Tag Archive: vegetables


Another year has gone by, and while most people find New Years a time of reflection of the past year and what they want to gain in the next – I find myself doing the same thing for the garden. What worked? What was a complete disaster? What do I need to plant more of this year? What do I want to try?

As the permanent plants and trees become larger in the garden I find myself needing to adapt and change where I am able to plant vegetables to still gain success. My knowledge grows each year though, which is something to be happy about. A good way of seeing how far I have come is a look over previous photos of how the garden has grown and changed since we first moved in four years ago. So here is a look over the evolution of the garden – I recommend all gardeners do the same thing; I promise it will make you smile. Happy New Year everyone, and for those who are gardeners – I wish you a large bounty and fast-ripening tomatoes this year 🙂

From the "for sale" adds - the garden when we first moved in

From the “for sale” adds – the garden when we first moved in

Initial work

Initial work

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Year 1 - initial brick work

Year 1 – initial brick work

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

ev 9

Year 2 - making my mark

Year 2 – making my mark

Year 2

Year 2

Year 2

Year 2

ev 14

Year 3 - Spring

Year 3 – Spring

Year 3

Year 3

Year 3 - Summer

Year 3 – Summer

Year 3

Year 3

ev 19

Year 4 - Spring

Year 4 – Spring

Year 4

Year 4

Year 4

Year 4

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The front garden - looking lush & in need of a weed...

The front garden – looking lush & in need of a weed…

Out the back - starting to take over...

Out the back – starting to take over…

The garden has had a real burst of life over the past couple of weeks – especially out the back which is steadily becoming quite overgrown. I’m still waiting for the flash of ripe-tomato-red to arrive in the garden, but alas nothing so far. While summer salads may be awhile off yet, the garden still provided me with a weekend lunch – zucchini fritters with a side of freshly picked beans.

Purple king climbing beans

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zucc fritt 5

Today's pickings

Today’s pickings

I’m generally renowned for putting zucchinis into almost every meal, but zucchini fritters would have to be my favourite. So simple too – flour, eggs, 2-3 zucchinis and fetta cheese – yet an extremely tasty outcome. Really enjoyable and hopefully the first of many summer meals provided by the garden.

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One of the main things I had to learn about renovating was to be extremely flexible. At times I did struggle this, however overall now that we’ve finished – I think I did (reasonably) ok. A fair amount of tantrums occurred though when the garden was invaded. Over the past few years renovations have been mostly inside, however at the very end (back in September) all the weatherboards were replaced outside and the eaves etc were sanded to make the front look… well…stunning. The only problem with this was the garden underneath was trampled in the process. To be fair to my partner Chris, I was warned of this pretty much the day we moved in, so I’ve really only planted annuals and a couple of bulbs. But still – when the time came I guess I’d put it so far in the back of my mind, that it was hard to watch.

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I sulked for a good childish amount of time, but then given free rein to start building up the garden again did spark me out of my mood. I thought about it for weeks, trying to work out how to form a “screen” between the two new pillars. I thought about different grasses, small shrubs and even lavender came to mind. However a walk about our local streets revealed the inspiration I needed – my favourite native correas! It seemed very me and I loved the idea instantly.

What was left - a new blank canvas to work with

What was left – a new blank canvas to work with

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I dug through some compost under both windows and planted my “Alba” correa (had been growing in a pot out the back) between the pillars. I found a couple of cheap mini “Alba” cuttings too which I planted either side – hopefully as they grow larger they’ll continue to form a screen. I divided a grass that I already had growing there and added a lot of annuals around the front to hopefully give the areas a burst of summer colour.

Initial planting (in September/October)

Initial planting (in September/October)

Under the bay window I also planted three correas – this time a “Canberra Bells” as well as a couple of my “Relexa” cuttings I’ve been growing. Again annuals were splattered around to hopefully give a burst of life.

