Posts Tagged ‘growing your own food’

Having fun in the vege patch

November 27th, 2010

my tomatoes

There are so many good reasons to grow your own food.  It guarantees that you have access to the freshest and the most nutritious ingredients right at your very doorstep.  Once you have tasted vegetables that have been picked only minutes before your eat them, you will never look back!  It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to grow something from scratch, well a seed really, and I know that those broad beans now on my plate are free of chemical residues and are very good for my family.    Growing your own food does save money too.

broad beans - harvest underway!

There are many different ways of growing vegetables, in containers, in ‘no-dig’ garden beds, in rotational plots or even just here and there in the garden beds that are in the back yard right now.  I made a ‘no-dig’ garden bed a couple of years ago and have built up the soil over the years since.  Before that I used pots, I figured to start small as I was short on both time and sunshine.  Vegetables do need sun; the more the better.  As a general rule, they need a minimum of six hours every day.  So when choosing a position to grow your veges try to avoid things that create a shadow.  I built a raised bed so the roots of nearby trees wouldn’t be competition for the veges and that has worked well.

But, you don’t have to wait until you have the ‘right’ spot or the time to make a special bed to grow a few veges – just start anyway with containers.  It is an ideal option for people who are renting or for people who only have limited space available.  Growing plants in containers also helps to overcome the problem of irregular shade, as pots can be moved to follow the sun over the course of the year.  Just get on out there and enjoy! 

Happy gardening!

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Bean Feast

November 16th, 2010

The harvest!

The broad bean harvest is in full swing and we are enjoying broad beans with every other dinner at the moment.  Yummy!  Nothing beats the flavour of freshly harvested, home grown vegetables.  Growing your own vegetables gives you far greater control over what is eaten and, in particular, the flavour.  I love shelling the beans in their fluffy soft little home.  Out they pop.  We sometimes make it a family thing, sitting together and shelling the beans.  My favourite way to cook them is to steam them just lightly – less than 3 min usually does it, then I drain them and pop in just a little butter, and then on to the plate!

bean feast!

Now, I am busy planting tomatoes, a little late this year because of all the rain, and also, just because, life sometimes gets a little busy.  Roma is my favourite but I have a couple of new varieties to try this year as well. 

Well, I am off to pick some beans!  Happy gardening!

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On the Wild Side

November 9th, 2010

After all the wonderful rain that we have had lately the sun has come out, the soil has warmed up and the weeds have become wild!  Time to tame them!  How many tedious hours I am spending beavering away lately, but it is all good, it happens every year!  The ducks come out and help too, the freshly turned soil just has to have some interesting little treats for them!

Waddles loves to help in the garden

About two or three years ago I discovered sugar cane mulch!  Around about this time of the year it is time to get a few bales and spread them about over the recently weeded areas, it is really super in the vege patch and most effective at keeping the weeds under control.

The broad beans are being harvested now and are a very tasty treat at dinner.  It is a bit late, but I am putting in some tomatoes and some carrot seeds.  The rhubarb is very tasty at this time of the year and gives us the pleasure of rhubarb and apple crumbles topped with a big blob of cream.  Yum!!  I have left some lemons on the lemon tree, so lemon delicious pudding still makes it onto the table too.  Ahh, the pleasures of the harvest!

Rhubarb -for the crumble

It is such a treat to have our own supply of vegetables, herbs, lemons and eggs fresh from the garden.  Not only is the produce organic, it is also immensely satisfying to grow your own food.

Happy gardening!

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The October Garden

October 1st, 2010

Bearded Iris

The weather is getting warmer, and there is now no good excuse to stop getting out into the garden.  The nurseries look wonderful at this time of the year and are stuffed full of flowering plants to tempt one into impulse buying.  I try to avoid this by making a list, but find myself giving in and coming home with something I had not planned on at all.  Last weekend I come home with three beautiful flowering plants that require full sun, when the only spaces I have are in the shade! What was I thinking?

Broad beans

Out in the vege patch the broad bean plants are covered in flowers, which will soon turn into juicy broad beans.  Can hardly wait! This is probably the most important month for sowing or planting vegetables.  Ahead is at least six months growing weather, so it is important to get on out there and plant, plant plant!   The ducks are laying every day now and we can enjoy egg sandwiches, egg mcMuffins, cakes and all things eggy!

