Thursday, 7 June 2012

Autumn audit - '12

summer and autumn produce
Autumn has ended and I have missed about 2/3rds of it being away overseas for work – see Garden Glut International. Autumn in Australia (at least in the southern states) is defined by the calendar months March April and May and in my opinion is the loveliest time of year in Sydney (but come to think of it, I think  autumn is about the loveliest time of the year just about everywhere I have ever been!).

So what can I say about autumn if I have been away? Well most of this is from the reporting of my David who has been giving me great updates.

Its been a weird autumn...Just as our summer was cool and wet, this autumn has been the summer we never had, followed by heavy rains and the impact on the patch has been profound. Here is some of the things that have happened as a result.

• Eggplants - normally pulled out in February/ March continued flowering and flowering and were finally only pulled out in mid-May. The fruit were smaller than they had been earlier in the season, but I guess that can be explained by all the hard work they put in, no doubt depleting the store in the soil. Must feed up those parts of the patch.

• The Chillies too have been long fact I still have two plants in and the long cayenne still has loads of green chillies on the plant. Again I normally pull them out in around March. Even though we don’t get a frost in Sydney (at least in my part of Sydney)  I don’t over winter them. I only have limited space and I remove them when they are past their best to free up the bed. Frankly I don’t think I need to grow any chillies next summer, what with the stash ‘preserved’ in oil, in vinegar, in rocket fuel, in sweet chilli jam and frozen could keep me going for two years. But I KNOW I will grow them again next summer, they just brighten up the garden so much. And besides which I can always use the excuse offered by Suburban Tomato in her value space rating blog - they are just too efficient how can I not grow them.

last of the brown berries
• Brown berry tomatoes - just when I thought they were finished in Feb and when I had pulled all, the other tomatoes out,  they revived and  started flowering heavily. They have produced small crops – a punnet at a time and are only now giving up the ghost.

• The Broccoli that I planted in February were producing great big heads in early May. Quick hey?  Must have been all that sun they had. All the big heads have been picked and now its the side shoots to keep us going.
beautiful broccoli

• The Sunflowers that self-seeded in the broccoli patch and which I left to see what happened grew and grew and produced lovely browny heads.  In May they were towering over the patch and there were plenty to cut to bring inside. I normally pull my summer sunflowers out when they are spent and they don’t normally go about sprouting until the next late spring. I will probably take these out of the garden this weekend. They have pretty much finished now.

• Snow peas that were planted in February behaved pretty much like they always do, they started being picked in early May. They are heaven on a stalk. We pick every second day and pretty much eat everyday. There is nothing better to eat veg-wise in my opinion in a winter veg garden. Crunch, sweet, best eaten at the vine.

All this resulted in some interesting harvest baskets – a great combination of summer and autumn veg.

Autumn gluts
  • Lettuce
  • Rocket
  • Broccoli
  • Snow peas
  • Spring onions – I just planted too many to keep up with!
  • Lemons endless lemons
With the lovely man home alone there was only so much he could eat so much of the glut was distributed to friends and family for their consumption.

too much for one man to eat

Mini gluts
  • Limes
  • Eggplants
Autumn struggles
  • Cabbage - with a booming broccoli crop the savoy cabbages got a little shaded. I also suspect I had another issue... the cabbage went into the patch where the eggplant were. I had had a great eggplant year and  I suspect that the eggplant had really taken a lot out of the soil.  I did top it up before planting the cabbage seedlings, but I suspect not enough.
  • Beetroot - these too got a little too shaded by the monster broccoli. I got some but only small roots. 
This all comes from having only a small space and big ambitions and planting thickly to cover ground and get the most out of the patch.

Autumn duds
  • Radish -  these failed pretty spectacularly I suspect it might be because of two reasons - I didn't thin them enough, and they may have been overshadowed by a very prolific rocket crop. 
  • Cauliflower - hmm, big failure - serious whip tail... I have always had a little bit of whip tail but always had good strong heads. This year I pushed my luck and have paid for it. If I get any heads at all they will be tiny.  Lesson?  Don't ignore micro-nutrient deficiencies! 
The other big learning of this autumn, was how well and how enthusiastically my darling husband tended the patch while I was away. Grub squashing, compost emptying, path clearing, plant feeding, pulling out when veg had finished, harvesting and taking photos and sending  them to me to make me think of home.


  1. Beautiful photos. Wow, that broccoli is early and looks amazing. I have found the same thing - eggplants only just got pulled last week, and chillies still cropping.

    1. Oh thanks Lanie, these ones were taken by my lovely man. It was my birthday when I was away overseas and guess what my birthday card photo was? That fabulous head of broccoli! I cannot think of a better card. It made me so homesick for my garden.

      Are you in Sydney too?

  2. Great to have you back. What is cauliflower whip tail?

    1. Hi Liz, it's great to be back. Whip tail, according to 'The New Vegetable and Herb Expert' by Dr DG Hessayon (a handy book but rather to attached to 'the troubles' one might experience with vegetable gardening) describes whip tail like this: "leaves are thin and strap like (and in my experience twisted). Plant growth is poor, cauliflower heads may be very small or fail to develop. Caused by a molybdenum deficiency." Prevention suggested is adequate liming of the soil before sowing or planting. I suspect here-in lies the problem. Cause my beds were stuffed full with the eggplant that just kept producing, I do think that I didn't lime enough, or certainly didn't till it in enough. I didn't want to disturb the eggplant. Lesson learnt, except that it is so tempting to cram your beds when you have limited space.



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