Initial planting (September/October)

Initial planting (September/October)

I’ve now also moved a few spring seedlings out there too – including dwarf beans, capsicums and pumpkin seedlings (a bit hopeful I think, but worth a try!). Now that it’s been a couple of months, everything has grown and the area is looking a lot better (see photos below)

Even though the garden went through a very negative patch, and a lot of my spring bulbs were nowhere to be seen this year – things are now back to positive and on the way up. Thankfully rennos are now finished, and I can go back to protecting plants just from snails – at least they’re smaller.

What the garden now looks like - photos taken this week

What the garden now looks like – photos taken this week

The garden now (photo taken this week)

The garden now (photo taken this week)

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The garden has been trying its hardest over the past month to leap well and truly into spring. Not only are flowers blooming, but my favourite spring veggie has been ready to harvest – the broad beans.

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I have really been looking forward to the broad beans forming as I wanted to try a recipe for broad bean risotto that I tried last year which was fantastic. It’s from “Grow It Cook It” which is a really great book with recipes on basic things grown in the garden (most of my favourite recipes are from it). This recipe has lemon & parmesan in it too which makes the flavour pretty awesome, but I vary it a little by adding a lot of other veggies alongside with home grown celery. Although it does use a lot of broad beans – most of the crop, it’s worth it – tastes great! Thankfully the beans are still growing and I’ll get a couple of more meals from them again before spring is over. I’ll probably just end up making risotto again though!

Crop 1

Crop 1

Crop 2

Crop 2

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The result!

The result!

Yes – I have a purple cauliflower. And while it is tiny, and probably won’t get much larger than this – it has made me very, almost childishly, excited to know I have a purple cauliflower in the garden at the moment. It’s actually called “Purple Sicily” and I grew it from seed, which has also made me pretty happy as I’ve never managed to grow a cauliflower from seed before. Now all that’s left is to eat… caulie 1 caulie 2

Spring is well and truly here and the remainder of the winter veggies are fading fast. I’ve already harvested heaps of celery and have been freezing a lot of it for future use. The broccoli is long gone, the broad beans are almost ready for picking, and for the first year – I have had cabbage heads ready for harvesting!

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I have tried to grow cabbage before, but haven’t had much luck. Wombok seems to grow easily enough – but with other types like savoy or red cabbage I seem to only end up with outer leaves and no tight heads (I really grow red cabbage as an ornamental plant! Just love the colour in a mainly green winter garden). However this year I have had a few savoy cabbages grow much better that any previously and last week they were ready for cooking. Although small, I wasn’t deterred and thought I might try a couple of different cabbage recipes for some fun (and it beats cabbage soup – sorry cabbage soup fans!)

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Given how much I love Japanese food, I thought I’d stick with a Japanese theme and make gyozas and okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes). The gyozas were made mainly with pork mince and of course – my home grown cabbage. The recipe did say to use wombok , however I did say I was “experimenting” with cabbage. The recipe (from the cook book “Yoshoku”) also included ginger, garlic, soy sauce, mirin seasoning, pepper and spring onions. Teaspoon of the mixture in a gyoza or wonton wrapper and then they’re ready to go. They are supposed to be deep fried, but I gave them a shallow fry in a little sesame oil instead (made me feel as though they were slightly healthier…as long as I’m convincing myself).

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The okonomiyaki were made with shredded cabbage and some fresh celery from the garden, along with the rest of the pork mince (but you can use chicken), grated carrot, shitake mushrooms, ginger, and then some flour and eggs to bind it all together. Then they are fried like any other pancake which made them quite a quick and easy meal.

CABBAGE 17

Overall the meal was a great success! Quite rich, but it felt like a real home grown treat. The only problem was the meal, and the cabbage, was gone too quickly! Good inspiration to grow more cabbage next year…

CABBAGE 13

Spring is here!

Towards the end of winter I planted out my first round of spring seeds. I’ve been keeping them inside next to a north-facing window and had hoped the warmer temperatures and protection inside would convince the seedlings it was spring. It worked! The seedlings are now a couple of weeks old and are looking pretty happy.

Now that they are larger I’ve been very tempted to plant some out into the garden, but the weather is still a little cool and fluctuating… so I might wait till the weather gets a bit more settled. For now, as with every year, our lounge room has turned into a mini nursery – but it certainly has started the spring excitement at our place!

