October Garden Share Collective

Hello, this is my first post for the Garden Share Collective. I’ve already found so many fantastic blogs through this and I’m excited to be a part of it. This post was meant to be posted a week ago, but for various reason’s that hasn’t happened so here it is now. For those new to my blog, I’m from Brisbane, Australia and beginning to set up my first ever garden. September has been a very busy month for us. We just managed to get the garden beds in place for planting, and boy, have I planted LOTS! We have a four raised bed crop rotation system with our brassicas and salads, legumes, roots and fruiting veges. We also have a pumpkin bed and a melon bed. We also have a strip near the fence which we’ve dug into the ground and are still in the process of edging. The first lot of planting I did was on the 7th of this month, where I planted out some tomato seeds in some seed trays on our made-from-scrap seed table. The next weekend we finished off the garden beds and planted a whole heap of things. In the seed raising trays we planted capsicums, russle lupins, more tomatoes, lettuces, broccolis and cauliflowers. Here is our seed raising table on the 13th 20140913_153803   You can see in the background the raised beds and the fence which isn’t finished. The plants on the table are herbs we bought (and some dying tree seedlings, but that’s a story for a whole nother time) 20140920_091329 20140920_091424 By the 20th some of the seeds were starting to show! There was more growth the next week. 20140927_143621 The broccoli was starting to grow and a few capsicums were starting to show. 20140927_143633 A few of the second lot of tomatoes I planted were showing and some of the russel lupins 20140927_143548 And the tomatoes grew taller. This weekend I started transplanting a few and have moved the seed raising trays into the beds. I think all the other seeds are growing fantastically there, these might too! Most of our initial planting was done direct into the garden beds. I spent quite some time getting all my labels together. 20140913_111137a   In the legume bed I planted some beans and peas. I planted a blue lake climbing bean, a baby sun dwarf bean, climbing snow peas and chickpeas. By the next weekend one of the beans was beginning to show and grew two leaves in a day. 20140927_144111a The garden had erupted but the 27th and all the beans were growing well except the baby sun beans. 20141005_172507a By this weekend only one of the three baby sun beans was showing so I planted some more. I also moved the russle lupins into the front of this bed. In the fruiting vegetable bed I planted three tomato seedlings, a grosse lisse, a tommy toe and a tigerella. These were from diggers advertised as a ‘long harvest’ collection. Around these I planted marigold seeds and three cucumber seeds. 20140927_143933 Two of my cucumber seeds sprouted and one of them was the first and biggest seed to show in the main beds. I have been tracking its growth with much excitement. I was a bit worried about one of my tomato plants (the one on the far right) but it looks like it is coming right. I have been giving my tomato plants crushed eggshells.   20141005_172142a Here is the bed as of this weekend. The cucumbers are to the left. I planted another cucumber seed and some capsicum seeds to see how they compare to the ones I started off in the seed trays, which aren’t looking very exciting yet. My brassica bed was looking sad for a long while. One row of rocket at one end and one row of baby broccoli at the other, and nothing really much to see. This week both has grown considerably and I transplanted half of the brassicas I’d started off in seed trays (I’ve left the others to try next week or the week after as I think I might have moved them too early. I also sewed some seeds directly into the beds to see how they went. In this bed now I’ve got a whole rage of lettuces, cauliflowers and broccoli. 20141005_172420 In my root bed I planted two rows of carrots (a purple one ad a red one), a row of silverbeet and a row of beetroot. 20141005_172024a The plants are coming up nicely! In the melon patch I planted two rockmelons and two watermelons, planning on plucking out the weaker if two of each came up. Only one of each came up so that was perfect. 20141005_172247 Finally I planted some pumpkins. I had a pumpkin seed mix and two other types of pumpkins. I planted eight seeds and seven cam up! I’ve cut down to five but think it might still be too crowded, especially when I see how fast they are growing. 20141005_172323a From planted on the 13 of September, look how but they are by the 5th of October! The final thing we planted were herbs, these were all put in as seedlings  except we also started of some Basil and parsley seed in trays because they were free! 20140921_081547 Here’s how the herbs look just a few weeks later 20141005_172352   Finally we planted some corn in the ditch I dug by the fence. We’ve also transplanted a logan berry there from my mum. It didn’t look too happy after the 45 minute car ride but we gave it some fertiliser and good soil and plenty of water. 20141005_171819 As you can see, it’s been a busy month! We haven’t harvested anything yet (except for a few leaves of herbs) but boy do we have a lot of plans! We’ve been working on building the fence and ran out of palings to finish it, so getting more wood and finishing it is on the to-do list. You can see it is multi coloured in the photo. My young man decided to use a primer he already had to save buying more, and ran out, so used another primer. He didn’t seem too worried about the finished paint looking two toned so we’ll see! The fence isn’t exactly straight so at worst it will just really look home-made by loving hands. If you look to the white part of the fence you can see the green garden edging by the corn. About 1/3 of the ditch has this, so doing the other 2/3ds is on the to-do list. We dumped half the soil from the ditch elsewhere on the property so once the edging is in we can replace it with the good soil. It will be a slightly raised bed. Then we have to continue to plant out seedlings and think about planting more of things we wish to succession plant. My young man has informed me that he could eat two carrots a day without even trying, so I think that is a hint to plant more. Outside of the garden we’ve got the chicken coop to build and fencing to improve.

Well, that’s enough from me I’ve got to write up this weekend down and find time to read everyone else’s garden shares!

Preserving the Harvest

One thing that’s been on my mind as I plant all my seeds and watch them grow is what to do with the food once it’s grown. Obviously, eat it. But I also know that many things can ripen at once and we may have more fresh food than two people can get through. Which leads me to… preserving.

I’ve had even less experience with preserving than I have with gardening,. I remember when I was young my mother bottled some fruit. I don’t remember the making of the jars of fruit, but I do remember the breakfast where the jars came out for us to eat. For some reason I decided I didn’t like it. Whatever the fruit it was a stone fruit, jarred whole with the skin on (or possibly there was just a bit left on accidently) and I remember finding it hard to cut into with my spoon and the skin got stuck in my throat and an argument erupted with me and my mother over if I would or would not eat the fruit. If I remember correctly, after many tears, it was an argument she won and the incident never repeated itself. She did used to (and still does) make jam from time to time and I always loved that, until illness left me unable to tolerate refined sugar or strawberries.

In America there’s a big culture of preserving. They have different names for things. They call putting food into jars “canning”. We  refer to food in cans as canned food, I think Americans call them “tins” and “tinned food”  (any American please feel free to correct me here!). They are also big on “pressure canning” which means you can preserve all sorts of vegetables and other foods that I have never seen preserved at home before. The sort of preserving I knew about from my childhood was mainly “bottled” or “jarred” fruit, things which can be made with what American’s call “water bath canning”. There was also a bit of preserving things in oil and pickling. It was usually (in my neighbourhood at least) something your mum did while you were off climbing trees and nicking old for sale signs to slide down hills on, rather than something your mum did with you to pass on the knowledge and skills. Which is why I’m researching online and learning all the American terms.

I think to start off with I’m going to look into “water bath canning”, it’s what the people around me are familiar with so asking for advice is easier, as is buying supplies. I will also look into freezing and dehydrating. Until I get some produce I won’t have much to preserve, but I don’t want to get caught short with a basket of tomatoes and not know what to do with them before they go soft. So I’m going to research methods and recipes and post my results here so when the time comes, I may not be ready but I’ll have something to fall back on other than a hurried phone call to my mother!