Posts Tagged ‘summer in the garden’

Harvest Monday and Garden Update, March 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related.

February clicked over into March, and our stinking hot summer suddenly turned wet. It has rained and rained and rained. Couldn’t go outside because it was too hot; suddenly became couldn’t go outside because it was too wet. We lurched from an energy crisis (when industrial load had the potential to overlap with domestic “everyone gets home and switches the air-con on” load), to a severe storm and flood crisis.

The advantage of all this rain is that purslane has been popping up in my front lawn/dirt patch. Apparently, purslane grows in highly compacted soils (like mine) and is high in omega-3 fatty acids (this is new to me). Yay! I stir fried this with cabbage, and also added some to a cucumber salsa:

Cucumber salsa

Diced cucumber, pear, random herbs (parsley, chives, tarragon etc), s&p, apple cider vinegar & olive oil. Pretty simple!

I have never really understood the point behind a cucumber. Apart from turning it into a pickle, or eating it in a salad, what is the reason behind its existence? Then I found this salsa recipe in The Cook’s Companion, supposed to be an accompaniment to smoked fish… and I couldn’t stop making it, or eating it.

The armenian cucumber came from the February crop and swap event. I haven’t seen it in the shops before, I liked the taste, so I saved a few seeds to try and grow next season. The marigolds (edible flowers), also came from a crop swap event.

I checked on my bananas earlier in the week, and it appears that I had left them on the tree for too long. They’ve been forming since November, so about three months of ripening. After trimming the hand, clearing off the rotten bits, shooing away the cockroaches and the slugs, and cutting off the slightly nibbled bananas, here we have it.

Roll up, roll up, for the world’s smallest banana harvest!

World's smallest banana harvest

This is 1kg (including skins). Each banana was the size of your little finger, about 5cm or 2 inches long. They were very sweet. I couldn’t eat them all at once, and if I left them in the house unattended for more than a minute, he would throw them out.

Approx 400g tomatoes (no photo). I still have a few more left on the vine, but it is the last gasp of the summer crop. I must not plant tomatoes next year, I really need to give the beds a break.

Approx 10g random curcubit flowers.

The male flowers keep falling off the vine after they’ve done their thing. It seems a waste to let the snails get to them, so I have been adding them to stir fries like zucchini flowers.

Around the garden:

Random curcubit

My random curcubit is still going strong. I originally had three plants pop up in the full sun garden bed, and I transplanted two of the plants to the other two beds. They are taking over where the tomato plants are dying off. I still haven’t identified it, except that it is definitely not a cucumber or a pumpkin.

Random curcubit

I’m thinking winter melon or luffa. Any ideas?

I killed my two cherry trees, which makes me sad. I think over enthusiastic grass trimming killed the roots.

I killed the native raspberry (too much heat when I planted it), but hopefully I have a lead on raspberry or youngberry canes to plant.

I started putting in some seedlings for autumn/winter. I had a bet each way – kohlrabi (cold crop), okra (in case the hot weather continues), and red rosso onion (seeds slightly out of date, hopefully I get some germination).

I am also hoping that this plant:


is the germination of a papaya? There have been guesses for sweet potato, or papaya, but no firm consensus yet. Ignore the red stems, that purslane lurking underneath. What do you think, dear reader?


Summer in the Garden, 2015

After my most recent visit to the USA, and driving around the Santa Rosa wine country area, I was really inspired to dig my rogue grapevine out of the planter box, and trellis it and use it as a “living fence” out the front of the box. But I couldn’t dig it out of the planter box. I guess the roots go deeper than you think.

So I trellised it in place:

South facing planter box

I didn’t really want to stick opposing stakes in the ground to give the trellis tension, so I just used garden stakes to give the thing rigidity. (The grapevine is hidden behind the self seeding parsley)

Two apples, one per columnar:

Two apples

These are really delicate. You touch one to stick a fruit fly exclusion bag on it, and the fruit falls off. I’ve already lost two fruit on the



Yes, I bought this as a seedling. It’s planted in the relocated garden bed, but although it gets lovely sun in the winter, it has a lot of sun in summer. The zucchini leaves do wilt a bit during the heat of the day. Perhaps a deciduous tree to the north of the planter box?

