We’ve harvested the first of the ginger and turmeric this week. I just love digging the yellowing plants up to find the tubers underneath. Nothing beats the taste and smell of freshly harvested aromatics.
Here is our small garden harvest tally for January-May.
We’ve not spent a single thing on the garden this month, so all the harvest has gone straight into the positive side of the balance. Chokos are still a-plenty, and there’s about three-fourths left for the ginger and turmeric harvest. We grow them in pots more than 40cm wide, and reserve some tubers every year for replanting. I would love to grow galangal but, having tried twice before, I hesitated to replant them last summer. I might give it another go this year.
Work has started on our small kitchen refresh, and we expect it to continue until the week of the Queen’s Birthday holiday. We’ve gotten all the quotes in and it looks like we’ll be coming in at slightly under $5k (the budget we’ve set). Fingers crossed it all works out…
This week, I’ve also completed my fermenting/bread-proofing setup for the winter. I’m using a Mangrove Jack’s Heat Pad coupled with an MKII temperature controller. As a first project, I’ve made up some kimchi using the freshly-harvested ginger.
My second batch of Kombucha had sadly developed mould, probably due to prolonged cold weather. I will have to find another scoby now and pop it onto the fermenting heat pad next time…
I miss my breadmaking challenge but it will probably have to wait until the kitchen is done!
Not much came from our garden this month, apart from the eggplants and some persimmons. Of course, the first of many chokos has also been harvested.
As a result, the “money saved” for the year running has actually fallen sharply, from $75 last month to only $50 this month (we’ve spent a fair bit on compost and organic fertilisers). Our harvest in terms of weight is laughable at about 3kgs.
On the brighter side, the seedlings have continued growing and we’re nearly ready to put a few in the ground. The silverbeet I planted directly have come up, and they’re about a foot tall now. The early garlic is going gangbusters — we just need to weed the beds from time to time.
We’ve been discussing the possibility of growing tomatoes in the greenhouse over winter. We have kept tropical plants in there in the past and they have survived. Maybe the tomatoes will be a good experiment?
How has your garden been this month? It’s getting a tad cold for my comfort now and my feet are always chilly. The plants are obviously feeling it, too. I am looking forward to better times in the garden, as well as some soup and slow cooker meals with the harvest.
Here are some photos from our warm temperate garden this month.
Has anyone else noticed how spring-blooming flowers and fruit are coming up so early? We just saw some new asparagus spears popping up, and the muscari have been sending out shoots as well. It worries me that they might not have enough energy left when springtime comes around for real.
What are you doing in the garden this week? I have some saffron bulbs cooling in the fridge crisper and I can’t wait to plant them!
March has really marked the start of the leaner season for us. Clearly, we have entered that in-between period when the summer plants have finished, and the winter plants are still too young to harvest.
With passata season formally over, the chilli and eggplant have taken centre stage. We have also harvested a few of our less-than-spectacular performers this season, namely, the watermelon and bitter melon.
The lone watermelon vine yielded a single fruit the size of a large grapefruit — it was very sweet and tasty, nonetheless. As for the bitter melon, we could have harvested a lot more than just three. However, we had misjudged the picking day and it had turned orange when we got around to it. I washed the pulp off the seeds and left them to dry; we will be replanting them in the Spring.
We also spent a fair bit this month. The figs were getting too big for their pots, and that meant a trip to the big green shed to buy bigger ones. I also spotted a redcurrant plant which will hopefully be as successful as our blueberries and raspberries in a few years.
Despite the reduced harvest and a bigger-than-usual outlay, we are still running in the black. Hopefully, this will continue well into the winter . We just need to focus on feeding the autumn/winter seedlings and manage the fruit trees well.
How has your garden been this month? Have you been affected by the recent storm?
March is a busy month here at the Meagre home. As the days cool and the summer harvest dwindles, we find ourselves thinking more and more about the autumn/winter crops.
In the past few days, Mr Meagre and I have been discussing the crops to plant, what has worked (and not) this season, and what preparations we need to be doing in the coming weeks.
Here is our list of garden to-do’s for March.
Plant the early season garlic from bulbs we harvested last December. The California White and Tasmanian Purple had been plaited a few months back and are waiting in the laundry room as well. I intend to break the cloves apart next week, plant the big outer cloves, and shove the rest of it into small freezer bags. They last a long time separated and unpeeled, even longer if they are vacuum-sealed.
