Their wives relish them.
A new year has just unfolded. As with all new years, I enter it with high hopes of making big changes towards being the person that I want to be and living the life which I want to live… whoever and whatever that is – LOL. Luckily you are not charging by the hour.
In the meantime, I will continue to post mildly useful and entertaining content on the site. This time, another update on the hoop house. Roughly a month after the previous pics/post, the hoop house is still growing with gusto. I was worried initially at the lack of pollinators, but this may have been a result of having doors closed often for temperature control, cooler days and lack of observation, I have noted recently though, enough activity and forming fruit to put to rest my concerns. The only real problem so far is that growth is so good on most of the plants that the poor eggplants, one of the plants which were catalyst to build the hoop house, seem to be being a little out competed. I always have been one to plant crops too close together. So far, I am still very happy with the results and the hoop house is now one of my favourite corners of the garden.
Happy new year, and stay tuned for more updates in exchange for free therapy.
1-1.5 months after planting out the hoop house, with a seemingly consistently overcast end of Spring and beginning of Summer, I am pleased to present the positive results so far.
The tomatoes at the time of the photos (1 week ago) were 6-8 times larger than those transplanted outside at the same time. The basil has already provided 2 generous batches of pesto, and the eggplants, cucumbers and capsicums are beginning to take off with gusto, with some such as the cucumbers having more than doubled in size since the pics were taken.
The watering system is the start of a garden wide system – an effort to reduce time spent dragging a sprinkler around an under watered garden all summer long. It is possible that I will be updating folks on the progress of that one for years to come, but, I hope not to be.
Although I am impressed with the growth of the plants within the hoop house, I do have some concerns and challenges. With the weather being unpredictable of late, I am never quite sure if I should or how much to open the door/s before heading to work. In an ideal world, and maybe a job for down the track, an automated door with a temperature sensor could regulate the environment and take my guess work and manual labour out of the equation.
The other issue noted is the buildup and subsequent dripping of condensation on to the plants below. This has not seemed to cause an issue yet, but I fear that as time passes, this may encourage disease on the foliage. Time will tell and i’ll keep you updated.
A hoop house is what I have been calling it although poly tunnel may be the more appropriate regional name for the structure which I have been working on for several weekends, now, finally finished except for the path down the middle.
After trying out a small poly tunnel over a single garden bed last summer, with good results but with access issues for weeding, I decided to build the Hilton of grow spaces for those plants which thrive on a little more comfort than Tassie typically delivers. Destined for the house will be Capsicums, Chillies, Eggplants, Melons, Tomatilloes, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Basil, and, down the track, strawberries, raised in PVC pipes. Now that I have listed them all, it sounds like it might be a tight squeeze, but I will give it a go and keep you posted on the progress. Below is some images representing the longer than anticipated build process.
The apples are coming along finely with the Cox’s Orange Pippins just about finished, we will be moving on to these Fuji and Golden Delicious Delicious apples. The espalier is pretty imperfect with a bit of summer growth and some gravity challenges due to fruit, and is pretty much impossible to take a good photo of, due to the green background. This aside, here is a pic taken a couple of weeks ago, just before the net went on.
A fitting post title being that I dreamt last night that I was casually sipping gin with Paul McCartney. You can have that insight in to my subconscious psyche for free, although, I will be honest, I will accept donations.
This is the 1st bowl of strawberries that we have been able to pick for the season, which have not been chewed on by every other creature in the garden, including the world’s sneakiest blue tongue.
The early summer harvests are starting to be harvested and dictate what is on our plates for dinner, and, I don’t mind at all. Tonight, Greek style zucchini fritters, broadbean pesto and green salad, all from the garden, padded out with some local bread and produce.
Globe Artichokes are one of those vegetables that have a bit of an awe surrounding them. A seemingly exotic addition to the kitchen garden, with a mysterious preparation, you might be surprised that they are both easy to grow and cook, and well worth the trouble. Here is just one way to cook them, which takes 15-20 minutes and makes a great addition to a platter plate. I have read that the whole artichoke can be meticulously consumed, while discarding the tough, inedible bits as one goes. Although, it feels wasteful, I, and many others like to discard all but the tenderest parts, leaving the rest to go in to the garden as compost.
