So tonight I bid you adieu

Northland Backyard Gardeners is talking about growing Beans, Broccoli, Cabbage, Capsicum, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery, Chilli, Chinese Cabbage, Cucumber, Eggplant, Lettuce, Peas, Pumpkin, Radish, Silverbeet, Spring Onion, Sweetcorn, Tomato, Zucchini from Northland

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Garden ready!

This season has definitely been one with a lot of learning. A different type of learning than the past few years where I was learning actually how to garden properly. This year’s learning was definitely centred more around how to deal with the climatic elements associated with a cold spring. All learning is good though, and I think it makes us into better gardeners.  Next year, I think we will refine our practise further and utilise a different part of the porch area and set up a table by the glassed area and use it more as a mini glasshouse. And gardening skills aside, we have definitely learnt to be much more patient individuals. You can’t hurry nature.

I will also have to admit, that after winning last year’s individual challenge, this year I took a back seat to the blogs and also, to some extent, my gardens. Well it feels like it, but the reality is I am just gardening differently. I actually have onions occupying about 2 metres of garden, garlic taking up another area, strawberries taking up additional beds, herbs expanded out to twice the original size and then the kids have taken over a lot of areas. As I know that  meterage has increased (9 more square metres), I think it is more a psychological feeling related to not actually overhauling the entire garden and starting with completely new crops as I have done during the last two years. Total mindset.. I guess that means we have succession planting more under control.

I have also relinquished some of the garden space to the kids. This included giving them both their own strawberry patch. My garlic beds have also become a shared space. My youngest really loves planting out the cloves and it has become something the two of us now do together. Hopefully it is a tradition we can see into my old age. Comparing what the kids (aka Connor and Zac from Gardening Brothers) did last year, to what they can do this year, really makes me burst with pride. Gardening with kids is not always fun and games and there is hard work involved for them, and for mum and dad (I can’t deny that). At the end of the day, like all of us, some days they are just too tired and after a long week, they do need some down time. You need to know your kids and know when to back off. At the same time, you want to teach them commitment and seeing things through is important. It is all about finding the right balance and some days I admit, I get it wrong. However, when they love something and are passionate about it, it certainly makes things easier. It even flows over into written language. I loved the days when we came home and the first thing that my 6 year old wanted to do, was to write in his diary. Much to the delight of his teacher, his writing at school started to accelerate at the same time. Contextualised learning at its best.

The garden may not be completely on par with previous years, but there are certainly some highlights and if I am honest, after looking at the garden today, we are not as far behind as I thought we were and in some ways, we are ahead.

The corn is perhaps 4 weeks ahead of previous years, although we have noticed that the stems are not as thick as previous years. This could be reflective of how closely they are planted or perhaps temperature too as they have been watered and feed well. This, does not seem to be effecting the size of the ears at all and it does appear that we do have multiple ears that have pollinated at the same time on the same plants. I have fairly confident that as long as we continue to water and feed well over the next couple of weeks, that we will have nice big fat ears, perhaps even for Christmas.

 We have managed to munch our way another whole crop of carrots. Thankfully another lot are on the way. When you have two sick bunnies, you also don’t mind sacrificing a few here and there either. In fact, tonight while picking some carrots, I pulled out a nice big one and said “cool, we can have that for dinner”. Mistake. It got grabbed from my hand and Mr 4 said “No. It’s Dora’s”. The new Dora that is.

  • Our tomatoes are on their way in leaps and bonds. We have some large green tomatoes on some of the heirloom varieties and the bucket tomatoes. Mr 4s are also flowering as are Mr 6s. The first bed is well on it’s way and  the second bed (okay I may have ended up with two raised beds this year with tomatoes in it), are just taking off (these were only put in two weeks ago). Did I mention, I have 3 more plants to go in there as well.
  • Our cucumbers, pumpkins and melons are flowering and some are close to reaching the top of their stakes. We have limited mildew so far so the frames are helping with the first stage – getting them upright and stopping the dreaded mildew. The second stage being, can we successfully support the fruit. Others have so I am confident that with some trial and error, that we will eventually be able to do the same.
  • Our capsicums and chillies are just showing signs of starting to flower. This year, my new culinary goal is to make my own sweet chilli sauce.
  • Our egg plants are really taking off. I think the concrete is generating enough additional heat to help these sun loving plants. I had my doubts earlier if we would get a hot enough summer for them.
  • We are eating zucchinis , lettuce, spring onions, celery, radishes, carrots, and silverbeet that was planted during the spring challenge. These have been complimented with our own cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, peas,  brussel sprouts, pak choi and onions that were planted in autumn/winter.

 I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Challenge once again, this being my third year. The community as a whole has been very positive and I have enjoyed reading everyone’s posts and comments. There are some truly inspiring gardeners out there who come with a range of knowledge and experiences. That is what I like about talking with other gardeners. They inspire you and there is always something you can learn from them. Experienced and new. Young or old. Everyone has something to offer. So encase I am not back next year. Thank you so much.

I also need to make a special note to Yates as I will be eternally grateful to them and Sarah for everything they have done in terms of inspiring me and helping to set me up with the skills that will last us a life time within our family. So thank you for the last 3 years. 

Nb – tonight I haven’t posted a picture of our gardens as it stands because tonight my new adventure began. This morning when Connor realised his salad crops were ready he wanted to make dinner. After writing his final blog, he grabbed my trug and went out to the garden and picked his own ingredients from his garden. I then showed him how to carefully slice things. He then placed everything on the plate, brought them to the table and got cutlery ready. This is Connor’s Rainbow Salad with Balsamic Vinegar Strawberries. I feel we might be eating a lot of salads in the next week or so. I also think I might need a second trug and a child safe knife.

Happy Gardening
Rachael