Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Pay to learn

So I've been eating herbs from our garden a lot, with whatever I can pair them with. I love herbs, because they often make the meal! They're even great in smoothies. I'm grateful I don't have to buy how much herbs, I actually use. That would cost a lot of money.

But when it comes to growing vegetables, that's another story. I recently harvested some food from the garden, and was lucky to come away with anything at all.




I got two sweet potatoes (Japanese variety) and two heads of cauliflower. The purple head, was about to flower, so I picked the green head too. It was about the size of a tennis ball. Of all the brassicas I planted (brussel sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage) this small offering, was all I gleaned.

I may be lucky to see some brussel sprouts, if they don't bolt to seed. The warmer weather is making most of the brassicas go to flower. In winter.




The two sweet potatoes from the hugelkultur bed, were large, at least. There's more, still in the bed too. I have no problem growing this particular Japanese variety. They tolerate more weather extremes (heat and cold) than the traditional orange varieties. So if you're having problems growing sweet potato, look for this white fleshed, purple skinned, variety.

So let's get real about this whole, GROWING, vegetable deal. I technically "lost" money, on what I spent, setting up the hugelkultur beds, and buying seeds and seedlings. But that's only if I was comparing it to the vegetable yield, alone. On the other hand, I paid myself to learn to grow edibles better.

It's fine to read a book or blog post, about how to grow vegetables, but at some point you've got to just invest the money, and practice. Getting a bounty is the bonus, and ultimate objective - but there's a huge learning process involved in succeeding. The sooner you can get started, the sooner you can turn the odds of success in your favour.

I know what these hugelkultur beds, need to succeed now. I just have to gather the materials and build more infrastructure. As I don't have a very forgiving environment, with reliable rainfall. That's the number one lesson, I would tell people to do, before embarking on growing edibles. Secure their water supply, first. Second is, make shade. At least for this continent.

In the end, I made a delicious leek and cauliflower soup, with some of the ingredients above. So not a bad deal, after all.

 

24 comments:

  1. This year I decided to buy my brassicas from Birdsong Market Garden and let Racheal and Rick deal with the white butterflies :-) This ever changing weather is making it a but hard to know when to plant. My hubby says it is too early here as we could still get a frost :-( Really? It is Tshirt weather today!

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    1. I know what you're both saying - it's definitely t-shirt weather AND we could still be in for another frost. I'm holding off planting my corn, for that very reason. But it's definitely been a funny old winter. If I recall the Northern Hemisphere's last winter, it got a funny warm period, and then an extended winter. So the cold returned in earnest.

      So yeah, I reckon it could still be a cold, wet, Carnivale of Flowers, in Toowoomba, if we follow the same pattern.

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  2. T-shirt weather up there!! OMG! Down here I'm in a T-shirt as well, but with 2 windcheaters and a woollen jumper over the top. Plus fingerless gloves and a scarf inside the house on the worst days. But the fruit trees are starting to flower, so it will get better.

    I think it's important for first-time veggie growers to realise that they will spend a fair bit of money setting things up before the benefits start to become obvious. I will never make a profit out of my chooks, but that's not the point of having them and never was. Just having a bunch of wackos run up to me when I go into their enclosure and listen when I'm talking to them makes it all worthwhile.

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    1. In some parts of Qld, it rarely dips below the teens, in winter (Celsius). We tend to get cold nights - I haven't seen it below 2 yet, with amazingly warm days. Summers can be a killer though, so not all cream and gravy in the sunshine state! Your summers may be kinder than ours, even if our winters seem more enjoyable. :)

      Love the wackos analogy. Chooks are certainly a, must-have. Like a garden. At least, for me.

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  3. Chris I did OK with Chinese Cabbage and Bak Choy. The cabbage moths are now hovering and I have pulled out what I had left. These are now chopped and dropped in the garden beds. My cauliflower is all head with tiny little heads, bigger than golf balls but only just. I had one small sugarloaf cabbage survive. We were away for 8 weeks so I am pretty chuffed with what survived.
    I grow Kumera, orange sweet potato. I get some lovely tubers from this plant. I have found that deep mulch really does lead to better tubers.

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    1. Well done with your brassicas. I've tried the orange one sweet potato and it was a bit temperamental. But it does taste nice, when you can successfully grow it. If I ever grow it again, I'll keep the deep mulch in mind. Thanks.

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  4. Our climate is more temperate here in South Aust, but oh boy the summers are hot and dry. I remember when I was younger and still learning about growing veges, whilst my (now deceased) father was the master of all vege growers, and a good teacher, but I had some monumental failures. I still think of him when I'm planting onions, pruning tomatoes etc. We're having success with most of the veges we grow, except I gave up on growing Brussel sprouts many years ago. I could not stop them from being covered in aphids, and chemical sprays aren't an option here. We grew some of your purple skinned sweet potatoes a coupe years ago, they were so delicious, and we're trying to get a few plants going again. Gosh they were amazing and we didn't know we could grow them this far south.

