Free Lunch

Whoever coined the phrase “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” probably wasn’t thinking of possums. Our friendly neighbourhood possum is the king of free lunches. His current craze is browsing the Brussels sprout plants for the best sprouts. He’s pretty impatient because I reckon the plants need a few weeks more to actually produce something I’d harvest. That’s one of the problems with possums, they don’t like waiting.

On the left is the plant which contributed to a recent free lunch, on the right is one which remains on the menu. But for how long?
I’m not sure what to do with the plants once most (never all) of the sprouts have been plucked. Do I remove them since they will no longer provide a food source and they are shading their siblings, or do I leave them to distract the possum(s)? I have a hunch that if I take out the empty sprout plants, those in the 2nd row will be next. Right now the possum has focussed his energies on the outer plants, but if I create new outer plants… well, I’ll mull over this conundrum.

The good news is my garden manages to provide food for humans even after being picked over by the native fauna. Today I helped myself to lunch straight from the soil.

My free lunch wasn’t completely free – but pretty close. The veggie beds are built from recycled materials and enriched with compost and coffee grounds. Okay, I’ve spent money on cow manure, sand and water crystals. And I’ve bought some seeds (though not this batch of kohlrabi – my neighbour had surplus seedlings and so I accepted his rejects). When we bought the house the lemon tree was in the back yard, does that mean this lemon carries some of the cost of the house? Ha – I’m calling it a free lunch.

What is especially nice is I hadn’t been in the garden to harvest. I was weeding, thinning carrots, mulching… and some lettuce leaves got in the way, then I realised a few radishes were ready and that kohlrabi was never going to get fatter – just tougher. On my way in to make a salad, I spotted the lemon on the ground – drink solved.

Of course the garden continues to provide beauty, not just food. Yesterday’s rain was too much for this rose and it broke under the weight. The bush’s loss is my gain. This flower is now perfuming my living room.


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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2 Responses to Free Lunch

  1. Your free lunch looks very tasty, and that reminds me – I better pick my kohlrabi – how do you know when to harvest them? I think I let the last one go on on too long. sorry about the possums – we are battling bandicoots at the moment….

  2. I’m not sure about “knowing” when to harvest kohlrabi. I harvest them when they’ve stopped growing. Mine were moved a couple of times so never grew into round balls, more thickened stems. Basically I’d say try one. Peel it and if it’s tender and juicy, you’ve done well. They get pretty tough and dry out when they’re left too long. But I’ve found this batch to be very forgiving since I’ve been harvesting them randomly for a few weeks now.

    My bandicoot hasn’t done any damage for a couple of days. I suppose he hasn’t moved on but is storing up energy for his next assault. At least I seem to have deterred the cat from using my freshly sown beds as a litter tray. Sharing food with native fauna is one thing, having a cat dig up perfectly good seeds/seedlings is another!

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