Friday, 3 August 2012

Productive winter garden...

Garden production continues and this is what I have gathered today (not including the two eggs from the chickens)....
... there is a cabbage (and I have kept six of the best outside leaves to make "stuffed cabbage leaves") carrots, golden beets (and their leaves, which are as good as silver beet) one swede (rutabaga) and the side shoots of broccoli that I can barely keep up with.  I still have plenty of silver beet and an assortment of other vegetables, but this will do for today.
Someone commented recently that, with winter frost and miserable weather, it is too hard to grow vegetables in the winter.  The mediterranean climate is designed for just that, however.
This winter I have had about half a dozen "serious" frosts....  to me, that means that it is cold enough to kill off the leaves of the potato plants.  There are quite a few vegetables that don't seem to notice such a frost.  These include all of the root vegetables that I have collected today, and many salad lettuce plants, leeks, onions and garlic don't mind at all.  There are even some vegetables that require a harder frost than I get to even produce...  notably brussels sprouts.
I have mentioned previously that I plant potatoes at the "wrong" time of the year and I am able to dig enough potatoes for myself at any time.
Summer has its own limitations here....  "patches" of very hot weather, and a lack of rainfall that is only compounded by the water restrictions imposed permanently.
Cold weather slows growth, and so it is often necessary to plant more seeds than one would imagine because the produce might well be smaller than expected.  This doesn't make any difference to the taste or even the aesthetics of the product,  despite the fact that it might not look like the chemically enhanced items at the supermarket.
In hot weather, I garden over a smaller area.  The unused patches need to be protected from the heat, and so they are watered and mulched, protecting the soil organisms that I'll be needing in the following season.  By the end of the summer, when the grain farmers are waiting for the "opening rains" or "dry sowing" I am digging in the rotted mulch and joining in the rain dances or prayers (or whatever works!)
In more extreme climates, the early spring is called "the hungry gap" and for good reason.  This was the time in colder climates that, when people were truly dependent upon what they could produce,  the early spring, when stored food was running low and the ground was still too cold to germinate much,  there was little to eat.  This may well be why, historically, it was the "mediterranean" areas that flourished.  Food plants, while varieties change, can be grown for much of the year.  Seasonal foods and recipes are a testament to this.
I was preparing the ground and the planting in March and that is what I am eating now....  meanwhile I am planting a few more seedlings now and getting ready to start my "summer vegetables" very soon.
My rule of thumb is still "if you wnat to eat every week,  then you need to plant something every week also & so far it seems to be working.


Jake McCann said...

I find growing vegetables in winter in Adelaide is much easier than in summer. Plant seeds randomly every few weeks from autumn - leek, spring onion, broccoli, kohlrabi, coriander, parsley, wild rocket, cavlo nero and forget about it. No watering, the garden takes care of itself this time of year.

Jane said...

I had written this post after receiving an email from someone who is waiting for the summer to be able to grow food in Adelaide. I do grow some (different) vegetables in summer, but the area that I plant is much smaller.... mainly because of the water requirements. I use tank water and my maximum storage is about 36,000 litres, for house and garden and so I need to be very frugal.