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    1. You were fortunate to have a mentor in your father. Even though all my family grew up on farms and worked them, no-one ever taught me to grow fruit and veg. So I'm learning the hard way, lol.

      Those Japanese sweet potatoes, were bred to live in the cooler extremes. So it's definitely the one to grow, if you get cold nights. It has a higher sugar content than the orange sweet potato, and is an excellent substitute for regular white potato. When we discovered regular potatoes wouldn't grow here, the white flesh sweet potato became the obvious replacement.

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  5. I hear what you are saying...it is costing money, time and effort to set up my veggie and fruit tree patch, and I hope the prize will be a more self sufficient existence. I have been flat out trying to get things done before the warm weather gets here. I have made some hugelkultur crossed layered beds and they are just sitting waiting for when the frosts have passed so I can plant some summer vegetables into them. The rain has been pretty much non existent here so water is going to be precious this year :)

    I never had much success with brussel sprouts either, for the same reason as Sally. I learned not to try and grow them again. Kale does exceptionally well in our climate so this is what I plant.

    I had success with sweet potato a couple of years ago so will try them again this year. It is all about learning...what to grow and what doesn't do well :)

    xTania

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    1. It's been a few months since we had rain too, so I feel your pain. I'm glad I'm getting all this feedback about brassicas, because I'm noting it's the hotter climates experiencing problems. Duration of cold, would keep the amount of pests at bay. Where as if you're not cold for long, it doesn't take long for the pest population to build up again. I suspect I may always have problems with brassicas.

      On the other hand, kale does well here too! So agreed, it's finding what does grow well.

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  6. I often get fails in my gardening, but you forgot the best point, when you garden you excise the whole of your mind and body, your mind with the planning and layouts, it does take a lot of thinking about, I also look on line and read items. Then the physical work, and finally the joy once you have completed the task. So your yeald may be low on some things, but the joy is always there.

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    1. This is true also, gardening moves the body and the mind to focus on time spent outdoors. Which is always worth doing. It's a great mental and spiritual connection.

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  7. I have read many times it takes about 10 years to learn how to be a food gardener. My current bugbear is trying to grow from seed. I have not had any success growing from commercial seed. I have had about six or seven volunteer lettuce this year which was super. I have also sprouted some of the seeds I collected from our snow peas and cherry tomatoes.

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    1. It does take a while! If you can find a local seed source, it's so much better. Swapping seeds with locals, will do way better than some of those commercial varieties. Being in Queensland, I've always found Green Harvest Seeds, and Eden Seeds, do well for me. I don't buy the commercial packets, because I'm not sure where they're sourced from.

      Seeds collected in Tasmania, for example, won't grow well in Queensland - and vice versa. As the seeds are grown in vastly different climates. We need seeds with natural resistance to fungal issues. Any volunteers from the garden though, are welcome! They're often the best survivors. Well done for collecting seed.

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  8. Knowing exactly where your food comes from is a pretty important factor - how do you price that?

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    1. And it often tastes vastly superior. :)

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  9. Brassicas do very well for us this far north. Infact I often wonder if planting too early might not be the right way for us. Point being, learning what works in your environment is the way to successful gardening. I do think you will figure it out but seems like you don't get cool enough to begin with..I dont water my garden unless its extremely dry but I plant near natural swales pn tbe other hand, not far from the shade of tree. Are your beds near rockeries or other heat retaining objects? That matters too.

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    1. Reading all the comments, I realise now, we're probably always going to have a pest problem with brassicas. It just doesn't remain consistently cool enough. Where as, in the top half of the US (as with our bottom half of Australia) the land closer to the icy poles, would be more forgiving to brassicas.

      My vegetable patch is located between two block retaining walls. Above and below. My chilli plants and sweet potato didn't die back in winter. So maybe it's too hot an area, for brassicas? Thanks for the feedback. :)

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    2. I'd consider your walls to be heat retainers. Definitely try creating a cooler micro climate for brasicas.

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    3. Yep, agreed. My summer veg will do much better on the walls.

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  10. This continent too! At least in the southeast. I'm always so interested in your blogging posts because my experience is so much the same. And you are so right about practice and experience. It can be discouraging because it takes time (often over seasons) to learn some things but the lessons are invaluable.

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    1. It definitely takes SEASONS to amass enough experience, to grow food well. And we'll probably always be learning, and tweaking our systems. I've certainly learned a lot from everyone sharing their experience, in these comments. Seeing the patterns is the key, so then I can make adjustments.

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  11. This is a good way to look at things! I pay to learn all the time...

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    1. Me too, lol. ;) But it's worth the investment.

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