The Adventure Continues

I have had a successful year with the vegetable-growing adventures. My family gave me the boxes as a birthday/ retirement gift in June 2016 and it’s been the wonderful gift that just keeps on giving.  There is always something to eat in our garden.

 

We have had lots of tomatoes even though it is the end of winter.  Most of the tomato plants have been self-seeded from the Summer crop and now we are reaping the benefit. We also have chilis and shallots so I have been able to make a spicy Mexican Tomato soup. So delicious!

A new venture was to try strawberries in a smaller box in a very warm spot in the front garden. This has been successful and we’re now enjoying those fruits too.

It gives me such pleasure to harvest our own produce.

Of course, what would a vegetable garden be without feeding?  The composting corner gets all our organic kitchen waste – in the green bin. To that, we add grass clippings and leaves. We eat a lot of eggs and I grind the shells in my food processor and add that to the green bin too along with coffee grounds.  Our worm farm is still producing worm tea – although at a slower rate during the cold months. The garden really loves this liquid manure diluted 1:10.  We have friends who keep horses and occasionally I beg some horse manure off them. I add this to my compost pile in the corner and that also helps build up the soil.  We are going to need every bit of it to top up the boxes soon as the soil has settled over the past 15 months.

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On the advice of my teacher friend in New Brighton, I planted some Borage. The leaves are very good for adding to the compost and the pretty blue flowers attract bees. Another bonus.

So, as we enter our second season we are blessed by our food garden.  Spinach, tomatoes, carrots, celery, lettuce, beans, red cabbage, chilis, peppers, squash, shallots, and lots of herbs. Our water tanks are full after the recent coastal rains and everything is looking healthy.  Pests have not been such a problem over the winter.  Now I just have to deal with those weeds!

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Harvests and Maintenance

The hard work and preparation is beginning to pay off.  I recently found this photo of our garden taken six years ago.  Pretty empty and dull.  img-20101019-00009Here is a photo taken this week.  What a contrast!  I’m loving this new farming lifestyle.

img_9321Today while preparing lunch I stepped outside and picked some lettuce, celery, mint leaves and pulled some young carrots and a lovely radish to make a salad.  It’s really such a satisfying experience to be able to eat from your own backyard farm.

Pests continue to be a problem. I lost my cucumbers and this week I had to pull out a row of beans.  Some of the kale has been chewed up by worms and the squash have a problem. This in spite of spraying with a mixture of bicarb, soap and oil.  I do not use commercial chemical products although there are a few organic products I would like to buy.

img_9311But all is not lost.  I spotted a few of these delightful ladybirds last week.  Apparently they are the “good guys” and eat up the aphids.  I hope they invite many of their cousins to visit my garden and clear those “bad guys” out.  The trick is to have a variety of crops, pick off any pests one sees and plant flowers like nasturtiums and marigolds that help keep pests away.

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I regularly walk around peering at the boxes, checking for snails or aphids.  I love hearing the sound of bees humming around the flowers, especially the basil in the picture below.  It means that things are happening here.

img_9310Our water tanks are full.  We have had just enough rain to top them up but we are still in drought mode in the Eastern Cape and the municipality has introduced water restrictions . This means there is no using hose pipes connected to the water mains.  I am so grateful that hubby connected up a pump to the tanks and we are able to water regularly.  As you can see the garden is flourishing – even the lawn, although I never water it.  The adage is, “Grow food, not lawns.”  Well, our lawn is taking care of itself in spite of neglect.

I am very grateful to have a helper, Mdange, who comes regularly to cut grass, leaving me to concentrate on the other chores.  Our worm farm is flourishing and supplying a regular dose of worm tea for the vegetables. They are doing so well I have even been able to give some worms to a friend who is just starting out with his worm farm.

We are getting a regular supply of kale, Swiss Chard, lettuce, carrots, radishes, celery and herbs.  Soon we will have some tomatoes, red kale, cauliflower, baby marrows, red cabbage, peas and some non-gmo corn.  Oh and we also have four different kinds of beans growing.  I am managing to grow just enough of each to keep us fed without having a glut of anything.  I’m loving the height of the boxes and being able to tend the plants without bending down on my creaky knees is a huge bonus.

So we keep growing and producing. Until next time, happy farming.