When I look back to where my small backyard was only a few months ago I feel so grateful for the progress I’ve managed to make week by week. I remember looking at my backyard full of weed mat, bark, and dying trees shading where my gardens are now. At that point all I had was a dream of growing as many edibles on a 300m2 section as possible. When I had to sell our beautiful home on three acres of land due to our separation it wasn’t easy. However; I remember being told that sometimes you have to let old dreams go in order to make room for new ones. This has proved pretty bang on for me.
Here’s an outline of what’s in each garden in a nutshell
Garden 1 – Cucumber, gherkins, spaghetti squash and a mix of zucchini (Cocozelle, Zephyr, and Black Beauty).
Garden 2 (Luke’s garden) – A mix of lettuces, spinach, silverbeet, radishes, a cherry tomato, capsicum, spring onions. The spring onions were the failed crop as they were overtaken by the silverbeet and spinach so we’ll replant these. We also have rocket and some more salad mix (red loose leaf lettuces) to plant this weekend.
Garden 3 – Tomatoes and basil. There are eight tomato plants in here. As well as three other plants in the cottage flower gardens in various spaces. With those as well as Luke’s plant that’s a total of 12 plants. Off the top of my head some of the varieties we have include – Russian Red, Rapunzel, Beefsteak, Purple Cherokee, Money Maker, Black Krim, Artisan Blush, Golden Nugget, Oxheart, Grosse Lisse, and Brandywine Pink.
Garden 4 – The Three Sisters Garden – Sweetcorn, dwarf peas, a mix of runner beans, a couple of varieties of pumpkin.
Container Growing – x2 bags of potatoes, purple dragon carrots, and popping corn. This week the popping corn buckets were shipping up to my dad’s to prevent any cross pollination with the sweetcorn.
Herbs – these are scattered everywhere throughout the main gardens, the cottage flower gardens, and in planter boxes. I plan to further add to these throughout summer, but for now we are growing the following: basil, pineapple sage, rosemary, mint, thyme, parsley, and chives.
Strawberry Patch – We have one large garden (roughly 2m x 1m) filled with strawberries. In the middle we’ve planted a miniature apple tree that I gifted Luke on his 5th birthday. Something he was sad to leave behind at our previous home was his apple tree so it felt right to gift him a new one. It’s appropriately named Little Rascal.
Established Fruit That Was Already Here – A large grapevine, two huge feijoa trees, two red guava trees.
Other Edibles That We’ve Added - a dwarf peach, a dwarf nectarine, lemon, lime, mandarin, and two apple trees. I’ve also planted strawberries, rhubarb, blueberries, raspberries, boysenberries, passionfruit, watermelon, and a cape gooseberry.
Flowers – We now have thirty different varieties of flowers planted in an attempt to create a cottage garden feel and attract beneficial insects.
Careful consideration of crop rotation went into the gardens, as well as a bit of companion planting – mainly herbs and marigolds etc. Luke’s garden was the exception to the rule as I wanted him to feel like it was his own. I did make sure nightshades were planted at one end to allow for crop rotation within that garden the following season.
Here's a final wrap up of the challenge for me
Biggest challenge – Starting completely from scratch and learning how to grow in different ways to enable us to grow as much produce as possible on a small urban property. I think this felt extra daunting after renovating the interior all winter. Think stripping a house of wallpaper yourself, bathroom renovations, paint, new vinyl etc.
Top tips for growing edibles on a small urban section – replace lawn with gardens, vertical gardening, miniature/dwarf fruit trees, space saving vegetables e.g. Golden Nugget pumpkin, patio snack cucumbers etc.
Failed crop – the spring onions due to the silverbeet and spinach taking up their space.
Personal Highlights – seeing Luke have his own garden for the first time and the excitement of watching him pick his first berries.
Top Money Saver - finding pea straw bales for $25 at a local fencing shop. It beats paying almost the same price for a bag at Mitre 10.
Something to look forward to – our summer harvest, Luke’s treehouse in the feijoa trees, dinners outside in the sunshine,
A learning curve – Golden Nugget pumpkins don’t grow like your usual pumpkins, but instead more like a zucchini plant.
A Goal For Summer – Learn how to bottle/pickle/preserve/make jam.
Biggest Successes – Sweetcorn, tomatoes, and the huge silverbeet leaves.
Recipe I’m most looking forward to trying – The Strawberry Cloud Cake recipe shared by Sarah at Netherby
A huge thank you to Yates, Sarah, and everyone that has helped to make this community such a special place. I’ve loved reading all your posts and have learnt so much, as always. I now have a stack of recipes to try and am especially grateful for all of the zucchini recipes as I already have more than I know what to do with! I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and look forward to continuing to follow your garden journeys after the challenge ends.
Photos of the progress on the tomato and basil patch. For someone who thought she was going to have to once again destroy her tomato crop I'm pretty happy with this! :)
Note - those tomatoes do have proper stakes beside them. They've completely gotten away on me over the past week so I've popped in 1800mm bamboo stakes to tie them up for now. Those stakes are about 1500mm out of the ground to give you an indication on the growth. Happy campers :)