The Garden Share Collective October 2013

Potted resilience // Bee Heaven

So, I discovered a few years ago that I really loved to grow stuff. Actually it all started with a capsicum and a rosemary cutting I purchased from a little stall at the Sunday markets when we lived in a rental property in north west Victoria. A tenant before us had had a crack at growing some veggies, and we inherited one sad looking capsicum plant and a few dry herbs...the herbies didn't make it, but I brought that capsicum plant back from the brink and it pumped out beautiful capsicums until the frost got it in winter. Neither of us ate capsicum, but it didn't matter, I couldn't let that plant die. And being able to grow a whole rosemary bush from one little cutting, well, that felt like a massive achievement. 

I'd always been a potted gardener, being a renter. It provides it's own challenges, but also some pretty ace results. I still have that rosemary plant, in a pot, near my back door 7 years on, still going strong. I've also got two beautiful, prolific blueberry bushes about to provide me a thousand little blue bombs of yum over the next few months, and a big tub of mint that just keeps on giving. Yep, pots are pretty sweet.

Lettuce seeds and Rocket seedlings, Sorrel and Warrigal Greens

But, when we moved into our own place a few years ago, the stakes got raised. Lots of garden space, and a (small and barren) veggie patch already in place. It's taken a good couple of years to really get a feel for my little microclimate, and figure out what works and what doesn't here. Our yard is a bit troublesome - lots of shade in winter, and lots of sun in summer. It's meant that I've had to plant and yank out a good number of plants as they've waxed and waned through the seasons. I think I've finally started to suss it out though, and adopting a more flexible approach to garden design and plant placement has definitely helped. No straight rows of produce here people!

I've had great success with relatively easy plants like spinach, garlic, leeks, tomatoes, cauliflower, kale, greens, chilli and herbs. I've focussed on what we actually eat, and worked within the constraints of our site. The reward has been great - picking plants to turn into food on our plates provides the most amazing satisfaction. Preserving food to crack open some time later is even more soul nourishing. I think it's in our DNA - not so long ago, instead of spending your time working to make the money to pay someone else to grow your food for you, you did it yourself. Or had a direct relationship with the person who did. Instead of buy, it was barter. Instead of sell, it was swap. I think maybe our communities could do with a little more of the barter and swap, and a little less of the buy and sell, but maybe that's the dreamer in me.

It's been a real learning curve for me, this growing caper. It's addictive though. Sowing a seed, nurturing it, transplanting the seedling, being patient until you can finally harvest and enjoy. Pretty cool really. 

Perpetual spinach being a living mulch under the potted apple tree

Planting

Mixed lettuce, kale, tomatoes, perpetual spinach, spring onions, cabbage (randomly - I was given some seedlings; we'll see how long they last!), pumpkin, strawberries and celery.

Harvesting

Lemons (lemons, lemons and more lemons!), silverbeet, perpetual spinach, mint, garlic chives, thyme, cauliflower, Warrigal Greens and French Sorrel.

To Do in the coming month

Plant seeds for zucchini and cucumber, corn and beans; plant out tomato, spring onion, kale and perp spinach seedlings. Work on rejuvenating my worm farm. Mulch, feed and enjoy.

Next up I've got a post on how I've renovated my veggie patch - No Dig style!

The Garden Share Collective is a monthly collection of posts collated by Lizzie over at Strayed from the Table from gardeners across the globe, sharing their veggie patches, potted gardens and windowsill herbs...Go and check it out!

"Creating a monthly community to navigate through any garden troubles and to rival in the success of a good harvest we will nurture any beginner gardener to flourish. Each month we set ourselves a few tasks to complete by the next month, this gives us a little push to getting closer to picking and harvesting. The long-term goal of the Garden Share Collective is to get more and more people gardening and growing clean food organically and sustainably."