The soil is pretty much warmed up now and although we are still having some quite cold nights the threat of frosts are becoming a thing of the past.  The days are longer now too making it much easier to find a little time in the late afternoon for a bit of pottering about.  The roses I cut back have all got beautiful new growth and some even have tiny buds.  They look at me as I pass them in the driveway and call silently for some fertilizer such as blood and bone. 

camellia

Out the back it is all looking a bit the worse for wear.  I need to get busy and tidy it all up.  Pots tend to dry out with great speed during this time of the year and can be drooping before you know it, so it is back to a watering program to be fitted into my daily routine.  Other than that it is weed heaven out there, so I have to get on to them.

Well, the sun is calling me and I must be off and out and doing!

Happy gardening!

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August Jobs

August 8th, 2010

Aquilegia (the sweet little Columbine)

There is much to do in August.  For a beginning I need to get out and buy some Aquilegia seedlings.  I just love these flowers and now is the time to plant them.  They are very rewarding too as they seem to self seed in the garden, but, I need more in different colours!  You can also plant out snapdragons, foxglove and larkspur if the mood takes you.  Yes, folks, time to get ready for spring!

broad beans in my vege patch

I also need to get busy in my humble vege plot.  Looking a little worse for wear at the moment.  I intend to follow up the dolomite lime I put on last month with some cow or sheep manure.  Of course, first to find a cow or sheep!  So, a trip out to the country must be planed, where you just might happen to  drive past the signs that say  Cow Manure $5 a bag.  My children won’t come on these trips with me any more, even though I keep it a secret as to the real purpose of the trip, they complain about the smell in the car on the way home.  So it will be a lonely trip for me.  Should I still take the picnic lunch?  The up side is that there will be no one to complain should I take in a couple of nurserys on the way. 

Schlumbergera

Did you know that you can buy Dynamic Lifter in tablets?  While wandering around in Bunnings I discovered this.  The packet assured me that they are totally organic slow release fertiliser.  But I did not purchase any because, well, truth to tell, it just didn’t feel right to just put one tablet under my tree.  I enjoy forking around under the lemon to loosen the soil and then spreading the bag of whatever on top.  To tell the truth I even enjoy the smell.  A tablet just won’t do the same thing for me, never mind the tree!

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Some little pots I prepared earlier…

August 5th, 2010

Dpmt you just love tiny daffodils?

Remember that layer bulb pot I did way back in March?  Well, the little gems have all popped up and are doing their very best to brighten up dull winter days with their cheerful little yellow flowers!  Don’t you just love it when things work out?  Bulbs can be like that.  Plant and forget, then enjoy the surprise when they do their thing.  Spring really is on its way!

Someting for nothing!

The hydrangea cuttings I popped into a pot when I was cutting back my hydrangeas have all got leaves on them too.  So, plants for nothing!!!  Very pleased with that, if I do say so myself!  And I do!

Another surprise waited down in the back corner of the garden, the old potato pot.  The story here is that while cleaning out my pantry I came across an old potato beginning to sprout.  It was trying so  very hard I thought I would give it a hand and so put it into a big black pot and covered it with some old compost.  I have done this little trick before and it is always worth giving it a go. 

This potato plant will give me a pot of potatoes later

As the plant grows you just cover the poor little thing with soil or compost or hay until you get to the top of the pot.  The potato plant gets into the game by pushing up leaves and putting out roots into the new soil all the way to the top of the pot.  Then you have a potato plant to enjoy, and really they are pretty just like that.  But there is more.  Not at this stage but soon….The potato flowers in spring, spreading roots all the while then dies, and you are left with a pot of potatoes!  As well as the potatoes you get some super improved soil to use in the vege plot.  Talking of which, my broad beans have started getting flowers.  Very exciting!

Happy gardening.

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The February Garden

February 6th, 2010

Only one more month of summer left, but the month of February is often the worst of the lot. My garden is already beginning to show the strain of summer heatwaves and the hottest month is yet to come.

