Hiya – issues with blog:

Sorry to not have posted for a while, but it seems that as I put a LOT of pictures in my blogs instead of all writing, that my free space has been used up and the blog will not let me insert any more photos of gardening. That makes the blog virtually useless to you all in my book, as you need to be able to see, as well as read. So in the meantime, I will be posting updates on the Facebook page for my blog, which has the same name:

“Garden to Kitchen With Suz” and it can be found here:

https://www.facebook.com/gardentokitchenwithsuz/

What we have been up to in our gardens over the last week…

I ended up planting the rest of the Peas out in the rain yesterday… and after 4 hours in the rain getting soaking wet and quite cold, with my cat looking at me like I was crazy to be in the garden in the rain! She always comes out to “help” me plant etc., but she was not so keen do so yesterday, and only lasted about 10 minutes looking decidedly annoyed and increasingly bedraggled, until she gave up and went inside. I planted two more lots of Peas on top of all the other others I already have put in: these ones (below) are Sugar Snap Tall ones – at the back, and Snow Pea Kennedy Dwarf at the front, so that both lots get enough sun; I had thought that putting up rows of string for the Peas to climb up and glass car windows to block off the front, would have been enough to keep the birds out, but alas that was not to be…
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I also planted a few Alderman Tall Climbing in another garden, and put stakes up at each end of the row, with string woven between the stakes for the Peas to climb on.
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After getting to the back porch absolutely soaked to the skin and with water in my shoes, it was SO absolutely wonderful to find that my hubby had the fire going and had run me a hot bath and had a freshly brewed herbal tea ready for me!! Sadly after getting warm and dry, I then had to go out again later on and get wet all over again (but thankfully not quite so much), to put bird netting up and whatever else I could find – including the spare cat cage, just to keep birds from climbing under the strings and ripping up all the newly planted Peas to get to the worms underneath… grrr! Now, I don’t mind sharing our food with other living creatures, as they need to eat to, but I reckon that the least they can do is leave some of the food for us too! lol. 😉
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Earlier on in the week, I planted the first of the Beans outside, in the hopes that we would not get any more frosts. It was a bit of a gamble, but so far it has paid off. I have planted 4 different lots of Beans, the ones below under the black net hoops are Hestia Dwarf and Borlotti Fire Tongue and the others are Rocquefort Dwarf, Rocdor Dwarf, and Bergold Dwarf. The Runner Beans are now planted and coming up and next month I will plant the Lima Beans, which need much warmer weather to grow.
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The next job will be to plant all the Companion plants with the Beans and Peas! Plants that go well or should be avoided with Beans and Peas are listed below…

French/Bush (sometimes called ‘Dwarf Beans’) like being planted with or near:
Beetroot
Potatoes
Celery – the 3 above are the BEST companions for French/Bush Beans;
Carrots
Cucumber
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Eggplant
Lettuce
Peas
Parsley
Runner Beans
Strawberries
Sweetcorn
and Tansy deters insects.
French/Bush (or Dwarf) Beans dislike being planted with or anywhere near:
Chives
Fennel
Garlic
Gladioli
Leeks
Marigolds
Onions

Runner Beans like being planted with or near:
Carrots
Cauliflower – the above 2 are the BEST companions for Runner Beans;
Cabbage
Chicory
Cucumbers
French/Bush (or Dwarf) Beans
Lettuce
Peas
Parsley
Radish
Savoury
Spinach
Sweetcorn
Also strangely like – human hair clippings, cat and dog combings, vacuum cleaner dust, old ripped up newspapers etc; as they like the mineral properties in these.
Runner Beans dislike being planted with or anywhere near:
Beetroot
Fennel
Garlic
Gladioli
Kohl Rabi
Leeks
Onions
Sunflower

Lima Beans like being planted with or near:
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Cucumbers
Lettuce
Locust Tree
Majoram
Peas
Parsley
Lima Beans dislike being planted with or near:
Fennel
Garlic
Gladioli
Onions
Sunflowers

**NOTE: Broad Beans are different again and I will feature these at another date.

Peas like being planted with or near:
BEST companion is 2 rows of Peas to 1 row of Potatoes
Carrot
Radish
Turnip – the above 3 are VERY good companions (but plant Carrot on sunniest side)
Can be grown as a trio with Beans and Sweetcorn, but allow plenty of room for each
Cucumber
DO NOT plant Peas in the same place 2 years in a row
English Peas dislike being planted with or near:
Garlic
Onions
Shallots


The Broad Beans that I planted out a couple of months ago are doing very well, flowering fantastically and should produce pods of juicy Broad Beans in the next few weeks. I actually finally managed to get rid of the Chocolate Spot, so I am happy!
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And the Peas that I had planted a few weeks ago, are also doing well; the climbing varieties – Snow Pea Goliath and Blue Shelling – are growing up the mesh fence and getting a good hold. They have so far survived the wild winds, but as you can see below, I have also had to put down all manner of bird protection to keep them safe!
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The Dwarf varieties of Peas – Petit Provencal and Sugar Snap Dwarf are getting flowers and should be producing pods of fresh Peas in the next couple of weeks!
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Also planted out just over a week ago, is the Celeriac. I had attempted to grow Celeriac previously and had not had any real success. But on doing a lot more research and reading many very old gardening books, I have discovered that Celeriac is really meant to be a biennial vegetable, which is harvested in the 2nd year. I had previously been going on the information provided by the seed sellers, which had said that Celeriac took around 120 days to grow. So, bearing all the new information I have found in mind, I have planted Celeriac again, with the intention of not harvesting it until its 2nd year. I will keep update periodically how it is going. 🙂
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I mentioned in the last blog that we had invested in a wood chipper as we were going to be trialing using wood chip as mulch from now on. It has so far been working very well, as the photos below will show you! I planted the new Globe Artichokes at the edge of the only ground Potato patch (for some reason the dreaded wireworms have not attacked just here so badly – we wonder if it could be that the strong smells from the Macro hedge puts them off? We sure hope so!)
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I had been wanting to mulch the Silverbeet/Chard and Celery garden for some time, as plants I did not want in there were getting away on me (what you probably term ‘weeds’!) and the vegetable plants really needed to be kept moist, especially as I was going to be planting Onions and Beetroot in there as well. I cleared the ground of any unwanted plants, then put down a good layer of new wood chip mulch, then planted out the Onions and Beetroot plants. It is looking good and holding moisture.
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I then had to ‘bird-proof’ this garden as well :(. I used fresh cut tree logs to prop up some netting while the plants get established – but I ran out of net and logs, so had to use anything else I could find to deter the birds, like fencing standards & trowels!


