The Hills and Plains Seed Savers met at Kath and Rob’s on Sunday morning to swap seeds and tall tales of how we survived (or collapsed) through the recent summer heat wave. Each of us had a chance to relate our garden doings, and to swap advice on everything from growing sweet potatoes to strange Japanese greens.
Of particular interest to us all was Rob’s tomato house; 120 kilograms of tomatoes so far, and more to be bottled or sauced. Rob and Kath have also kept track of what money they’ve saved by growing their own vegetables this summer; over $1400 at the most conservative shop prices.
Rob grows the tomatoes on a four-year rotation, digging a new trench each year to a depth of about 400-mm and filling it with compost, pigeon manure then soil, and planting into that. Rob plants Carmellos – a pre-cursor to the Mighty Red – as these set more fruit (over 90%) for longer than regular Australian varieties like Gross Lisse. A drip-line through the crop keeps water up to them for most of the season without exceeding his limited water allocation. Basil is also grown for use in the tomato sauce.
Bob and Maggie bought all sorts of tomatoes for tasting, such as Purple Russians. Andrew brought the seed collection including luffas, snake beans and grain amaranth. Claudia brought roast egg-plant slices, Maggie had jars of peach and green tomato chutney, and there were some great peach slices.
Next meeting will be at Chook’s place in April to help her get her garden in order as she sells up to make the move to a bigger home to house the four kids (one of whom is still just a plan!)