Artichokes will oxidise as they are being prepared. This does not bother me, it does not affect the taste and I do not take any measures to prevent it. Others use lemon juice during preparation and cooking to minimise browning, I have not described this in my tutorial.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love birds, mostly because they fly over your fence (an in joke from a public speaking course that I once did, needless to say, a piece of me died that night and never grew back). What I love more than birds is the literal fruits of my labour, which birds happen to also love, more than me. Being that we have clearly established that they have the superhuman, almost bird like ability to fly over fences, measures need to be taken.
Those who has seen a cherry orchard know that they are covered with nets. Birds love Cherries. The unseasonal November heat wave seems to have blushed the cherries early this year. I suspect, part of a bird’s success is they are happy to take a few bites out of a partially ripe fruit, and leave the rest to rot. Being almost a real human being, I also succeed competing within the food chain, quite well in fact (I like to eat) therefore, this morning, instead of my morning cuppa, I was putting up the below primitive but timeless bird keeper outerer. Again, anyone who knows me would know that 4 x 4 metres of twisted net would normally be a trigger for a fit of rage. I can tell you that I calmly and skillfully got that net up in 25 mins, maybe I really am a backyard farmer?
Speaking of stuff, we have two lots of thornless blackberries on our humble suburban block, one covering a tree stump and the other, pictured below. Normally an afterthought, they typically produce a token amount of berries which need to be picked at the right time to ensure ripeness. I think age and care is a factor in their production as this year, they are laden with flowers and should produce plenty of fruit in February, after the bulk of the summer berries have already been enjoyed.
Lastly in a series of unrelated paragraphs, pictured below is another cute cacti which I picked up a couple of years ago. Love the little bright orange flowers which it produces each year.
Even to this day, recalling the song which inspired this post title still makes me want to regurgitate my very recent, and quite delicious meal. I’m not sure why I am going ahead with it.
Today I prepared my first batch of strawberry wine. The result of a new hobby born after being a teetotaller for 12 odd years. Drinking is a great hobby, but, the desire to be as close as possible to my food sources, and have a clear understanding of the ingredients (alcohol seems to be exempt from labeling requirements) has led me to the art of fruit winemaking.
What better way to preserve this year’s excess tamarillos, rhubarb and a lucky score of feijoas? Not to mention my plans for all the summer fruits that will be soon in season.
Tomorrow, while sheltering from the midday heat, my 1st batch of mead will be prepared. Perhaps the oldest and simplest of alcoholic beverages, in its most basic form, can be created with just honey, water and yeast. Being a huge honey consumer, and having access to the great honey available in Tasmania, it seems like a no brainer.
The strawberry wine reminded me of our own strawberry patch, which seems to be gearing up for a bumper crop this year. The berry in the lead already showing signs of being tampered with by an unwelcome guest prompted the netting to be rolled out and installed.
Speaking of unwelcome guests, the close encounter with a white lipped snake in the yard just the other day was cause for concern. A beautiful creature, they are, like all of Tasmania’s snakes, venomous. For healthy human adults, the effect of the venom is supposedly not too bad, and with the snake being on the shy side, it is our secured on a lead but ever curious and somewhat wannabe hunter of a cat which is of most concern. With luck, the snake, despite being surrounded by its favourite food of skinks, will decide to move on.
It had been playing on my mind a bit lately that I do not feel as close to the Earth as I did in my younger, more idle and carefree days. Recently, as the the spring blossom makes way for the young fruit, while I scurry to plant seeds and prepare garden beds, I had the epiphany that I am actually closer to the earth than I ever have been.
As a gardener, the Earth, the Sun, and the seasons that they create as they do their cosmic dance in the vastness of the universe (to be fair, the earth seems to be doing most of the dancing) dictate when and how I work the garden and when I plant the crops. It dictates to a large extent, what my family eats and when we eat it. I wouldn’t dream of buying a zucchini or a cucumber, especially out of season, and, don’t get me started on store tomatoes, although, it seems that eating tomatoes cannot be avoided for a whole 9 months.