Elsewhere in the gardens, as the weather has been both wet and warm, things are growing great and the next lot of large and ongoing harvests of vegetables is just sitting around the corner… as you will see from the photos below. The key to being self-sufficient on your home garden plot, is keeping things growing and maturing all year round, and the key to that, as I keep saying over again – is  plan, Plan, PLAN!! This year we planted cold hardy and frost tolerant spring growing crops in autumn and planted them out, overwintering them with frost cloth when needed and mulch protection so they got a “jump start” on growing for spring, and it is working well:
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After being told you can’t let your weeds grow with your carrots and getting sick of “weeding” Carrots for every year that I have grown them so far, I am trialing just leaving them this year and seeing how much of an effect the “weeds” growing with them has. So far, the size and shape of the thinnings has me hopeful its not much! One of the new Potato gardens is doing really well and the Potatoes are forcing their way up through the layer of mulch and hopefully they will be ready for Christmas. 🙂
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The seeds and seedlings planted over the last couple of months are also doing very well, and some of them need to get into the garden pronto as they are starting to show signs of needing more room to grow and nutrients, but I am being careful to not plant anything frost tender until the end of November, just in case of late frosts.
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As we are expected to get El Nino conditions this summer (for us that means even more hotter and drier than it usually is), I have tried to plant a few more heat loving plants this year and I have some South American, African, Indian and Asian fruit and vegetables that I have not tried to grow before like: Okra, Luffa, Caija, Jicama, Kiwano, Asian Gourd, African Squash and more. I have also tried some melons! 🙂


The Elderberry cuttings that I took at the beginning of spring are looking amazing! From what I can find out, they should start producing fruit from next year and they should also be big enough to be planted out at the end of summer when they lose their leaves. It will be so fantastic to finally be able to grow our own Elderberries 🙂
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One thing I am not very happy about is the lack of germination of the popping Corn – I have planted out 24 kernels now, and had only 1 germinate, which did so straight away, so that to me makes me think it is a seed problem, not wrong conditions…
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Although, the Painted Mountain dry corn which is an Heirloom crop, is coming up fine! So I am at a loss to know what is up with the Popping Corn, but it is not good.
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Legume/Pulses trials – as promised. A few of you who attended the workshop I took at the Riverton Harvest Festival earlier this year, head about the trials we had been doing to grow things other than “vegetables” that we use to live on, like Soy Beans, which we will be planting in the next week. Other legumes/pulses are already sown.

Because we are attempting to be as self-sufficient as possible on our property and we don’t eat meat, we buy a lot of bulk organic pulses and legumes from the Middle East/Asia/India. I started doing research last year on the type of environment these need, and it seemed we are ideally suited to grow them here, which was great news! But as they take up so much room and do not yield a lot of seed, I have decided this year to trial trialed a range of them to grow, and they seem to be going very good so far. I will update their progress as they grow, until we harvest, dry and thresh these.
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So far, the Puy or French Green Lentils, the Chickpeas and the Mung Beans have all come up well, the ordinary Green and Brown Lentils have just been planted, and some Adzuki Beans and even more Mung Beans are soaking to be planted out too.


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The two Blueberries are loving their new homes in big pots, and one of them has already flowered and is now growing fruit, the other one is a later fruiter. It seems I stuffed up when I bought them, and got the wrong variety – I got “Rabbiteye” ones which are not so frost hardy, and down here in the freezing snow, ice and frosts, they cannot really be grown outside. So I’ll have to get some more non-Rabbiteye ones.


THIS WEEKS HARVEST:
We have harvested the following – (but sorry no photos, for some reason the blog says it has no more room for photos, even though I have deleted some to fit them!)
– 2 huge bags of Collard greens
– huge bag of Kohl Rabi leaves
– huge bag of Flowersprouts and Brussel Sprouts leaves
– 2 bags of baby Brassica Sprout heads
– 2 handfuls of Mustard greens
– 2 handfuls of Carrot thinnings
– 2 bags Kale
– 2 bags Chinese Cabbage – Pak Choi and Tat Soi


As usual, whatever you are growing and wherever you are doing it, I wish you ever success in your gardens. Peace and blessings, from Suz X

© 2014-2015: “Garden to Kitchen” with Suz – All content on this blog is Copyright.

NZ Labour Weekend – well it was sure a long weekend of “hard labour” in the gardens!

When I checked the food stores just before Labour Weekend, I was happy to see that just right on cue, the rest of the summer growing root crop tubers were getting sprouts. We sorted out the smaller ones to plant for next season’s crops and quickly used up the other bigger ones in dinners after removing their shoots. Once root crops start to sprout, they go all soft and lose their nutrients and texture/taste, as they put all their effort and goodness into feeding the new “plants”….IMG_8094 IMG_8095

This is the new Potato and Yam patch that I made and mostly planted – yes we have had to cat and bird proof it, as the cats are not too keen on keeping the birds away, they would rather sleep on the bed all day! The gap in the mulch is not planted yet, because as we find more sprouting potatoes in the last basket of stored spuds, we will plant those ones out as we get to them, which will increase our harvest period.
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I also learned something from reading an old Organic Gardening in NZ book that I bought cheap, 2nd-hand from a local book shop. To increase your yield of potatoes, cut your seed potatoes up so that there is only 1 sprout left on each piece you plant. This way, the potato seed puts all its energy into that one shoot/plant and produces larger potatoes than if you plant a whole seed potato which will then concentrate on making heaps of shoots/plants – producing a lot more smaller, less usable potatoes.


