Holiday Wrap Up – So Much Gardening Fun!

As this is the last day of my holiday, I thought it would be nice to share some of the little things I have been doing around here during the past week.

I was just saying to Kim that I cannot remember when I felt so relaxed.  Thankfully I had the forethought and planning to set the blog in auto mode over the first part of the holidays, so that you all received interesting and relevant information whilst I was kicking back here on my staycation.  Hope you didn’t mind!

So on with the show.

The four broad bean stalks that I had hanging upside down in the carport were ready to collect the seed from.

It is a fairly simple process.  Open up the blackened pods and remove the very dry beans.  Sort out the small from the large, and keep the biggest for next year.

Dried Broad Bean seeds

I think I have enough seeds for next years crop.  They are now safely stored in a glass jar, away from moisture until autumn planting time comes around.

Kim had asked me to build an outdoor shower base so that she can use it after a swim.  I have lots of timber laying around so found the right sized off-cuts and put one together.

Here is the final product, with dressed sides covering up the pine frame.  I used stainless steel decking screws to fasten it together, so it should stand the test of time.

Look, even Teddy approves of his new morning sunbaking deck (shower base)!

Also, I thought it was high time to harvest the two navel oranges that I managed to grow this year.  I was a bit hesitant, but once I cut them open I was delighted.  The sweetness and flavour was amazing.  Freshly picked, homegrown navel oranges are worth the effort.  There are a lot more growing on the trees this year, so hopefully a bigger crop with be ready about this time next year.

Remember this picture from September.  It is of Ben planting Desiree potatoes with lots of dried cow manure.  Fast forward to this week…..

This is the bed today.  The Desiree plants are dying back, and are ready for harvest.  The Pontiac spuds to the left of the L shaped bed are still growing strong.
Here is a peek at the base of one of the plants just under the surface of the soil.  I covered it back over after taking the photo to stop it going green.
Over the last few days, I have been harvesting spuds from the plants that had died off.  This little haul (2.9 kg) was from only 3 plants.  My experiment of keeping just one eye on each seed potato seems to have paid off.  These are some of the biggest spuds I have ever grown.
Since the first few plants, I have harvested another 3 kg from two more, with many more still waiting in the ground.  Probably the best place for them until we need more.
We have been enjoying the really large fist sized 400g spuds as jacket potatoes with home grown red onion, a little bit of butter, and grated Cotswold cheese.  They make an amazing meal!

Whilst not ready for harvest, the Queensland Blue pumpkins are growing well.  I did an audit this morning and found five about this size (soccer ball size), with many more waiting for pollination.  Herein lays the problem.  For whatever reason, there is a lack of bees around here, so I have been pollinating by hand.  It is a relatively task, but I would rather nature take care of this for me.  Bee hives are definitely needed sooner rather than later!

Each morning I keep a vigil, looking for more female flowers ready to tickle with a male flower.  Sounds a bit rude but it needs to be done if I am to maximise this harvest.

And finally, some carrots.  These were some of the longest I have grown, and even though the tops were small, the hidden carrots was about 20cm long.  A bit of a bonus as I thought I had dug all of these up.  I used them all in a vegetable curry, which was delicious.

Over the last two weeks we have been spoilt by all the home harvest.  In the carport, laid on a large tressel table is my crop of red and brown onions drying out.  They are a bit iffy mainly because too many of them grew flower heads which affects the storage life of the onion.  Mind you, they will still get eaten.  We will just remove the tough core before cooking with them.

The garlic has been getting a flogging in meals as has the dried herbs I saved after trimming most of the oregano, sage, and rosemary bushes.  Even though fresh is much stronger, dried herbs comes in handy during the winter when growth slows right down.

The few apricots that grew were eaten before Christmas by parrots which was disappointing, however we managed to pick about 20 ANZAC Peaches off the other tree before they got to them.  Delicious as always.  I have yet to net the nectarine and golden peach trees, and need to get my act together with the Jonathan apples as well.  Sounds like a job for my down-shift day on Wednesday!

Well dear readers, that should bring you up to speed with going-ons at the House of TGOG.  Lots more fruit to pick, and veggies to tend during the next few months.  Looking forward to fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini soon.

So, back to work tomorrow, fresh for the new year ahead.

Who else had a relaxing staycation at home?  Did you manage to fit in a few projects or gardening?

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Gavin, glad you had a relaxing staycation at home. I live in the bush and I’ve noticed the lack of bees around my property and I’m even thinking of getting a few hives. Do you think this is a bigger problem than we realise?

    • says

      The loss of bees is a big problem. However, so far, Australia has been spared the worst of the problems plaguing the rest of the world. It won’t stay that way forever so we need to be vigilant.

