March basket 2017

Sow & Reap – wins and losses of March

cucumbers
Good sized Lebanese cucumbers.

It has been a bit more of an organised approach to planting this month. Seed packets have been sorted into baggies separating those requiring punnets from those happy to be planted directly. I’ve cleared areas of the garden and fed the soil with leftover cow manure from my earlier compost-making project. I have started to revamp the watering systems, although it is taking so long and now summer is over!

WINS

In the past few weeks we have harvested plenty of Wild Sweetie cherry tomatoes and Jaune Flamme salad tomatoes, which did not look yellow in the seed catalogue. Not complaining; they’re delish.

I have blissed out on the sight of towering Van Gogh variety sunflowers lording over the garden bed, abuzz with bees. They definitely complete the picture.

The German chamomile, lemon balm and Thai basil have not been used as much as they should have, although I did make one cup of chamomile and lemon balm tea, which was lovely. Mostly I’ve been feeding the herbs to our new chooks, which I know is a travesty, but I just can’t find time to learn how to dry them properly.

There have been a few cobs of honey and cream variety corn, although they are all missing lots of kernels, giving them a kind of gap-toothed appearance.

My potato crop has been a winner, with loads of good-sized Toolangi and Ruby Lou variety spuds impressing the whole family. Brown onions that I had long ago given up on delivered the goods, albeit in miniature.

Lebanese cucumbers and Black Beauty zucchini are plentiful and we have loved the surprise of lifting leaves to discover enormous specimens hiding underneath. It really seems as though they grow overnight, especially when hot weather follows a day of rain.

gappy corn
A few kernels short of the full cob.

Berries have remained elusive, but being able to pick three or four raspberries or mulberries now and then has been nice. Always eaten on the spot!

We have started to pick apples from one of the trees after finding a gentle tug is enough to release the fruit from its stem. The variety remains a mystery, but they are juicy, crunchy and sweet; yellowy-green and sometimes with a pink tinge.

Recruiting the kids over the course of one week we managed to pick a kilogram of crabapples that I brewed into a rather tasty old-style lemonade from this recipe. I’m looking forward to trying it with vodka, soda and lime.

LOSSES

As for the failures…

The watermelon that was looking so good and growing steadily, suddenly stopped growing and went all soggy as did the equally promising Atlantic Giant cultivar pumpkin. Our solitary passionfruit also gave up. The chooks have benefited from these failures.

Of the fruit trees I bought last year, the cherry is a mere stick, the blood orange seems to have remained the same size, one blood plum suddenly shrivelled up one weekend, while its buddy that had been growing so well was recently ambushed by kangaroos and is now devoid of leaves. The lemon tree refuses to fruit despite an enthusiastic supply of urine, and I’m about ready to pull out the pear trees, which have never in at least five years of loving attention produced anything more than a few blossoms.

sunflower waking
Sunflowers make everything good

OPTIMISM

This planting period I have sown punnets of early variety onion, broccoli, mini cabbage and cauliflower, kale, iceberg lettuce, Italian lollo lettuce and Australian yellow lettuce for a multicultural mix.

I also transplanted to the main garden bed four mini cabbages and three cauliflowers sown in punnets last month.

After getting off to a good start, I once again lost track of time and left it a late run for the directly sown seeds. Just scraping in before the two-day lead up to the full moon “no-sow” zone, I planted seeds for purple podded, sugar snap and snow peas alongside coriander, spinach, cos lettuce, mizuna, roquette and cress. In a nearby bed I sowed some more roquette and heirloom radish, although I don’t know why seeing as no one eats it. I think it is the satisfaction of having something sprout and grow quickly.

And as mentioned we now have chooks! So we are harvesting a regular supply of eggs and absolutely loving it. Stay tuned for the fowl details in my next post.

How’s your harvest been this month and what are you planting?

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