Spring has sprung well and truly, and the weekends are finally fine enough to be out in the garden at least one day (preferably both) of the weekend.
I love everything about Spring. I love that the vegetables I planted in Winter have finally come to fruition, and I can pick enough fresh, homegrown vegetables to feed my family for almost every meal. This week I am picking: green sprouting broccoli, Green Romanesco and Purple Romanesco broccoli (see below), carrots, snow peas, Chioggia and Golden beetroot, onions, coriander, silverbeet, and Purple Podded Peas.
The Romanesco Broccoli is my favourite vegetable I have grown this year. To say I have been waiting for it patiently would be a lie: I have grown these babies from seed as I have not been able to find seedlings, so it has been months from start to table. These are extremely slow growing but totally worth it. They hold their colour when cooking in any way (we have roasted, lightly boiled, and steamed), and they are delicious. The best way of cooking so far was roasting with olive oil, diced golden and red beetroot, onions and garlic to make a warm salad. Very delicious.
Another aspect of Spring that I love is the flowers. At the moment the ranunculus are in full flower and they are spectacular.
I grow a mix of Spring flowering bulbs, including: crocuses, daffodils, Sparaxis (violet and mixed), and ranunculus, and Spring flowering annuals including my favourite Sweet Peas, pansies and violas, calendula, and nigella (Love-In-A-Mist). All have just hit their stride and the garden is looking (and smelling) gorgeous. I also grow perennial flowering plants like lavender, violets, daisies and herbs. Bees are having a field day right now.
This weekend was weeding, feeding, and planting time. I spent a couple of happy hours propagating and planting new plants for the Summer vegetable patch.
This year I am trialling a few different types of tomatoes and a few different ways of growing them. Last year, I tried tomatoes from seed but started the seeds too late in the season, so they weren’t too successful. This year I have purchased a little greenhouse and I am testing whether jiffy pellets or seed raising mix leads to better results when starting seeds. I also bought punnets of some tomato plants and I am planting them out into small pots to let them grow larger before I plant them into the ground. I am hoping that giving them a little boost first will lead to stronger plants.
From seed, I am growing San Marzano, Pineapple Tomato and Moneymaker Tomatoes. These are all heirloom varieties. From seedling I am growing an F1 hybrid called Truss, recommended by my neighbour, and an heirloom variety called Rouge de Marmande. In my garden five varieties should be enough, but I do not yet have a cherry tomato in the mix so I will buy a couple of cherry tomato plants to grow in pots.
I also planted out some more strawberries, and some heirloom cucumber seedlings called ‘Sweet and Stripey.’ I am historically terrible at growing cucumbers, but I planted these on top of a trial compost trench and built a decent trellis for them so I am hoping that I have some success this year. I can grow zucchinis like a boss so why do cucumbers elude me? I should ask my Mother, who is the Queen of the Cucumbers (official title).
Finally after I did the fun propagating first, I had to do the less fun job of extensive weeding. Ragged Robin, a pretty pink-flowered weed, had taken up residence in the front yard, so I removed all of it, along with the kikuyu grass that continues to invade from next door. My Mother loves Ragged Robin and actually took some home with her last time she came to visit, but I wanted it out of there, along with some creeping weed that was having a lovely time sneaking around the Pomegranate tree and down to the Passionfruit vine. Begone!
I managed to weed only about one third of the front yard, and occasionally as I stood to stretch my back I considered the wisdom of doing this the hard way (by hand). But then I stood looking at my apricot tree and watched a lacewing and a shillion* bees hover over the blossoms and I realised that this is a beneficial bug friendly place because we do things the hard way. I can do the rest of the weeding next weekend.
Besides, my husband was doing it much harder, on his hands and knees with a Ho-Mi, weeding in between the pavers. Misery loves company, they say.
*A shillion is the largest number in the world. Invented by my daughter at the age of four.