We have had a couple of busy weekends here at the farm with harvest last weekend and just this Sunday gone, a bit of a house yard clean up which included, but was not limited to a chainsaw massacre of trees and a cull in the veggie patch. Thanks to all the clearing, I have a heap of bare garden beds next to the front door to plan for and fill and a few new spaces by the water for some beautiful feature trees.
I also spent a couple of hours weeding and tidying up the roundabout garden bed last Sunday and there is plenty of room now for lots of new plants to fill the spaces for the coming Spring.
The only problem is deciding what to grow.
The veggie patch has been very productive over the summer with an endless supply of cucumbers, perfect green capsicums, plenty of tomatoes which have already been made into relish and green tomato pickles, eggplants, pumpkins and a handful of pears. There is a healthy stash of basil just starting to flower now, a couple of watermelons and plenty of weeds. Oh my, the weeds!!!
As you can see from the above picture there was plenty of work to be done. We pulled out the cucumber vines, beans, zucchini plants, pumpkin vines, spent annual flowers. the corn stalks and a myriad of weeds.
As with all gardening adventures and this my biggest veggie patch attempt to date, there are plenty of things that I have learnt as well as what I would do differently for the next Summer patch. Here is a summary of sorts...
-Plants need lots of space to grow. A single Zucchini seedling in particular needs at least a squared meter to grow for the summer and I will be allowing for this next year. We were stepping on the leaves every time we went to harvest cucumbers and tomatoes. Thankfully Zucchinis are hardy plants.
- A few plants were smothered in the patch like my Rose cuttings for example. Thankfully they were still alive and growing beneath the cucumber and eggplants and two even flowered. The Coriander and Dill also didn't have enough room to grow properly, and I couldn't even tell if the Asparagus was ok for all the cucumber vine growing around it. I will definitely plan for this much better next year and might even move some herbs to other garden beds around the house. I will also be relocating the Strawberries to their own garden bed so they can't send runners all through the patch and so we don't stand on them to get around part of the patch.
-Tomatoes never stop growing. Initially I did well to string up the tomatoes and had them growing up through a third string line of support about 1.5m high and this was not high enough. The vines are now cascading and hanging over the sides of the string support with the weight of the tomatoes. Whilst this hasn't affected the tomatoes, it just makes for messy vines and not so easy picking. I think I will tie them each to a single stake again next Summer and I will make an effort to train them better next year. Thankfully we didn't have too much humid weather as I think I would have had a fair bit of disease for all the crowding.
- Flowers are a veggie patches best friend. I had Zinnias, Cosmos, Roses, Calendula and Marigolds flowering all Summer and the bees loved them. Including plenty of Blue-Banded bees. The are so amazing to watch.
Im also certain the flowers are the reason why I didn't have many issues with pests eating holes in and damaging the produce. Even better was that we didn't have evidence of a single fruit fly.
-The only 'treatments' of a chemical kind that were applied to the veggie patch was some tomato dust on the tomatoes very early on in the growing season when I noticed a bit of yellowing of leaves at the bottom of the plants and Cam sprayed part of the patch with some leftovers from the vineyard to treat powdery mildew very early on in the season as well. We also applied a couple of doses of complete fertiliser that Cam found in the old shed when he knocked it down.
- Damage that did present itself was powdery mildew on the cucumbers and zucchinis just the last few weeks, which I probably should have removed earlier but it didn't seem to be affecting the fruit so I left it until this weekend. I also had a few tomatoes split after we had some big rains following prolonged stints of warm, dry weather.
Codling moths also wrecked havoc on the apples early in the season and upon research I apparently have to get onto prevention methods right now. Has anyone got any advice for this?
- Cow manure is a great addition to the soil to help everything grow. Thankfully we have plenty of it here at the farm.
- When do you pick pears? They are still hanging strong on the trees so Im just waiting until they easily come off. I know they probably need to ripen inside but what is the consensus here? Tips please!
- Weeds are a menace and make the patch look quite unsightly. Most of the weeds here were actually around the fruit trees and I had a watermelon vine growing in and amongst it all which didn't help my cause. I definitely need to make more of an effort with the weeds next year.
-I had way to many cucumbers from four vines. Whilst I made a few batches of pickles using this recipe, there was still too many to eat and give away. Also too, some of them grew much to big so I know now to be checking them everyday and I probably will only need one vine next year. I will also only be planting three Cherry Tomato plants and not five seedlings. One can only eat so many tomatoes. I was happy with the six seedlings of the bigger varieties though. This was the perfect amount for us for pickles, relish, sharing and eating of course! The tomatoes look to be good for fruit for a few weeks yet too.
I will also stagger my planting of Sweet Corn. Whilst I enjoy eating it and it was a beautiful crop, I didn't enjoy eating it everyday for the two weeks we had it ripening. I must say I do get sick of eating the same thing over and over again.
Im very happy with my efforts this Summer and really enjoyed growing just enough in most cases for us to use and enjoy in the moment. I have always liked the idea of growing for preserving to use later on and I may grow more in the future but I really dont think I'm ready for this type of gardening yet. I didn't like the glut of cucumbers and corn we had so Im thinking less is best for the moment here in my patch.
Here is a pic of my patch after our efforts on Sunday. You can actually see where the pathway is through the tomatoes!!
Lots of planning and prepping to be done here before the end of April when the winter crops will be going in.
What was your best crop and tips? Do share away.
Thanks for visiting today.