Gardenia

Gardenia

Yet, taking a stroll around the garden this morning I am pleased at how it is looking. Not much in flower at present, although the Abelia has its pretty little white flowers and the gardenia is still blooming. The cistus, native to the south of France, Spain and Portugal has finished flowering and a week or so ago I gave it a bit of a trim back, and now I am happy to see it has put on a spurt of growth and is covered in healthy new foliage.
I have been experimenting over the lat few years, discarding and replanting and trying to collect plants that are suitable for this climate, and can take the heat. I think I can begin to see an improvement in the way my garden is coping. My watering methods have improved also. The roses are still blooming & I am still dead heading.

Tomatoes in full production

Tomatoes in full production

In the vege garden, or should I just call it a tomato patch now, I have stopped tying back and just keep picking and searching out recipies for tomatoes. Lunch now is pretty much the wonderful summer treat of fresh tomatoes and fresh basil on panne bread, lovely!!

Hazel & Waddles

Hazel & Waddles

The ducks have stopped laying just for the time being. But thats ok they will start back up again in a month or so. I have had to use snail bait on the basil, and I can’t put it in a margarine container – no I have to surround each basil plant or there is absolutely none left for me, basil that is not snail bait. The little fig tree I planted in winter is covered in leaves and seems to have settled in quite well, so that makes me happy.

The beautiful Hoya flower

The beautiful Hoya flower

My Hoya has gone crazy and desperately needs my help with direction, so thats a little job I need to attend to.  The wisteria that I planted just a few months ago has discovered a niffty pole to climb up and twist itself about, unfortunately, it is not the pole I wanted it to go up and I will need to redirect it to where I want it to be.  The fushias are all still flowering but they all need to be pruned back as they are getting a little leggy and while I am at I will strike a couple to give to friends.  And the lavender needs a trim back too.  So, looks like a busy month ahead.

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The Restorative Garden

December 13th, 2009

Quiet times of reflection can be enhanced by a walk 'round the garden

Quiet times of reflection can be enhanced by a walk 'round the garden

 

If you are a gardener then you will know that your garden makes you feel good.  I know it gives me enormous pleasure and satisfaction.  When I come in from a good day spent in the garden I may feel tired, but it is the right kind of tired – the kind that comes from physical work well done in the fresh air and in a place I love, not the kind that comes after a string of stressful meetings and a nightmare journey home in the traffic. 

Gardens and plants in themselves are good for our health.  Trees are the lungs of our polluted cities, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen.  They also take up and filter out a number of other serious pollutants in the atmosphere as well as protecting us from solar radiation.  You and I can do our bit by planting suitable trees and shrubs in our gardens.

Our diet can be improved by growing some of our own food.  I know my little vege patch encourages me to eat more vegetables, and there is something enormously satisfying, elemental almost, about feeding yourself in part at least from your own plot, and the fruits of your own labour.  Yesterday I had one of  Waddles &  Hazel’s eggs poached in a nest of Swiss Chard from the vege patch.  It tasted wonderful!   You don’t need a huge amount of space either.  Even in the smallest garden you can find room for some containers.  Herbs are wonderful too fragrant and it gives an enormous pleasure to wander into the garden and take some fresh sage or rosemary  to add to your cooking.My little Vege Plot

Gardening as an activity is also very good for you physically.  It is a valuable form of exercise and works all the main muscle groups while giving your heart and lungs a very good workout too.  I read an article once that stated that you can burn more calories per minute digging than you would do cycling and only slightly fewer than swimming!  I don’t know if I would though with my form of pottering about in the garden.  But it is a nice thought anyway.  Still, after a day in the garden I sometimes have sore muscles the next day – so it must be doing some good.  And unlike other forms of exercise which are an end in themselves and so can become boring very quickly, gardening has an end product.  A product that you can touch and smell and feel! 

a place to pause and ponder

a place to pause and ponder

 

Overall, the quality of life – including mental as well as physical health – is improved by spending time in the garden.  Gardening is therapy and one of the best stress-busters that there is!  Getting out into the garden after a hard day and pottering for an hour, or even just sitting there and looking around, is an ideal way to unwind.  It is wholly absorbing – I often head out into the garden a loose all track of time.  Usually a good thing, although this has gotten me into trouble at times.  But I do know that spending time in the garden is a stress-free activity that forces you to slow down to the pace of the natural world, the pace at which we all lived until very recently in our history.  It is a way of connecting to the natural earth.  Being in a garden, surrounded by beautiful plants, calms the mind soothes and lifts the spirits.  I hope you can find some time in your garden today.

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