Handy List of Perenial Food Plants (and no, I don’t know what lovage is but it sounds romantic)

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Thank you to Angelo for the great list. Please see his website (deepgreenpermaculture) for more amazing stuff.

 

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Found: old decking boards. Used to make garden beds

I found a huge load of decking boards in hard rubbish a while back. Most decking boards these days are made out of merbau, which is a rainforest timber sourced in nations with lax environmental controls. It’s a sad industry for the world…

The wood is incredibly rot resistant and strong. I guess it grows in rainforests in Malaysia and other south-east Asian countries so only the toughest survive. It is amazing for use in the garden as it takes many years to rot so can be used for stakes, structures and garden beds.

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this is what they looked like when I finished them last year.

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this is them 6 months on, full of green. The little gap between them is now a place to sit and contemplate the freakishness of our scarecrow

I made the boards I found into two garden beds. They are about 240cm by 120cm and about 40cm high. They have a little lip around them to sit on. I really love them. They took quite a while to build but they were easy to do (just a bit time-consuming due to the fact that I was joining lots of different length pieces together). They look really nice and its satisfying to know they came from hard rubbish, they cost nearly $0 to build (just had to buy screws) and that they will probably last 10-15 years or more.

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If you ever see merbau wood lying around, grab it.

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also made this ramp to get our bikes up onto our deck, out of the merbau

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and this step-up into the boxbike

Shout Out to Trombone Zucchinis

We are still growing and harvesting zucchinis in May (that’s getting close to winter here in Melbourne for those Northern hemisphere readers). I put it down to the variety I bought from the Diggers Club, the Trombone Zucchini. I reckon we have got about 10-15 zucchinis from each of our plants and they have fruited since January (that’s 3 months).

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Zucchinis growing still, in late Autumn. And check out the monster pumpkin hanging from the water tank in the background. Im saving that one for Halloween (hopefully!)

Its nice buying a $4 packet of seeds and getting a return of 30 vegies!

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beautiful autumnal tones in our pumpkin crop this year.

How to remember where you planted your seeds: easy & free weatherproof plant labels

I used to always forget where I planted my seeds and even if I remembered where I planted them, I’d forget what type they were.

Until I discovered this cool method. It works well with seeds that come with their own little zip-lock bag but if they don’t, you find zip lock bags being turfed all over the place nowadays. I get mine 2nd hand, from my colleagues at work.

What you do is carefully removed the little zip lock bag from the paper seed packet.

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This method is child’s play! (if that phrase means a kid will mess it up for you. Little miss has ripped the packet)

 

Sprinkle your seeds.

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Fold up the paper seed packet so it fits into the ziplock bag (or another one you scammed off a mate at work). Keep the important details facing out.

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Then I get a tent peg and impale it on that, to keep it off the ground and visible.

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The finished cos lettuce and carrot beds with 2 weatherproof labels ready to go!

What Kids Like To Do in the Garden

Regular readers will know that I am a member of the “Society of ELG“.

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Our founder, giving a seminar on something.

We have a lot of passionate people in the Society of Extremely Lazy Gardeners, but we are always looking to recruit new members. Thinking about joining? As a member you are entitled to a range of benefits:

– Low amounts of work

– High production of fruits and veggies.

– Money saving

– Great relationships with kids and neighbours

– General happiness and satisfaction.

Today was one of my laziest gardening afternoons but also probably my happiest. As an Extremely Lazy Gardener, I let many of my plants “go to seed”. This means that I don’t dig up or chop down all my veggies when they have finished producing their beans, fruit, and what not. For example, I leave a few lettuces unpicked until they shoot up into flowers and seeds. I leave a few broccoli unharvested so that their brocooli-bits turn into yellow flowers then seeds. I leave some zucchini to grow massive and hard then scoop out the seeds to be replanted next spring. I leave some of bean plants alone so their beans remain unpicked. They dry up and I can use the beans to plant again.

I like to tell people that I have a plan, but really it’s just that I forget to harvest some stuff, and nature did the rest. You have to ‘be okay’ with a garden that has a few towering, dried-up-looking stalks and a few rattling beans dangling from the vine. And believe me- I’m ok with it! Really, it’s just how everyone used to garden until they started selling seeds at the supermarket.

Anyway, enough about being lazy in the garden. Let’s talk about being lazy with kids in the garden! I wanted to include a brief description of what kids love doing in our garden:

Kids love:

  • planting broad bean seeds
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Another ELG member doing what I would consider to be a bit too much hard work in the garden. Probably trying to impress his kid. ELG Society rules state that broad beans should always be planted from a hammock or while half asleep in a wheelbarrow (see above).

 

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ain’t got a garden? do it in an old bottle!

  •  collecting and counting sunflower seeds from a dried up sunflower
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I asked my little fella how many seeds this one sunflower had given us. He said “Probably about 50hundred!” We counted them and turns out he was right…

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  • popping open dried-up bean pods and collecting the shiny beans
  • finding creatures in the jungle-garden

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two praying mantis mating- probably our best creature discovery in the garden. A great discussion was then had about what mating was and whether/why the female then ate the male’s head afterwards.

