Friday, October 11, 2019

Spring kitchen garden

New infrastructure

It's been a while, since I updated the kitchen garden. Much has changed since, October 2018. This small area of raised containers, has produced a lot of growth since the new addition was added. Mostly herbs. But also cherry tomatoes, chillies, silverbeet, and strawberries. Listed in order of productivity. They're just not as prolific as herbs.

To give you an indication, of what I started with...

Last addition

It was truly the bare bones, and hardly enough infrastructure to cope with the unbearably hot days we can get through summer. It sends everything to seed. We managed to buck that trend, on the two, 40 degree (C) days we had recently, though. Everything coped really well. I had a very crude shade, up, which I won't explain right now, as it's still a work in progress.

I'd much rather, just show the finished shade, when it's done. Because for such a narrow space, it needs a compact design, with the ability to remove easily. I only want the shade up, when it's necessary.

Going vertical

What I did decide upon, was a vertical space, for the new addition. Made of hardwood, to weather the elements, it's designed to give my emerging choko, room to expand. It was starting to climb the flowering, society garlic. Now it has something more stable to cling to, once the flower spikes, perish!

A cherished edible

I successfully grew choko, on the old chicken coop, for many years. But then a renovation to the coop, caused it's removal. I've regretted it ever since. For many years I've tried to (unsuccessfully) get another choko to sprout. Either the vermin got to the fruit, when planted outside, or I killed it with kindness, as an indoor plant.

This is my first successfully sprouted choko, since those early days with the coop. It will eventually get transplanted to a more permanent home, but will live in this container for now.

Some ornamental elements

I also have flowering plants for the bees, and for me, because they add colour. This is blue salvinia, and hardy enough for containers. It's best to plant flowers, where they can easily access the sun though. Or they grow straggly, trying to get to the light - covering your herbs. Most herbs prefer good air circulation, so choose the right location for flowers.

As there isn't a lot of room in containers, flowers do best, right on the edge - nearest the sun. You will be rewarded with bees, frequenting your cherry tomatoes and chillies too!

Location, location, location

I recently planted a nasturtium, on the eastern side. With the intention for it to cascade over. We like eating nasturtium leaves (peppery) and sucking the nectar from the flowers. The nasturtium is next to this hot-pink dianthus, which has been flowering prolifically since spring. All the butterflies, have been loving this flower too.

It does my heart good, to see amongst the larger garden (in severe drought) that life is still capable of flourishing, on the edges.

Mid process

The original area (next to the archway) had to be cut back recently. It was a jungle of self-seeded parsley. Some of the herbs like basil and oregano had to be replaced too, as they were too large and woody. They would be perfect specimens for a larger garden. As they'd be hardy enough to survive in the open. A small container garden, however, can create conditions for breeding disease, relatively easily. So you need to do a lot of maintenance.

As much as I loved the overgrown look, things had to come out! This area is still a work in progress. I have plans to revamp this area too. For now though...

Double duty

...I'm using the covered archway, to help keep our one and only rooster, alive. Remember, these fluff balls? As I predicted, they all turned out to be boys! Two found a new home, and we kept our daughter's favourite. His name is Chips, and will move to Hilltop chicken coop, when I finish the (new) renovations. He'll be happy with the company of some new girlfriends too. He's ready for it.

But the shade cloth helped immensely, with the 40 degree (C) days we had recently. I made sure to spend time outside, during the day. To feel what he was feeling - and the shade cloth made a huge difference. It's only held up with pegs, but not intended to be permanent.

Taken back in winter (June) 2019

I collected this cayenne chili plant, at the last Toowoomba, Simple Living Group meeting, I attended. It's performed magnificently too! But I only got to eat these two, before the local bird population, figured out where they lived. Who knew birds ate chillies? I wish they didn't, lol.

I'm hoping to make this area a little less attractive to winged marauders. It's all part of my remodelling project, for the kitchen garden. What I like about it is, the scale is smaller, so more manageable with resources. I'm not going to feed the family with it, but not having to buy fresh herbs, has saved us a lot of money.

Secondly however, it's right outside my kitchen door. So I can see it from the kitchen window. Being connected to something growing, year round, is important to me. As it helps continue the learning process of growing food. Even if I cannot grow all that I need, I still have to keep my hand in the game. So this area, is exciting to continue developing.

Do you have a favourite edible, you like to grow at home?


  1. First! Love your set-up and successes!

    And 2nd, yes, I do have a favorite "potherb" of a wild sort, the weed Purslane! Here in Louisiana it's hot and humid, so when it's too hot (mostly mid-90'sF) for regular salad greens, at least there's purslane salad!Laura

    1. Thanks Laura. Purslane is a wonderful herb. I've snacked on it occasionally, as it pops up here and there too - where it's a little cooler and has more moisture. I've never grown enough to make a salad out of it though. Which is a shame, as it's extremely nutritious! :)

  2. Chris, I brought one of those chilli plants as well and it did really well.We got some good rain this morning before our monthly simple living workshop and there was light rain during the night. It was so nice for a change. I even got my car washed. LOL!

