Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Homegrown - Easy street

This is the time of year I love as a gardener; Late summer, when everything is established and flourishing. There's not much to do but pick it and enjoy.

Here's what I picked this evening (minus the many cherry tomatoes L ate while we were out there - cherry tomatoes definitely deserve their place on my list of top ten favourite toddler foods).

The beans and carrots got boiled up and served as a side with dinner. (The nice thing about eating my own carrots is I don't need to peel them, because I know there aren't any pesticides or synthetic fertilisers on them. Instead I just give them a good scrub to the get the dirt off, and we get to benefit from all the unique nutrients in the skin.)

The green zucchini you see in the picture is going into zucchini chocolate chip cookies that I'll bake tomorrow. The yellow zucchini will get grated up and frozen for use later in the year. The tomatoes pictured have all been eaten by L, bar one, and the apple we'll probably eat fresh tomorrow.

We've had a couple of days of rain so I hadn't checked on my gardens until this evening. I was excited to see everything has taken off. Lots of tomatoes turning red:

Lots of beans, lots of carrots.

And this....

It's a Telegraph cucumber nearly ready for picking.

I've only attempted to grow cucumbers once before and that didn't go well. But I had a packet of seeds and I wanted to see what would survive here in Wellington, so I gave them another go. This plant and a couple of others are doing well. I'm glad I staked the cukes or they would have trampled all over my carrots. Staking them also keeps them off the soil, which prevents them from rotting into it.

Idle hands
All my gardens have remained mostly weed free this summer, which is probably a combination of the poor soil here and the fact I've mulched everything in pea and lucerne straw. That and the regular rain we've had means I've been pretty idle in the garden these last couple of weeks.

Perhaps a little too idle, as I discovered tonight my broccolis have been chomped to bits by caterpillars.

I went on a caterpillar killing spree this evening and stomped dozens of the little suckers. Hopefully it's not too late for some of my broccoli plants. We've only harvested one of them so far and it wasn't the most succulent one I've ever grown. The soil in the broccoli garden is the worst of all three. Over winter I really need to rot down some manure into it so it's in a better state for next year.

I did attempt to help my broccolis and other fruiting plants out this week with some vermicast from my worm farm. I cleared out one tray of black gold, which was enough for a little bit around all of my plants.

Last week I planted more beetroot seeds in the gaps between the other ones, and I ripped out my decapitated pea plants and replaced them with more bean seeds and a tomato that had self-seeded next to my spinach garden. 

However, none of this was hard work, so I feel like I'm walking down easy street this month.

What's been happening in your garden? I'd love to hear from you.


  1. Hi Emma, I agree this is a lovely time of year, however I find that weeds grow even better than veges and I have to spend more time weeding than in winter. My zucchinis are suffering now that we are having some dry weather, they have had some blossom end rot from lack of water transporting the calcium in the soil, so I have to make sure they are getting plenty. My big tomatoes are still green, but I'm hoping they will ripen before they get wilt or bugs! My cherry tomatoes are ok (they are so hardy!). Silver beet and beans are producing enough for our dinner, with some extra for the chooks, they are the most low maintenance of everything. I'm impressed with your carrots! Mine always come out stunted and with too many legs! Its lovely to see how your garden is growing. Cheers, Liz

  2. Hi Liz, it is strange about the lack of weeds. I think it must just be so hard for anything to get a hold here with the wind and clay to combat.
    I've been so happy with my carrots - by far the best I've ever grown. There must be something about the soil they like. In the past I've had to cook all my carrots because they didn't taste nice raw, but these ones are lovely and sweet.
    Our silverbeet and spinach is going crazy too. I harvest some most days for our smoothies and it's still going strong.
    I should probably keep a better eye on my zucchinis because in the past they've always got powdery mildew around this time of year. I tend to chop up banana peel and spread it around their roots to give them the potassium they need. Good advice on them needing lots of water to get calcium. I did not know that so will try to take extra care with them.
    Cherry tomatoes are great, although I've been surprised that my bigger tomatoes started ripening first here, although they've all starting changing colour now.
    Well, keep doing what you're doing. Cheers, Emma

  3. looking at your cucumber and thinking how it looks so much better than my apple cucumber, both it and my zuchinni have got the powdery mildew, I'm chopping up banana skins and scattering them around the plants and burying them with mulch, but it keeps spreading... any other hints?

  4. Hey Heather. You could try giving them an intensive potassium boost, with an NPK fertiliser. And when you're watering them, try to keep the water off their leaves and direct it straight to their roots. Try watering them in the morning so they've got the day to dry out before the temperature drops at nighttime. You could also try spraying something directly onto their leaves. Like a mixture of 1t baking soda to 4 cups water.
    Cut off dead leaves and dispose of them. Don't compost them or the spores will spread to other parts of your garden.
    I hope that helps.

  5. Thanks, I think part of the problem is that it rains like crazy here in Rotorua, I have only watered my garden once in the last 2 months of being here. I'll try the baking soda spray. Thanks!

  6. Hi Emma, thanks for sharing your gardening adventures. I'm new to veggie growing but loving it so far. I have a quick question about the pea straw though - do you have any difficulty with the wind and keeping it in place (in windy Welly too and it blows about our garden like anything)? Cheers, Charlotte

  7. Hey Charlotte, a little bit of pea straw blows a way. However, if I water it down heaps, most of it stays put.

    Good luck with your gardening adventures. Keep me posted on how you get on. I LOVE gardening stories.


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