"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Thursday, 16 February 2012

My first (shadecloth) veggie patch harvest: part 1

Last Saturday morning we nipped up to the farm for the weekend.  We won't be able to go for another month, so it was one night or wait another four weeks.  We decided one night it was!

We went past CGuy on our way.  Our trailer was only half full and he had stuff  which he needed to transport.  Unfortunately, he couldn't fit his bee hive on - not this time... :)

Arriving at the farm, this sight greeted my eyes...
A bulging veggie patch...
The veggie patch was completely overgrown - with veggies spilling out everywhere.  I tentatively walked along the weedguard paths, trying not to stand on any plants - or their fruit.

The mealies (corn) I had planted in a clump inside as we didn't have time to get them on irrigation.  They are doing so-so - next year they'll get their own outside, irrigated bed, and they'll have sunflowers and beans to keep them company.  They look healthy, but don't have too many husks on them.  But I reckon they'll provide me with seed for next season, so they aren't a total loss.  
Plants spilling out into the paths
What a pleasure - to see that this veggie patch works - and, oh, boy! does it work!  All that (clay) ground preparation (in the rain) with over 2mtrs3 of compost and digging down to remove the wild grass, plus adding the bonemeal and Talborne Organics for Vegetables and, of course, the porous pipe. A definite winning combination.
A couple of radish plants had gone to seed - they're
being saved for next year :)
My spinach - I harvested enough to freeze 2 1/2 kgs of blanched spinach - 8 packets of future spinach soup, creamed spinach or spinach quiche.  And I left a whole bunch on the plants too - for next time :)
Giant spinach leaves - that cooler box with it's
handle up stands 50cms high
The largest leaves were over 65cms long...
The armfuls of spinach made a huge pile
on the kitchen floor
... all the leaves were de-veined with the produce going in a bag so that I could blanch them in my 10 ltr pot at the town house.  The veins went into the farm compost heap.

The three aubergine (eggplant) plants were weighed down with fruit - this is a picture of just some of them .
The egg box is so that you can get a size comparison
They even left me a message - to let me know that they are happy there...
Thumbs up from the aubergines :)
I had an immediate plan for one of the aubergines, but you'll have to wait until the next posting to find out what that was.  And, as for my three town aubergine plants - well, there is only one fruit on one of the three plants - what a difference!

Unfortunately, the beans weren't that happy - they need to be picked sooner than they were, so I had a few dry pods on the plants. Never mind, I now have seed for next year.  I'm harvesting quite a bit from the town plants, so we aren't going without.
Yellow and purple Franchi Sementi been seeds
And even my poor neglected potatoes surprised me.  Bearing in mind that their planting and last watering was on 9th January, and they were planted right at the base of the tyre tower.  I was pleased just to see growth peeping above the soil.
Potato plants hanging in there
The tyres aren't on irrigation... yet :)

But, my greatest surprise was...
My first ever pumpkin
... a pumpkin!  Yippee!  My pumpkin jinx is over.  There was only one - about 35 - 40cms in size, but at least that's  a start.  Next year I will ensure that I plant more seeds.

A good few hours (roughly 7 - 3 hours on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday) of de-tangling, supporting, weeding and harvesting - just what I need to make me a happy little puppy :)

Thank You - another blessing to be grateful for.


Sue said...

It's a jungle!
How nice to see things growing like crazy!!

MsBelinda said...

Congratulations on your great harvest!!

tami said...

Yeah!! This is the post I've been wondering about. That pumpkin looks wonderful! And the eggplant very nice! A very nice start, bu it must "kill" you to have to wait a month to get back to the farm.

Dani said...

Sue - A jungle indeed! :) I'm over the moon!

Dani said...

Ms Belinda - Thank you :)

Dani said...

Tami - It works - it truly works. RMan is so impressed he is definitely going to be making a second shadecloth veggie house LOL He's already earmarked the spot.

And the pests (apart from some ants and crickets, have been noticeable in their absence.

Oh, yes - to wait a month is frustrating to say the least...

Gill - That British Woman said...

how much rain have you had since you were last up?

That is indeed a great crop. Also do you have more than one crop cycle per year with the weather being so warm/hot where you are?

Gill in Canada, where it is snowing.

Dani said...

Gill - Only 3 - 4mm since January 9th. But my porous pipe keeps the veggie patch watered beautifully :)

Yes, I have already harvested spinach 3 - 4 times, and should be able to harvest another 2 - 3 times. Tomatoes - they'll keep producing until the plant dies at the end of March - maybe the beginning of April. Generally, though, we can plant at least two crops of things like mealies (corn) radish (year round) carrots, etc.

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

Looks yummy. And congratulations on your pumpkin. I bet you will hate to eat it since you have waited so long for it.

John said...

Looks like it is going to be a successful garden year.

Mrs. Mac said...

What a beautiful sight to behold. You must have been in gardening heaven walking in that shade cloth veggie patch. BTW the thumbs up eggplant looks like the lower portion of the State of Michigan .. it's often called 'the mitten' How cool!

Dani said...

Jane - Thanks :) Yup - I have a feeling that that pumpkin is going to be personal LOL

Dani said...

John - Oh, pleeeease :)

Dani said...

Mrs Mac - Oh, yes I was! I must Google a map of Michigan - that sounds so funny :)

Leigh said...

Beautiful! What a joy to have all your hard work pay off so wonderfully well. I only hope my pumpkin jinx is over this summer as well.

Dani said...

Leigh - Perseverance pays off LOL