Progress report

Today, with nothing special to do in the garden, I decided it was time for a progress report. I started this journal with the intention of trying a bunch of different things, tracking my successes and failures and learning from them so I could do better in the future. I have a lot of it in my head which I’ll forget when the new crops are planted (some of that has already happened) so it’s time to go bed-by-bed and document my results. I’m going back and inserting updates in old posts but I wanted a consolidated progress report so here it is.

Starting from the top I’ll work my way down the beds and describe what I’ve got and what I’ve learned.

strawberry bedupper garden bed
Strawberry Bed: The first photo shows my strawberry bed. The strawberries did brilliantly up here but Frank and I just didn’t like them (small with very little taste) so we ripped them out and planted 3 different varieties. We’ll see if we like these better.

This bed was also planted with celery, lettuce and silverbeet on 13 Nov 2010. The lettuce didn’t do well, the silverbeet is still okay and we’ve eaten some of the celery which is still fairly strong (amazingly it survived the heat wave).

There’s a smattering of new eggplant, lettuce, spinach, dill and coriander seedlings planted on 10 April 2011 (12 March the seeds were planted in trays). They are struggling, I think mainly because a) it’s rained a LOT since they were planted and b) this bed doesn’t get great sun now that the passion fruit vine has bulked out over the fence in front of the bed.

Strawberry Bed Summary: Good bed for leafy plants in summer where the sun isn’t as intense. Great for berries all year round.

Upper Bed (this is the bed at the foot of the back stairs): On 21 Dec I planted according to the Lunar Calendar a bunch of veggies. Unfortunately Jan and Feb were hot and dry and most of the plants that sprouted really suffered. The rocket and spinach are still visible in this photo and we can harvest at will from these plants. The lettuce got pretty leggy in the heat but was perfectly edible (just not the quantity I’d expected) but is gone now. A row of peas gave a poor showing (winter crop – oops), radishes and spring onions were nonstarters.

Besides the rocket and spinach from the Dec planting this bed now houses seedlings planted on 16 March including kohlrabi (growing slow but sure), beetroot (either dying or not growing at all) and coriander (one plant looking like it will turn out). A few of the dill and coriander seedlings went in on 10 April. They’ve been deluged with rain. The jury is out on their success rate.

Upper Bed Summary: As with Strawberry Bed except this gets a bit more sun. Mulching helps a lot.

parsleyhorseradish in sunflower bed
Herb Bed: The parsley planted from seeds harvested from our old plants on 17 Feb is going gangbusters. No improvement possible.

Sunflower Bed: The horseradish and ginger were planted on 23 Nov (according to the Lunar Calendar). The horseradish looks fantastic, not so much the ginger.

basil and tomato bedspea bed

Basil, Tomato and Pea Beds: The basil were planted in early Nov and have been amazing producers. They show no sign of dying off but I hear that next month they’ll be gone 😦

On 14 Nov I planted the eggplant that can be seen in the right photo in the middle of the bed. They almost died totally durning the heat of summer. On 18 Jan I planted a couple of eggplant seeds in the hopes of actual produce. The result can be seen in the bottom left of this photo. Eggplants haven’t been good to me, but planting them before the heat of summer may not have been all that wise. They are recovering (especially the ones on the right) so who knows.

On 25 March cukes and zucchini seedlings went in at the bottom of the beds (12 March planted seeds in trays).

BTP Bed Summary: These 3 beds are probably the best producers. They get the most reliable sun and with earlier use of the shade cloth they should do a lot better next summer. As with all beds, mulching is critical.

mildly pruned lemongrassheavily pruned transplanted lemongrass

Lemongrass: On Nov 20th the first lemongrass was transplanted (not so harshly pruned). The second shortly thereafter (cut to the quick). Both seem to be doing well in their shady spot. I suspect we’ll have more lemongrass than a village could harvest next spring.

ginger garden bed

Ginger Bed: The eggplant struggling on the bottom left of this photo was planted on 14 Nov. In the hot summer it seemed to be doing better than its counterparts in the sunny bed but they’ve never grown any bigger and seem happy with being unproductive.

On 23 & 27 Nov I planted the ginger and horseradish (according to the Lunar Calendar).

The Basil seeds went in (straight into the ground, not first in trays) on 3 Dec. They’ve never been as abundant as those in the sunny bed.

Root crops (onions, garlic, spring onions, radishes, carrots) went in recently in the hopes this bed will be kinder to root crops than leaf crops.

Ginger Bed Summary: This bed is good for plants that don’t need sun and can’t cope with the heat but the growing time is much longer. It suffers from the oak tree above it which right now is dropping leaves and a black gunk (mould? accumulated air pollution?). It also is the most eaten bed in the garden both in animals that dig up roots and seeds and in leaf eating critters. I hope it’s good for root crops because I don’t see it being productive for much above ground.

Overall Lessons Learned: I’m not convinced about the Lunar Calendar but I am convinced that baking sun and driving rain can adversely affect my crops. That is more luck than anything else. Bugs and critters will eat their share, especially since I don’t want to spray. Shade cloth, mulch and avoiding planting such that young seedlings are exposed to the hottest part of summer will no doubt improve next year’s summer crops. I hope the weather is kinder to my winter crops to help with those.


About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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