Thursday, 23 February 2012

Summer summary - '11-'12

Always grow sunflowers
With summer drawing to a close, here are some of my reflections on the season.

On La Nina
  • It was unusually wet and cool for a Sydney summer, it came as a huge shock after many many years of drought.
  • Dorathea McKellar knew about El Nino and La Nina long before  they had terms to describe them (I love a sunburnt country a land of sweeping plains, of ragged mountain ranges of droughts and flooding rains...).
  • La Nina is to be celebrated -  it saves my skin from added skin cancer risk and more freckles and  it fills the tank and means that you dont have to get the hose out and water!
On paying attention
  •  My oft commented upon eggplants have been a slighly lighter colour purple this year and have had a soft light and fluffy flesh with few seeds.  I wish I had paid attention to their particular variety -  I want to grow them again. Or was their fluffy seedless flesh because of the plentiful rain?

On pest control  
zucchinis are not pests
  • Eradicate the stink bugs when they are green babies and destroy them imediately! Even better, search your citrus for their lovely clear eggs and smash them before they can emerge.This way you might have a lime crop.
  • Wear goggles when destroying stink bugs I got sprayed in the eye late last year and had to go to the optometrist to make sure I wasn't in some serious trouble. Tip -  irrigate your eye imediately if you get sprayed and you will save your eye.
  • Hosing the aphids off the backs of the leaves of your cucumber works!  It uses a lot of water but it's better than spaying with other things and it's a La Nina year so I have lots of water.
  • I now know what red spider mite looks like. I dont know what to do about it...
  • Silvereyes (they are very sweet little birds) are great early season pest controllers in your tomato patch.  They search your tomatoes for green grubs and feed them to their babies. They also sometimes take a little nip.  Welcome them with open arms. Even if they nip your fruit. I can share with lovely birds.
  • Glue traps work for reducing fruit fly. I love them!
  • No matter how many glue traps you have, you will still have fruit fly.

On zucchinis
  • Plant one zucchini and one zucchini only. Pick them young and eat them quick while they are at their best and have a miriade of recipes.  I have really enjoyed the ones I have used this year and no longer consider the zucchini a pest.
On tomatoes
  • Pick your fruit before it rains lest it split!
  • Learn how to eat split fruit in a La Nina year.
  • My brown berries are more fruit fly resistant than the red varieties.
  • Give up on growing large tomatoes in Sydney -  fruit fly is too much of a problem.
  • make lemon tarts
  • Prune your plants a little in a La Nina  - this will help to ripen the fruit.  Don't prune  in a El Nino, your fruit will get sunburnt. Same goes for your skin really!
On chillies
  • Grow them, love them, preserve, pickle, freeze, jam and eat them. They are one of life's great pleasures.
  • Next year grow padrons, pick them, fry them and eat them with salt washed down with fino.
On lemons

On parsley
  • curled parsley doesn't like La Nina as much as Italian.

On beetroot
On sunflowers
  • Always grow sunflowers, always.
On frogs
  • They like La Nina better than El  Nino.


  1. Great post - Hmmm maybe I should grow a the sound of padrons, agree about the aphids and desperately want some silvereyes - my garden has too many sparrows(although they are also useful pest controllers if a little dull).

  2. Oh my word your sunflowers are just beautiful. That lemon tart looks so delicious. Have to say I tried 3 zucchini but they suffered from too much powdery mildew and having new steps put in didn't help as they got trapped on :o( Next year I try again once the vegie patch wall is built properly.

    Lovely post

    1. Oh thank you! I always grown sunflowers. I look for the ones that are not too tall and that have multiple heads and bronzey tones. After a while they start self seeding and you get some really intersting coulours and sizes. I had some that self seeded this year that were practially black.

      Here are some of the seeds I have used over the years. Mr Fothergill's - Royal Velvet F1 - a dark browny red variety with little yellow flashes on the edges, Mr Fothergill's Solar Flash F1 - dark centre with a ring of red and then a ring of yellow. Diggers - Prado Red.

      Kep picking them and they keep producing, make sure you stake them becasue 1 decent wind and they can go over.

      Grown them fill your arms with multiple picks and give them to your friends when all your vases are full.

  3. Thanks for this detailed post. With gardening season just on the roll, those are a very useful tips. Thank you!

  4. So you didn't mind the beetroot in the end? I love this post - so many lessons learned - thanks for sharing. I might write one similar myself so I can remember for next year.

    Isn't today's weather a cracker? Should be an awesome weekend too!

    1. It is fabulous weather! It makes the soul sing. All set up for an autumn growth spurt and a weekend of dirty feet.

      Thanks for the encouragement on the beetroot - yep the mobid fear has ben overcome!

      And I HAVE learnt lots this summer. You know the only real reason I decided to do this blog was that I wanted to take the time to record and reflect on the garden so that I would learn and remember. In just two months of blogging that has been achieved ( and will continue)and I have met others like yourself to share it all with.

      Fun isnt it!

    2. Yeah, I didn't really 'get' blogging until I started. I really just wanted to write something other than financial documents again, but now I understand that it's all about community.



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