We have invested in a wood chipper too, as in the recent storms and high winds all our pea-straw mulch had blown away. People were saying that bark chip or wood chip was better and did not blow away the same, and I had also been looking into the Back to Eden videos online (see here: https://vimeo.com/28055108) and considering what they are doing too and the benefits that we could obtain by incorporating a few of their most basic principles into what we are doing here.

Although I do not agree with all of what they do and say (there is no concept of companion planting or potager gardening – where everything is grown in together as it is in nature, and weeds are considered something bad rather than just plants in the wrong place with a good use – usually for medicinal or compostable purposes), I did find the idea of bark/wood chip to be interesting enough to try. We decided with such huge gardens, buying bags or trailers of it was just not economical, especially as we have many trees and hedges on our property that always need cutting and we had previously been paying to dump what we could not burn in the fireplace or wood stove/oven. We reckon now that it will take less than a year to save the money that the chipper cost us in lack of dumping fees and not having to buy bark!
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Above is just some of what we managed to chip and lay for mulch on our Labour Weekend; it is nearly the whole “big ground garden” (as we call it), ready for the next lot of plants. The Rhubarb is already looking happier now it is being kept more moist.


Elsewhere in the gardens, the first lot of Potatoes that I planted in another raised bed garden, are growing well and have now pushed through their first layer of grass clippings that we mulched them with. We will continue to build this up with  more and more as the summer goes on, to make the plants grow taller and set more potatoes.

We had attempted to grow Potatoes in the ground here, but soon found the property was infected with the dreadful wireworm and we lost most of our first crop. Since then, as much as we dislike using anything at all not organic on our property, for the Potatoes, we have had to build raised bed gardens and line them with weed matting in an attempt to keep the wireworm from attacking and destroying our crop. This has been mostly effective, and we also Neem. We put Neem granuales down when we plant the seed Potato sprouts, then again on top of this, and again on top of the soil used to cover them. Then after each layer of mulch, we Neem again, as the rain and watering will wash the stink of it down into the soil and mostly keep the critters away.

We had tried the ideas listed under organic controls for wireworm (as our property is organic), but none of them really seemed to work for us. We have found Neem the best so far. Some sites also suggested “mustard gasing” the wireworms, but I had friends who tried this, and it also did not work. They are very hard to get rid of :(.

It does not work to dig up the soil to disturb them if you are growing Potatoes, as sadly Potatoes hate having their roots disturbed and you will lose most of your crop if you do this. It did not work growing Potatoes in the warm here, as the wireworm still were just under the surface and causing havoc. One of the only things that DID work somewhat (other than Neem), is planting Calendula and Marigolds in with the Potatoes, both of which keep soil borne insects and nematodes away from plants. Now that the Potatoes plants are established and it is warm enough for the Marigolds and Calendula to grow and flower, this is our next job – to plant them out all through the Potato gardens! If you would like to try some of the natural methods recommended for wireworm for yourself that did not work for us, see this link:
http://www.planetnatural.com/pest-problem-solver/garden-pests/wireworm-control/

The Swiss Chard and Silverbeet that I planted out a couple of weeks ago is already growing well, we have added onions to the mix and soon will put in beetroot. There is also Celery and Calendula growing in the same plot, as we companion plant.
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I will mulch this ground too as soon as the Beetroot is in, as that helps the soil to retain its moisture – something all these plants, especially the root crops needs over summer – and also as it helps keep the weeds down, as you can see them all growing back already! As much as I dislike the term ‘weeds’ I do use it now and again, but I prefer to call these plants ‘misplaced’ and remove them to somewhere more appropriate 🙂 And no-one really wants couch grass competing with their vegetables in their food gardens, although it does have a medicinal use. I also have a favourite saying that I often trot out, “I don’t have any weeds, I only have plants that I don’t know how to use – yet!”


Our newest greenhouse is proving to be a big boon! It has so far withstood the equinox gales of winds around 160km/ph and many strong storms and gales. So it has done better than the last one! But then this one we did tie up/tie down so that not even a small hurricane could move it, lol – but perhaps a big one might?! It has I think 9 tonnes of transport strops holding it to the ground, and 2 rows of bungy tie-downs holding the plastic onto the frames. These greenhouses are $300 ea from TWH (The Warehouse in NZ), but we got 2 for half price and have been rapt with them. I do not however think they would still be standing if not for the alterations!

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The 2 tiny wee weak strings that it came with, along with the piddly plastic stakes can be seen holding the opening windows down (as the wind rips them open when its bad). We bought the biggest, gruntiest, heavy-duty steel tent pegs that we could find, and tied the transport strops onto them (they go in the ground 30cm and are 6mm wide) and we used logs from the forest and bricks to seal up the edges of the greenhouse. Ok, so when I want to get into it, I have to jump over and under the 2 rows of bungy cords to do so, but it’s a whole lot better than it blowing away – again!

PHOTOS TAKE PRE- LABOUR WEEKEND OF THE NEW SEEDLINGS:
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The difference between last weeks growth (above) and this weeks growth (below) is phenomenal and it is easy to see why we are loving our new greenhouse so much!
PHOTOS TAKEN POST LABOUR WEEKEND SHOWING THE HUGE GROWTH
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You will see our containers of Curcubits growing in the lush, moist warmness of the greenhouse – which in the deep cold south, is a Godsend. We would not usually be able to plant them out until after mid-November when the last frosts finish, if we did not have the greenhouse, and that means they can’t grow long enough to get big.  The Solanacea are also going really well, the 1st lot and 2nd lot of Tomatoes are already flowering, and once again they would not be able to be put outside yet. So we are looking forward to the best summer harvest we have had here in years! 🙂


As to the rest of the crops, the Broad Beans are flourishing with flowers, but they have got Chocolate Spot as it has been SO wet and cold the last couple of weeks. And nothing I have done has improved the situation either, so it will just have to stay there. Thankfully it does not really harm the plants, and I removed all the really badly affected bottom leaves next to the damp mulch and soil, and put them in the rubbish bin. I have done all my usual fungal infection treatments to change the alkalinity of the fungus, but alas it is just too wet and nothing worked. I tried Baking Soda Spray, Vinegar Spray, Seaweed Spray and even eventually gave them Copper Spray – which did have the most effect, and it seems to have slowed the spread. I could have also used Neem Oil, but I try to save that for the fruit trees, so I did not use it.