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  • eating tomatoes off the vine while they are still warm from the afternoon sun
  • eating anything within reach
  • pulling up a Jerusalem artichoke and plucking off the little tubers.

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  • Sharing these experiences with their friends in the street

 

All these things happened this afternoon. And it wouldn’t’ have happened had I not been so extremely lazy to have left all these seeds to dry up, pumpkin vines to take over (and harbour the amazing praying mantis), artichokes to grow in random places, sunflowers to wither, tomatoes to sprawl… Being extremely lazy has its rewards!

I’d love to hear your “what kids like to do in the garden” ideas too. Drop me a comment and we can all put together a list for others to be inspired by!

Want to play God with Pumpkins?

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Here’s an image of a pumpkin I recently crossed with a small kayak..

I like playing God with our pumpkins. Actually I like doing it with our zucchini, gourds, squash and other members of the cucurbita family. Basically, all you do it you get the male flower bit and rub it on the female flower bit (regular readers know how scientifically high-brow this blog it, so I hope I haven’t lost you).

Doing this probably wont produce any weird fruit initially, but if you collect seeds from your fruit, and plant them, you may very well get weird fruit.

You have to know which flowers are male and which ones are female to do this right?

Here’s some helpful images…

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female on the left, male on the right. Note the swollen bit on the female flower- that is the fruit ready to develop. The male flower doesn’t have one of these.

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check out the different shaped bits inside. I just learned what they are called from this image but I still prefer “bits”

So then you just pick a male flower (there are usually heaps to choose from). Then you peel off the outer petals so you are left with the stamen (or “bit” if you want to get technical). Then you rub the male stamen into the female stigma and, hey presto- you just played God (well actually you just did what humans have been doing for about 12,000 years and bees have been doing for a lot longer!)

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male bit in my hand, female bit still in the attached flower

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just rub the male bit into the female bit. Some people even leave it in there to prevent bees cross-pollinating with other types of plants.

Actually there are some really good reasons for doing this artificial pollination (not just because of the feeling of incredible power you wield).

Sometimes you might have a problem with no fruit forming on your pumpkins/etc. This can be because your female flowers are hidden or not accessible to pollinators (bees, butterflies, etc.). So hand pollination can help this problem. Added to this, you might want to just hand pollinate to ‘guarantee’ pollination. Vegetable plants are a big investment of your time/space/etc.  so its good to cover your bases.

Also, you might want to keep your veggies “true to type” which means you don’t want them to cross with other veggies in your garden.

Happy pollinating!

THE STORY OF THE ZUCHINI THAT TURNED INTO EGGS, THEN INTO A SRI LANKAN CURRY!

Regular readers may be familiar with these zucchini that recently turned into eggs

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Trombone zucchini tastes like zucchini, looks like…
well, lets just say it looks different.

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Our neighbour’s eggs- look like eggs, taste like…eggs

Well another zucchini we grew, just miraculously turned into a delicious curry and some other scrumdiddlyumptious side dishes, thanks to our lovely Sri Lankan neighbours!

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The swap happened under the cover of darkness. Which was a relief because I felt like I was getting a ridiculously good deal!

We do most of our vegetable gardening in our front yard (mainly because it gets good sun, and also because the backyard is shady fruit tree forest. Also it is because we used to have a dog that roamed the backyard, pooing everywhere and chasing anything ball-like). We don’t have a ginormous block so the front yard was always destined for greatness. I envisaged a manicured, practice putting green so our kids could turn into pro-golfers and I could retire… but instead I made it into a vegetable patch/jungle.

The major up-side of front yard gardening is that you meet a lot of your neighbours (who are often gardening too, or trying to avoid having to look at your scarecrow as they pass by… ). I love the privacy of the backyard when it’s ‘us time’ but I also love the community-feeling of being in the front yard too. We have neighbours with diverse backgrounds some with heritage in Sri Lanka, Italy, Lebanon, The UK, Greece… And I, (being white-trash) find it so interesting to hear about how their families all got to this country and then to our suburb and street. I feel privileged to be able to listen to their stories but it also makes me think of the people who are currently trying to find refuge in our country, but who find themselves detained for doing so…

These lovely people with their global accents almost all garden too, which I would venture, is often a feature of first-generation Australians. It’s a feature I am very endeared to!

I love hearing how different cultures garden and I love tasting how they turn their harvest into deliciousness. I have been very lucky to have inherited grape cuttings,  heirloom tomato seeds, figs, preserved olives, seedlings, and other assorted fruit and vegetables from these generous people. I have definitely received more than I have given away and for that, I want to say thankyou!

So the moral of this story is:

If you want a curry, grow a zucchini!

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Ok. This one won’t make it into a cook book but the skill was in not drooling all over the food while taking the photo. Can’t wait for lunch tomorrow!