Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First Harvest

I am not quite sure what compelled me to start growing my own produce (only 5 things) this year (or last year?). Maybe it is the abundance of rain making things seem more alive, inspiring and perhaps providing the burst of motivation to do so.

However, my experimentation and swift learnings has not been all smooth sailing. I keep reminding myself that I can't dwell on the headache of losing an entire batch of padron peppers to snails and slugs. The pests would eat the entire padron plant to the gound whilst they would nibble on the stem of the tomatillo right next to it, separating it from the plant! (and therefore killing the plant if you didn't understand what I was trying to get at) After having my first batch transplanted decimated, I had to do something. But I have to say, it was fortuitous that I hedged my bets and kept extra plants.

Yes, I became one of 'those people' that goes into their garden at night with a torchlight and a sharp object. I won't describe what happened to this slug and his fellow brothers.  But yesterday, I finally gave in and used snail bait after a couple of "nightwatch" sessions with my "weeder" and torchlight. Lets just say, a dozen mosquito bites later (which I note, I am still paying for), the snail bait went on thick and fast.

Onto the more interesting stuff! I transplanted my seedling tomatoes in early November, and 2.5 months later, they are in excess of 1.5 meters.It is only when I think back of how recently I had planted them that I realised what people meant when they say "they will grow quickly". The photos below are taken one month apart.

The batch above, containing grosse lisse, early allans, wild sweetie and red fig are thriving with prolific fruit that are beginning to set. Very sandy soil fortified with a damn lot of compost prior to planting. Sun from morning through to late afternoon.

The 'less' successful' batch of tomatoes (more than pictured), containing mortgage lifters, black russians, principe borghese, wild sweeties. Less fruit, less bushy and generally weaker looking plants. The soil is typical to our area which is heavy in clay. Soil was blended with sand (but obviously needs more for next year!), but the amount of daily sun is not sufficient for strong growth.

Perhaps the biggest indicator is the 'wild sweetie' with the plants in the first set of photos being so prolific and strong that I had to reinforce the stake to the fenceline whereas the plants in the second photo are quite thin.

I get a little excited and nervous talking about the crops that I am "trying" to successfully grow. 2010 has been a bit of an experiment to see what works and what doesn't. To determine the correct balance of nutrients to feed the plants and even the way to stake my tomatoes!!

This year, I have decided to grow a few plants of soy beans (jabiru), for the sole purposes of determining their suitability for a larger crop in 2011. Apparently, they are photosensitive plants  and will flower when the day length changes.so exciting times ahead!

I recently also transplanted tomatillo (not to be confused with a tomato), and padron peppers. Although quite late, I am hoping they will have sufficient time to establish and fruit prior to the first autumn frost.

Anyway, I want to end this post with some images that represent the title of this blog. My first harvest. In spite of the headache of losing seedling after seedling to snails and slugs, and finally giving in to using snail bait (the Iron Phosphate type which is meant to be safe to other living things other than snails and slugs), pulling out the potatoes that have been in since late winter is incredibly rewarding and somewhat surprising. This, my friends, is the bounty for my efforts.

My backyard.

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