So “chocolate spotted Broad Bean” plants we shall have this season! Like it or not. :/ At least the spotty leaves does not affect the plant or the beans that we are looking forward to, and they are still growing very well as there has been some sun as well.
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The taller varieties of climbing Pea’s I planted out a few weeks ago are also doing well, and although they have also suffered from a bit of dampness, it has not so far translated to leaf mould or spot, thank goodness. I have companion planted the Peas, and are just waiting on the Turnips, Carrots, Radishes and Onions to come up. The first 3 are fine to be planted near Peas, but keep the Onions furtherest away, and if possible plant your Onions near your Carrots, as it helps to deter Carrot Fly.

The smaller Pea (dwarf varieties), I have planted out amongst the other plants in the raised bed gardens, as most of them do not need staking or netting to climb up. The few that do, I managed to slide a piece of mesh in-between 2 of the gardens and stake it along both sides, so that Pea’s grown on either side of it can climb up. 🙂

I also had to put stakes lying down across the baby Pea plants as the birds have tried their best to destroy them. If you look at the nice photos on the left of everything all tidy and the bug barriers in place, then the one on the right a couple of days later, you will see everything strewn everywhere. The little blighters had dug up all my Peas to get to the worms, and left the plants lying dying in the sun. Thankfully I had an urgent thought to get up early and check my Peas, or I would have lost them. The poles/stakes lying cross ways over the garden over the Peas seem to be working. 🙂
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The last of the Winter Mesclun and Brassica’s are about to be removed:
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You might notice the winter Mustard going to seed here, that is because I allow them to do this for various reasons. 1 is that the bees LOVE the flowers of the Brassica family, 2 is that it allows the Cabbage Caterpillars something to feed on which draws them away from my eating crops – and everything has a right to eat, right?! and 3, is that I collect the seeds from my Mustard to get my own Mustard seeds that I use as seasoning, and I also grind them up to make Mustard paste as well. They are useful!

I also let the Chinese Cabbage (Pak Choi) go to seed as well, as we pick the seed heads and eat them as baby sprouting Broccolli – they taste just the same, look just the same and are far easier to grow and more prolific! We also eat the flowers and flower heads, they are yummy and very healthy. I have covered these ones as we protect the plants that we are eating/going to be eating, and let the bugs feast on the ones we don’t need to eat. That way we all get to share the good of the garden. It does not bother me if the flowers poke out of the net a bit, as the bees LOVE them!


Under the covers of White Cabbage Butterfly and Bird netting (below), other already planted summer crops are really getting underway. There are Strawberries forming everywhere you look and they are producing prolific amounts of flowers. The lovely Florence Fennel is looking really gorgeous, the Silverbeets are nearly ready to pick and the Burdock will not be long before I did it out of the ground to get to its precious root and replant another one, that is coming along in a pot to take its place, although in a slightly different part of the same garden. The next lot of Savoy Cabbages are hearting up to be picked and the other winter planted Brassica’s are really starting to grow now. I always like to get a jump start on spring by planting Brassica’s out over winter as although they mostly stay dormant, they do start taking off as soon as the weather warms up a bit and then you have a lovely spring harvest waiting for you!

Potatoes and Borage are coming up everywhere amongst the other greens and as soon as the green are picked the Potatoes will be able to take over. My next mission is to get Marigolds and Calendula planted through this garden to protect the plants from all sorts of nasties, and especially the Potatoes – from wireworm. There are newly planted Tat Soi and Chinese SlowBolt Cabbages growing too, but these ones are tiny as they were only planted this spring. But they are fast-growing so they will be up and away before the ground is needed for the bigger, longer growing vegies.

There is still even a little of the last Miners,Winter Lettuces and Mesclun Greens in the garden, which we are appreciating in our salads until the new ones grow bigger, and the Spinach is really coming into its own too now as the cold winter is all gone. I find that although it IS frost hardy and cold tolerant, it does like a bit more warm to grow really well, so this time of the year and late summer thru into Autumn is best 🙂
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You may notice a bunch of herbs growing in this garden above, amongst the Brassica’s and other green vege. I do this kind of companion planting to help the plants improve their health, to deter troublesome insects and generally grow a better crop with a large yield. The best herbs to plant with the Brassica family (which includes Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Turnip) are listed below:
– Dill
– Coriander (not near Fennel)
– Chervil
– Savoury
– Mint (but not near Parsley)
– Rosemary
– Sage
-Tansy
– Chamomile
– Oregano
– Thyme
– Hyssop
– Yarrow
& Orange Nasturtiums only – Yellow ones attract Aphids for some unknown reason!
NOTE: DO NOT plant Rue anywhere near Brassica’s/Cabbages, etc., they hate it.

Also, don’t forget that encouraging beneficial or “good” insects into your garden will help you deal with the “bad” or problematic ones. Ladybirds and Praying Mantis are 2 great ones for dealing with Aphids, and Lacewings if you are blessed enough to have them, are great too. Remember that if you kill the “bad” bugs you will also kill the “good” bugs so a balance between the 2 of them is always best. I always like to think of Nature as working best without intervention and when everything is being used together, as it is in the world outside of our carefully tended “food” gardens.


