Garden Share Collective – April

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I always like to read last month’s Garden Share Collective  post so I can see the progress I’ve made. Well, that’s the theory!  Here is my April contribution to Lizzie’s Garden Share Collective from Strayed from the Table.

As we slide into Autumn the pace of growth dramatically changes in the vege garden but there is still loads to harvest and a never ending list of Jobs To do. While I get very excited about the prospect of spring I also feel a kind of relief as I get to Autumn. It’s the comma in a long sentence of gardening effort! A time to take a breath; slow the pace down a little and re-focus.

Last month I wrote a lot about collecting seeds. I think I’m becoming a little obsessed. Seed collecting was high on my To Do List and it is still high up there! I like to go Seed Spotting round the garden. I’ve spent most of my gardening career focusing on growing from seed and it’s only now that I’ve started to become interested in collecting seeds. It’s a very grounding task; a reminder of the cycle of growing our food and why I’m growing it in the first place. Let’s face it, sowing seeds, preparing the beds, making the compost, harvesting, preserving and repeating the whole process requires a huge amount of effort and time. I mainly grow veges to provide chemical free food for my family but the other benefits I’ve discovered along the way include having access to a greater variety of veges, becoming a more intuitive cook (I use what I have and it’s seasonal) and the more spiritual aspects of gardening. There’s nothing quite like getting your hands dirty and creating something meaningful. Anyway, back to seeds….this is what I’ve harvested so far and I have loads more to go….

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….German Chamomile, Basil Genovese, pink and white Cosmos, Calendular Officinalis and Calendular ‘Porcupine. The Calendular is ostensibly for the Wild Flower garden I’m planning in the paddock but I might keep some for the vege garden too.

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The Basil balanced precariously on the bowl has been a source of fascination for me. I’ve learnt that you need to catch the seeds before they go brown! As you look at the stems you can see both brown and green seed pods and if you look inside you can see the seeds. It’s a bit of a fiddle to get them out which is why I’m going to let them fall out when they’re ready – I need something better to catch them in than that bowl! It’s a learning curve and one that I am enjoying.

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I also collected some bean seeds from my All Time Favourite little bean “King of the Blues”. He is a beautiful purple bean; very handsome and tasty too so I’m hoping I can grow some from this harvest.

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Top of my To Do list was to plant out/sow some winter veg. I have to admit I bought seedlings from the Farmer’s Market. Not ideal but Needs Must and all that. So I now have Pak Choi, NZ Spinach, Rainbow Beet (otherwise known as Chard which always makes me think of Somerset Auntie C!), Snow Peas and Pea ‘Easy Peasy’.

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I was also seduced by the celery even though past celery growing experiences have been fraught with disappointment. That’s the optimism of the vege gardener! I’m still busy harvesting. I delay the Big Tidy Up as long as I can in order to extend my harvesting season. Look at my haul from today…..

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Beautiful beetroot destined to be roasted and popped into juices and I’m still getting sweet cherry tomatoes and spring onions. I made a few jars of Tomato Relish but I think I need to make more to last us through…

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This is the final harvest of the cute little Carrots ‘Paris Market’ and some strong and healthy looking Sweet Fennel and  Parsley. This parsley will see us through winter and into Spring. It’s a Super Food which we add to many dishes.

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Still plenty of berries to throw into salads from the stalwart spinach strawberry plant. I’ll definitely grow this again next spring.

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Now for a little mystery…. Look at my monster of a Lemon Grass bush. I grew this from seed back in October. It’s a giant but the stems are weedy and thin.  There are a few thicker specimens but they are green when they should be white. I’ve double checked that the seeds are the proper Lemon grass Cymbopogon citratus and indeed they are. I’m really, really hoping that the stems will thicken up and whiten in the next few weeks so I can prepare them for freezing.

My To do list for April is to start a mammoth Tidy Up which includes composting or burning old crops, weeding and covering empty beds, mulching and generally putting the garden to bed. I also need to clean the greenhouse and wash plant pots and store. I’m really pleased with the weed free paths in my vege garden (we re-weed matted in the spring here). I have my eye on weedmatting around the greenhouse this winter to create a storage area for the many plastic pots I re-use each year. So, still lots to do and a new seed saving obsession to indulge! Happy gardening and pop over to Lizzie’s Garden Share Collective from Strayed from the Table.

 

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27 thoughts on “Garden Share Collective – April

  1. Lovely harvest. I did smile when I read about your quest for seasonal produce because Mud did a quick shop yesterday and was rendered speechless by what the Supermarket claimed to be seasonal veg:

    Asparagus, sugar snaps, green beans and mini sweet corn – all from other countries and non of it (perhaps barring the asparagus) seasonal in the UK right now 😲

    • I remember when I first grew lemon grass and my Father in law weeded my vege patch while we were away on holiday. You guessed it – he weeded my tiny little clump of 1/2 cm tall lemon grass specimen! You can imagine how I felt! I read that lemon grass is great for planting around seating areas as the lemon-y scent deters midges and little biting insects. I also love the sound of the leaves rustling in the breeze! A really fab plant!

