Tis The Season

Harvest season, that is!

When first we set the settlement date for our house, we realised that we would need to very rapidly get a vegetable garden started if we wanted home-grown vegetables over summer (this being one of the major reasons we’ve wanted to buy a house for so long :giggle: ). As it happened, it took us a good two weeks to get two no-dig beds started and plants in, which means our produce went in reasonably late, but this is Melbourne, so that isn’t the end of the world. So far it has been a learning experience, with few real disappointments, and some wonders and delights. Here’s the rundown on the good, the bad and the ugly:

The Good
Lettuce – I have never had such success with lettuce before. We’ve had Cos, Coral and Mignonette lettuces galore. As a result of this bounty, we couldn’t keep up with eating it all, and we had to pull up some which went rather spectacularly to seed – Cos lettuce in particular is really quite an ornamental plant when it does this.
I planted waaay too much Silverbeet, considering we don’t really eat that much of it. But it’s beautiful even just to look at – strong, dark, glossy leaves which are virtually unkillable (I say ‘virtually’… believe me, I’ve done it before. I have somewhat of a black-thumb). OtherHalf does cook it up very nicely, so I’m kind of getting used to eating my greens, even if I can’t say the same for Finn.
Basil – despite the best efforts of the snails and slugs (we eventually stopped them in their tracks by putting out dishes of v.bad homebrew :giggle: ), we’ve got several very generous basil plants, and shall be putting pesto on our pasta for months… yum!
The two plantings of curly leafed Parsley are like small trees now! I really must start making Tabbouleh and Fattoush salads – two of my very favourite ways of using up piles of parsley, and such brilliant summer meals. Parsley is high in iron, so definitely on the must-eat list for pregnancy. The continental (flat-leaf) parsley went in later, and is a little more temperamental, but it’s coming along OK too.
Spring Onions (aka Scallions (thanks Laura), Shallots or Green Onions, depending on where you come from) – ditto for using up in those two salads. Spring Onions are useful in just about everything, actually. And are another excellent ‘no-fail’ vegetable to grow, like silverbeet.
I’ve never grown Cucumber before this year. We chose a small-variety, and only had three plants (one of which succumbed to mold, and is no longer with us, sadly), but still have been really happy with the outcome. Big, very fleshy, tasty cucumbers which don’t hang around for long, because I have a tendency to eat cucumbers like other people eat apples! Next year, more plants, and maybe we’ll graduate to the big kind.
I’ve also never grown Beetroot before. For best results, these should have been planted from seed, but we put in seedlings, and they turned out fine. Home-grown beetroot is sensational, especially roasted. More of these next time, too.

The So-So
Our Tomatoes are only now just starting to ripen – this time last year we had a bumper crop from just three Roma tomato plants in our teeny backyard, which kept us in tomatoes from the beginning of January until some time in April, I think it was. The ones we’re getting now are good, but there just isn’t the number of fruit I’d like to see on each plant. We have 6 plants, 6 different varieties. The ‘Tigerella’ are really quite attractive, and very yum. Tomatoes are Finn’s favourite produce from the garden. If he was allowed, he would sit by the tomato plants and gorge himself until there were none left for us!
Celery – actually, this should belong in the ‘Good’ category, but Inever quite got around to covering the plants so they would blanch (whiten). As a result, it has a stronger flavour and is a bit tougher than I’d like. Excellent for cooking, but not my favourite in terms of just snacking on. It makes brilliant celery soup though – the last time we tried this (with supermarket celery), we ended up throwing almost the whole pot out, it was so bland and icky.
The Corn is also pretty good, but the soil wasn’t quite rich enough, so the plants didn’t develop really good, strong roots, and some succumbed to the winds we’ve had around here recently. We also probably didn’t plant enough, so there has been uneven pollination, resulting in kernels ‘missing’ from the cobs. Excellent flavour though. There is nothing which beats corn straight from the garden.
The Capsicum (aka ‘Peppers’), Eggplant (aka ‘Aubergine’) and Chilli plants are all struggling along. All from the same family, they’re really not getting enough sun in the bed where we planted them. There’s hope yet that we’ll get some fruit from them, but probably not much.

The Not-Worth-Talking-About
My Broccoli plants were savaged by fat white-moth caterpillars. Since I’m doing my best to make this an organic effort, I didn’t want to powder them, but I was lax in manually removing the eggs and caterpillars, so they were kaput within weeks of planting.
The Tatsoi (a Chinese green, which I was especially proud of, having planted this from seed) was also eaten – by what, I’m not exactly sure, but it was fast – an overnight death. I suspect another influx of slugs and snails, but whatever it was didn’t touch anything else, which was odd.
And Radishes. Who seriously could mess up radishes?! Well, that would be me. Because out rarden is a no-dig style, and not that great for growing from seed, Finn and I planted radish seed out in a polystyrene box. Container plants need vigilant watering, something I’m not all great at… so they kind of… died. Oops! We’ll chalk that up to a life-lesson for Finn, and try again as soon as the harsh edge comes off summer.

Anyway, I felt like the Earth Mother herself the other night when we sat down to dinner of corn-off-the-cob, and celery soup. The bread came courtesy of our most excellent bakery-around-the-corner – for the full effect, next time I should make that too 🙂

Edited this post too… but I swear just for typos this time!

3 responses to “Tis The Season