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The front yard cleared
The front yard cleared

As we head into May and the temperatures start to quickly decline, I was reminded that the window of opportunity for my usual autumn overhaul will soon be closed. A day to complete my usual overhaul of the garden was essential. Weeding always seems to me to be the housework of the garden – really doesn’t take that long, but it’s amazingly easy to find ways of putting it off. And this year was no exception – the garden was almost looking like I was growing only weeds! Once I had gotten around to clearing all the now dead summer plants and removing all the weeds (and filling two compost bins in the process), I was left once again with the semi-empty template on which I could start to plan and plant out the winter garden.

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With each season and year that passes the better I get to know my plot. I know which areas get the best sun, or struggle to get any sun, where the snails will surely hunt first, or what is first viewed upon entering the yard, or from each window. Because of this it was already clear in my head where each seedling needed to go to get the garden to work this year – all that was left was to make it happen. After turning over the soil a little and adding some compost – the seedlings went in easily and extremely quickly. I’ll find out in the coming months whether a bit more time and structure to my planting would have paid off…

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The back patch however did take a bit longer to plan out in my mind, as I’ve never planted winter veggies there before. Needless to say the raised veggie patch we’ve planned is still not in, so the space is still mine to roam free with. I’ve spent many mornings staring at the patch with a cup of coffee drawing different ideas in my head. As usual the part of my brain that seems to yell “plant everything!!” always seems to win.

I’ve planted a row of broad beans at the back, which I can tie against the cucumber trellis still up from summer. In front of this I’ve put a mixed row of cauliflower and broccoli seedlings, finished with a mix of wombok and kale seedlings at the front. If I can get things to survive away from the snails long enough, I think I’ll be the best maximiser of the space and sun.
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I added some sugar snap, snow and sweat peas into pots with stakes to help them climb and topped everything with pea straw. Then I’d done it – both front and back autumn overhauls completed in a day! Absolutely buggered, all that was left was to head inside to find some wine…

Autumn Pickings

egg 1

Now well into autumn – the hype and lustre of the summer garden has, for now, completely gone. My free time has been spent weeding, starting off the winter seedlings and clearing out all the dead summer plants. Although this is usually a “down” time in the garden, it can at times be disappointing compared to what the garden looked like and the harvests I had in summer.  Despite this, I have been encouraged and comforted by the continued small harvests throughout autumn of my eggplants (which have been a huge success) and capsicums.

I know the glory of these plants also won’t last, but for now the weekly harvests of supermarket sized eggplants seems just too good to be true! These have also far outdone any of my previous attempts at growing these veggies and have helped fill in the gap until the winter harvests start.

 egg 4 egg 5 egg 3 egg 6 egg 2 cap 1 cap 2

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Last winter I plated 8 different types of potatoes to determine if any type of potato is better suited to container gardening (and therefore more prolific). In the last couple of weeks I’ve finally harvested the last bag of potatoes (Inova – was probably ready to harvest in early Feb, but distractions meant I only dug them up in March) and I can now report on what I found.

Inova - the last harvest

Inova – the last harvest

Unfortunately there was no clear winner out of the 8 – the Pontiac, Ruby Lou, Coliban, Desiree and Sebago all did quite well, and there were only grams between their finishing weights. However the others (Inova, Nicola and Dutch Cream) weren’t really that far behind – only around 100g lighter finishing weight which isn’t much! In number of potatoes they ranged from 15-20 larger ones per bag, or up to 30 smaller ones depending on the type. All still smaller than what you’d commercially buy in the supermarket. Although I will always strive for and wish for larger harvests, when there are only two of us to feed the small collections are ample and means there is never any wastage.

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Dutch cream

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Desiree

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What I hadn’t realised initially was the harvest range I would end up with. The first potato harvest was back in October last year, and the harvests carried through gradually until this month! 6 months of potatoes – really not what I had expected. So while I can’t recommend a certain type of potato to try out in containers – I would highly recommend trying a range so that you can enjoy gorgeous, buttery home grown potatoes for half a year. That’s what I did and I’d definitely do it again!

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