Not much else is happening. I’ve managed to keep the rhubarb alive; the one in the south facing planter box in front of the grapevine is doing quite well, probably because it is quite well shaded by the lemongrass. It is doing much better than the rhubarb that is facing north. I got a mere six or so asparagus from my two crowns. I had let the ferns grow throughout winter, so I’m not sure what I didn’t do. Perhaps I was meant to fertilise?

Monday’s Garden & Harvest – a few days late


Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. The combination of both bees to the garden, and relocation of one garden bed to a sunnier spot have meant I have had about 200g of tomatoes per day for at least two weeks. You can’t see the grape vine underneath for the masses of tomatoes.


Corn. My neighbour grabbed the first harvest, because I was away. The second harvest I don’t think got successfully pollinated because the male pollen has already been distributed, but the female silks (and resulting head of corn) doesn’t look fat enough.

Honey. I reckon that falls into the harvested/picked category. I’ll tell you more about it in a later post.


Spring onions, from a batch purchased at the local shops. I chopped the green bits off, then soaked the roots in a glass of water until new sprouts came up from the top. There’s a bit of a pong from the water that it stews in… you are supposed to change the water over every day, but sometimes I forget. I like the spring onions skinny, so I plant them close together.

I tried several times to plant hot chilli seeds and seedlings. Every time I have been foiled by the snails, slugs and cockroaches (sorry, it’s true, I’ve seen them), who will walk over coffee grounds (which they are supposed to be adverse to) just to get to the chilli plants. I wonder. If you ate a garden snail ala French style, who had been feasting on chillis, would it be all tingly and hot?

Many times tried to plant some form of pumpkin/squash for autumn/winter picking. No luck. The seeds just never took for me.

Lemon Thyme.

Root herbs

Tumeric & ginger. Both roots I had bought at the shops, and they had sprouted small green shoots. I planted them with a shallow covering of soil, and about a month of humid weather later, I now have green shoots popping up. Since we’re talking rootstock, the galangal that I thought I had killed over winter has resprouted. Hurray!

To Do:

Either transplant or repot my lavender. It’s been in the pot for 5+ years, so it needs a bit of a refresh.

Update on the ballerina apple:


Three fruits on one branch has been reduced to two, compare to November last year.


Look at the size of the dwarf banana, compared to October last year. Things are very confused in my garden with tropical plants in the same garden bed as cold climate plants.

Suspected Orange:

Possibly an orange

I had many suspected orange pups. This is the only one that set, and it’s grown a lot larger than any of the other potential fruits that I’ve ever had. It’s probably 7cm in diameter. Fingers crossed that it survives.

My neighbour’s tree got a serious attack of the orange stink bugs (a plastic shopping bag full), and a windy day in spring meant that all the young fruit buds fell off.

Monday’s Garden and Harvest

I’m trying so very hard not to count my apples before they hatch:


is one of my twelve (count them!) starkrimson cherries.

I have nibbled on some strawberries (when I can beat the snails/slubs/cockroaches/ants) to them, planted some rhubarb crowns donated by a friend, and watched the comings and goings of the ladiez:

Bearding bees
When it gets hot, they sit on their front porch and fan their wings, directing the breeze inside the hive. This kind of behaviour is called ‘bearding’. It’s similar to how a swarm looks when they’re out looking for a new home, and also how the bees cluster together inside the hive during winter to keep warm.

I’ve also discovered that if you let your radishes go to seed, you can eat the little seed pods. They taste hot and peppery, like a radish, but with less commitment:

Radish seed pods

One day, this head of butter lettuce just popped up:

Butter lettuce

the seeds must’ve just felt the right conditions had come along and started to sprout.

I think summer started two weeks ago. We’ve had record breaking temperatures, and top temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius almost every day.

January in the garden

Yes, I know it’s February.

As with all things, I harvested, I took some photos, and then I forgot to blog about it.