A last minute tour of the rest of what is happening in the gardens…
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Great excitement – if you can see them! (the little green specks in the middle of the potting mix) are our latest lot of container Carrots. We always seem to run out of Carrots so we are growing them everywhere, in anything. We also have the dreaded wireworm and they seem to attack Carrots as well as Potatoes and other rootcrops, so it pays for us to – as much as possible – plant our root crops out of the ground. :/

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The Comfrey is about to flower too, which is pretty and amazing. I have never had Comfrey flower before! I first got Comfrey on the coast, and along with many of our plants, it did not make it the 900km journey back to home when we moved, so this is the first year my next lot of Comfrey has decided to flower. They look like they will be beautiful flowers.  I must admit that I may have prevented the poor Comfrey from doing its flowering thing last year tho, as I cut it back pretty hard to make fertilizer. :/

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The White Cabbage Butterfly netting is proving to be just as effective as usual, as you will see when I post up my harvest photos a little later in this blog. I don’t know what I ever did without the stuff – oh yeah I do, I lost heaps of my plants every year. Yes, it cost a bit to buy, and no I don’t really like using non organic materials in our gardens, but for the benefit it gives us, I really don’t feel like I have much choice. We put is over nearly all of our Brassicas, but always leave a few of the older ones that are going to seed out, both to draw the Butterflies away from the main crop and to give the caterpillars something to eat, as I don’t feel good starving any animal! lol.


What else have we been up to around the gardens? Well, it’s GINGER planting time again!! Every year in mid-winter, I buy a Ginger rhizome from an organic store somewhere and put it a warm, dark cupboard in my kitchen. I watch for signs of it waking up and starting to shoot, and then I grab it and cut it up and plant it (well the shoots anyway), and then chop up the rest and pickle it to use in cooking. 🙂 I have had such success with my Ginger, that this year I have ordered a Tumeric rhizome as well, from Russell Fransham at Subtropicals, and just I can’t wait for it to arrive.  I will post more later on in the year about how successful I am at growing Tumeric.

Each of the little shoots you can see below growing out is a potential new plant. I cut a generous portion of Ginger root (rhizome) off the plant with each shoot, and place into a ceramic pot filled with rich compost and keep it moist and in a VERY warm place (this year my greenhouse) all summer, and then when it starts cooling off at night, I bring it inside by the fire. when the leaves start to brown off, I dig it up and harvest the root. I have not yet managed to grow enough to keep my own root to grow from the next year, but this year I am going to try. I will see how it goes! 🙂
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Good start to edging/mulching and under-planting the Orchard – the first one I did was the Monty’s Surprise Apple. The herbs I am going to put under it are nearly big enough to dig in, I think that will be next weekend’s job! If you want to do this, the best herbs/plants for deterring insects and diseases from Orchards/Fruit Trees, are:
– Chives
– Marigolds
– Garlic
– Comfrey
– Lemon Balm
– Mustard
– Nasturtiums
– Spinach/Silverbeet
– Tansy
– Yarrow
NOTE: some are more just companion plants that will help the trees grow better.


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I am so blessed, a friend that came to visit over the weekend and see the gardens, bought me a Solomon’s Seal plant! They are great to use medicinally and even the young shoots can be eaten as a food source (the older ones not, they can be toxic).


My long awaited box of herbs from Millstream Herbs arrived at last on Thursday! I usually try to grow all my own herbs, or beg, borrow, steal (after asking!) from my friends. But sadly most of my friends down here destroy their “weeds”, which I usually want to save for medicines!! And some herbs/weeds that I want to grow, you simply cannot buy seed of them, not for love or money. So, I had to purchase some.
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Sadly the couriers broke the Solomons Seal plant that I had ordered from Millstream (forgetting that I had my friend bringing me one from her neighbour – so now I have 2!) and the beautiful branch of flowers had snapped in half and it seemed such a shame to waste it, so from the flower garden I picked some of the bulb flowers that our only previous tenant who had bothered to garden, had planted and left here. This is the arrangement I came up with; it smells and looks so pretty on our table inside:
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Finally, we get to the harvest for this week!
The highlight was these beautiful Cauliflowers, the last 2 surviving from our winter crop of 20 that we planted. We harvested 6 of them, the other 12 sadly rotted to death in the freezing cold and ice. I don’t think we will bother to grow so many in the dead of winter again, but then other years when it was not SO cold, they did alright.
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We also harvested a bunch of Kale (Cavolo Nero – my favourite)
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A large Savoy Cabbage (we tend to try to grow them more as leafy Cabbages than hearting Cabbages as we use the leaves to make Rice Rollups (stuffed Cabbage leaves) and so having lots of little leaves in a tight heart is not very helpful for this!
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We usually pick off all the larger outer leaves and use them, and leave one or two on the plant to allow the Cabbage to carry on growing and produce even MORE leaves for us to use and pick off and eventually it will heart up and we will cut it off near the bottom of the stalk but before the last outside leaves; we then use the heart for stir-fry but as we have left the stalk and bottom couple of leaves, it will re-grow again and give us little baby Savoy  Cabbages with wee sized hearts, a bit like a wrinkly green Brussel Sprouts! The key to living off the land, is use everything you can. 🙂
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Some baby Carrots (Carrot Thinnings) off our next crop, which is comprised of White Belgium, Giant Orange, Paris Market and Berlicum. There are also some Bartowich Parsley thinnings in that lot as well. These are the carrots that I grew over winter to try out, but I did not think it worked very well, as they did not seem to grow at all; but now it is warming up, they are taking off and they don’t seem to be stringy or tough! So, it might have worked better than we thought, and if so, we WILL do it again. 🙂 [The over-wintered Carrots are seen below, with the Onions growing between them.]
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We also harvested the below, (but I forgot to take photos as I was SO busy):
– a big bag of Collard greens
– a big bag of Asian greens
– a big bag of Kohl Rabi leaves
– a smaller bag of Brassica seed heads (or what we use as sprouting Broccoli)
– a smaller bag of mixed Kale
– a large bag of Silverbeet
– a good bowl of green salad (Winter Mesclun, Spinach) etc. for our visitors lunch


Once again… whoever you are and where-ever you are and whatever it is you are growing, I wish you prosperity in your gardening efforts and peace in your life. I trust you enjoy getting the earth beneath your feet, the sun on your face, the smell of fresh picked produce on your hands, and the benefits in your stomach! From Suz X

© 2014-2015: “Garden to Kitchen” with Suz – All content on this blog is Copyright.

