July: A Walk Through My Garden

July: A Walk Through My Garden

Hey all,

I  wanted to do a more personal post today. It’s a lovely winter’s afternoon, super mild and not a breath of wind. I’ll take you for a wander around my own garden and show you what I’m growing right now.

First up, a little about my garden. The part I use for my vegetables is small, about 200m squared and it’s split into three terraced sections. I don’t get much sun in winter, about an hour, so naturally, this impacts how much, and how quickly things grow. I try not to let this stop my enthusiasm to try to grow as much as I can though, it just takes a bit more planning and inventive uses for all edible parts of the vegetables I grow.

My whole vegetable garden, minus two built planter boxes is a no dig-garden. We started with the two boxes but it was so limiting. I found no dig gardening made so much more sense for me and it meant I could use the entire space available (plus not to mention how AWESOME it is for the soil.)

As it’s winter, I’m growing a lot of cold hardy brassicas at the moment. I have about 20 broccoli and 15 cauliflower plants growing, all planted at different times to stagger the harvest. The ones that have heads on them at the moment where planted all the way back in late Feb/early March. I eat the leaves and stalks as well as the actual florets, as I don’t like wasting any food. The leaves are delicious sauteed when they’re young, but if they get too old and tough, or bug-bitten, I dehydrate them and blitz them into a greens powder. This powder I use in smoothies, breads, soups etc.. Once I have harvested the main heads of the broccoli, I let them keep producing mini broccoli shoots.

In between my broccoli and cauliflowers, I have planted lots of leeks. They’re good companion plants for each other and space wise, leeks can fit nicely in the gaps and maximize the planting space I have.

My cabbages and kale are slowly but steadily chugging along. The cabbages are forming heads but they won’t be ready to eat until well into spring. I have cavolo nero kale, purple kale and curly kale growing too. They’re slow but there are enough plants of each of them to provide us with a steady harvest.

Next to them is my garlic.

I use a mix of hay and pea straw as my mulch layers. I pile them on super thick to conserve all the nutrients under the soil and protect it from the harsh winter elements (though, today there’s no harsh weather to be seen!) When using pea straw, there’s the added bonus of free pea seedlings popping up! As well as the self seeded peas, I’ve sown some of my own, including a blue shelling pea. I’ve built a wee frame for them to climb up which well help keep the peas under control and it’s a great way to maximise space.

In summer I’m a big fan of vertical planting. Cucumbers, melons and pumpkins can all climb up and leave plenty of room on the ground to plant non-climbing plants. Near the peas I have selection of rainbow chard, silverbeet, spinach and celery.

At the very top terrace there is a bed of lettuce, more spinach and silverbeet.

Broad beans are spread around in lots of different pockets around my garden. The lot pictured below is around my brussel sprouts. Once they’re done producing, I’ll chop them down at the roots and they can return all the nitrogen they’ve collected back into the soil. The soil will need it too after hungry brussel sprouts have been there!

I like to continuously sow seeds such as pak choy, turnips, carrots and radish in spots that are empty. Pak choy, radish and baby turnips can be ready to harvest in 1-2 months, but carrots take a lot longer. I have to try extra hard to remember to keep sowing those so I’m not caught out when the current lot is all gone!

When thinning my carrots, I let them get to a decent size so we can still eat them. If I thin them too young it’s so fiddly and I find myself just throwing them on the compost! By letting them get just a bit bigger, there’s still a delicious snack that comes from thinning.

My blueberries are coming along nicely too. These are just grown from cuttings so they haven’t produced much fruit yet. I have a couple of strawberry patches, raspberries, and currents growing too. Those are spread around the edges, along with dwarf feijoas, along another veerrry thin terrace that has quite a steep drop, so they’re an edible fence!

Then lastly, there are quite a few fruit trees around the property too though I am unsure of some of their futures. One can get a little carried away in the fruit tree shop and temporarily forget that one does not own enough space for a huge orchard. 😉

My dwarf varieties can stay, some are in pots, some in the garden. I have a dwarf orange, mandarin, nectarine, cherry, and lemon. The other, larger fruit trees on my property (plum, apricot, and peach) will just be a wait and see to see how they do and if I can keep them pruned back small enough to fit. Half the fun is in the trying!

So that’s my little slice of heaven. I’m learning every day about what works, and what doesn’t, but one thing stays the same: it’s the place where I’m truly myself.

Thanks for reading. Happy gardening!

Winter in the Garden- July To Do List

Winter in the Garden- July To Do List

To sow this month: broad beans, broccoli, cauliflower,peas, snow peas, radish, rocket, onions, lettuce, swedes, turnips, silverbeet, perpetual spinach, carrots

To plant from seedlings this month: asparagus, Chinese cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, lettuce, onions

If you’re keen on the idea of homegrown fruit, it’s still a great time to get some fruit trees planted. Here’s a link to Edible Backyard’s post on fruit tree planting. It’s brilliant and straightforward. One day I hope to have the space Kath has to plant fruit trees galore but in the meantime, I just live vicariously through those posts.

Consider planting comfrey underneath your fruit trees as these provide mulch when their old leaves drop off. Comfrey leaves are packed with nutrients as comfrey’s long tap roots bring up nutrients from deep in the soil and into their leaves. As the leaves break down around the tree, the tree will receive these nutrients. There is a Russian variety called called ‘bocking 14’ that only multiplies via root division, so if you’re worried about comfrey self seeding everywhere, try this one.

It’s getting to that time to plant potatoes. You can start chitting them now, to force seed potatoes to sprout. This takes about 4 weeks. Place them in a single layer in a cool light place, but not in any direct sunlight. Once the sprouts have long and strong shoots, keep the strongest 3-4 shoots and rub off the rest. Then they can be planted out.

It’s still time to plant strawberries! They can be planted all the way up to spring but planting them sooner rather than later will ensure larger roots grow and a strong plant means more strawberries! Read more on growing strawberries here.

It’s been cold, wet, raining and even in some cases hailing so our soils are taking a beating. Keep them well mulched to retain those nutrients. I find deep mulching my vegetable patch also stops it from turning into a bog as the rain can be soaked up by the thick layers of mulch.

It’s still cold out there but start sowing peas and broad bean seeds if you haven’t done so already. They’ll slowly establish their roots now and then as the weather warms up and the flowers appear, the bees will come and pollinate the flowers. Add in some quick growing crops such as baby turnips, radishes and more lettuce for something fresh to eat late winter/early spring. Onions can be sown now too, inside in trays or directly onto a prepared bed, as they need about half a year of growing time. 

What’s going on in your winter wonderland?

Happy gardening!

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