Like the Earth’s movements, and its seasons, gardening is repetitive and slow. Being gardeners, we watch and work as the days grow longer and shorter, and we learn and get a little better with each full circle around the sun (I am pretty sure that is how it works… who would have thunk it?). Year by year, we add a little and get a little bit more productive in the yard. With the recent addition of several new fruit trees, mostly cider apples, the yard is starting to seem a little bit small, but, I am hopeful as we settle in further, we will find the balance between productivity and space.
I am sure, all you gardeners out there, whatever you grow, consciously or subconsciously are (happily) slaves to the seasons, waiting for the prime times to plant and reap whatever rewards that you take from the Earth and its plants.
Anyway… all that was an elaborate and maybe, kinda over the top segway into the following pics, a selection of our fruit trees as they transition from spring into summer.
Yep, that’s me, my apologies yet again, I am a terrible blogger.
It has been an interesting year here in Tasmania, weather wise, with autumn really only just having begun after consistently warm days right up until very recently. The recent rain has been a much welcomed relief from the El Nino conditions that we have been experiencing of late. The struggling weeds now have a new lease of life. It is great to see everything wet. combined with the overcast days, I am reminded of my hometown of Ballarat.
Now that we actually in Autumn, there is lots that can be done in the garden, in fact, it is personally my favourite time of the year in the garden. We are picking carrots and chinese greens (Tatsoi and Pak Choi) that were planted in February. Along with the spring onions which seem to be a perpetual staple in the garden, they make for great stir fry ingredients. Interestingly, I have tried to grow Tatsoi in late winter, only to have it go straight to seed. A mid to late February planting seems to have worked most consistently for me.
By the end of May, I will hope to have my broad beans and peas/snow peas in, and then garlic will be planted in June. It is however, that same old story about which beds to tie up while considering future spring planting. I obviously need more beds.
Just because I have pics with me, the Tamarillos are going strong, perhaps with more fruit than what we can eat… We will give it a good go though.
Wow, what a lazy blogger. It has been over a month since i have last posted…ill have to try to do a few to make up for it!
Here is a token post with some freshly harvested yellow beetroot. I can’t recall the name of the variety, but if are not already aware, you should know that beetroots are available in an amazing range of colours, shapes and sizes. Beetroots are delicious, keep well in the ground and fridge and i’m led to believe that canning them is easy as…i might even give it a go if I can manage to motivate myself to do so.
Due to the lack of watering and sheer laziness, I suspect my chicken wire potatoes experiment will be a failure (judging by the struggling, thirsty looking plants living in there). I have however inadvertently performed another experiment with better than expected results. Before I lay claim to this technique, it is not new, and I have heard of people growing potatoes in this way, in fact, I regularly ride past a garden where a whole bunch of spuds are being grown using this method.
What I am talking about is growing potatoes in straw bales. I have read that all sorts of veggies can be grown in this way, and I have experimented with it myself a while back, but, I believe that my bales were a bit too fresh. Last year though, during potato harvest, I discarded a few scrappy potatoes on top of a straw bale. I have noticed the plants growing vigorously over the past months, and recently dying back. The result, a nice amount of good sized dutch creams, and a harvest, unlike the normal back breaking and dirty affair, that was as easy as pulling straw apart.
I think next season, a change from this years efforts (or lack thereof), it will be straw bale potatoes all the way.
How is that for click bait? I am sure you are sorely disappointed, unless you are a gardener in Tasmania and you are getting excited about the prospect of one day being able to post pics online of your own large, sweet, juicy melons… is this the quasi filth that you have signed up for?
The post is really a bit of an update on the hydroponic setup, in particular, the melons which seem to be doing especially well. The variety is “cool times”. These are the melons with which previously I have had the most success, but I never saw the sort of vine growth that I am seeing this year in the hydroponics setup. The fruit are also trending towards being much larger than previous grown.
