Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Slapdash gardening

Sunday saw the end of daylight saving, and coincidentally, the end of the hot, steamy summer weather. Hooray! There is definitely an autumn nip in the air. Winter here we come.

Spent a couple of hours in the garden on Sunday:

Harvesting: lettuce, beans, zucchini, capsicum, cherry tomatoes, broccoli.

Planted: Lettuce (cos and radicchio), cabbage, fennel, leeks.

We are coming to the end of our peak production period of December to April, where 80-90% of the fruit and veg we eat comes from the garden. In winter we go down to about 50%. Early spring is our lean time. The amazing thing is that the garden produces this much despite me.

I admit I am a bit of a slapdash gardener. Take a look at our vegetable garden. Slapdash. No edges, wonky chicken wire fence, seedlings planted wherever there is room. Crop rotation? What a laugh. Note also the results of my tactical error in planting pumpkin vines in the main vegie garden. They have taken half the garden over, and I have run out of planting room for winter veg, so our winter harvest will be well down this year. You won’t see a picture like that in any gardening magazine any time soon.

I love my vegie garden and being in it, I really do. I can spend hours at a time tending it. Trouble is, I tend to do this every few weeks and literally nothing else between times. Good, conscientious gardeners will tell you little and often is the name of the game. That way, you can nip any problems in the bud. I know this, and can appreciate the advice. Acting on it is the issue.

I would like to start growing stuff from seed, but I know that my inconsistency would be a big disadvantage. Seeds need to be coddled along, and I can’t rely on myself to coddle. So I buy seedlings, and occasionally direct sow into the garden. That does me until I can get my act together.

The good news is that nature is very forgiving. It doesn’t matter that your gardens edges aren’t straight. Even my slapdash efforts yield impressive results - well, I'm impressed at least. The one thing I do that I think insulates me from total disaster is ensuring the soil is well fed to start with. I have a compost heap, I have worms, and I gather chook poo and sheep manure (fun!) and I fork this all in before I plant. I'm proof that if you have good soil, and you mulch well, you can get away with a certain amount of slapdashery.

So, all of you out there who would like to try their hand at growing their own veg but feel they may have slapdash tendencies for whatever reason, my advice is go for it. Some vegetables, however grown, are better than none.

A fruit fly postscript: A sad story. Over the last few weeks we have tossed kilos of feijoa and grapefruit into plastic bags to cook them in the sun before throwing them out. Such waste!
I have written before about our efforts to eradicate this pest. It seems now that all our efforts would be doomed to failure. We have become aware that a couple of our neighbours have fruit trees that they do not tend, so they are breeding grounds for fruit fly. In the face of this, we are always going to fight a losing battle with FF. Sigh. I'm wondering whether the orchard is worth it, to tell the truth...


Arwen said...

Sounds like your messy garden is really productive and that's definitely the important part. I'm struggling to get something big enough to eat out of my new balcony pots. I'm eating parsley and trying to be patient.

With coddling seeds you could try a germination box. That way they stay moist and you don't have to water them while you wait for them to germinate.

Paola said...

Thanks for the tip, Arwen. I didn't realise a germination box doesn't need such close attention. I'll definitely look into it...