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How my garden grew - 2012 Update

Last summer - successes
  • Cherry tomatoes - the random compost sprouting tomatoes provided enough for salads, but it would have been nice to have more of them to freeze
  • Beans - this year I managed to protect my green beans from cattle (although Bella took an early interest) and even though the chickens launched a late attack on anything that came over their side of the fence, I managed to harvest a decent amount for eating and freezing - 3 climbing plants and 3 bush plants were sufficient. 
  • Potatoes - I planted most of them in a drum and the leftovers in the garden.  Ironically it was the leftovers that did really well, I think the drum ones got too hot and dried out.   
  • Basil - last year it grew to one metre before I noticed, this year I pinched off all the growth tips every few days and produced a lovely little bush of basil :)
  • Mini capsicums - one plant survived the frost and is thriving, although I can't take any credit, I just cut it back and left it alone!
  • Spring onions - always a winner! 
  • Herbs - all except the mints did well, think it got too hot and dry, they look miserable, but still alive.
  • Radishes - first time I've grown these and they did well until we had some very hot days.
  • Lettuce - did well until I tried to plant some seedlings on a hot HOT day and they all died.
  • Button squash - I did have some blossom end rot issues and could have done with some more squashes for the freezer.  
  • Pickling cucumbers - 3 vines was plenty!  8 jars of pickles in the fridge and more that I gave away already. 
  • Shade - beans, arrowroot and pawpaw plants provided shade on all sides and the shade cloth provided shade up above, I think this saved some of the more delicate veges on the hottest summer days.

the garden in summer
Last summer - Failures
  • Corn - started too late as I didn't have viable seed and then got swamped by my companion planted squash!   
  • Zuchinnis - after yielding only 2-3 zuchinnis the 4 plants wilted and died!  I want to try trombochino next - supposed to be more hardy and as a climber won't take up so much space
  • Peas - need to try not planting them next to the onions!  They seem to produce most in spring and autumn, don't like too hot or too cold.
  • Pumpkins - I started them early, expecting Dec rain like last year and then it was just hot and dry, so most withered, no pumpkins harvested :(
  • Eggplant - I started early, but found that my seed was too old, bought more seeds and finally raised 4 plants, waited for months, and had 4 tine eggplants before the plants died.  Questioning whether its worth the effort.

Winter 2012 - Successes
  • Kale - wow I wish I had known about kale before!  It grows really well in my garden, it is still going, even though the other brasicas have gone to seed already.  I used it in every meal, it is good cooked or raw, stirred into casseroles, salads, quiche or just steamed with other veges.  
  • Cabbage - they didn't grow huge, but enough to make a few coleslaws and chow mein.
  • Mustard greens - these grew really well and have only just gone to seed
  • Silver beet and chard - also did well, but weren't needed as much because there was so much kale to eat :)  starting to go to seed again now though, plenty to share with the chickens
  • Root veges – carrots, turnip, swede, beetroot, radish - this was my first year trying to grow carrots, turnips and swedes, and they did really well, I will be planting more next season.  Beets and radish did not do well over winter, planted more for summer.
  • Broad beans - my first attempt at growing broad beans, they only have a small window here between being too cold and too hot, but its good to have something growing well in early spring at that time while other plants are finishing.
  • Peas - tried 'Lacy Lady' peas that were given to me, they produced well at the same time as the broad beans, much better than last year, so I think the ideal system is to start them in the green house around the end of August to let them get to a decent size before planting out, as they are frost sensitive at the growth tips.
  • Frost preparations - the little greenhouse that I bought to get all my favourites through the winter worked very well.  Only the eggplant didn't make it through.  This gives the chillis a headstart.
The garden in winter
Winter 2012 - Failures
  • Mushrooms - I tried to grow mushrooms using spent mushroom compost and it kept drying out too much.  I put the compost on the garden instead, and now mushrooms are popping up everywhere, but I'm too scared to harvest them just in case they're not the right ones.
  • Garlic - I think the soil was too wet through winter (too enthusiastic with the sprinkler) and the garlic cloves didn't form more cloves.  Think I will grow garlic in a separate container next year, so I can get the soil/water right.
  • Broccoli - still didn't get many big heads and a few of the plants never produced a head at all (fed the plants to Bella instead)
This Summer so far....

