23 February 2009

Feburary - In the Garden

February, like December and January, has mostly just been too hot for gardening! The rain we've had in the last few weeks has meant that it's cooled down enough to get out there a little in the morning and evening, and most of that time has been spent pulling out the weeds that have been growing like, well, weeds. Luckily some of the plants have been growing likewise, without any attention from me. In fact, I'm surprised that we're actually starting to get a decent amount of food out of the block to supplement our diets. The chickens are back to laying 2-3 eggs a day, which is just enough for us for now. Hopefully there will be even more as the weather cools down though. Still, it has meant that we haven't had to buy a single egg since they started laying! That's been five months now!

The front garden has been taken over by volunteer pumpkin vines that I somehow missed pulling out. They sprout themselves from seeds in the compost, and being a small area, I tried to pull them out, but these took hold after it was too hot to do much. They've covered pretty much the entire area, smothering even the watermelons. They haven't been too good since the first half dozen though, either too ripe, not ripe enough or not enough water. We're still getting a few though, and being fresh and organic, I'd still rather eat them than store bought ones. Again, we haven't bought a watermelon since we harvested our first one!

My guess is that there are at least 20 or more JAP (short for Just A Pumpkin) pumpkins, some bigger than my head!

There's even some hanging from the vines that have climbed up the front fence! Looks like we will have heaps of pumpkins this year too. And they are so sweet! We've had two so far, and looking forward to lots more. Apparently JAP pumpkins only keep for 4-5 months, as they have a thinner skin than other varieties, but I'm sure these will be long gone by then! I'm hoping to keep them on the vines until they die off, as apparently they will keep longer this way. The vines are showing no signs of dying off yet though, still producing little pumpkins, so we'll have to see how that goes. It will be time to get the autumn/winter planting in the ground soon!

I cooked up the last of the frozen strawberries from our garden a week or so ago. Made a mere 4 bottles of jam! I also found several bags of cut up mango from a tray I bought last year, and since they still seemed good, I cooked them up for some mango jam/butter. Mmm, delicious! So sweet I can't eat more than a bite, but very very nice.

Hopefully the jam will see us through until the first harvest of rosella's, which shouldn't' be long now. These bushes down the side of the house are doing far better than the scraggly ones I had up the back last year. Should get lots of jam out of them! Best of all, DD will actually eat it (she normally only eats strawberry), because it is pink! You can see our small bamboo plant in this picture too, it's on the left, being smothered by the rosella's! But growing none the less. I wish I could say the same about the potatoes, that were in between these straw bales. I have no idea if it was the weather or what, but they just didn't do well. Still, I did get one meal out of one plot, so hopefully I'll get some more once I get to the rest of them. I have some of our own tiny potatoes that have sprouted now, so they'll be going in the ground (in a different area) soon. Hopefully they'll do better than this lot.

My latest planting of cotton is getting flowers and bolls. It's down the side of the house, just to the left of the bamboo and rosella's. Unfortunately, the neighbour's horses took a liking to some weeds growing there, and lent over the fence and ate them, along with some of the cotton plants! Not sure if I will be able to salvage much or not. The plants up in the garden that I planted last year have cotton bursting out of them, but since it has gotten wet, it's not very usable. (And I can't really get to it because of the weeds, oops.)

My passionfruit vine is finally taking off, and we're getting about half a dozen lovely yellow passionfruit a week. They are so sweet, not sour at all, unlike most of the passionfruit you buy. I was really surprised to find that these were the yellow passionfruit, as I thought the plant taking over the trellis was the purple one. (I planted one of each.) Hoping we get some purple ones eventually too.

Sadly, I was too busy with other things to harvest most of the corn that I went to such an effort to save after a nasty storm, but I left the plants standing, and a couple of days ago picked off all the ears and shucked the seeds off them. There were only about 5, so I was really surprised to get this many seeds! Plenty to plant next year! (And if I have leftovers, I'm sure the chickens would love them!

Hopefully there will be lots more garden posts coming up soon now that the weather is starting to cool. Getting all this produce from very little effort has really made me want to get out into the garden and get it producing again!

I will also have to post pics of my orchard, just as soon as we mow it. It's kind of hard to see the tress for the grass right now. Oops. But hopefully soon we might have a ride-on mower, which will make the job a LOT easier!

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