This week in the garden – spring is still here, but it seems to be having a rest today!

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Although it is decidedly chilly out today, everywhere you look, the signs of spring are still there – the fruit trees are blossoming and as it is the first year we will (hopefully) get fruit from the orchard, it is all very exhilarating to watch them blossom. And with the daffodils are sprouting up all through the lawn, one thing that we can be thankful of is the previous tenant who had the fun and foresight to plant bunches of daffodils all through the lawns, they spring up in spring and always cause me such delight!
They are so random but really precious 🙂 IMG_8040

Elsewhere in the vegie gardens, all the signs of spring are there to see as well. The Strawberries are flowering madly and starting to grow us stunning strawberries and the Florence Fennel is growing bigger bulbs by the day, plus the very first Burdock will soon be big enough to dig up and harvest the root; its all very exciting :). There are small chew-holes on the Burdock leaves, but nothing to worry about, as we don’t use the large leaves, only the smaller ones in salads and the roots for a medicine. I don’t panic about insects – if they are causing no harm, we allow them to stay in the garden as they are part of a natural and healthy eco-system. We find very little insect damage with our Companion Planting, and we have hardly any diseases either. 🙂 IMG_8076IMG_8075

The new seeds spring and summer vegetables and herbs are mostly sprouting, the seedlings that are already planted are growing and everything is looking good…

I know that other people in warmer more northern areas of NZ already have all their solanacea and curcubits in the garden outside growing happily, but down here in the cold south we feel very happy to just have them actually sprouting so early this year! Until I can find an alternative to re-cycling plastic plant pots from earlier purchases from the garden centres, I am always happy to get my plants out of them and into the garden, although we cannot put our summer frost tender plants outside just yet.
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There has not been an awful lot going on harvest wise in the gardens this week, so we have reverted to using some of our stores of food – both dry store from the cool room in the laundry out the back of the house, and from the freezer from last season. It is important to keep all your food stores checked, especially the ones in dry/cool store, as this is the time of the year that they can start rotting and/or going to seed. I always use up the ones that look a bit suspect (starting to go soft or starting to go to seed) and then use the ones that have already gone to seed, to grow more crops. 🙂

With the Yams, I removed the roots from the still hard larger ones and cooked them, and saved the rest to go into the garden to grow more. The Potatoes, I cut slivers off them where the eyes are sprouting and put them in a tray of water for a few days, then plant in the garden. I use the rest of the Potatoes left over and mash any mushy ones and boil and roast the still hard ones. I check every couple of weeks for rot, and use the ones that are going soft and keep the harder ones to store for later use. We had thought we did not grow enough Potatoes last year, but we still have a half a basket left, so if we do not eat too many, we might just make it through! (see below)
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It is a bit of  a funny time of year in the garden; even if you have grown all year and all through winter, it is about now when the winter grown crops are not quite ready and the spring ones are still a while away. It is a tricky time, so reserves are good. We have quite a bit that is nearly ready, so in a week or two our stores will be all overflowing yet again! It is such a wonderful feeling to be growing what you eat. 🙂
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We have continued to harvest all our Brassica heads and sprouts – we always leave our Brassica’s in the ground until the very last minute and only pull them out as we have to plant more in their place. This way the flowers attract the bees to the garden and we continue to get crops to eat! I have continued to get at least 2 pickings a week which is 1 meal each worth of the Brassica heads and sprouts with baby leaves, which is well worth keeping the plants for. All this helps us be self-sufficient, by using everything we grow and attempting to waste nothing – (see below left).
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I have also used up some of the left-over winter greens from the fridge that we picked last week, which is something I would not usually do (I try to pick only what we can eat fresh and immediately for each meal), but at the end of each season I do take plants out ready to make space for more, and often they have produced more than what we can eat at that time, so I preserve, pickle, ferment, freeze, fridge, store and give away. This time we had left over Mustard, so have been eating them up. I often chop them into pieces and freeze in enviro-bags to use later – see below right.
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There have been a few other things going on in the garden, with more seeds sown, pricking out, planting, pruning and general spring tasks of continuing to clear up after winter and prepare the ground for upcoming crops. It is sure a very busy time! 🙂 The early Potatoes are looking really good and the Broad Beans are growing like crazy! They have their first flowers on too, which is great – that means only a few weeks until we can have Ful Medames for breakfast again (a spiced middle eastern dish).

The Carrots are also coming up around the Winter Greens, and will soon be ready to start picking. And when they come out, it is in with the Dwarf and Bush Beans! My next job is to plant Kale and Marigolds among the Potatoes now they are up, and to put Silverbeet through the Broad Beans. We always companion plant our gardens. We have found that it increases both our yield and the flavour of the plants, plus it increases disease resistance and insect infestations – it is win/win for us, all around. IMG_8072IMG_8077

I will also sadly have to start removing the last of the Brassica’s too, as the Celeriac is about ready to plant out and the Onions and the last of the Garlic need to get in, and they will be planted all together. They will also provide protection from bugs for the Strawberries which are next to them, that will have Lettuces inter-planted with them, as Lettuces and Strawberries increase both the size and the juiciness of both of the crops. We did this last year for the first time and were SO impressed, we will be doing it every year from now on! We also plant Silverbeet with our Strawberries and Marigolds dotted around will help prevent pests and diseases as well. A good reminder that if you need a Companion Planting guide, this here is the best one I have ever seen – and if you find anything that is not on there, just add it in yourself:
http://www.idepmedia.com/images/free_media/idep%20media_poster_companion%20planting%20chart_eng_web.pdf

Have you got a glut of Mint, or any other refreshing herbs?  This is something else I came up with too: Cut off all your spare Mint and put it in glass jugs of filtered water in the fridge to make a cool and refreshing drink for when you are hard at work in the garden… it not only tastes great it is very invigorating too, which you need when expending energy!