  • bed 1 - tomatoes (taxi, tropic, swift, roma, amish paste and some randoms from the compost), herbs (basil, coriander, marigold).  Still waiting on a swede, turnip and carrot to go to seed.
  • bed 2 - carrots (mixed), radish (mixed), beets (mixed), silverbeet, kale, chives, lettuce, broccoli (which went to seed and is now regrowing, leaving it as an experiment) 
  • bed 3 - dill, chillis, eggplant, mustard (going to seed), beets and silverbeet, the garlic failure (just going to mulch over it and see if they try again next season), ginger, potato (popped up again from last year)
  • bed 4 -corn, bush beans (soy, burgandy, borlotti, butter)
  • around the sides - climbing beans (princess, and saved), cucumber, pickling cucumber, trombocino, poor mans beans, pineapples (I just keep trying!), caldendula, cosmos
  • in pots - oregano, yarrow, thyme, peppermint, mint, strawberries, soapwort, chillis, comfrey, lemon grass, tarragon, rosemary, rosellas
  • the curcubit extension - pumpkin (golden nugget, delicata), squash (button), water melon (sugar baby)
  • around the outside - rue, tansy, wormwood, comfrey, arrowroot, artichoke, geranium, nasturtium, lavender, one surviving paw paw
The corn is doing better than usual, but I've had some setbacks with getting the curcubits started, as the chickens keep getting in and digging them up.  I'm looking forward to lots of tomatoes this year...

Other new projects from 2012

  • Worm farm - I bought a worm farm mid-year and started with a handful of worms from a friend's wormfarm, they have now bred, and wormfarm is full of worms and tiny brown frogs.  I harvest the worm tea every few weeks, but I haven't harvested any compost yet, that should be a post of next year!
  • Compost - I'm still running my compost bin too, so if the worms are full the kitchen scraps go in the compost, otherwise its mainly cow manure and wasted hay.  I also still have my compost tea drum, which I also pour around the garden every few weeks.
  • Aquaponics - this is a very unfinished project!  We have had a kit for nearly year, but the instructions followed the kit several months later, so that was our first excuse, and then we went and bought Cheslyn Rise, having only completed the roof of the shed for the aquaponics.  There is much more to do and we're trying not to stress about it.  We are going to set it up at Nanango so we can learn about it, and do a better set-up at Chesleyn Rise when we move, if we get on with it, we might be able to time it with the fish being the ideal size to harvest the whole lot just when we want to move it....
  • Saving seed - this year I have continued to save seeds from anything that decides to seed.  Not only does this save money, it also ensures that we have seeds available into the future.  I have saved seeds from beans, peas, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumber, pumpkin and brasicas.  I need to learn more about saving seed from biennials such as swede and carrot though. 
How did your garden grow this year?  What are you plans for next year?  Feel free to post a link in the comments if you've done a similar review on your blog...


  1. Good job! Sounds like the experiences I have in my patch.
    I can honestly say that there isnt a single item that has grown exactly the same year in year out.
    The one thing I cannot seem to grow successfully are green beans. It makes no difference if they are seedlings or seeds; bush or climbing or time of year planted(I live in the subtropics.)The soil is free draining with plenty of compost, dynamic lifter, seaweed emulsion every 3 weeks and watering is regular. They start off beautifully, with copious amounts of flowers and then they start to wither from the bottom up. The stem at soil level looks darker and kind of hollow, and sometimes with bite marks??? I only ever manage to harvest a handful. I just cannot figure out what I'm doing wrong!!!! I would love to hear your thoughts.

  2. what a good idea to assess all your gardening efforts! I find though that each year is different and you can never tell at the end of the wet season if it is suddenly going to dry up or the wet season extend a little longer.... I am experimenting with plants that seem to like this climate in the wet season - choko, long beans, winged beans etc. Farmer wife - I wonder if you don't have bacterial wilt - we have a lot of problems like that here. I find it is better to grow the long beans and winged beans.

  3. What a great post. I came by to return the blog visit and thank you for your comment on mine. I was just in the garden today and I need to do something like this. I didn't get much of a fall garden in because of house projects. But our spring planting will be here before I know it.

  4. Nice blog Liz! I backtracked to your blog after seeing your comments about the rennets over at '5 acres and a dream'. Just for your info, all the plants Leigh mentions as being usable veg. rennets can be found in Oz with the possible exception of 'ground ivy' although even that plant looks familar to me when I do a google.

    I've bookmarked your blog and will visit and read again.

    Fran (in NSW)

  5. Hi Farmer Liz
    Just thought I would update on my bean growing issues...
    Africanaussie,I too was thinking it was a form of wilt. I pulled out one of the sickly plants and cut open the stem to find little larvae in the stem. After much time on google and books from the local library I stumbled across this article.
    The problem with my beans is the bean fly! I now know what steps to take. It has also been suggested I grow snake beans in summer.
    Many thanks

  6. Hi everyone, unfortunately I'm no garden expert, so I wasn't able to help with the bean question :) I am just trying to learn what grows for me, and when some veges don't do well, I just try a different variety. Happy gardening everyone!


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