhonda and Hanno.
    I also have that wilt and discovered that copper, foliar sprayed at transplant time, early autumn and again in late winter got my veg and fruit through the year.
    I have to spray everything as my topsoil is very thin and kept poor by the maroarding gum tree roots. The yellow gravely subsoil is very high in iron which kills anything that put its roots into it. This high iron predisposes the plants to a variety of fungal and viral infections such as wilt and black spot.
    So I use the tractor with the 100lt spray unit to spray all plants in my garden:- flowers, mangoes, vegetables, fruit and the whole orchard.
    The copper foliar spray works within days! Right from that day all new leaves, fruit and flowers are free of infection which is most enjoyable to see and is for me the biggest reason I am able to continue with my garden in my decrepit state.
    I have crossbred some varieties of old cherry tomatoes to develop a fruit that doesn't give me gout. I've got the fruit maturing now to the size of a small plum. They are big enough that I can actually cut them into 4slices! If you have this gout problem with some tomato varieties, I am happy to send you some dried seed in a letter. Just be aware that they won't be disease free. They'll have the wilt but respond very well to the copper spray.

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    1. Hi Clissa. I've used Cupric hydroxide copper spray on cucumbers etc but not on tomatoes. I'll try that if I see any problems creeping in. Thank you. I'd love to try your tomatoes. I don't get gout but Hanno has been on daily medication for it for years. I'm sure he's like to try your tomatoes. Send me an email so I can send you my address.

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  14. Your garden is looking productive and well cared for Rhonda. It's a beautiful time of the year in Queensland isn't it? Best wishes, Pauline

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  15. Your garden sounds like it brings you peace, Rhonda. My veg patch is considerably smaller now too but I still have spinach and spring onion and lettuce and silverbeet in. Plus two pots of snowpeas. Not much but still something to pick and enjoy eating. I love the wildlife that visit our garden too. We are never without a butcher bird or kookaburra or magpie and we still have our resident blue-tongue. Meg

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  16. You have a thriving garden Rhonda - very impressed by that compost - so black and rich looking! It is funny to see that you are growing now what I had to pull out by May before the cold set in. All the brassicas, carrots etc do well here through winter - though if we experience a month of -9 to -11 as we did last year, not much enjoys that! I love seeing all the old breeds of chickens - we have a mix as well, and they are such a joy to watch their unique personalities. Do you have much of a problem with scaly mite? It is one condition I can't quite get rid of. Also, what is that fruit tree in the fourth photo down?

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    1. We don't even get frost here, Paula, let alone minus temperatures. Our climate problems tend to be with heat rather than cold weather.

      We don't get scaly mite here. The tree is a Washington navel orange. We're currently enjoying fresh juice from it every day.

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  17. Beautiful! I can see why you would want to garden as long as you can. Hope your back feels better soon.

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  18. Mmmm compost! Our dogs have never chased our chooks but you can never trust a visiting one.Watching rain and cold hail out the windows today,thanks for the glimpse of sunshine.

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  19. Lovely pictures from your garden Rhonda, looks so green and fresh. I am having to reduce the garden drastically due to rapidly declining health and a very cold wet Summer. Have a few strawberries, tomatoes, chives, basil and lettuce. Forest is beautifully fresh green though. Enjoying that. Blessings, Pam

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  20. I love your outlook on nature. I find all living things are full of purpose one way or another. I saw strawberries and smiled.

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  21. Such a beautiful blog post, Rhonda. We too have animals that share our land with us such as bear, deer, racoons, possums, squirrels, and of course our cats. We use to have chickens, Australorps to be exact. They were good layers. I hope you have had a wonderful Sunday.

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