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I think that are all the updates for this week, so that being done, I will get back out into the garden and keep planting! I have a lot of seedlings that need my attention.

Wherever you are and whatever you grow, may your gardens and lives be blessed.
Suz

© 2014-2015: “Garden to Kitchen” with Suz – All content on this blog is Copyright.

How it all started – No. 2:

A continuation of our setting up to be self-sufficient: Trials and Triumphs!

After getting the initial winter vegetables planted (Broad Beans and Brassica’s – see post 1 in this series), and some dirt dug up for the garlic, next we put up a new greenhouse that we had bought with the little bit of left over house purchase money – BUT, the storms/high winds promptly ripped out of the ground in one piece and flung over the fence and smashed down all over the neighbours back yard into a thousand pieces (we literally cried – as we could not afford another one). After this, our next mission on the list was the bare-rooted fruit trees for the orchard (see further below):
5 New Greenhouse3 smashed up greenhouse

As we had arrived so late at the new house, we did not have 6 weeks prep time for our fruit trees, so made the most of what we had. We dug up the holes (round NOT square – this helps the roots grow evenly),  put some smallish drainage rocks in the bottom and duly composted over them well and then put some soil back on top of this to protect the roots. After a week we went and picked up our pre-ordered Heritage fruit trees from the Organic Co-op that we are members of, in Riverton. It was pouring with rain that day, so we left them until the next day, and then in they went. We staked them up as we get very strong winds, and tied them to the stakes with soft fabric tie (which reminds me we need to replace this as it has rotted in the severe weather we get here). We were very proud of ourselves!
16 Putting in the Orchard 17 Putting in the Orchard 18 Putting in the Orchard 19 Putting in the Orchard 20 Putting in the Orchard 21 Putting in the Orchard
We chose 6 trees that grow well in cold areas for very specific reasons, they were:

Apple – Monties Surprise & Kidd’s Orange Red
Plum – Billington & Satsuma
Apricot – Morepark
Peach – Black Boy
Cherry – Stella

… and we intend on getting another couple more fruit trees every year until we can’t fit any more! This is the first time we have grown fruit trees, so it will be a learning experience for us. We have been vege gardening for years, but as we were only renting, the only fruit we ever had previously, was if there were any on trees on the properties.

This is one of the apple trees later on in summer, looking beautiful! No fruit though, not usually any the first year after planting, but we are looking forward to some this year.
22 The baby Apple Tree we planted last winter has sure grown!

Garlic: The next thing to tackle after the fruit trees, was the garlic. We LOVE garlic and use it copiously in everything nearly, so thought that 50 bulbs would be plenty. Even though we are not fans of digging up the ground and prefer a more permaculture way of growing, with the backyard here having been in grass for the last 80 years and a river-bed 800 or so years ago, there was no way we could grow anything in a 30cm thick deep mat of tangled grass roots, so we had to degrass the top and plough, nothing else for it. This of course brings up “weeds”, which we see as misplaced plants. So we had to spend some time removing them and/or moving them to other places! It also helped us to find out exactly what we could do with all the plants we did not know how to use, and a couple of wild plants and foraging books later, we learned we could eat dock and dandelion and chickweed and plantain and many other garden “problems”!.

The garlic went in not on the shortest day as it was meant to as we were not even here yet, but it did go in at the end of August, which doesn’t make much difference. The main thing is to get it in before the end of spring, or it will just race off to seed too quickly. It is important to keep garlic well watered, or it will not swell into large bulbs. We used to flood the garden every 2-3 days until it was like a lake, and let the water go down, but we do have very free draining soil. It is all gone again in about an hour. Experiment with yours, and see how much water you have to give it to keep the soil wet. Also, garlic does not like competition, so keep the plot weed free. As the garlic does not really have any pests or diseases, it is one of the few crops we single planted – ie: all in one place.  I don’t think we would do that again, but as it was only our 2nd garden to go in and we had nothing else to plant it WITH at the time, it just suited us better that first year. This year we are planting it in with all the other vegetables and flowering plants that like it as a companion. The main thing to keep it away from, is peas and beans – they hate it. We eventually edged the garlic garden with logs from the forest (we can get Wood collecting permits from old logging sites for just $10 per month), and we use the wood we get for all manner of things! It was just too hard to keep the grass from encroaching.

25 Garlics growing 26 Newly weeded garlic garden 27 Edging the garlic garden 28 Great Garlic haul - the last 29 A great haul of garlic! 30 Hanging Garlic to dry 31 The whole Garlic haul - 30 bulbs picked out of 50 planted 33 Gigantic Garli bulb - taking up nearly all my hand!
NOTES for garlic:
You must completely dry the plants. Lay them out in the sun or a warm place until they are totally dry, then tie/plait/hang them up in a cool but dry place to keep until use. We have turned the laundry off the back of our house into a “cool store” for all our winter store food that likes to be kept cool but dry. It has worked really well so far. Only thing is we did not plant enough garlic after-all and we ran out, so its 100 bulbs this year! 🙂

The next blog in this series will continue on again with our set-up for self-sufficiency. I hope you have enjoyed these so far and that they inspire you to give your dreams a go and pick up a spade and fork and go to it! It is very hard work and there are lots that can go wrong, but nothing can ever keep someone who refuses to quit down for long!

GOODBYE AGAIN FOR NOW:
Once again, it is a privilege to share our journey with you, please share yours with us as well. Peace and prosperity in your gardens and homes. From Suz

© 2014-2015: “Garden to Kitchen” with Suz – All content on this blog is Copyright.

What to grow in cold/cooler areas:

Cold hardy/frost tolerant vegetables for cold seasons anywhere Deep South:
NOTE: Some of these only like to be grown in the frost, others will just tolerate it.

You may be bemoaning the fact that you live in a cold/cooler area, but make the most of it, celebrate it! Grow things that others can’t. There is nothing worse than being in the blazing sun and not being even able to grow a lettuce in summer, lol.

