24 November, 2011

I hate gardening.

Well, not really. What I hate is birds. Birds helping themselves to my almost-but-not-quite-yet-time-to-put-the-bird-netting-up cherries.


I have been eagerly watching my cherries slowly blushing and turning red. After all the rain we have had of late I have been worried about the tree dropping the fruit, but it seemed as though the fruit had made it through and was just about getting near ready.

I was thinking to myself yesterday while meandering around the garden after work, picking the lone artichoke (all the others are not quite ready yet) and trying to figure out what the hell I was going to make for dinner with one artichoke when I though "Note to self; must net the cherry this weekend..."

But when I got home from work today, there was this...

Not a single cherry was left! No wonder the botanical name for cherries is Prunus avium. Bloody birds! If only they could have waited one more damn day. I was so looking forward to those cherries! The tree is a Stella cherry and the first one I bought, which had lived for two years in a pot and last year had produced its first 6 cherries. They were delicious! I only shared one of those first few cherries, and in hindsight thinking of how good they were I'm amazed at my generosity. Maybe this is cherry karma?? Share or the birds will take them all.

Next year I will be prepared. This year I bought an additional 6 cherry trees which brings the grand total of cherries to 8; 6 sweet cherries (Stella, Simone, Early Burlat, Napoleon, Regina and Merchant) and 2 sour cherries (Morello and Kentish). The sweet cherries, with the exception of Stella, are spread around the front and back yards and are being trained in the spanish bush method which basically means in the first year you cut the tree back to 30cm above the graft, and then each year after you cut back each branch to 30cms. This hopefully encourages the plant to develop a network of branches so by the end of a few years you have a cherry 'bush' about 2m high, rather than a tree. This also hopefully means easier picking, assuming of course you get any fruit at all. The sour cherries are both being espaliered in an informal fan type shape against brick walls of the house and garage. But next year come the first hint of any colour even approaching red on these trees will be netted immediately!

Thank god for the sour cherries; it's the only one I have left.

And I'm determined the birds arent getting this one!!!

Peas please...

14 November, 2011

I finally have peas. I planted peas late this year in spring, not getting around to doing it in Autumn (this was also pre-challenge, which explains my not getting my ass into gear!). I did manage to plant some broad beans and have thus been enjoying broad beans for many weeks now. But peas have been slow going.

In September I sowed indoors in pots Greenfeast and Golden Podded peas. At about the same time I sowed outdoors a purple podded variety that I grew last year and as I didn't pick them regularly enough some peas went beyond nice eating into starchy territory, so I left them on the plants until they dried and saved the seed. The indoor ones germinated well, and I hardened them off before planting them outside in October. The outdoors peas germinated a bit more slowly, but once they managed to climb onto the bottom of the pea support they have raced ahead.

Lately I've been picking the odd pea here and there for eating while meandering about the garden, which is one of the best ways to eat peas, straight from pod to mouth. But that said there is nothing like a full saucepan of peas. However to achive this quite a lot of pods are required. Unfortunately til now said number of pods have been wanting. Until now...

So now I can enjoy sweet little tender peas in abundance. Joy!

Artichokes on their way

11 November, 2011

This year I started growing Artichokes. These plants are amongst the first of the front yard edibles which will be intermingled with the ornamental plants, mostly because they look so gorgeous when they flower. Which is essentially what we eat - the flower before it starts to look pretty, just when its at its most tasty as the part which is usually removed (the 'choke' - that's not trying to tell us something is it???) is the hairy centre part of the Artichoke which if left on the plant becomes the beautiful purple flower.

I have grown two varieties - Imperial Star (cue Darth Vader music - my older brothers' Star Wars obsession must have made some sort of mark on me...) and a purple variety called (not suprisingly) Violetto.

These have all been raised from seeds and now have been planted out into the yard, where they have flourished.

And joy of joys, while I was cheking out the garden yesterday I noticed the first tiny Artichokes forming.

Can't be long now before they hit the pot!

Challenge update...

01 November, 2011

Since I (perhaps unwisely) challenged myself to growing at least 50% of my fruit and vegetable foodstuffs for a year I've been considering how to actually monitor this. Because of course if I don't monitor, how will I know if I've done it or not?

Hence, I've set up some rules by which the 50% challenge will be run;
1. Only fruit and veg eaten at home will be included.
2. % will be based on weight, volume or number of items bought vs grown.
3. All fruit and vegetable matter bought or grown will be documented in the Great Fruit and Veg (not quite) Self-sufficiency Challenge 2011/12 official notebook (yet to be purchased, but I want something pretty and won't settle for the current makeshift 50c notebook from woolies).

Althought I have not yet purchased said official notebook, I have started documenting, admittedly very roughly, the last month of home consumed fruit and veg.

I also think this will help in ongoing planning for veg growing, in that knowing when I started harvesting and how much will help me know what to plant, how much and when. Assuming of couse that in 12 months time I don't decide its all too hard and to pack it all in, of course...

So far I think I'm slightly ahead on the 50% front, however its pretty close. I'm hoping the next couple of months will be pretty productive in the garden and help me to get a head start for the autumn/winter which I'm sure will be my weakest link.

However, I'm hoping that I will be able to preserve/freeze enough produce to help me get through this, and have already started by freezing some of the broadbeans that have been really hitting their strides in the last couple of weeks.

Fingers crossed these little babies will be able to assist with getting me through!