Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Self sufficiency? Not so much.

Let me present to you the pride and joy of the clutterpunk garden, the cream of the harvest so far this year:

Yes, that's it all right. A stumpy, warty-looking zucchini.

Anyone want a bite?

We have a way to go before we are dining out on homegrown food here. Since moving out of our two-bedroom, no-garden flat six months ago, team clutterpunk have harboured lofty ideals of 'living off the land'. 

Actually, our ideals aren't that lofty. We're not planning to become survivalists, but we do want to gain some gardening skills, spend time outdoors as a family and grow at least some of our own edibles. And given that my previous record with plants reads 'herbicide by neglect', I figure it's going to take some time to get the hang of things.

Our garden has an inner-urban Mediterranean heritage, with an 'Italian Lawn' (otherwise known as cement). So we've gone with a raised no-dig veggie garden. Ours came from the lovely guys at the Little Veggie Patch Co. Sadly, our first plant-out was disastrous (so sorry, Jon and Mat - our fault entirely). We've replanted for winter and have higher hopes for our garlic, leeks, onions, beets and swedes.

I guess, when you tend towards learning by intuition or feel as I do, mistakes are the way you learn. We inherited these lovely old laundry tubs, but have since learned about the necessity of adequate drainage - hence the mildewed zucchini. 

So we punched a heap of holes into the bucket o' rocket, and that seems to be thriving. Drainage... check! And now we need to learn about planting in succession rather than tipping the whole bunch of seeds in at once. 

Well, it's going to be one fine week of rocket when it happens!

But the failures are hardly failures. There is much pleasure to be had just in the process of creating and tending a garden. With the little bits of learning and activity and beauty it provides, the actual productivity is fairly secondary to us. A few months back the boys spent an afternoon with their Grandma exuberantly planting beans willy nilly throughout our containers. Who knows what they will produce, but it's a delight to see them climbing up the fence and spilling out of the herb pots.

And if nothing else ever takes off, we do have this glorious, heavily-laden lemon tree, poking through its hole in the cement. God bless the Italian migrant population.
Even with just the lemons and a handful of productive herb plants, I feel almost giddy with the potential of it all. I can dress salads! I can flavour pasta dishes and garnish pizza! I can make lemon cordial and lemon curd and put zest into everything! Imagine what I might feel like if anything else takes? Positively self-sufficient!

And now I might go and julienne that zucchini. Or grate it directly into the compost. Either way, I think my thumb is definitely looking just that little bit greener.


  1. Gotta be in it to win it - love seeing all your efforts! Enjoy rocket week! A x
    PS My sister is publishing the LVP Co boys as one of her first books - she says they're amazing!

  2. Love this garden post, lemon trees rock (lemon barley cordial courtesy of "too many things in my head" is a favourite at our place)

    Most of my gardening has been trial & error - many trials, much error. I still love to listen to radio gardening shows then somehow forget all their good advice or apply it months after the suggested time.

    I agree with you that there is much pleasure to be had just in the process of creating and tending a garden, although the occasional warty zuc is good too.

  3. We have a heap of those colourful buckets. Now I know what to do with them!!

  4. Ohhh lemons! I LOVE anything with lemons!

    I am with you on the growing vegies. It is a constant learning thing and then when you have it right you get unusual frost!

    I am hoping this summer to make some hot houses and maybe even grow some tropical stuff!!!!!! maybe egg plants etc etc!!!

  5. Every Aussie House needs a lemon tree out the back and yours looks very well laden! All the best with the gardening - love the look of the Vegie Patch Co. boxes - how cool are they?!

  6. Guess what we just had delivered at our place today... a couple of Little Vegie Patch Co crates! I agree with you that gardening is about so much more than the final product.
    (and I agree about how wonderful it is even to put a few herbs you've grown yourself into your dinner)
    PS: you could always thin out that rocket by eating some "baby rocket" soon - I think it would be really yummy!
    PPS: it was really nice to meet you a week ago!

  7. OH I love that crate.
    thank you so much for the link, I think this might really work for my terrible rented backyard.
    and can understand your excitement over your new herbs from you garden

  8. hello from a fellow crafty mumma! Loving your blog, and am now following along!! I am jealous of your lemon tree, I ADORE lemons and add them to just about everything! My daughter eats them like they are oranges....

  9. Leeks should grow well, although mine never get as fat as bought ones, they taste great and thrive on neglect.

    You could try some broad beans too - they also just about grow themselves and are fun for kids to watch and pick and shell. And they taste great if you pick them nice and small like peas.

  10. Have I mentioned how much I've missed you, Miss G.? Lovely zuke...I'm sure your compost heap will be all the better for it!


  11. How exciting it is such a great feeling watching your veg grow..enjoy it ;-)) dee x

  12. When you mentioned the Italian lawn I thought, it's not an Italian lawn without a lemon tree sticking through a hole in the cement. Lo and behold!

  13. You have done all that as well as having a baby....Well Done MRS!! xx

  14. You're a cracker. So is the zucchini. And the rocket appears to be surviving my dodgy brown thumb too...

  15. Ahh, even to have a happy lemon tree would be wonderful...and they do look happy.
    Everything looks really healthy compared to my pot happenings at the moment... Even the zucchini. Now you need some chooks to eat the lumpy zucchini.

  16. I love this post!! Reminds me of our first attempts of a veggie garden! I can't wait to see how your winter veggies turn out!

  17. That's one special zucchini ;-)

    and the rocket it looking great! I've often thought about trying those buckets as pots. I'm envious of that lemon tree. I'm planning to make a lime meringue pie this weekend with some swapped limes.

  18. Love this garden post! Thank you so much for the link!

    San Diego Mobile Notary

  19. Ooh love it! If only our zucchini had given such a singular, wonderously warty and stumpy fruit we would have been blowing party blowers around the garden. Instead the plants died of mildew...but we have the same attitude, its all learning and a lot of fun.

  20. Your garden is doing well, though, and look at that lemon tree, I wish for lemons like that! And like you say, the amount of edible produce coming out isn't always a sign of how successful you've been, there is so much more to it than just harvesting!


  21. Ahh, such zest for life! What a zesty existance you will all be leading now! Zest it up, just a litte! How utterly zest-ful.

    Apologies, I get excited when I see a lemon tree such as yours (or the concrete's), being so generous.

    Wonderful photos of your green thumb embarkments - those laundry tubs..what a find!

    If you're worried about your zukes and their mildew - apparently this is just a natural part of their life cycle and we just have to deal with it. They are fine to compost though ;)

    Have fun out there, you and your thumb. I remember our first harvest - a scrap of parsley and a sprig of rosemary that reduced the little sapling by 50%. There has to be a beginning, right?

    AND BIG congratulations on your newest member of the family!


“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
~Albert Einstein