    1. Ha! Yes, the car windows were getting a bit dusty here too, lol. I found the chillis do better than the capsicums, in containers. As far as production is concerned. Small plant but puts out lots of fruit! :)

  3. This is so timely, as I'm currently assessing this year's garden successes and fails, after a horribly hot and dry summer. It's also the first year I grew a number of things (mostly herbs) in containers. Right outside the back door, I found them easy to tend to and they did very well. I'm contemplating more container growing next year, inspired by both you and Tania.

    1. It will be great to see what you develop Leigh. Container plants are so flexible, but the spaces we're using, usually aren't. I have a long narrow landing, for example, out the back door. So a narrow strip of containers, ensures I can continue using the space, without tripping over them. But the containers can be raised in many interesting ways too. That's what I'm currently exploring! :)

      And you're right, they are much easier to tend when they're just out your back door. It's easier to bring the resources to them, and for pest/weed management too.

  4. I love this space you have created Chris.

    You have my brain thinking where I could set up something similar. I will take a look around outside the house tomorrow and see if there is a suitable spot. My veggie patch is a not near my kitchen, although I have a few herbs in pots nearby, just outside under the veranda.

    I haven't grown chilies as we don't really eat them. Capsicums are the only chili we grow lol! Yours look pretty delicious though!

    1. Thanks Tania. I was sussing out your covered patio area, when you shared your dog and goat, hanging out under it, recently. I had container on the brainer, and envisioned it being smothered in container plants, lol. Although your hanging baskets under the patio, were plentiful already! Had a jungle vibe happening. :)

    2. Oh yes Chris, I have a great area to grow things just outside the kitchen.

      Hubby commented to me the other day about my "hanging flowers", and told me I should be growing edibles in those baskets. He is right of course, but I also love a bit of colour. I have one hanging pot with herbs planted in, and will look at planting more. I have been eyeing off the swimming pool fence, contemplating a shelf of some sort to rest pots on. Not sure it can be done though. I have a verandah all the way around the house but a lot of the area is exposed to either wind or heat. I would love to grow grapevines or something similar to shade the windows on the north side as it gets very hot there in summer. Not sure I can convince hubby though as he hates moisture anywhere near the house because of termites. I will try though :)

    3. Your husband has a good eye for capturing opportunity, lol. So many exciting places in your garden to exploit! You're right about finding the right location though. Too much wind or light, can thwart plants grown in containers.

  5. It's such a great garden. I love seeing how you're growing as much as you can and adapting to the conditions as they change. I love growing parsley, Welsh onions and chillies. Even if they were the only plants I had, it would save us a lot of money because we eat them a lot. BTW, birds love chillies. They don't have the capacity to feel the heat so chillies are like capsicums to them.

    1. Thanks for visiting Rhonda. I agree with the parsley and welsh onions being a favourite herb, here too. Easy to grow and so abundant! You can't beat fresh herbs in a meal. I love the Welsh onions, but also have the society garlic chives, to give the onions an opportunityto replenish. Thanks for verifying the winged chilli nappers. I guess my chickens eat some weird stuff too, so why not the native birds, lol? :)

  6. I think it's great that you've created a little kitchen garden as a response to your conditions , that's easily accessed and brings you joy. I have two pots of edibles out on my verandah at moment. One has warrigal greens, chives, alyssum and lettuce and the other just lettuce. I have four tomatoes in pots down in garden, they are just ripening now with little yellow cherry-like tomatoes. (I have forgotten variety!) I have picked first of these yesterday minus a couple that had grubs in them. I have two blueberries in pots (I've had for years) and they have lots of clusters of fruit but need to net individual clusters to try to stop the currawong going after them. Such cheeky bird! I got a very small harvest of mulberries off the dwarf variety I have growing in a pot. That's the first picking from it and I've frozen the ones I managed not to gobble up so that I can make mulberry and apple pie. I have society garlic chives growing as a border along my front boardwalk steps and as an edging plant. I noticed a neighbour has planted it down one side of his driveway too. Such a great, hardy, pretty and useful plant! Meg:)

    1. Who doesn't love fresh lettuce in a summer salad? Thos cherry tomatoes would go well in one too. Yes to those currawongs. They'll run off with my cherry tomatoes, given the chance. Fortuntely, they're weary coming too close to the house. So as long as we're moving around in the kitchen, they don't both the containers.

      Great to hear society garlic is being used in your locale too. I first got the idea from the Toowoomba public gardens. They like to use them as border plants. Much hardier than some of the landscape grasses. Plus the purple flowers are so much prettier. And they taste great in scrambled eggs, lol. What's not to like!


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