  2. Hey Sarah .. Love seeing what’s happening in your garden. You always have such interesting plants. I have a couple of lemon grass clumps which love growing in huge tubs. Wonderful stuff. I haven’t done much seed saving this year. Although I did let spring onions do their thing and then threw the seed around my salad garden. Yep they are up and at ’em! Thanks for your sharing your wonderful place.

    • Hello and love your new photo! I keep thinking I should put my photo up too instead of Slippy the Chicken! So, does your lemon grass have thick white stems? I grew mine from seeds that I bought from King’s Seeds. I might send them a photo and see what they say about my weedy little lemon grass stems. Will pop over to your garden in a min. Glad I got some gardening in yesterday it’s tipping down with rain here today!

  3. The strawberry spinach looks interesting – not something I’ve come across before, but I might look out some seed to try. Do your pea plants overwinter to produce a crop next spring?

    • I have to admit that this is my first real attempt at growing veg for the winter apart from the usual broccoli and beetroot. The theory is that yes, the peas over winter so you get a crop in Spring. It’s pretty mild here in the winter so I’m hoping it’ll work. I sowed sweetpea seed in autumn last year and they overwintered perfectly and gave a great show of flowers in the spring. I’d definitely give the spinach strawberry a go. The leaves and fruit are great additions to a salad. It’s very easy to grow and lasts well into autumn 🙂

  4. Seed saving does become a bit obsessive doesn’t it. I go through phases of keeping everything for seed. Though some things like beans I do religiously for each new planting and i find that they are tough each time i do grow them for our climate. Your garden is thriving and I am going to have to find some of those Paris Market carrots to grow.

    • It really is! I’m saving some seed to grow and some seeds I will use in cooking. Growing veges certainly encourages creativity 🙂 Hope you find some Paris Market carrots to grow. They are very cute.

  5. I enjoyed this post and it has fueled my enthusiasm for collecting seeds, something I have only dabbled in to-date. With regards to your lemon grass, mine looked like yours in the first year and then this year (the second year), the stalks really thickened up and now it is simply bursting out of it’s little box with many, many fat and juicy stems.

    • Thanks for that Angela. I did wonder if I needed to just give it time. Can’t wait to harvest it though. I make these little spicy pork balls with lemon grass and I’m looking forward to harvesting and using my own 🙂

      • I contacted Kings Seeds and they said it gets thicker with time and takes 1-2 years for the stems to become established (a bit like asparagus). So by next year I should have a plentiful supply of thick stems! That’s good to know. Just have to be patient 🙂

      • Brilliant! I learnt a lesson that you really need to plant it where you want it to stay long term. I’m not sure whether it is deep rooted, however I cannot shift mine for love nor money! Happy growing!

      • I learnt that lesson with comfrey! It’s a giant and as soon as you disturb the root to move it you find it growing All Over The Place….. 🙂 Sadly I din’t realise Lemon grass was like that too so looks like my Spice Bed is going to be permanent!

      • Ha ha yes, that was my experience too! What other spices do you grow? Feel free to point me to a post if you have one. Spices are my next experiment.

      • I just started growing spices this year so I’m still learning. I’m always hovering around the Spice bed to see if any seeds are ready. I’ve harvested Black Cumin this year but I think Fennel and Caraway are biennial so will have to wait till next year for some good seeds. I also tried anise, anise Hyssop, Chamomile (more of a herb) and lemon grass. Have a look at my Nov GSC post https://thefigtree.co.nz/2013/11/03/garden-share-collective-november/ and you’ll see the start of my spices!

      • Thanks Sarah, great post. I need to start thinking about what to grow. I am stalking some saffron corms from Country Trading , ginger and a few others. Happy gardening 🙂

    • That is a very good idea! We actually have some rain today (hurray!) so when things dry out a bit I’ll go and pick some more and do the bag trick! 🙂

  6. It seems so funny to read about putting the garden to bed just as I am planning my first outdoor sowings! Good luck with your winter veg – after our mild winter I wish I had put some peas in – I think they would have done really well this year. I am glad to hear that you are planning a good tidy up in your veg garden – I didn’t get through all my beds last autumn and now have a very weedy mess to clear up!

    • It’s such a big job isn’t it! I love it when it’s done though and the new plants are in looking healthy and shiny! It is funny seeing what goes on in the garden on the other side of the world. I find it really helps with my planning!

  7. Pingback: The Garden Share Collective : April 2014

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