This year, I started a lot of summer crops early in my new greenhouse, hoping to be able to get them planted out and underway that little bit earlier, and so enabling me to begin harvesting earlier, but also to extend the season and have more time for those warmth loving crops to really do well. Unfortunately, the weather has not co-operated, and most of those plants have either died, or are doing so poorly I'm starting over. Ah well, that's just how it goes! But, this is one of the times where taking monthly or fairly regular garden photos can be a real encouragement, as it shows me that despite how badly it feels like the season is going so far, there ARE plants that are doing well, and the garden IS developing!
So, let's take a look around my garden - photos taken on Dec 13th:
Behind the root crop beds, are two beds for fruiting crops. The first is planted with tomatoes plus companion plants, and the second so far has some cucumber, peppers, and spaghetti squash in it, as well as calendula flowers. I’ll be adding more peppers and probably trail one or two buttercup pumpkins off the end of the bed. Of course, I grow many more fruiting crops than I can fit in these two beds, so many things are planted elsewhere.
To the right of the photo are the two beds currently in legume crops. One has had broad beans in it since March, which I have just finished harvesting and clearing, and will soon plant climbing beans in it. The other is planted in various varieties of dwarf beans. I’m also growing peas and more beans on the trellis against the far fence, and on other trellises and beds around the property. I’m also going to grow some climbing beans up some of my cornstalks.
The furthest away beds contain my leafy green crops – currently a bed full of rainbow silverbeet, a smaller bed of a white pearl sweetcorn, and a second small bed of celery.
Closer photos of individual beds in this group will appear in subsequent posts.
This one has peas growing on the trellis against one fence, some corn cockle, rosemary and dahlias along the back by the brown fence, Lemon balm, sage and garlic chives in the middle, and is planted with red and brown onions at the front, though the plants are small and hard to see in this photo.
Interesting to note: I sowed onion seed in trays in my greenhouse in early August, and planted these seedlings out in mid September. There were quite a few left over onion seedlings, and not having anywhere ready to plant them, I put them into bigger seed trays, more spaced out, in some potting mix, and put them back in the corner of my greenhouse, on the floor. If you compare the seedlings in the bed in this pic with the seedlings in the closest bed in the photo above, which are the left over ones that I only got around to planting out on the 1st of Dec, you can probably tell there is quite a difference in size and vigour. Another case of "I may as well have waited." Actually, onion seedlings are pretty hardy - last year I sowed some in my then-plastic house in spring, but didn't get around to planting them out until late Jan - meanwhile they languished in the corner, getting watered when I remembered. After planting they grew well, though slowly at first, despite continued neglect, until I pulled them out so I could use the bed for something else in October (at which point they were just beginning to bulb up quite well, but I needed the space).
Dwarf Munstead lavender
Some pink alyssum in the middle
There is a white alpine strawberry in the tyre in the left front corner, and some peas growing on a bike-wheel trellis just off the right side of the photo.
I’ve also planted lemon verbena, soapwort, fennel, rosemary, cape gooseberry, Yates Tiny Tim tomatoes, nasturtium, lavendar, impatiens, geranium, and several flower species into spaces around the outside edges of the bed, though you can’t see those in this photo.
I enjoy the rustic charm of this bed, as well as all the productivity.
I planted pansies and cornflowers under and behind the feijoas. Phacelia that self-seeded from last year has grown up there too, and the bees are loving it so much I’ve left it to do it’s thing. It will be finished soon, and then I’ll clear the phacelia out and leave the other plants to develop further. Right now it’s a bit of a tangle of cornflowers, phacelia and pansies, but it looks nice, and is providing well for the bees and beneficial insects, plus we eat the cornflower and pansy flowers too.
In the foreground are two potted scented geraniums – peppermint and lemon. They smell delicious!
Behind the herb tree, which is doing really well, is a wooden frame for one of the two new beds I will be putting in there shortly, and planting with watermelons.
Growing in the narrow bed below the fence are various colours of nasturtiums, a rosebush, and some mini-white cucumbers.
Behind that, on the left of the photo, is a row of herbs planted in brick squares. They include chives, rosemary, coriander, oregano, pizza thyme and common thyme.
To the right of the herb row is a row of small zinnia seedlings, then a row of chive plants. Next to the chives is a pathway that’s been allowed to grow full of white and red clover, which is adding nitrogen to the soil, and bringing in the bees! I give it a haircut by hand every now and then, and the “chopped and dropped” clover feeds the soil.
Beside the clover paths is a large rectangular area planted in three varieties of popcorn – yellow, black and strawberry. The seedlings are about 4 inches tall now.
To the far right of the photo is a lemon tree, a triple apple, and various plants – including a choko which will soon cover the fence, some lush lemon balm, a young crown pumpkin and some swan plants for the monarch.
At the rear of the photo is a large garden bed with runs from side to side of the photo. At one end is my orange archway trellis, planted with cucumbers, peas and lettuce. At the other end is a bed full of yacon, with a row of zucchini down one side, plus zinnas, cornflowers and dahlias bordering the other three sides.
All in all, this is a very varied and productive area!
In the foreground is a half-circle bed I created recently from left over bricks. It contains a damson plum I was given as a seedling and calendula, with some Roman Chamomile growing around the edges.
At the far end is the higher side of my trellised fence, dividing my vegetable garden area from the house and main yards, to keep the dogs out. The rescued Banksia rose I planted against the fence last summer is filling out over the trellis. The lush parsley that has been growing at it’s base all year is now flowering, which is great for beneficial insects, and on the other side is a border of flowers facing the house.
Geraniums and impatiens grow in a row under the windows of the building.
Over winter, there were many Rainbow Chard plants growing along here - a few of them, together with some perpetual spinach, have been left in to go to seed, both so I can collect seed, and because they are great for the beneficial insects. The leeks I am growing as a perpetual crop at the far end are also starting to flower.
I recently planted 3 fruit trees in half-barrels - two citrus, because they need to be moved to the greenhouse in winter, and a fig because they like having restricted roots and that way they produce better and don't become unmanageable in size.
I have underplanted the fig with parsley, the orange tree with red strawberries, and the manderin with a while alpine strawberry.
Most of the corn is Rainbow Inca multi-coloured sweetcorn, with a few bigger Kaanga Maa white pearl corn in the far corner. There are more gaps than I would like, thanks to birds digging up some seedlings, but I’ll just use those spaces to start some buttercup pumpkins which will trail around the bed and shade the roots of the plants. The sunflowers will grow around the sides, and be supported by the frame too.
I used old concrete piles and rocks that were laying around the property to create the sides for the raised area, and a garden bed along the front edge, which is filled with Chilean Guavas and strawberries. A visiting young man installed the four posts I bought, and then his brother and my son (both conveniently very tall) mounted the old fence posts across the top. Some steel reinforcing mesh created the trellises on both sides.
One side is planted with a stauntonia, a climbing vine which produces, all going well, edible passionfruit-like fruit. Underneath it are more strawberries and calendula. The stauntonia was planted last year, and showed little sign of growth until recently, when it has begun to wind it's way up the trellis.
On the other side, I planted sweetpeas, which have always failed for me in the past, but this year have done spectacularly well! I never dreamed they would grow over 2m tall! There are more calendula in front of the sweet peas, and I recently planted a choko at their base, which will begin to grow and take over the trellis as the flowers die off. To the rear on the fence is a young grapevine.
Food, fragrance, beauty and comfortable contemplation in the swingseat I got for free and my daughters painted and recovered. :-)