Monday, June 27, 2011

First Harvest from the Vegetable Garden

It was the end of January by the time we had completed building the four beds for our own vegetable garden. Four blank canvases were ready with a lonely, but thriving Chilli bush in the centre. This Chilli bush had sprung up all on its own, from a seed out of my compost, whilst we were away on holidays!

This Chilli bush has just continued to produce and produce for us for six months now, needless to say pretty much everyone who calls in to our place leaves with a handful of fresh Chillis!


We had missed out on planting for Spring/Summer and it was time to prepare for planting Autumn/Winter produce. I really wanted to try and grow something from seed; in doing this, you really begin to understand the seasons. If you plant seed at the wrong time of the year, it simply does not grow! I know this because I planted some Tomato, Basil, Coriander and Capsicum seeds, (seeds that you are meant to plant at the beginning of Spring for a Summer harvest) at the beginning of February (the end of our Summer season) and not much happened at all!!
After seeking some advice from my friend Toni, The Veggie Lady, she confirmed I was indeed too late for Spring/Summer seeds to germinate. She did suggest, that I could still catch the end of the Summer season, by planting some Summer crops from established seedlings. This proved to be a great success; I was able to plant some good sized seedlings of Tomato, Basil, Lettuce and Silver beet, all together in one of the garden beds and we have enjoyed a continual harvest from these for the past four months.

Summer Crops

Silver beet

Pick again Organic Salad leaves and more Silver beet


Silver beet, Basil & Tarragon

My daughter Molly bought the most thoughtful of birthday gifts for me in March. Gorgeous hand made, hammered Silver spoons, to be used as herb labels for my garden. You can check them out and choose your own from Etsy.

They have given even more character to my herbs, that I have planted in an old wine barrel with my own hand painted sign.


My basil finally surrendered to the cooler temperatures a few weeks back and is no more, until next season. Amazingly my Tomato bushes are still producing, although slower to ripen at this time of the year, the sun has continued to shine, and so we have continued to enjoy some lovely fruit.

Jake picks a feed of tomatoes

Planting from seed for the Autumn/Winter crop was mildly successful. I planted the seeds in recycled egg cartons, in a seed raising mix. My best success was with Snow Peas, Beetroot, some varieties of Lettuce and Green manure to grow in my fallow bed.

Sowing Seed

Seeds sown, labelled, ready to grow! (hopefully)

Seedlings Sprouting (50% success)

Successful Seedlings transplanted to the garden beds

More success has come for me, from planting small organic seedlings, rather than from seed. Silver beet, Kale (dark green wild cabbage) and Baby Beets, which I bought at my local farmers' market for $3 a punnet have all done well.
Whether from seed or seedlings, all four beds were neatly planted by the end of February for the Autumn/Winter season.

Bed 1: Fallow Crop / Green manure from seed
Bed 2: Summer Crops: Tomatoes, Basil, Silver beet and Salad Greens from seedlings
Bed 3: Autumn/Winter Crops: Snow Peas and Beetroot from seed, Silver beet from seedlings, a Pumpkin from wild seed, Celery and Brussel Sprouts from seedlings
Bed 4: Autumn/Winter Crops: Lettuce from seed, Kale and Baby Beets from seedlings

Now it was just a matter of occassionally watering, feeding, weeding and waiting....honestly the soil, the sunshine and the rain have done most of the work.
About six to eight weeks later, we began to see some results and this is what the garden looks like today.

We have enjoyed an abundance of Silver beet and Kale and the Baby Beets are just about ready for eating, the Snow Pea plants are also starting to produce.
The only pest problem we have experienced so far, is some white cabbage butterflies on the Kale, which have left us with some hungry little green grubs, who seem to enjoy the Kale! So I will need to explore some organic options to wipe them out!


Baby Beets and Kale

Baby Beets

Snow Pea Plants producing

It has been both a delightful and rewarding learning experience, growing our own herbs, fruit and vegetables. Whilst we are still needing to purchase the majority of our weekly fruit and vege, we look forward to the seasons to come, when we can grow more and more produce ourselves.

Check out Jane collecting the harvest:

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