Ruffian

It's springtime...

60 posts in this topic

Have just come in from outside, hot and sweaty & slightly pissed off that my back hurt after picking just a kilo of beans (amongst various other chores)... When I was a kid I picked buckets and buckets of the little bastards and suffered nothing worse than a strong aversion to beans. Now I love fresh beans but lordy, next time I get the kids to pick them!

Anyway, tomorrow my contribution to the festive table will be -

- about a kilo of butter beans (like green beans but yellow & sweeter)

- enough cherry tomatoes and leb cucumbers for a big salad

- more zucchini than anyone actually wants to eat (they only seem to have two modes, either over-production or utter failure)

- two kinds of quail eggs for those in a decadent mood - the eggs are small but tasty, and quail are very reliable layers (again get the kids to shell them!)

plus enough spring onions, basil, thyme, chives etc to season everything else.

Pumpkin and corn are on the way but it will be a while before they are ready.

Watermelon are growing like mad but nothing has set yet, ditto eggplants.

Humph, I'm disgustingly jealous of that garden. Sounds wonderful. In other news, my baby tomatoes may have just been massacred by a mass hailstorm that hit Melbourne this afternoon. Was wildly exciting except for the death-to-gardens bit.

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Well it's a month after my previous post, and we are drowning in produce.

It's a fine line between feast and famine when planting veggies, and while previous years have been OK - but but you wouldn't want to have to depend on your own food production - this year is insanely productive.

While I'd love to take credit for it all, I think it is actually down to a combination of lavish amounts of sheep manure and a good growing season.

The tomatoes have run riot and I'm getting about a kilo a day, and about 1.5 kg of cherry tomatoes every other day. Fortunately everybody here loves tomatoes and so far we are staying reasonably on top of things, but I can see a day coming when I'm just going to start heaving them into the freezer.

Ditto zucchini - Only two plants survived the spring but that is about 1.5 too many, we eat zucchini every day and are definitely loosing that battle. Fortunately I discovered the quail will eat zucchini too, if you cut it open for them. The zucchini skin is delicate and easy to pierce, but those birds are just not lateral thinkers. But as a result we are getting more and bigger quail eggs.

The cucumbers are very productive too, but they tend to get eaten very fast as they are infinitely superior to bought cucs in taste and texture.

I would have put them close to the bottom of the 'homegrown is better' list in the past, but this lot of leb cucs are spectacularly crisp and tasty and are always the thing people try to cadge and take home, along with the cherry tomatoes.

The sweetcorn was phenomenal this year, up to three ears per stalk. The bi-colour is definitely the tastiest. Now our rabbits are eating the stalks & I am starting to feel all permacultural...just for the moment...

The wax beans are about finished, except for those I am hoping to keep for seed. I say hoping, because the rats (sorry, 'fruit rats') like them too and I may not get any in the end. We did end up freezing a couple of surplus kilos of these, too.

The eggplant have set and are growing well in the heat, but the watermelon have set exactly 2 melons despite lots of flowers and leaves.

The rockmelon have not set well either so it may be something about the season - a couple of years ago they did great.

The pumpkins (which are everywhere) are also not setting as well as I would have expected, although I think we will have enough to be getting on with come pumpkin soup season.

So far the only total duds have been the capsicum, which sulked and refused to grow, and the parsley, which is generally indestructible but which has died both times I have planted it this season. Go figure.

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Man your yield sounds a lot better than mine on the tomato front, I have been picking for the last week and gotten about 6-7 Kg in total! The weather hasn't been ideal this year - still very humid and we have only had two days over 30 degrees. Still there's a lot more to ripen yet. Everyone else I speak to has had utter failure this year with tomatoes but I think the micro climate where we have planted is pretty good with lots of sun so we are getting some fruit at last. To supplement I've been doing some trading and so far have about 4 Kg of plums which I am going to make chinese plum sauce from and some free range eggs. I owe a batch of macadamia and white chocolate biscuits for my trouble.

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I'm going to smoke/roast these babies and make a batch of smoky tomato salsa to go with mexican food.

I'm charging $5 per Kg for these suckers 7Kg so far that's another $35 off my equation

The coriander and basil are coming along nicely now so should be harvesting some soon. Mint is going crazy as is parsley.

Chillis are also taking off.

At least another 10 bunches worth of herbs over the last month so subtract another $20

164 - 55 = still $109 in the red.

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Very nice, SC.

Particularly considering your weather - here in SA it has been almost the other way round, with a long string of 35+ days.

I have even had to put shadecloth over some plants to stop them getting sunscald.

Yours have pretty colours - whereas mine are all pretty much red - the 'pink' and 'black' varieties have ended up being showponies rather than producers.