I am also trialling a few veggies that I have intermittently tried to grow in the ground without much luck, including capsicum and eggplant. Chillies are making another showing, with last years Jalapenos re-shooting for another year. I believe this is not uncommon on the mainland or if brought indoors, but down here, outside, chillies are normally an annual. Another chilli variety is also being trialled, I can’t recall the name but I believe it rated the world’s hottest one year in some sort of competition.
Alarmingly, the cucumbers are already starting to show signs of powdery mildew. This seems early, and hopefully will not affect the melons. We did get our 1st cucumbers of the vine though, and, they were perfectly delicious.
Found this little cutie with his leg caught in some bird netting (over the brambles, just to fit the stereotype). I am regretting my moment of weakness for releasing him to continue his existence within the menagerie of the backyard. Now I am envisioning a future like Mr. McGregor from Peter Rabbit.
I am starting to notice the the negatives of the seasonal nature of the garden, as that kinda makes the blog seasonal. The problem with this is, you guys may get sick of the same boring posts (and pics of raspberries) year after year.
On the flipside of my soon to be heavily repeated content, the fact that I am celebrating the coming of the raspberries on the blog once more means that the blog is now just over a year old. Happy Birthday! Thanks to all that have signed up over the last few months to recieve your sporadic, but hopefully, mildly entertaining updates via email… I hope that I can continue to entertain, inspire and create unwarranted jealousy in to the future.
After Juz (a reader) showed me up with his well formed broccoli earlier this year…I have been patiently working on getting revenge with an equally well formed green brassica, only this one is a cauliflower. No secret tricks with this one Juz, just mother nature doing her thing. BTW, I tried your trick on another Cauli but I think all I succeeded in doing was to create a great place for slugs to hang out!
I should start by informing you that I am not the backyard farmer, I am writing as ‘a guest’. After listening to the Backyard Farmer stating his before mentioned laziness at blogging, I went about taking some photos of our backyard welcoming in Spring. Mostly with the intention of encouraging a blog post, I was however promptly reminded that this blog is in fact Hobart Backyard Farmer….not Farmers. After some nagging/encouragement, I have been invited to add this Spring post. To be truthful, I just think blossom popping up to signal in a new season is so magical & we have been blessed with some perfect sunny days, I just felt the need to share it. That said, this is primarily a post about what is happening in the garden at the moment. Aside from some pretty blossom, there is much to do!
Fruit trees are blossoming & we are enjoying the last of the Winter tamarillos, their tough skin allows them to hang around & enjoy the sun without being bothered by birds. I know they have been blogged about before & they are a favourite in this home, quick growing & yummy.
Garlic, so we have no hassles from vampires this summer.
Raspberries…..everyones favourite, most don’t even make it inside the house.
Rhubarb, recently blogged & now being consumed, this literally comes from nowhere & before you know it, ready to harvest.
Most importantly bees! A welcome sight in the Spring garden, we have many herbs & flowers scattered about the garden to attract these little fellas & the garden is happily buzzing.
Last of the Winter vegies to be taken out, ready for new crops & planning.
We are pretty excited to see the greengage & goldengage flowering at the same time. We invested in both, out of a love of good old greengages, as we were advised they need each other for good pollination. Fair enough, but last year they blossomed at different times. Maybe the recent extra warm days following an especially cool Winter have encouraged a well timed joint effort this year…..I really wouldn’t know, it’s all trial & error, but looks promising.
The humble Marigold (calendula officinalis). We have this randomly around the vegie garden, considered helpful to repel garden pests, plus its bright yellow & orange flowers attract some wanted garden visitors.
A pretty bonus from having pea straw garden beds.