Pull up the Kendall Gold Pepino shrub we have growing in the asparagus patch. It really wasn’t a very smart idea putting it there in the first place. I had grown more asparagus from seed last spring and they are now ready to be transplanted into the perennial bed with the other established asparagus plants. The Pepino will go in a pot where it should survive without any problems.
Start our winter crops from seed. We intend to grow broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, silverbeet, kale, peas, parsnip, carrots, and lettuce, among others.
Make notes of seed to purchase and varieties to grow next spring, based on our experiences this season. Already, we know we need to buy seed for Zucchini Black Beauty and Snake Bean from another supplier.
Feed all plants this Autumn. Spring and Autumn are the main growth seasons here as Winter is just too cold, and Summer too hot.
Prune the remaining trees especially the ones that need to be tied to their trellises. Yes, I am looking at you — you unruly almond, plum and citrus trees!
Continue eating and preserving the bountiful harvest. We still have a lot of tomatoes to go through, thankfully, and there are two big bags of chilli waiting for me in the freezer.
What are you planning to grow this autumn/winter? I am sure the gardeners in the Northern Hemisphere cannot wait for Spring!
This is how our garden harvest tally is looking, now that February is over. I must say it is looking quite good. We didn’t spend much for the garden in the past month (the $20 spend was just for potting mix, I reckon).
The tomatoes have really come into their own this month, and I need to turn some of it into passata this weekend. Not much of the rest in terms of weight though, so our total harvest (kg) remains steady at about 7-8kg. I am interested to see how we will fare when March is over; already we have identified some things we need to buy for the garden, now that preparations for the winter-cropping vegetables are underway.
How is everyone’s garden looking? Are you preparing for your winter crops too?
Every year as the days wind down, I start a new sheet and re-evaluate our goals. I find it helpful to know the things we plan to achieve the next year because it keeps me motivated, and helps us realign our priorities if we need to drop a few things.
I keep mulling things over during the month of January, discussing items with Mr Meagre as they come up. Being the school holidays here, it leaves me with just a little more time to think. The rest of Australia is in vacation mode but my head is a hive of activity, sometimes even past midnight. Just as well I don’t have to drop someone off at school the next day.
By the time February rolls around, the goals have mostly been finalised. A few minor tweaks here and there is all it takes to see us through the next year.
Here is the list of goals we have for 2017, broken down into rough categories:
Home and Garden
Save funds for landscaping the front yard and back gardens. Nothing fancy; just some edging, crushed rock, pavers and mulched (plantable) areas.
Declutter and reorganise living areas and bedrooms. After over two years of living here we have only just unpacked the last few boxes. We are working on the last room at the moment, but already I can see that we need to declutter the first room again! It never ends…
Keep up with caring for our vegetable garden, fruit trees and shrubs.
Pay off the variable portion of our loan, down to the amount we have in the loan offset. This accounts for the bulk of our disposable income.
Maintain the current emergency fund level and set aside small amounts to increase it further.
Increase the budget we have for utilities (5% increase annually) and enrichment (swimming/karate/dance lessons).
Set aside a small amount for quarterly driving trips now that the toddler is nearly two years old. This took up our previous budget for having someone mow our front lawns, so come spring we will certainly be feeling the pinch when the grass reaches our knees.
Increase our super contributions and start investing for retirement.
Start investing for the kids’ University fees (Little Miss Meagre turns 8 this year).
Find out how I could start a home-based food business. I am attending a “Starting a Business” seminar in March.
Health and Personal Growth
Mr Meagre has started a get-fit program (office gym/karate/extra cardio at home). I intend to get back into yoga this year; I really miss it.
Make plans for graduate studies in the next two years. This means I need to retake the IELTS exam this year. I have been setting aside $10 a week for the exam fee and intend to schedule it in September this year.
Cut back on sugar. We very rarely buy chocolates now but I am still baking treats every week. I have bought a sugar substitute and am re-reading the 4 Ingredients: Diabetes book. When we feel a craving for something sweet, a tablespoon of peanut butter is usually our first port of call.
Volunteer and get more involved in local council events and activities.
Art and Craft
I would like to practice playing the piano again but I need to work it into my schedule. Mr Meagre has been studying blues guitar in his spare time.
I have started knitting at least one dishcloth per week, as well as other items we need in the home (the Ikea cork heat pads I was just talking about has suddenly crumbled into pieces). Any extra items will be sold in my Etsy shop.