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Very nice, SC.

Particularly considering your weather - here in SA it has been almost the other way round, with a long string of 35+ days.

I have even had to put shadecloth over some plants to stop them getting sunscald.

Yours have pretty colours - whereas mine are all pretty much red - the 'pink' and 'black' varieties have ended up being showponies rather than producers.

Thanks R. I had the screen ready but summer never arrived. My lovely trellis (built with garden twine and star pickets) collapsed earlier this week so I'll have to rebuild tomorrow. :beer:

The black russians don't seem to produce near as well as the romas. But I do like the beefsteak varieties. I grew mortgage lifters in Melbourne but I can't find them here. I can get the seeds from the diggers club but the growing season is so short here that it is impractical to try to grow from seed without a greenhouse.

It's definitely worth growing the heirloom varieties just for the flavour.

I've been eating a lot of tomatoes and we're just at the point of being overwhelmed by them so it's sauce time. For when winter comes again. :fear:

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Picked our first watermelon today.

About 10kg (the youngest could hardly carry it) and cotton candy pink inside, a totally different colour from the bought ones.

Very tasty - and a good thing too, as it really is huge and will take us a while to get through.

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The garden is a mess. Going to take a few days to clean up up and rebuild.

We picked the vines prior to hols and froze them (10 kg) but there was a load more fruit that was green. This has all gone to waste as the rain has destroyed the remaining fruit. Got home after a 4 hour detour due to floods (I can vouch for the fact that they are real) and the gauge was red lining at 150 mills (5 inches in old money) Extraordinary. On the bright side the parsley and mint have gone nuts and the basil is prolific.

So finalising the sums:

An extra 10 kg @5.00 kg = $50

Basil @$2.00 250g * 4 $10

Assorted herbs for Jan - Feb $2.00 * 10 = $20

Shallot bunches @$2.50 each * 4 = $10

Last deficit was $109 -$90

So overall the garden was a loss of $19 from the initial $200 input. Although, I'm not including the random silverbeet which gave us a free meal from last year. that wasn't in the budget. Or the crop of chillies which seem to have survived. Tomorrow we rip all out that isn't productive and replace. Fresh inputs are required.

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Well done on (almost) balancing the books, SC.

Don't take the garden wreckage too personally.

This time of year everything tends to look a bit derelict no matter how much effort you put into it.

It's when I regret having the veggie garden in the front yard...

The salad tomatoes have pretty much come to a halt, after almost swamping us.

Now there is lots of passata in the freezer, along with large amounts of cherry tomatoes, some frozen whole and some oven-roasted (which increases their already fairly intense flavour & saves freezer space, too.

Those cherry tomatoes just never stop producing, even though the vines look like something from Land of the Lost.(The original not the remake!)

The eggplants and basil are still going strong, the beans are producing about a feed a week, there are still a couple of watermelons and zucchini. Everything else is self-seeded pumpkins, in a very creative assortment of sizes, colours and shapes. I just hope they taste OK - the self seeded ones are not always that great.

I've also been thinking about putting in a winter garden, but lack the enthusiasm to pull everything out and start digging.

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The kids had a surplus of energy today so I set them to digging in the garden, cruel, cruel parent that I am. :D

By the end of an hour I had rows of garlic (a pungent local variety I got from a guy up the road), lettuce, kohlrabi and beetroot.

It's not the ideal time to plant some of these, I know, but I'm not wasting good, (more-or-less) well dug ground...

Incidentally we ate the last of the salad tomatoes last week (they stored for about a month off the vine) and two of the cherry tomato plants look like they may be planning to make it though the winter.

I'll leave them as an experiment & see what happens.

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The kids had a surplus of energy today so I set them to digging in the garden, cruel, cruel parent that I am. :D

By the end of an hour I had rows of garlic (a pungent local variety I got from a guy up the road), lettuce, kohlrabi and beetroot.

It's not the ideal time to plant some of these, I know, but I'm not wasting good, (more-or-less) well dug ground...

Incidentally we ate the last of the salad tomatoes last week (they stored for about a month off the vine) and two of the cherry tomato plants look like they may be planning to make it though the winter.

I'll leave them as an experiment & see what happens.

Good time to plant the garlic. And free labour is always good.

I have dug mine over with chicken poo and let it lay fallow for the past couple of months. Layed down a bed of pea straw to stop the weeds but in reality not much grows in winter here. Even the scraps we put in the worm farm don't appear to be decomposing. The betting is we're heading back into an El Nino cycle again soon. Back to late frosts and shorter growing seasons. I might have to invest in a greenhouse and get some early spring seedlings going this spring.

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