My last garden post got us up to the end of June. So here we go racing through the months. Here’s what it looked like at the start of August.
Most of my garden photos are taken while I’m waiting for the beds to fill. I think this was the first time in about a month I had to top them up. I spent the first five minutes of that checking for weeds and pulling them, and then I had nothing else to do but take photos. That’s how low maintenance this system is! It helps, of course, that I bought soil in that managed to be mostly weed seed free so I have had very little in the way of weeds in the garden beds. A true luxury.
Here is a not very good photo of the citrus trees down the fence.
Lemon in the middle, mandarin on the right, closest to the house (hidden by the other plants) and orange on the left. I am planning to eventually remove all of the other plants but I hadn’t the heart to this year – the little honey eaters just love those canna lillies and there’s so little else growing in the garden, I couldn’t give them up yet. I did get rid of the agapanthas, I hope successfully.
Here’s a close look at the lemon. You can see she struggled a bit with the cold
As soon as the soil warmed up her leaves turned green again and she’s shooting like bill-o so I am reasonably sure it was just too cold there, since she wasn’t established yet.
Behind are potatoes. I didn’t have anywhere much to put them so I thought I’d try above ground. I can report that they grew very well, although I haven’t harvested yet. The bags are probably good to harvest, they died off pretty quick because they got hot and dry. The mesh ones are only just starting to die back now, at the end of December. I will definitely be doing the mesh circle method again.
And here is the poor avocado
Struggling. Not sure if you can see it from here but it was already putting out new leaf shoots, so I wasn’t too worried. I did give it a much better shade structure, including a hat:
Under which is appears to have weathered summer very well. I did buy some stronger shadecloth to put over the top but it doesn’t appear to need it so I’ve left it.
I don’t appear to have photos of the legume bed but here is the front bed, still churning out the greens. Cos lettuce threatening to go to seed if we don’t eat it quick enough, with more seedlings ready underneath. I put the potted baby spinach in the ground after a while, where it flourished and grew up.
Silverbeet and beetroot.
Gailan (what a champion of a vegetable) and more lettuces underneath
And about as much bok choy as we could handle
We ate so so many stir fries in August, with the greens barely cooked. My favourite way to do it is to blanch them and then just lightly toss them in garlic and ginger. Serve with shittake mushrooms – we have a big packet of dried ones I am working my way through. If you want you can mix a spoonfull of potato flour with water and then cover them with it in a wok, to give it a glossy, creamy coating. YUM. Also we added them, blanched, to just about everything. In Chinese cooking this is called ‘breaking the rawness’ and it is a very good way to get rid of the sulfuric taste of brassicas without losing the tenderness, as well as to make sure you don’t have limp bok choy in things.
Speaking of brassicas, the back bed started to come into its own in August
As soon as it got properly cold they shot up, and by August there was no stopping them.
I did get a little bit of cabbage moth on the cabbages, but so few that I was just able to rub them off and it was fine.
However, even though the soil was cold (and they were loving it), the aspect of this bed means it gets full sun from about 11am till whenever it is the sun sets. And that afternoon sun is HOT. So even as the sprouting broccoli was setting heads, it was already flowering.
No dramas. The flowers are still totally edible, and they weren’t grainy and seeding. It just meant I had to check on them often and we did eat a lot of broccoli. Not a hardship. It was so tender and lovely and we had it in everything, blanched as I said and then stirred through with butter as a side, in various fritters and bakes, everything. So good.
We also ate the leaves! I planted Tuscan kale but the seeds I had were from a friend. I suspect they got cross pollinated because what I thought was kale – with the ripply leaves, and the little sign I put next to it saying ‘kale’ sprouted as broccoli! So we ate that too. However, I think the leaves of the broccoli plants were more tender, myself. I think next year I might just plant a whole bed of broccoli and we’ll eat the lot of it. Of course, that probably accelerated the flowering, so next time I will stagger plantings.
Here’s what the beds looked like a month later, in October
Brocpocalypse. They’re taking over! I also took about a million pictures of them because I find the flowers so beautiful, despite being so utilitarian.
And the bees LOVED them which I was happy to encourage. We were still eating them at this stage although the ones in that last photo above would have been too woody. The ones on the morning-sun side of the bed were more edible, still
You can see that the wood is starting to grey after a winter’s weathering.
Here’s the Avo. Its leaves fell off all in one week and then the sprouts took over
It also put up a bunch of flower buds, which I rubbed off
And the pea bed
The other side was looking sadder
You can see I planted lettuce seedlings around the edges but they essentially went straight to seed.
The front bed is bolting, too
Let’s not forget, I took these photos on the 2nd of October. It’s still early spring here. But just too too hot. And windy! I put that bamboo screen up to protect the silverbeet, which was getting blown over. A week later I put up[ shade over all of the beds but it’s still a losing battle, given the combo of the sun and the wind. Even with the wicking beds, I couldn’t plant new seedlings. They would shrivel up within a day. The established plants can still get enough water, but they get the beating sun too.
Here’s the front bed all shaded over, two weeks after the previous photos, in late October.
If I do shade cloth next year, though, I’m going to have to make it more structured. There’s so much wind that these hoops get pushed back and forth and the plants exposed.
I didn’t harvest a single carrot, beetroot or parsnip. They were getting close to big enough and then in about a week they bolted. In fact I know it was in a week, because I went to Bali in mid october and when I came back… poof! That’s ok. The bees and other insects loved the flowers, too. While I was in Bali, the peas did this:
Yikes! Like I said before, I got one risotto’s worth of harvest out of this. And they were delicious. I think if i’d harvested them a week before I would have gotten a bit more.
And the back bed did this:
And without the shadecloth it looked like this:
I pulled out most of them a
I left some brassicas to be shade and also because the bees were still loving them – and now the birds are loving the seeds. I may as well tell you right now that the tomatoes etc were NOT a success. It is just too hot. As of November, I have given up gardening in the beds until it gets a bit less burny. I think that until the trees grow, it’s going to be a losing battle getting anything out of the beds between, say, late October and Early Feb. I might be able to extend the season with shadecloth and other structures, but I’m going to consider it like a snowy winter, just too extreme for growing. That’s ok, it gives me more time to sew and go to the beach, and to plan and execute other household tasks. Including getting more trees in, but that’s a story for next time.
Speaking of trees, though, here’s two weeks of new growth on the avo
And one plant is loving the harsh sun: the bay tree in a pot