Hungry gap harvest...

28 August, 2011

So since my commitment to growing most of my fruit and veg I've been much more aware of what is in the garden and how I can use it. Previously I had taken the best bits of the garden, and if there wasn't much around I'd be relying more on farmers market shopping. But now I'm much more concious of using what is in the garden. There has been a lot of rocket salad consumption, which is no hardship on my part (particularly in a rocket, pear and walnut salad... heaven!!) and finishing up the carrots before they go to seed, although I will let some go to seed as they attract beneficial insects into the garden. Also the first few aspargus spears are coming along which is so exciting as this is the first year I can harvest them.

Lunch today was (another) rocket salad with finely sliced choggia beetroot, goats cheese and watermelon. Delicious! The carrots were for snacking while I made the salad. They didn't last long.
While on the veg front I have been able to work with what's in the garden currently, on the fruit side of it its a waiting game. So I'm eagerly watching the fruit bushes and trees for signs of life. The strawberries under glass are flowering and hopefully setting fruit, and the loganberry is fruiting for the first year.

Meanwhile over the weekend I planted the last of the apple trees (now I have 22 - that's not too many, is it??) and the new cherries (sweet and sour), pear and plum tree. I've been compiling an inventory, which will be a blog in its own right.

All I can say is, bring on spring!


23 August, 2011

After my recent decision to commit myself to growing the majority of my own fruit and veg I clearly was feeling a bit under pressure and had to escape and headed up to Sydney (actually no, I had been planning this weekend away for a while, but the timing seemed amusing). And while I was up there I managed to check out the kitchen garden at Vaucluse House for some veg growing inspiration.

I first found out about the gardens at Vaucluse House by reading about them in one of my favourite gardening books - Kitchen Gardens of Australia. I highly recommend it for gardening inspiration (not to mention envy!).

So of course while I was up north I had to check it out, and it didn't disappoint! It was a great mix of vegetables and fruit with apple trees at the edges of the main beds, and a whole bed of alpine strawberries.

I did laugh privately at the dad who was taking his young child for a wander through the garden while I was there and pointing out the spinach (it was silverbeet) and the turnips (it was khol rabi)...

It did also make me want to try and grow pineapple, though I'm not sure how they would go down in Melbourne. I can but try...

So now that I'm all inspired I just need to get growing!


19 August, 2011

I'm trying to decide if I ought to challenge myself to grow at least 50% of my fruit and vegetables for a year. At the moment I mostly just grow bits and pieces; a cabbage or two here, some tomatoes there. I still rely heavily on farmers markets and to a much lesser extent supermarkets (mostly because I know what good fruit and veg should taste like and I refuse to spend my hard earned cash on crap) to supply my gardening shortfalls.

But of late I've been thinking whether it mightn't be a good idea to grow a whole lot more. With a lot more of the garden finally in a useable state, rather than the weeds, grass, corrugated iron and old tiles that the garden consisted of when I moved in, I've got a fair bit of possible growing space.

So in an effort to try and convince myself that it's possible, I made lunch from the garden. Witness exhibit A: ingredients for garden veg tart.

The tuscan kale and leeks were thinly sliced, the carrots and beetroot were grated and this was all mixed with some margoram and sage and a couple of beaten eggs (from my Oma's chickens) and a dash of cream, salt and pepper. Shortcrust pastry (made in my brand spanking new magimix - I think I have a new favourite appliance) with the base crimped up at the sides as I don't have an appropriately sized tart dish seemed to keep it all in place. Served with a cos lettuce, rocket and avocado salad with lemon juice and the good olive oil (the brand is Nicolas which I used to get at Kingston farmers market but have since been able to get at Leo's), it was delicious.

But that doesn't mean I'll be able to grow the majority of my food. I think the greatest challenge will be in the planning. Like with this year when I'm only just being able to harvest brussel sprouts, and most of the cabbages are still juvenile. What would I have eaten all winter? As much as I love carrots and leeks I don't want to eat them everyday, and what I grew from last year would have run out ages ago.

But that said I think I still want to give it a go. And if worst comes to worst and I fail miserably, I'll still be eating well with whatever I manage to grow.

So it looks like I've talked myself into it. Challenge accepted; for the next 12 months I'll be aiming to grow at least half of my fruit and veg myself. How I'm going to monitor this is yet to be determined (and if that sounds like an out it's not).

So now all I need is to finally get the majority of my seeds which I ordered two weeks ago and am still waiting to have delivered. Then the challenge will begin...

In the beginning...

15 August, 2011

Hi there. Welcome to my blog.
This blog will be my ongoing journey growing fruit and veg in my own backyard in suburban Melbourne. I've been pottering a bit in growing my own fruit and veg over the past few years, and as much as I love growing my own fruit and veg, I think I love reading about it just as much. But despite doing a few (pretty quick and entirely un-thorough) searches I couldn't find any blogs from home fruit and veg growers around Melbourne. And while I appreciate reading about what people are growing in the US, Canada, UK and even other areas around Aus, I really wanted to read about what others closer to home were growing. But, no luck. So I thought I would write my own, and here I am.
I suppose a bit of background info might be appropriate. So here goes... I grew up with my parents and grandparents growing a few bits and pieces of edible plants in their backyards. I vividly remember my grandmother pulling carrots out of the ground when I was probably around 7 or 8 years old, and being amazed that under all that frothy green was bright orange carrots. Also the bumpy cucumbers she used to grow which we always ate for lunch quartered lengthwise with salad dressing. I remember peaches from tree we used to climb as big as my hands; unfortunately that tree had to get pulled out to move the washing line as it was shaded by the next door neighbours trees – a week later they chopped the trees down. So cruel! My parents still grow tomatoes and onions and lettuce and rocket and a whole bunch of other stuff, though now it’s more of a (mostly friendly) competition – I still am adamant that my apple trees will fruit before Dad’s will!
So I suppose this is part nostalgia, and part just not being able to buy really good fruit and veg (particularly fruit). So here goes...
Given we're heading out of winter and almost into spring and the start of the (main) growing season it seems apt to start now. At the moment I've got the end of the winter veg coming through, with leeks, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts and the last of the years carrots being the main contenders. Looking forward the pea seedlings are just coming up, broad beans beginning to flower (though the crimson flowering ones have been going at it since June - just no pods as yet as its too cold), asparagus which is just starting to show itself (guarded jealously for two years, and now finally I can eat it!), and I'm eagerly waiting for my order of this years seeds to arrive (should be any day now). And then I'll really be able to get a start on this years crops. I can't wait!