Seasons differ

Lately I’ve been concerned for the lack of progress in my veg patch. I should be eating tomato bruschetta for breakfast every morning but I’m yet to see a ripe tomato on the vine. I tend to gauge the progress of a season by when a certain veg comes into play and feeds us in seemingly never-ending supply.

Just to check on myself I decided to go back over my blog as it’s basically a record of what I’ve been cooking each year. By February last year I was already podding dried borlitti beans! This year I haven’t even got a green bean in a pod.

So what’s the difference I ask? Why is this year different to last year’s bounty? The obvious comes to mind, weather, then aspect, then soil type…everything is different because this time last year I was gardening in the cottage in town, and I had the thermal mass of a country city helping my veg along. But out here I have the elements to deal with…well, I don’t, my veg does.

I’m concerned because our food supply is mostly supposed to be backyard produce. Lucky for us we have the freezer stocked with goodies, and we have the staples of potato, onion and eggs. But I’m down to the last two bottles of passata and my jamon is almost gone.

 

Thankfully the constant nurturing of some veg is about to pay us back with food. The squash, zucchini and beetroot are starting their harvesting season, and capsicum and eggplant won’t be too far off. But my pumpkin and beans, the food that we rely on to get us through winter is doing poorly.

I have to remind myself that there is still all of February and March and even a little bit of April for the veg to mature. We seem to be having a later summer every year. In any case, my food production is at the mercy of the weather, the seasons are all out of my hands. I just have to accept what nature dishes out. A far cry from my old life in the city, where it was the opening hours of the supermarket that dictated my food supply. But what if there was no back up food supply from the supermarket? We’ve got ourselves into a pickle here. We no longer know how to look after ourselves individually or in small groups as we are a collective.

Since we downed the hunting weapons and picked up the farm tools we committed to the system of many people doing their selected task in life to make the collective operational. It’s not a bad system. Think about the old days when a town would have a cobbler, butcher, green grocer, tailor etc. Each person had a task in life to do and that in turn kept the community going. Now the system is still operational it’s just far more complex. For instance, I used to work a job where all I’d do all day was update spreadsheets of ‘important’ numbers. It served a purpose to someone I guess, but it was pretty meaningless to me. I was intimidated once by moving back to the country and living a basic life. But now what I do makes more sense, even if it’s a bad season of veg. At least I know why I work in the vegetable patch. To make food. Now there’s purpose.

PS. THANKS for the mega response for the workshops. We’re looking at possible venues over the next few weeks and will set up a website for booking etc. I can’t wait to meet so many people that are even interested in this lifestyle. I didn’t think I’d get such a positive response. I don’t have the words to express how stoked I am.

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  • January 24, 2013 - 11:03 am

    Elizabeth White - This is very encouraging to me. I have been a little worried the last couple of weeks with the very minimal growth happening in our small veggie garden. But to know that I’m not alone gives me hope for the coming months!ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2013 - 11:05 am

    Damien Matter - Cant wait for the Saturday cook up and to have a chat with you. – DamoReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2013 - 11:20 am

    Fiona - I am just outside Ballarat and my veg are doing very poorly – only small green tomatoes thus far and zucchini only just flowered. Pumpkins also looking a bit weak and cucumbers, which went gangbusters last year, looking puny and small this time round.

    Luckily, have just found a local producer who does boxes who seems to be producing a plethora of great produce!ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2013 - 11:44 am

    Darren - stick at it, build it and they will come and all that. My grandparents live out wour way, put some spuds and sweeds in, that’ll keep things fedReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2013 - 12:15 pm

    Ben - Mate, I’m in Perth and my pumpkin hasn’t produced anything this year. At least we’ve had an abundance of tomatoes. No shortage of hot weather over here.ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2013 - 12:35 pm

    K - I’m glad im not the only one, I’ve had a slow year too. My garden has changed, I removed privet (previous shade) and added some new garden beds. I tried to think all my planting through very carefully, aspect etc, but I think it takes time to get to know a new garden or even a new garden bed. The watching, making mistakes and patience is so essential-maybe next year will be better, I’m always learning.

