Last week in the garden… it has sure been hard graft, but worth it!

Over the last 2 weeks, we have dug, weeded, mulched, composted, planted out, potted up, and nearly gone potty ourselves! But spring with summer temperatures has arrived with a vengeance – and we wanted to make the most of it. The grounds look transformed, and the gardens are ready for all the new crops (almost!)

The Broad Beans I planted a couple of weekends ago are already twice the size they were when we put them in, helped by the last minute decision to erect a sacking fence to protect them from the vicious winds that were predicted from the day after I put them in. They arrived in their full force, and the Broad Beans were saved, yay!
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The new Climbing Pea garden has been freshly dug and manured, and is now resting before the plants are put in. We were struggling to find somewhere safe to put them from the high winds and the summer heat from the beating sun, but after walking around the whole backyard, we found this lovely spot behind the neighbours flax that makes a good shade and windbreak, plus the fence is 2m high, so just right!

The seeds I have planted are coming up well: As we are predicted to have a severe El Nino season this summer (more heat and drought than usual), I decided to work with the weather, rather than battling it. So, I have planted a huge amount of solanacae and curcubits, as they are both heat loving and drought tolerant to an extent. Tomatoes need a lot of water, but if I keep them in the greenhouse, they will generate some of their own moisture with condensation. As much as I hate using plastic in any form for any reason, it got too messy and expensive growing on the scale we do, to use non-plastic seed trays, so I figured until I come up with a better alternative, at least the seeds are not in them for long, so the toxicity will be less, and I feel good for the fact that at least I re-use and recycle them, so no landfill waste. I am also transitioning from plastic plant labels to other ways of labeling and have trialed using Bamboo pegs (Fairtrade), which seem to be working really well (below):
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The tomatoes are doing great – the first ones are flowering already (below left)! The second lot are ready to go into their final pots, and the third lot are nearly ready to be planted out in their first bigger pots (below right). We are looking forward to lots of tomatoes, as the fourth lot are planted as well, although they are not up yet. Last year we had 20 Tomato plants and it was not enough even for us (we LOVE tom’s), so this year we aim for 100 – that way we hope to have some to spare to give/sell! 🙂

The last of the winter vegetables are ready to be picked and removed to make way for the new spring plants. The Cabbages are hearting up (below left), and the Kohl Rabi that didn’t heart up we will harvest for its leaves for stir-fries (below right), and the Brussel Sprouts I always let go to seed as the seed heads are just like mini sprouting Broccoli heads and are wonderful in salads/stir-frys or soups:
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The Strawberries outside are flowering and starting to fruit up and the Florence Fennel that I planted in Autumn is growing really well and starting to heart up; the Burdock is huge already and will have great roots to dig up and use, and the spinach and Beets are also growing great leaves already. There is also some left over winter Lettuce and cold hardy Greens, that can be used before we need the space for something else – hopefully they will self seed and we will have more next year! The Borage sure self-seeded well you an see the new seedlings sprouting everywhere:

Harvested this week:
– 2 huge bags of Mustard Greens
– 1 bag of Asian Cabbage Greens
– bowl of Kale + 1 huge bag of mixed Kale
– bowl of Collards + 1 huge bag of Collards
– bag of Sprouting Broccoli and other Brassica seed heads
– bunch of Leeks
– overwintered Carrots (don’t think I will try this one again, as it didn’t really work!)
– bunches of Celery
– a Savoy Cabbage that didn’t heart properly – it got too warm (started going to seed)
– Spring Onions
– overwintered Potatoes (replanted the sprouting ones and ate the others!)
– some Winter Lettuce/Salad Greens
NOTE: remember that when you store your vegetables, use Clean, Green Environmentally Friendly, Non-Toxic Bags, that are also Biodegradable!! 🙂

** This week we managed to give 4 huge bags of greens to the Community Trust to help feed families and the elderly in need. This was our motivation in the beginning, to feed ourselves and to help feed others. It is amazing to see it all coming to fruition!
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Elsewhere, the signs of Spring are everywhere. The perennial herbs that died off over the severe Winter are coming back to life – we will soon have Echinacea and Comfrey again! For ideas on how to use these two, see my earlier blogs.

The Potatoes are coming up again ready for Christmas dinner, and the last of the Jerusalem Artichokes are picked and waiting to be used before going soft:

And the Berries are looking fit for a fantastic crop – the Blueberries are doing well in their big clay pots in the greenhouse, the Elderberry that I took cuttings of a while ago is now all rooted up and planted in soil and nearly ready to go into the orchard, and the Blackcurrants are heavy with blossom – if even half fruit up it will be great!
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Once again, wherever you are and whatever you are growing, peace be with you and may your crops grow and your bellies be full of good home-grown food! Suz

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

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