Kitchen Garden Guides

Thursday, August 30, 2012

“There is nothing--absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in THE GARDEN."

…. Kate Flint, Vegetable Vagabond blog, 2012!

When I came to live in this pretty little house, on an acre of paradise, at the bottom of the world, there was nothing edible in the garden except a few well-established fruit and nut trees. For this I was very grateful, as they take years to grow and produce well. However, I felt lost and incomplete not being able to pick even some parsley.

After a full year of sowing and harvesting what I could, one day I saw some self-sown lettuce seedlings appearing and I felt I was at last beginning to belong. Now, two and a half years since I arrived, I can say that I have a well-established food garden and a wonderful seed bank, in the soil and in my cupboard. If Cygnet was cut off from the world, I would be well-fed and able to feed others.

Sitting by my sunny window the other afternoon I wrote down everything I could think of that is edible in my garden. Here is the list. Of course vegetables and some herbs change with the seasons. I have not been specific with varieties here.

almonds various chards oregano tomatoes
hazelnuts spring onions parsley lettuces
chestnuts artichokes sage bok choy
walnuts sunchokes rosemary spring onions
gooseberries Chinese artichokes thyme shungiku
raspberries oca tarragon coriander
red currants asparagus winter savory capsicums
boysenberries Tas. nettles salad burnett chicories
quince red cabbage garlic chives corn
prune plum leeks galangal asparagus
red plum sorrel lemon grass herbs x lots
cherry plums fennel bulbs Viet. mint SOWING OUTSIDE SOON
Irish strawberry various kale lots of mints parsnips
crab apple cardoon bay peas
apples, various walking onion chamomile brassicas
olives red dock angelica carrots
apricot mizuna native violet purslane
cherry frilly mustard chervil etc etc
pears broccoli raab lavenders  
peach various chicory    
feijoa broad beans    
Chilean guava miners’ lettuce    
rhubarb various lettuce    
grapes beetroot    
Tas. raspberry parsnips    
Cape gooseberry mixed Asian greens    
elderflower shungiku    
kiwifruit Belgian endive    
lemons sugar snap peas    
limes garlic    
cumquats watercress    
mandarins land cress    
fig various “weeds”    
alpine strawberry      

One of the things I do in my garden that differs from many other people is that, wherever you walk, there is something to eat, depending on the season. I use fruit trees as THE trees. So, I sit under the walnut tree, on the lawn, in summer. I have a little seat by the pond, which will be shaded by a crab apple on summer mornings and by an Irish strawberry tree in the afternoon. Various paths are edged with espaliered fruit trees or overhung with fruit trees whose blossom at the moment is incredible.

There are also an increasing number and range of Australian and Tasmanian shrubs and small trees, for the birds and insects. And I let areas of grasses grow as a meadow. It is delightful to watch the myriad of insects and tiny birds darting about there, especially when they are in flower and seeding. Although this does not directly feed me, the diverse ecology of this garden keeps most “pests” in check and allows my food plants to flourish.

There is nothing I enjoy more than spending time in the garden.


Jess said...

I love your philosophy of having edible things EVERYWHERE. Why do veggies need to be in a certain section? What's wrong with having rhubarb in the front yard, or parsley under the roses? And I don't understand why people plant non-edible plants when those bearing fruit can do the same job. If you're going to plant an ornamental cherry tree, why not buy a real cherry tree? The blossoms are just as lovely. Once my house renno's are done and I can start work in the garden, I hope to adapt this philosophy as well, because it makes sense.

africanaussie said...

wow what a variety you have Kate, and after 2 and a half years! I am amazed too at the fact that you have tropical and temperate plants all together. Great job!

Michelle said...

You have accomplished so much in two and a half years! My garden falls woefully short on the fruit and nut end of the spectrum, but I am very satisfied with the vegetable and herb part of the program. Isn't it so satisfying to turn a patch of land into a bit of paradise. Good job!

Anonymous said...

wow, you've got a lot in two years. sounds like you are performing 'permaculture' type plantings.

Bek said...

I totally agree, there are so many edible and beautiful plants! I can't wait to be in your position of having lots of self sown edibles, at the moment its a joy when I come across a self sown edible in the garden

Heather said...

Its the librarian again - I'm on a mailing list regarding libraries, and i've just seen a posting regarding a librarian who has got $200 from their local council to help with edible plantings around their library! Well, I've emailed her to try and find out how she went about it as I reckon I could at least try to get it going, and who knows, other libraries may follow suit. Of course if I got money, you guys would be included in part of the application for dispersal of that if you were interested we could get more plants - maybe fruit trees or something. I'll keep you updated if anything comes of it. It is great to know other people are finally getting on board!

Kate said...

Heather, that would be fabulous!! I have heaps of ideas for improving the little garden there and, when the weather warms up, I have seedlings to plant out. That very thick wood chips layer is not ideal for vegetables, as they have shallow roots and the mulch depletes the soil as it breaks down. Hence the slow growth.

Jo said...

I love your version of the Kenneth Grahame quote, and I absolutely agree with it. Messing about in the garden is one of the great joys of life. I have just found your blog, and am so enjoying it. I am amazed at what you have done in two years - it must make you fell very satisfied to count up all the changes you have made.

I am in northern Tas, and would love to grow lemon grass. Do you grow yours outdoors? Is it an annual? I thought it would be too cold here to grow it, I would love to know how you do it..

Kate said...

Hi Jo,
I now wish I had separated "things in the garden" from "things in my hothouse". You need a frost free area for lemon grass. Mine is in the hothouse, along with the galangal and some other things... I might write about that next!

gardenlover said...

Truly a little piece of paradise in Cygnet:

For birds,
For animals (well, maybe not cows!!)
For people

Nice work Kate

Jo said...

Oh, darn, no hot house here. I would still be interested to know how you grow it - maybe if I brought it indoors to a sunny window over winter?

Kate said...

Do you have a sunny winter verandah, Jo? I have my citrus in tubs which get the full sun on the verandah in winter. Then I shift the tubs out for the summer. This would also work for lemon grass etc.

Jo said...

I will give it a go. My local nursery will have it in a couple of weeks, so I can but try, and grow my own herbal tea..

Brett said...

Thanks Kate for such a wonderful article and blog. It's really awe inspiring what you've been able to achieve :)