    I’m trying to use it to feed our family too, so I felt a little cross or sad or like I’d failed. Everything will get there in the end… Or there will be a lot of green tomato relish. As they say necessity is the mother of invention…fingers crossed.ReplyCancel

    • January 24, 2013 - 10:08 pm

      Mikaela - I have moved lots of times and agree that it takes time to get to know how each new garden works (and then you have to allow for rotating the sites for spuds and tomatoes etc :)). This year in west Gippsland, we have only green tomatoes so far, but have harvested zucchini (all from two plants, the others in the patches i thought would be warmer have nothing but flowers so far) and cucumber. Some spuds to be dug, too. My observation of town vs rural gardens is that if town gardens have had a history of veg gardening, the soil is often reasonable, whereas in a rural area the soil can be compacted and a bit unloved, because people tend to put the effort into the farm, rather than the garden, unless there is a real garden lover in the household. So keep giving that soil some love!ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2013 - 7:11 pm

    Bonnie Story - I had no idea that SLUGS would be such a plague in my garden. Constant vigilance is the only thing that seems to work. The moist Pacific Northwest climate is apparently great for inky black slugs. Yuck! I agree that planting extra rutabaga in a bad year is a great strategy.ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2013 - 7:16 pm

    Lori - “.. I used to work a job where all I’d do all day was update spreadsheets of ‘important’ numbers. It served a purpose to someone I guess, but it was pretty meaningless to me”…just hate when someone can so easily sum up my day … I do find your posts inspiring and thoughtful, thank you.ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2013 - 8:29 pm

    Jane @ Shady Baker - Hi Rohan, I am having the same experience this year. Onward to autumn and a fresh start I say!ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2013 - 8:44 pm

    jo - thanks for your inspiration… we have just moved into a place with a backyard so I can finally expand my garden from pots to ground (although i’m a bit late to get in summer veg, I hope to get things going soon).

    one thing i’ve been dreaming of (while apartment living) is having laying chooks. I was wondering if you could recommend a farm with a productive flock of free range hens in the Melbourne/VIC area?

    also cant wait to hear more details on your workshops.ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2013 - 8:47 pm

    Maryanne - Rohan thank you so much for sharing all of your experiences with us, I love to sit with my cuppa in the morning and read your passionate words absorbing everythng you have to say. I’m a country girl stuck in the city and long to live out in the country and my sights are to live a self sufficient life, I’m. I have many vegetables trying to grow in my suburban back yard and like everyone else things that normally are in abundance are doing poorly, except for my tomatoes which for some reason are growing beautifully and if I can get to them before the birds and whatever seems to be nibbling on them they are delicious and it’s a joy to eat them daily because there is nothing like homegrown tomatoes.

    Rohan I cannot wait to book into your workshops and I’m so glad the response has been so good, it just goes to show you how many people long to go back to a simpler way of life. Keep us up to date, I wouldn’t want to miss out on this opportunity.ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2013 - 8:48 pm

    David - Having the same troubles with late tomatoes in my garden to. Fingers crossed they’ll come around for both of usReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2013 - 9:11 pm

    Dayla - HI all,
    my veg garden is going well actually. Its our second year gardening here in the mountains in Victoria. My corn is over 2m and is starting to tassle up. Butternut pumpkins, vegetable spaghetti and golden hubbard squash are doing really well. Zucc and Cuccs are full on, beetroot, excellent along with carrots. We had our first good year from our asparagus (it has been dug up and moved a few times till we got here). Tomatoes are just coming on now. the fruit trees though have been a disappointment, very little or no fruit on them, but they are young trees.
    Well done on the workshop rohan and goodluck with it.
    DaylaReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2013 - 9:17 pm

    Jen - Ive been wondering the same thing about our garden in Daylessford. There seems to hav been plenty of hot weather, and the garden has been well watered, but the tomatoes, beans and cucumbers seem sooo slow.ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2013 - 9:18 pm

    Hail To The Nihilist - I feel somewhat guilty. As I read this, I was sat with a cup of coffee and bruschetta made with a tomato picked from a plant on the balcony minutes before. It goes to show, you don’t need to live in the country to enjoy a semi-self-sufficient life. :)

    We have two batches of tomatoes this season. The earlys and the lates. The earlys have all but wilted to oblivion. The lates are only just coming ripe–in fact, today’s tomato is one of 4 that are ripe. Many dozens to come.

