Summer Garden Work

The garden continues to tick over, but it’s not producing as well as it was a month ago. Mid-summer is a hard time in gardens in Sydney. But I think it’s partly my fault for sowing everything in a manner that made it all ripen at exactly the same hour of the same day. It was really weird how much food we had for a few weeks. Now it’s like normalish – or less. I probably have something to learn about timing – or does the weather set the harvest times no matter when I sow and transplant?

I did make a few attempts at starting later crops: tomatoes, Asian greens, lettuce, leeks, zucchini, cucumbers, sunflowers, watermelon and cabbages have all gone in the ground in the past month (okay, maybe more than a few attempts there) but in the summer heat, the seedlings haven’t really thrived; I’m guessing 50% have simply died.

Anyway, over the past 2 days I’ve cleaned out the beans (we ate the last batch 2 nights ago and finished the bean salad last night) and cucumbers (finished those a while ago) and refreshed that entire bed. In went sweet corn interspersed with sunflowers (please bandicoot leave the seeds alone) plus some kohlrabi and Florence fennel . I also sowed seeds in pots: thyme, Asian greens, lettuce, a new type of broccoli (Romanesco – with spiral florets) and celeraic. I’m hoping by the time they’re ready for transplanting the worst of this heat is behind us.

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Time to refresh the bean and cucumber bed

I also decided it was time to do something about a couple of my orchids. I’ve never bought (and probably never will buy) orchids but a couple of plants came with the house and another was given to me by a friend. 2 pots were totally overgrown and the poor little orchids were choking. I may not be an orchid lover but I felt cruel leaving them struggling like that so I sat down in my back garden with my secateurs, a bucket of rough compost, 4 pots and my chickens (how did I manage to ever get anything done in the garden before I had my chook-helpers?) and hacked away. I wonder if the orchids will survive (dare I say “thrive?”).

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About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: www.laurarittenhouse.com for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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26 Responses to Summer Garden Work

  1. Regarding crop timing I coincidentally came across this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growing_degree_day today. Not sure how a home gardener could make particular use of it.

    • Okay, you’re doin’ my head in. I’ve had a look and will definitely spend a bit of time playing with this formula to see what I can learn. One thing that’s already obvious is that I was right in my assumption that the weather/season has as much to do with my plants maturity as how many days the seed’s been in the ground. The warm days (and nights) speed things up so each of those warm days contributes a lot more to the growth of a plant than several cold days. This means I will always experience the compression of my crops so that everything will be ripe on the same day.

      Fascinating stuff – thanks very much for the link!

  2. You remind me of my cousin. She has a farm in western Pennsylvania (U.S.A.) with chickens, sheep, and rabbits….and she also has a wonderful garden. Considering how much fresh fruits and vegetables cost to buy in the store these days, she has a real treasure!

    • I’m not sure about sheep and rabbits (does she harvest their wool?) but I would love a goat that I could milk to make my own feta. I think that will have to remain one of those dreams that you can keep alive without ever satisfying for your entire life – goats aren’t really good in suburban back yards.

  3. I am enjoying looking at your garden photos. It is so cold here (in the USA) right now and I can look at your photos and dream of summer days.

    • It’s hot and humid right now and I momentarily thought I could look at your blog and dream of winter days – then I looked and went into shock. Oh My Lord it’s cold in your neck of the woods. My dreams are of days a bit cooler than mine and a LOT warmer than yours. You actually have a heater for your cow’s water. Again, Oh My Lord!

  4. I still do a double take when you talk of things like tropical orchids in your garden. Geography is not a strong point with me and I often forget what a challenging climate you garden in. You certainly make the most of it though!

    • I sometimes think it’s really challenging then I pinch myself at how lucky I am. Yes, the heat and periods of drought can wreak havoc on my standard garden veggies like lettuce but my banana plants have 2 spears right now, my passion fruit vine is heavy with fruit and I have citrus trees and an avocado and the list goes on. This climate may not be tropical but many tropical plants survive, it certainly isn’t a cold climate but a lot of cold climate plants do well. My real challenge is figuring out how to get the best out of each plant, especially those where I’m on the fringe of their preferred zone.

  5. Linda says:

    Love orchids! I find them to be some of the most resilient plants I’ve ever grown. Hard to imagine being able to grow them outside year round…lucky you!

    • I feel guilty for not loving my orchids enough. I’m a very ruthless gardener – I want food from my plants. I do have some plants that are just pretty (roses, hibiscus, orchids) and I enjoy them when they do their thing with no help from me but they were all here when I bought the house – when I go shopping for plants I think about what I can eat when they mature. I know, I’m pretty shallow *sigh*

      • Linda says:

        I like to enjoy both edibles and non-edibles. I mostly try to stick with plants that have a use since I have very limited growing space, but I do enjoy some beautiful plants for inside as well! Orchids are some of my favorite houseplants since they’re so beautiful and hardy and many have minimal light requirements which make them perfect for a dim apartment.

        • I do have some orchids inside – they grow equally well inside and out here. I love my slipper orchid inside because it has lots of dark green strappy leaves so even when there’s no flower, it’s a beautiful plant.

          • Linda says:

            Oh, that sounds lovely! Mine all have pretty boring, basic foliage so far. I’m just eager for mine to bloom again. I saw some for sale that had a flower as big as my hand! Really impressive and so much variety!

            • They must be the most varied of all plants – and they grow in so many parts of the world. Of course it’s the big tropical varieties we all love but I’ve done bushwalking in a huge variety of climates and seen orchids of every description. Though none as big as my hand!

              • Linda says:

                I was dumbfounded to find out we had wild ones in the cold northern parts of the US. Couldn’t believe we practically had orchids right in our ‘backyard’.

  6. vuchickens says:

    what a cute photo of you and your chooks!

  7. Pingback: Corn Fritter Recipe | Laura Rittenhouse's Gardening Journal

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