      One of the problems in the bush is that natives, particularly Eucalypts, flower close together and sometimes erratically from season to season. This has been a problem in central Victoria and Southern NSW for the past few years where very few flower buds reached maturity. This has resulted in no honey collection and many colony deaths despite heavy feeding with sugar syrup etc. This year, however, is looking very good with good flower production across a number of species.

      Unless you have a need for additional bees for pollination you may find that the native bees and the few European bee colonies already in the area are sufficient for the bush land in your areas and that there is no real need to place additional hives on your property.

      If you do want to build up bee numbers in your area, It may be wise to focus on planting plants suitable for bee fodder (both native and exotic) to encourage the establishment of strong colonies. This is especially true if you plan to establish some hives of your own. There are a number of resources around to help you choose the right type of plants.

      This is a pretty good starting point (the PDF is free to download)
      https://rirdc.infoservices.com.au/items/12-014

      Cheers
      MOC

  2. says

    Amazing job Gav. I’ve been back from Timor for two weeks now and I’ve done bugger-all in the garden except pick a bit of fruit and make some jam. I feel a bit guilty now (mind you just “little bit :) ).

    I think we should talk bees. Maybe we can catch up next Saturday or Wednesday afternoon.

    Cheers
    MOC

  3. says

    I decided not to focus too much on drying seeds for storage this year as it’s only my first year over growing things and I also lack the space to hang and dry them properly at the moment but the storage side of the shed is coming together with shelves and hanging space so I will have a go saving my solanaceae seeds and maybe some climbing and dwarf bean seeds should I get crops this year.

  4. says

    They are a nice lot of veggies Gavin. Those potatoes sound like they produce really well, I might try that variety next time :)

    We have stayed home this holiday break, mainly because of the veggie garden and the heatwave we just experienced (several days of 46C). If I wasn’t home it would have died. I have been harvesting sweet potato, cucumbers, tomatoes (made relish and sauce), zucchini (made relish), carrots, kale, celery, capsicums and rhubarb. The pumpkins are doing well, but like you I have to venture out each morning and give nature a helping hand. We never got any apricots this year, apparently because our last winter was too warm and the flowers didn’t set properly, however our nectarines will be ready in about a week. Not as many as usual, but a nice feed all the same :)

    • says

      Hey Tania. Are your nectarines a decent size? For two years running I have a tree full of fruit, but they are relatively small. Might have to thin them out next year to see if they grow larger.

      Well done on keeping your patch alive in that hot weather. Sounds like you had a good harvest.

      Desiree is a nice spud, but apparently they are not very good for frying. Not that I fry them though, but nice to know none the less.

      Gav x

    • says

      Hi Gavin, yes our nectarines are on the small side this year. I am presuming the weather may have something to do with it. We pruned our tree two years ago, so I would have expected nice size fruit this year :)

  5. Anonymous says

    Hi Gavin,
    it’s great to hear you are getting so much from your plot. It’s really strange to us to hear you’re netting fruiting trees, digging up spuds etc.. as we are in the depths of winter here, and only have kale, beetroot, winter carrots, leeks and swiss chard to pick.. Still what goes around comes around!
    Also love the map at the bottom of the page.. and seeing that we are lit up, strangely often with people from NZ / Eastern Australia, which seems odd. A world-wide community!
    Best wishes from wet and windy Suffolk! (UK)

  6. Anonymous says

    Oops! had a close look at my spuds and i have green ones above ground, one of them is so green that he/she has leaves.

    The bees thing is a puzzle, I had them drinking from the dogs bowl a month ago now they are not visiting, unless the hive is really close they tend to stay focused on a particular species until that is finished then switch to a new supply, they may bypass your garden altogether.
    I am getting waves of native bees and wasps every time something new flowers, I have been trying to photograph them but the variety is overwhelming, every week there are at least a dozen new ones. They are working the fennel and onions today.
    I get the feeling that pumpkins and cucumbers are not high on any pollinators “to do”list and the ants are in there ferrying the pollen away as soon as they can get to it.
    cheers for 2014 Steve

  7. says

    Hello, im green with envy. Tilly dug up and chewed nearly all of my potatoes. Im still finding them throughout the garden and the house. Arghhhh….. Such a puppy. My next crop will be in a vertical tower im yet to design that will be doggy proof. At least i know i was successful by the number ive found.

    I think your shower base is fantastic. Its just like a resort at your place so no wonder you have staycations. Great Job Gav. All that talent and goods looks too – Kim’s a lucky girl. I think you just like getting your “tradie belt” on to impress her. (Im leaving my comments there, who knows where ill end up).

  8. says

    Love the gardening posts! We harvested out spuds as well- don’t they taste so amazing?! It’s getting a bit too hot up our way for the garden at the moment. Waiting for it to cool down a bit- not to mention our possum dramas! It’s all fun though isn’t it!

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