It has been a hot, dry summer. I can’t remember when the daytime temperatures dipped below 30 deg C (86F). We started in October with some really bad bushfires in the Blue Mountains – nearly 200 homes were lost. This was in Spring, before the official bushfire season had even started. Now that it’s February, we have some awful bushfires in Western Victoria and Victoria. And yet our Federal government denies that “climate change” exists.

I was away in the early part of January, so I missed the opportunity to dance in the moonlight with my corn to help it fertilise. No matter, it managed fertilisation on its own.

What is odd is that I first planted babycorn (you know, that tiny stuff that usually comes in tins, or that Tom Hanks ate in a funny way in the movie BIG). That didn’t seem to take, so then I planted sweet corn. Which then cross pollinated. So I got some full sweet corn cob ears, and then some tiny ones which were baby corn in length but with full sized corn kernels. I also got up to about 20 corn kernels forming on what was probably a baby corn female ear. Hmm.

January 2014 harvest

About 10 ears of corn
8 capsicum
Lots of sweet potato leaves
Various herbs: basil, mint, parsley, perilla.

The sweet potato leaves shrink quite a bit when you cook it, like english spinach. They bleed a white “sap” when you pick them, so usually I cut them with a pair of scissors, and then wash the leaf. You can also eat as a salad green.

Sweet potato leaves

Um. Corn? No, I claimed that in November.
Well, I enjoyed my ten ears of corn so much, I tried to plant some more. Nothing has come up yet.
I’ve tried three times with the seeds of a Queen squash (whole roasting squash). I get the seedling, but as soon as I transplant it, it gets eaten by snails. I have two planted this week, one using the shelter of my corn plantation.

January 2014 - queen squash

Based on my post in November 2013

1. Anonymous Citrus. Lost the fruit I told you about – probably due to heat stress. Growing a little more now. There’s a lot of new lush green growth, but the darn thing has picked up some citrus leaf miner. I haven’t gotten around to spraying it, so I think I’m going to have to cut off each affected leaf, and hope I contain it. I captured a single bronze citrus bug off the plant in January.
2. Strawberry planter box. This just keeps on keeping on. Unfortunately because of the heat, it keeps losing fruit which shrivels up. I cut off all the leaves which seemed to have picked up a spot type fungus….but.. I think it’s come back. Apparently strawberry plants need to be thrown out every three years or so, or else they pick up a disease which I think becomes endemic. I haven’t wanted to throw out my original plant of 4 or so years because it is such a prolific fruiter. It might be crunch time.

Hanging on:
Because of the weather, a lot of things have just been “hanging on”.

3. Fragrant steppables. 2/3 barely clinging on. Low growing scented plants – pennyroyal and some things smelling of mint. I killed one of them. What’s hard is that I have to water this stuff every single day. I wasn’t around in late January – so one of the mint-smelling plants has disappeared.

4. Rhubarb/rose/asparagus patch. Last winter, I planted a rhubarb victoria crown which had a guarantee of red stems. There was another crown which I planted about two years ago (bought from the big green hardware store), but its stems always seemed a bit weedier in comparison. Rhubarb Victoria is just clinging on to life, and I mulched it (again) sometime this week. The other one which has been giving me green stems has died off again (second time!) due to lack of water.

5. Banana plant
Banana on the left, apple on the right.
January 2014 - banana
It’s grown a lot since November. It’s not liking the strong sun or the heat – look at the sun damage on those leaves – yet I thought that a banana plant was a tropical plant. I guess I was wrong.

Show and Tell

January 2014 -frangipani

Frangipani! For the past few years, whilst I have been watering this frangipani stem in the pot, I thought that this was a yellow flowerer. I generally prefer these because the flower is longer lasting. This month it has sprouted flowers, and it turns out it has a pink flower. Hmm. I like picking up the pink flower from the neighbourhood because they have a sweeter scent than the yellow, but they don’t last as long. The other frangipani I have growing in a pot has an apricot coloured flower, but is about two years younger.

Over winter, I would like to plant one of them permanently in the garden. Which would you chose – pink or apricot?