    We’re still waiting for the cucumbers, squash, watermelon, pumpkin and beans. We’re hopeful, though. (The beans have been odd this year; they haven’t climbed.)

    Seasons. Unpredictable things. Being in touch with them, though. I wouldn’t change that for anything.ReplyCancel

  • January 24, 2013 - 11:28 pm

    Chris - Same here in Woodend, except for the horseradish which went nuts.ReplyCancel

    • January 26, 2013 - 9:09 am

      rohan - Really? I must plant some then!!!ReplyCancel

  • January 25, 2013 - 3:04 am

    Bianca - Not sure that the town warmth is helping at all. In town here in Ballarat and still everything seems to be going s…o…….s….l…o…w….l…..y!
    admittedly this is my first year gardening in the highlands but boy!
    I head out into the garden each morning thinking oh there will be beans or zuchinis ready at dinner time, four days later they are still tiny.
    I have developed a taste for tiny veg but this wont do a winter stock pile any good. and I really cant think the tomatoes will be anything but green tomato pickles.ReplyCancel

  • January 25, 2013 - 5:06 am

    Rob Wilmot - For serious homestead food production, especially in a cool country area, you really need some sort of greenhouse. Even if it’s only clear plastic stretched over a wobbly poly pipe frame it can make such a difference to tomatoes, eggplants & capsicums. Here in the Otways a greenhouse is absolutely indispensable for these heat loving crops – I picked my first ripe tomatoe at Christmas! Other benefits are being able to start seedlings early for almost any type of plant, eliminating the bird problem entirely and growing some summer crops during winter.
    Good luck with your workshops, it’s great there is a lot of interest in what you are doing.ReplyCancel

  • January 26, 2013 - 2:34 am

    Jan - In far south Tassie I wouldn’t have had my December tomatoes without a poly grow house either. I’m currently supplying friends, making passata and enjoying tomatoes with every meal. I did think I had rock melons coming on too but somehow the vine has turned into a pumpkin – and I didn’t even have any pumpkin seeds. Eggplants, capsicum and chillies are almost impossible this far south without cover but like you my beans are slow this year, even the scarlet runner volunteers. We have lost a fair bit of fruit on the record-breaking hot day for Tassie but I’m hoping that some of the stone fruit will be usable somehow.
    JanReplyCancel

  • January 27, 2013 - 10:31 am

    amber - It is so strange I had a tough year last year and now this year a lot better. The sun has helped and the rain last year hindered?
    Beautiful beautiful blog.xxReplyCancel

  • January 28, 2013 - 7:42 pm

    The Life of Clare - We’re having the same this year, much less tomatoes and out basil is struggling, but instead our potatoes are growing wonderfully.ReplyCancel

  • January 29, 2013 - 1:37 am

    Ben - Yes mixed results from bayside Melbourne too. My early toms have been okay without setting world alight. The cucumbers have been good as have the lettuces. 2 types of Zucchini are now fruiting and starting to look promising.

    My later toms are starting to fruit now but none have started to ripen.

    Dwarf beans and borlotti beans have been good though.

    Need more sun!ReplyCancel

  • January 30, 2013 - 4:59 am

    Darrun - I lik pOtatosReplyCancel

  • February 5, 2013 - 11:56 pm

    Lauren - Hello!

    What a fantastic online community to stumble across..

    My partner and I are living on a big ol’ property in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, about an hour and fifteen minutes north of Melbourne. My vegetable garden has certainly suffered the conditions this summer.. But I am however harvesting lots of plump, red tomatoes and I hope by now you are too! My pumpkin isn’t doing so well either.. Nor my dwarf beans, corn or bell peppers.

    I may just be interested in an upcoming workshop.. Excuse me now while I tend to your backlog of interesting blog posts I’ve just come across..

    Lauren :-) ReplyCancel

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