Last but not least the strawberry patch. Truly. Hoping it’s not too late to rescue this season? This has suffered from our not wanting to garden when it was still cold (slackness). It is a classic example of how having a food garden is hard work & there is always something to do. To anyone contemplating having a go, just do it! Give it a try, whether it be big or small, it is so worth it, the taste is so much better. Absolutely no waste, pick what you need, couldn’t be fresher & if there is any surplus, you will not be short of happy receivers. Rewarding in many ways, Hobart Backyard Farmer has achieved so much in a suburban backyard in a few years, his efforts are much appreciated. Happy gardening 🙂
This time it is coffee. I have had this plant for maybe 3 years. Last year it flowered for the 1st time, delicate white flowers with a pleasant aroma which I cannot recall. It began to set green oval fruit, which have stayed that way over winter, and, only in the last week or so, have begun to flush red.
I grow it indoors by a window, year round. While flowering, I placed it outside during the day to assist in pollination, but, to be honest, I don’t know how it is pollinated, but, being outside is sure to help with insect or wind pollination. Maybe I should just google it. I would like to try growing coffee in the glass house, but have yet been able to successfully strike a cutting to be my guinea pig…maybe this year will be my year.
I am also not sure if it will flower again this year, but, even if it does, at the current rate of production, I might be able to experience a cup of coffee from my own tree in, I don’t know… 8-10 years? Just doing my bit for the slow food movement.
If you are interested, here are another couple of posts where I have experimented with growing sub tropical foods in Tassie:
I tried to think of a creative title for this post, but, rhubarb doesn’t give me much to work with. In a moment of desperation, I googled “jokes involving rhubarb”… if feeling really awkward is your thing, you could try doing it, as, I can assure you after 2 minutes or so of research, there are not even any funny rhubarb jokes. There are jokes involving rhubarb, but, no funny ones, and, I actually suspect that most were originally potato or cabbage jokes that have been reworked for rhubarb.
Why am I putting myself through this unpleasantness? Well, I harvested the 1st rhubarb of the season, and took a picture as proof.
Unfortunately, it may well be the last rhubarb of the season. I say this because I am yet to learn the secret of getting a continual harvest from rhubarb throughout the season. It seem that I will get a mass of growth in early spring, I harvest maybe 60-70% of it, leaving some leaves for energy, and I might even throw some ferts on it and mulch, but, it never seems to do much for the rest of the season…If anyone knows the secret, I would love to know.
You all know I am a lazy blogger, but I have a confession to make… I am a lazy gardener, but this year, I have been way too lazy and I fear that my spring crops will pay the price with smaller yields. I am busy trying to get things tidied up and prepared for the summer crops… I am cutting it very fine though, but I think I should just be able to scrape things in and get a back on track with a good summer crop.
The previous few years I have dedicated new beds to potatoes which has allowed me to plant near the base and layer straw and soil on top as they grow. This technique resembles the “mounding” that “they” say one should do to maximise harvest, and allows me to get a good amount of organic material into the garden bed over the season, to improve the soil structure and quality. This year however, while looking around at my weed covered vegie beds, and cross referencing my calendar, I thought maybe I would not have the room or time to plant the spuds, but, I was reminded by my pseudo-wife just how delicious home grown, new potatoes are, when the skin just flakes off and they melt in your mouth. With this in mind, I started thinking of where in the garden I could slot the delicious tubers.
I saw a while ago, I think on Gardening Australia, a technique of growing potatoes in wire mesh “cages” for those with limited space. I remember thinking at the time, with my expansive allotment, that I do not need to worry about the trivial space saving tricks of those more space challenged than myself. Turns out that I am a bit space challenged, as, even as a grown man, I am not allowed to seize the lawn, which I despise mowing, and turn it over to the vegies, therefore, I have resorted to stealing ideas and pockets of space for the spuds.
The cages are pretty easy to build, 4 stakes forming a square in the ground and some hexagon wire mesh (chicken wire?) wrapped around. I then lined with paper. I then chucked some partially decomposed straw on the base, a spud or 2 on top of that, and a bit more straw. The theory is, I will keep adding straw as the potatoes grow, and come harvest time, will remove the wire and feast on my bountiful crop.
A disclaimer… This is the first year that I have tried both, growing in these cages, and growing purely in straw, and therefore, cannot vouch for its effectiveness. I will however, let you know the results. Below are some pics, obviously not of the same cage due to a variety of factors (yes, I forgot to take photos).