Well, after a whole season of growing I thought I’d post a few snaps of my little veggie babies! And share a few of the success stories and the not so success stories as well.
Initially I think I under estimated the extreme power of the Aussie sun. Everything was very slow to start, and what little popped up out of the ground struggled and died. After we hit upon the idea of creating sunshades from some sticks and sunshade material, stuff that popped up struggled on a bit longer before dying!
The final piece of the puzzle I think was the irrigation system as this regularised the watering regime – together with the odd not so blisteringly hot day. Once the seedlings reached a critical size they seemed to fare better so next year I’ll be trying with the sunshade in place from the start.
The carrots and parsnips really didn’t do well at all at first. I planted a whole packet of carrot seeds over several weeks and everything either didn’t germinate or died so quickly I didn’t even see them! I tried again later on towards Christmas and to my surprise a few took hold and hung on. They didn’t get any bigger but at least they didn’t die! After a few days of heavy rain and some cooler temperatures in late January, they really took off – and look at them now!
Parsnips (foreground), carrots in background
The beans were the only part of the raised beds that didn’t have a sunshade. I lost a whole row; no idea why, and a few plants took on a brownish hue, with papery leaves – I couldn’t see any insects or evidence of anything, but it started after I’d put a load of lucerne mulch around them, so perhaps they picked up something from that. Next season I’ll try mulching with something else and watch to see what happens. After a very slow start, they put on lots of leaves around mid January, and are cropping nicely now – I get enough for a meal for 2 every day now!
Tomatoes and beans
I had a few problems with the tomatoes too. During January they started to look kinda odd – the bright green of the foliage went slightly brownish. It had spread to almost all of them before I noticed. I went into a minor panic as I’m determined to be organic, and there are some really unpleasant tomato diseases which can affect the soil for years. It seemed so unfair when I’d gotten new soil in and everything!
Tomato plants, with the affected foliage on the left. Subtle, innit?
I trawled the net and also took a sample to the local garden centre who (after backing away from the sample and refusing to take it out of the ziploc bag!) suggested it might be tomato russet mite. They were really helpful actually, bless them. Got all their books out and compared the symptoms. Everywhere said if you used a magnifying glass you could see the teeny tiny mites – I tried with a jewellers loupe but couldn’t see anything, so I wasn’t convinced. I bought a copper/sulphur dust anyway that apparently can be used on organic crops, though after reading about the side effects of both these chemicals I decide to wear a mask when putting on the dust, and wash all the tomatoes carefully in soapy water before eating them. I hate using manufactured chemicals! But it was that or dig the lot up, and it did seem to work. It’s come back again lately so I need to spend more time investigating why they were susceptible in the first place.
I had some bolting problems too – all the rocket and all the daikon radishes just bolted so fast I couldn’t really save them. The daikon were all leaves and no roots so in the end I pulled them all up and composted them. Sad face. It was an experiment!
The heritage Potimarron pumpkins I planted outside the raised beds have rambled all over the lawn, up the fruit trees and are starting to cling on to the lemongrass! Mr C tried to use this as an excuse not to mow the lawn…until I pointed out that I could lift them out of the way while he mowed underneath!
They taste unlike any other pumpkin I’ve had before. The texture is firmer, and more chestnutty – hence their name – and they don’t tend towards watery when cooked, as does Jap pumpkin.
My biggest success story (apart from the mixed blessings of the turnips!) have been the aubergines. My beautiful glossy black aubergines! So many of them! There must be more than 20 on those two plants:
I’ve found it so relaxing, coming home from work and pootling about in my little garden, seeing what’s grown more during the day, what’s come into flower and what’s ready to pick. And the intellectual puzzles in diagnosing the failures has been intriguing too. Can’t wait for Season 2!
New growth on the Kaffir lime
The salads and the beets