Tuesday, 29 April 2008


My vegetable garden is a strange, crazy, exciting and chaotic place.They say a garden reflects its owner - far be it for me to argue. Looking into every square foot of it there is something erupting into life or bursting into flower or growing magnificent leaves. There are bees, bugs, worms, slaters, birds and me! There is compost, soil, old mulch, dead leaves, rocks. As I finished preparing a bed and finally getting some seeds sown direct, after removing a few of my faithful old friends, the capsicums, one of my favourite songs came on the radio - you know the one - Mambo Number 5. I have changed a few of the word just a bit to reflect what I was sowing and doing - now sing along -

A little bit of Compost in my life,

A little bit of Kale by my side.

A little bit of Chervil's all I need,

A little bit of Parsley's all I see.

A little bit of Mizuna in the sun,

A little bit of Bok Choy all night long.

A little bit of Lettuce here I am,

A little bit of you makes me your fan !

Mambo number five.

This was still on my mind when I came inside to get a cup of coffee and I skipped and danced down the steps, round the corner, all the way to the coffee pot, in time with the music. Now this takes a special skill, honed after years of living in a split-level house where there are 3 or 4 steps up or down between most rooms. To end up in the right room on the right note is not easy! Something I bet you didn't know before!

P1020526 The three finished beds, each with something left to go to seed between, to attract insect diversity and provide me with seeds for next spring. It is quite painful pulling out finished plants when they are still perfectly healthy and I don't like it any more than I like killing anything. Life is precious, we must take care not to think we are the rulers but try, as best we can, to live with what is around us.
Last year's fennel plants were left in the ground and provided me with seed to sow elsewhere in the garden and they are now sprouting new bulbs all around. A very satisfactory and delicious food plant. I would rate fennel bulbs as one of the best things I grow. They are so versatile - raw or cooked bulbs,fronds that are aromatic in salads, alone or mixed with things fennel is always a delight and so easy to grow here.P1020527
P1020530 Some Red Russian Kale has come up amongst the rocks next to the driveway.A very attractive plant, especially in a group.
All the weeds you see in these photos are left to grow, to some extent and then given to the chooks. Weeds in all stages of growth provide camouflage to seedlings, attract a range of insects and are a great source of green food for the chooks when their run is devoid of anything, during late summer.
Do you sometimes find silver beet shooting new growth along old runners? Recently I removed some of the shoots and potted them up to see if they would grow into new plants. They are doing very well in the pots and, as I have one plant in particular that likes to do this, I will keep propagating it, if anyone wants some.P1020538
P1020535 You have to have nice, fertile soil to grow things this densely and you have to choose your plants carefully.These were planted where I had previously had the compost bin. The perennial beans will die down soon and allow the artichokes to develop. As the artichoke dies back, later in the year, the beans will come up again. All very nice and they all look happy.
Now that I have removed the squash bushes, the sweet potato vine is more obvious and I hope it has been growing something under the ground. Never-the-less the leaves are beautifully tasty and excellent in salads and soup. Next year I am going to grow this under tall things like okra and capsicums, to keep the soil covered and cool. That way I won't need to buy so much peastraw - a whole other post I want to write about inputs and outputs....so much to say. Will anyone listen? Probably not.P1020533


Anonymous said...

Hi Kate,

Nice things growing in your vegie patch! Glad you are enjoying the flora and fauna that are your garden their comfortable home. :)

I like your innovative twist that you have given to Mambo Number 5! *Applause from me*

Same for me, I have alot of my medicinal herbs in my garden that self seed themselves all over the place like your Red Russian Kale. They appear in the oddest places we can imagine.

I love that artichoke plant you have. The leaves are so beautiful! Have you allowed it to flower before?

Keep it up!!! :)


Greg W said...

I listen. I enjoy seeing the diverse crops you grow. You have a bit more land than I do to devote to growing what you do and you do it so well.

I have never grown sweet potato, red russian kale, fennel, or silver beets but you make it look easy. I am tempted to try some of them in my dry climate since I see it can be done.

Nice interpretation of Mambo Number Five.