Goings on in the garden: March

25 March 2018
I've been writing a lot about food and eating as I've gotten started in my blog and have been sorely neglecting my other love - growing food. It's probably a little to do with the fact that I'm adjusting my gardening at the moment to work in a new climate and also a different space.

Most of my gardening is currently happening in pots as we are renting. Previous to this my whole backyard was a food garden in Adelaide. In fact my oldest daughter spent the first week wandering around our rental garden asking what were the things she could eat and where was the fennel.

So, I thought I'd take you on a little tour of my current garden and chat about what is happening.

Pots around edge of patio - fig, guava, chilean guavax2, feijoa x2, jostaberry, herbs, strawberries, warrigal greens and an assortment in the plastic tub (see below).

The strawberries are producing so many runners at the moment. That basil will soon be pesto.

Tub from corner of top pic - beetroot coming to an end and a pocket melon that you can just see in the top right corner. Have put in some new carrot seedlings but I think I need to add some extra soil to this tub. 

Here are the pocket melons nestled in an adjacent pot. These were a seed freebie from diggers. The ripe one is about 8cm long

A lot of the pots I brought with me from Adelaide. My dear dad trekked over and loaded up a trailer full of my numerous trees and shrubs that I just couldn't leave behind. I also took the opportunity to gather a heap of herbs from my existing garden so I didn't have to start from scratch. The plastic tub was a moving casualty that I put to good use as a wicking bed. The beetroots have done ok, only growing to about golf ball size but good for grating into a few summer salads. I'll refresh the soil in here and maybe try growing a few leeks. These will of course sulk all winter but hopefully reward me with an early spring harvest - one can live in hope.

The bare dirt behind the patio didn't last long - in went some beans. Fig in the big pot with a few more Adelaide transplants - a loquat tree and some horseradish.

I think we had been in our new place about a week and a half before the urge to plant something was too strong to overcome. This patch of bare dirt was just calling out to me. I popped some beans in here in the hope of helping the soil out a bit. I've managed to harvest a few handfuls off the vines but clearly the plants aren't thriving. I'm tossing up between putting in some broad beans here or doing a green manure crop over winter and digging that in before spring planting.

Behind the brick wall you can see my cucumber vines peeking out. In the pot are a red shahtoot mulberry and mint.

Another bare patch of dirt in the pic above became home to my cucumber vines. These vines have been one of the few in-ground successes as I've managed to harvest enough to pickle and ferment. Mint has been harvested several times over summer and dried for tea. Nothing happening with the mulberry this time of year but it will soon lose it's leaves and then hopefully gear up to deliver some tasty springtime fruits.

Snake beans, peppermint and  red russian kale seedling.

Another bare patch of dirt got the bean treatment. I think I'll give up the ghost in growing stuff in the ground in this spot and just cover the bare dirt with pots to keep down the weeds.

Lots of chilies at various stages of ripeness.


Cucumber winding down and some autumn plantings.

This bathtub has definitely added to my growing space. Unfortunately by the time I got it at Christmas time it was a bit late for much to get going. I managed to harvest about five cucumbers off this Lebanese mini muncher vine which is starting to succumb to powdery mildew. I've put in some autumn seedlings and am keeping the vine in until the last of the hot weather dies off to give the new plants a little shade protection. Autumn plantings include kholrabi and purple cauliflower. On the edge of the tub is a red russian kale seedling in a milk carton wicking pot (post on these coming soon).

Sprouting green broccoli near the bathtub.
A few more pots keeping bare garden ground covered.

A collection of pots have been sheltering out of the summer sun under this tree and keeping the weeds down on the bare ground. I'll move these into sunnier positions for winter. The lemon and lime will move into a suntrap near our back door that will hopefully keep them happy and keep the frost off. Styrofoam wicking boxes will be home to my Asian greens for autumn/winter. One has tiny plants appearing and the other will be planted out once I harvest the basil. The two pots to the right under the net are blueberries. The pot in the back left has a quince tree in it that I managed to grow from a sucker on my established tree in Adelaide. Just at the edge of the pic on left you can see a bit of the pot which contains my finger lime - I'm not sure how this one will go in Canberra. A few weeks ago it was loaded with flowers but no fruit seems to have set.

Dwarf mandarin under-planted with rainbow chard
Pumpkin vine, sweet potato and tomatillo plants going strong.