29 A great haul of garlic!31 The whole Garlic haul - 30 bulbs picked out of 50 planted33 Gigantic Garli bulb - taking up nearly all my hand! 130 The biggest Broccoli is also almost ready to pick123 Krackin' Kohl Rabi!     124 Kohl Rabi cleaned and prepped111 Cauliflower getting bigger! 127 The MOST amazing Savoy Cabbage I have ever grown...92 First picking of new Peas!142 The BEST Celery I have ever grown!146 First crop of Rainbow Carrots

Most of these plants below will do well in spring, autumn AND winter (and some in summer also), so plant them now, unless they are winter specific – this is marked:

Broad Beans (only flowers frost tender, like cooler weather)
Broccoli (dislikes summer heat)
Brussel Sprouts (only grow in cool – but take long time, so plant early)
Cabbage – esp. Asian varieties (Savoy does best in Winter)
Carrot (as long as tops protected)
Cauliflower (dislikes too much heat)
Celery (under cover)
Chinese Cabbage/Chinese Greens
Collards (handle extreme hot AND cold)
Florence Fennel (likes cool, but protect from frost)
Garlic (plant longest day OR later, it doesn’t really matter as long as its in by spring)
Kale (taste sweeter after frost)
Kohl Rabi (plant early enough for bulb to form before freezing weather)
Leeks (can overwinter in the garden)
Mesclun (Make sure they are “Winter” Greens) and esp. Mustard does really well
Miners Lettuce/Corn Salad
Onion (check variety – some can overwinter as long as it does not freeze)
Parsley (one of the MOST cold hardy plants on earth)
Parley Bartowich – rooted parsley (also tolerates cold)
Parsnip (taste sweeter after frost – so best in Winter)
Peas (as long as flowers are protected)
Radish (European Winter types)
Rocket (under cover)
Salsify/Scorzonera
Silverbeet/Swiss Chard (Silverbeet is less cold hardy than Spinach)
Spinah (Very cold hardy)
Swede (Frost hardy/Winter only)
Turnip (Grow year round in cool areas)

[MUSHROOMS – also grow well when its not hot, and even when it is cold.] http://www.mushroomgourmet.co.nz/index.php/grow-kits

And don’t forget the citrus! Meyer lemon is extremely cold tolerant, but you will need to protect it from the frosts. We grow all our citrus on a sheltered porch in the sun:
388 Lemons ripening up

** Remember that some varieties may not be best suited to the harsh growing conditions so check before buying/planting. Also, if you have a more sheltered or warmer micro-climate, or covered cloches and gardens, you will be able to grow far more than those listed above. Also a greenhouse if it is in your budget, is invaluable.

I have also found this really great site which I thoroughly recommend reading; it is American yes, but the only difference is they use F but then the danger point is -31C which is colder than most of NZ ever gets, so most cold tolerant plants are ok here. https://www.botanicalinterests.com/articles/view/26/Frost-Tolerance-of-Vegetables

SO….
Enjoy your growing adventures, and please remember to share them with me if you have found my blog inspirational! Don’t forget to check out my facebook page too, it has the same name as my blog.
Peace, Suz.

© 2014-2015: “Garden to Kitchen” with Suz – All content on this blog is Copyright.

How it all started – No.1:

We wanted to be self-sufficient and had a 1/4 acre. People said it could not be done, I disagreed! I have never been one to tolerate “you can’t do that”. So here is our journey. We moved in the middle of winter – to SOUTHLAND! Never ideal for gardening, but we were determined and it wasn’t our choice, that is just when hubby lost his job; we had no choice but to move back “home”. This is what we started with:

00 What we started out with!1 The planting starts!

Thankfully I had the foresight to plant Broad Beans a few weeks before the move, and I had some Brassica’s (cold hardy) coming along as well. I had also dug some holes in the half frozen ground when we bought the house (before moving) and put Kale in the holes, this turned out to be a lifesaver! We lived on Kale and old potatoes we found buried in the ground from a previous tenant for quite a few weeks, lol:
0 Winter seedlings to go in

Even though Broad Beans are meant to be frost tolerant, they are not in Southland! We had to put frost cloth around them AND keep watering the ice off during winter:
2 Broad Beans3 Broad Beans podding up

NOTES:
When you are growing in cold climates, the MOST important thing is keeping the soil warm and trying to prevent it freezing around your plants. Many plants can handle snow and frost, but if it freezes, it literally explodes your plants from the inside out. It freezes the water in the cells of your plants, and they go “boom” but without noise! :/

Mulch, cover, do anything you can to conserve heat. Also if your plants do suffer an attack from frost, get the hose out before the sun hits and melt the ice off them, this will literally save their lives. It is the sun hitting them frozen that frost burns plants.


Planting out the Brassica’s was next. I am not usually a fan of weed mat as I hate anything inorganic in my garden or anything that might be toxic, but needs must and we had to warm up the freezing ground as much as possible; so here goes!
5 Brassicas with heat attracting weedmat6 Brassica Garden7 Brassicas growing8 Brassicas growing gigantically!

Our first ever crops from our new house!
8 Brassicas - Chinese Cabbage9 Brassica bowl4 Broad Bean closeup12 Brassicas for freezer

We also used the wee covered cloche we had to start off some other plants as soon as it began warming up, and we put it in the sunniest winter spot, but the lids blew off and broke so that was not too helpful, as then we had late snow :/. Some plants did survive though, thankfully!:
14 Winter cloche under snow! 13 Winter Cloche
Come summer, we moved the Silverbeet and Spinach that overwintered to the larger garden and put Potatoes in the Cloche and they did really well there, which was a great help while we got the rest of the gardens and grounds sorted for more crops:
15 Potatoes & Parsley in the Kitchen Cloche

The next start up blog post will follow on from here. I hope you enjoy our journey into self-sufficiency as I post more of what we did, the trials and testament to hard work. Peace to all, Suz

© 2014-2015: “Garden to Kitchen” with Suz – All content on this blog is Copyright.