Archive for January, 2013

One year ago today I published my very first blog post, and Penny’s Garden: a harvest beyond my front door was created. One year on, five peer blog awards and 86 followers later – I’m feeling pretty positive about the whole experience.

Thank you to everyone who has followed, commented, liked posts and given advice and tips to me over the past year – I really have appreciated it. So what did I do to celebrate one year of blogging? Like any other birthday – I baked a cake! Not just any cake though – a zucchini cake with zucchinis from my garden and a celebratory garden top.

I’m very excited about what the next year of gardening with all its disasters and successes will hold, and hope you will continue to join me along the way.

If anyone would like to join me for afternoon tea – I’ll be in the garden. 

whole cake 2 whole cake 4 whole cake 6

cake close up 2 cake close up 3 cake close up 4 cake close up 5 cut cake 1 cake slice 1 cake and coffee 3

Previously I’ve always tended to ignore whiteflies as they never seem to eat much from my garden. However this year I seem to have had a huge number of the flies and a lot of plant leaves are showing signs of damage. I have heard, through various readings, that whiteflies love the colour yellow and one way to help overcome the infestation is to make up yellow sticky cards. Seemed simple enough and I thought it was worth a go.

 card 1

card 7 card 6

I cut up some cheap yellow cardboard and placed them into snap lock bags to help protect from rain. After tying them around various places in the garden I sprayed olive oil over the cards to make them sticky. All that was left was to wait. It really didn’t take long – within seconds of putting the oil on, I was catching flies. After 24 hours the cards were full and needed to be cleaned and have the oil re-applied. I’ll have to wait and see for now if long term use helps cull my whitefly population, but it may be worth a try if you’re having similar problems.

 bug 2 bug 1 bug 3

Pumpkin Soup

pumpkin growing

It’s summer. I do realise this. Hot long days which the summer veggies of tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchinis seem to love. It’s the season for salads with crisp fresh lettuce picked minutes before eating. Not quite the time of year for soup… but I seem to have missed that memo.

My golden nugget pumpkin plants have continued to grow well and I was able to have a little harvest of pumpkins. It was exciting just to be able to finally have pumpkins! However there was always only going to be so long before the craving for pumpkin soup started – for me it was only a couple of days.

 pumpkin harvest pumpkin harvest 3

I found a recipe online for roasted pumpkin soup, and decided to try a variation of this. I roasted the pumpkins with fresh rosemary and thyme from the garden and a little olive oil for an hour in their skin (the recipe recommended this, but if you’re using golden nugget I’d try peeling the pumpkins first as the skin is very thin which made it quite difficult to separate from the flesh after roasting).

cook 3

Before and after roasting

Home grown garlic

Home grown garlic

I then fried an onion and a leek with some home grown garlic. I blended this with the cooked pumpkin with some chicken stock. All that was needed then was a dollop of natural yoghurt to finish it all off. It was beautiful!

And what would go perfectly with this? A loaf of fresh sourdough straight from the oven of course! Then I had a meal to please – regardless of the time of year.

soup 1

My soup!

soup 2

Raining cucumbers

It really feels like it has been raining cucumbers over the past week! Not quite a “glut”, but as there are only two of us it really feels like a large harvest. I’m only growing them out the back this year as I had the fence available to place a trellis for the plants to grow up. This worked at first, but all three cucumber plants seem much happier growing up and around the tomatoes as they got larger. I even found a big one that had been hiding on the ground under the pumpkin leaves. I think some pickling may be in order….

Initial growth

Initial growth

cucumber 3

Starting to use the tomatoes

cucumber 11

One big cucumber-tomato mess! Oh well, if it works….

cucumber 7

Around half the cucumbers harvested (others left on the plants)

cucumber 6

cucumber 8 Big cucumber hiding under the pumpkins

cucumber 10

You know it’s summer when…

Dinner can be found in your front yard! We’re at the peak of summer here, with hot dry days and extremely little rain. Harvests from the garden are now a lot more frequent that during December, with enough tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber for a daily salad, and still enough blueberries for dessert! I love this time of year 🙂 summer harvest 1 summer harvest 2

I think the verdict is finally in on my seedling experiment (see previous posts: breaking the first rule of blogging and seedling experiment update) and now I know what to do in years to come. I’d love to show you a photo of the winning tray – which by far was the tray kept under a sunny window, but I can’t as the tray was so successful most of the seedlings are now out in the garden! Instead here are some healthy looking tomatoes, all grown from seeds from the winning tray and even starting to form fruit.

"Sweetie" tomoatoes

“Sweetie” tomatoes

"Florida Basket" tomatoes

“Florida Basket” tomatoes

"Tommy Toe" (left) and two "Sweet Grape" tomatoes

“Tommy Toe” (left) and two “Sweet Grape” tomatoes

Verdict 4

As the spring weather heated up – I did move this tray outside into full morning sun and then back inside at night for protection, which seemed to work well and the seedlings thrived.

Also a very big thank you to Rosalind (of Just Another Beer Blog) who recommended I try small shallow trays rather than just ready-to-plant paper pots. At first the tray was half demolished by snails in the greenhouse, but after I moved it inside the seedlings have grown really well. Particularly the eggplant seedling – I have never been able to grow eggplants from seeds into full size plants before! Now I know for the years to come how to make it happen – thank you!

verdict 5

Eggplant seedlings growing

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Eggplants currently out in the garden

I’ve had a couple of chilli and capsicum seedlings growing – but they have been quite small and are growing a lot slower than the tomatoes and eggplants. Hopefully they’ll get big enough to plant out soon.

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Chilli and friend

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As for the control tray that was left outside open to the elements – I have planted out a couple of tomatoes from this tray, but that was really all and they haven’t thrived like the others. As for the greenhouse seedlings – it was a complete disaster. I have planted out nothing from this tray, and they barely grew after germination. Once slightly warmer weather during spring kicked in, despite leaving the door open during the day and watering daily, all the seedlings died.

So I may not be the best salesperson for greenhouses or paper pots – but at least I’ll be enjoying my very own tomatoes and eggplants this summer (and still hopeful for capsicums) – all grown from seeds. But I won’t be getting rid of my greenhouse just yet – because apparently I’m not the only one who uses it…

verdict 9 Verdict 10


unknown flower

Occasionally things get lost or forgotten about in the garden (probably a lot more that I realise), but this is very obvious this week as the above flower has started to bloom this week – and I have no idea what it is! I can’t remember planting it, and would love to know what it is if someone knows. The plant was there last year, but it didn’t flower, and the leaves have been there throughout the whole year (i.e. has never died off). I’ve checked all my seed packets and also searched online, but can’t find it. Let me know what you think ! Thank you 🙂