This area is definitely my biggest in ground success by far. Behind our back fence is a walking track and along the backs of many of the homes people have trees growing. Our back space was mostly grasses and weeds when we moved in plus a few struggling agapanthus (you can see these at the back right, behind the sweet potato). When we first moved in I was unsure of planting veg in this space as most of the other things were established plants and I was concerned the mowing crew might inadvertently destroy my hard work. While I went back and forth on this I decided to just dig my food scraps and green waste into the ground out here as I didn't have my compost bins. Then I covered the space with cardboard and lawn clippings to keep the weeds down. When my dad brought over my plants at Christmas there were some tomatillo seedlings that I had started back in Adelaide and so I thought I may as well pop them in the ground here and give it a go. Along with that I threw in some pumpkin seeds and couldn't help myself in buying a sweet potato plant when I went to the nursery to get mulch.

Jap/Kent pumpkin hiding among the leaves.

Tomatillos in various stages of development. Fingers crossed for a big harvest and lots of salsa.

I thought that if I didn't get any crops at least I'd be able to use the pumpkin and sweet potato for greens. But as you can see there are a heap of tomatillos and some pumpkins. I'm not sure if these pumpkins will fully ripen before the frost hits so I wont be able to store them for use across the winter but they'll still get used up in soups and stews. The tomatillos will be eaten by the girls straight from the vine and the rest will be made into salsa verde. Not sure what's going on under the ground with the sweet potato but good growth above ground so hopefully it's happily building big tasty tubers for me.

Emboldened by my success I've planted carrots, beetroot and cauliflower seedlings underneath the various vines in this space. I'm using the vines to provide a bit of protection from the sun and digging dogs on their morning walk. Hopefully by the time the vines are dying off the plants are big enough to brave the big wide world alone. I'm also planning garlic and broad beans out here.

So, that's what's happening in the garden in the first month of Autumn.

How is your garden growing?
Have you managed to get any autumn seedlings in the ground yet?
Doing any mad preserving as the summer harvests wind down?

8 comments

  1. Like you I had lots of pots while renting. I still have most plants in pots, but recently I made several raised beds.
    I've started seeds - okra, spinach, artichokes and eggplant, but so far only okra and spinach have seedlings. :)

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    1. Good luck with the plantings. It's fun to branch out a bit once you go from pots to garden beds. Hope you have some good summertime successes - I'll be able to live vicariously as I struggle through my first winter of growing in severe frosts.

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  2. Laura, I dare say you will have some pretty heavy frosts in Canberra. It will be interesting to see what grows well there compared with Adelaide. I have decided not to plant brassicas any more as they just get eaten by pests and I can buy them from a friend who has a nursery not far from here. I have silverbeet in and some snow peas but nothing much else at the moment apart from some lettuce that have come up from dropped seed. I had better get my skates on but the days are still too warm for me to be out in the sun too long.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, the frosts will definitely be a challenge and a steep learning curve for me - it'll probably take at least a season or two to figure it out. That's handy that you have a brassica hook-up. I'm keeping the cabbage moths mostly at bay by hand squishing (I'm sure that's the technical term!).
      Got to love self seeding plants. Hope the weather cools for you to get out there.

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  3. A good example showing how plants can be grown in any pot or container, you are certainly utilising the space you have. I love basil have never made pesto, so seeing as I intend growing lots this year that is what I will be doing with it.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, definitely give the homemade basil pesto a go. The bought stuff is just no comparison - kind of like tin asparagus vs fresh (in my opinion anyway). I usually make a big batch and freeze it to last me most of the year - clearly not going to happen this year with my pot specimen but a little bit is better than nothing. Rocket and parsley also make good pesto options if you find yourself enjoying the pesto making. Also, if you want to make it a little less expensive you can substitute the pine nuts for any other nut or seed you have on hand. In the past I've used almonds, walnuts and even sunflower seeds.
      Hope you give it a go.

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  4. Isn't it a wonderful feeling growing some of your own food! I openly admit I'm addicted to gardening and growing food in particular. After my visit to the city farm nursery the other day, I planted silverbeet and two types of lettuce. I also have perennial leeks growing and some spring onion in that patch at the moment. I'll add more each weekend. I have mandarins beginning to ripen, cranberry hibiscus growing well, herbs and tumeric and avocado tree in my garden. I am still picking a few cucumbers and cherry tomatoes from the plants in my wicking barrels. Sweet potato vine scrambling everywhere in my driveway garden. It grows underneath the natives there. I have pineapple tops to plant as well. Growing in containers is great when you are renting and there's so much you can grow in them and then you can take them with you when you move. Meg:)

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  5. I very much enjoyed my first visit and I will definitely return. Many thanks!

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