Monday, August 24, 2009

Itching to play in the dirt!

The weather here in Perth is still 100% winter. It's raining constantly, usual winter temperature, wind howling as only WA can, and yet some part of me has picked up a case of spring-time itchy fingers.

In addition to the biological welcoming of spring, doing some blogsurfing around some amazing home veggie gardening, sustainability and generally all-round-greenie blogs such as Down To Earth , The Crone at Wits End and Scarecrow's Garden really got me motivated.

Yup, spring's a-comin' and I'm feeling the need to grow my own food.

I gave it a bloody good go last year. I grew a lot, I failed at a lot and, sadly, threw out a lot. I went a bit mad on planting seeds with little thought of timing, storing and the all important will-my-kids-eat-it factor.

One of my most resounding successes last year was coriander, some of which bolted to seed, dried out completely and is still in its styrofoam container hidden round the side of the house. My excuse for this is that I can obviously use the seeds this year. Lessons to be learned this time round, though, to time my plantings so I don't have 30 kilos of coriander all ready to use at the same time. I must also get a more heat resistant one than last year. Bugger. There goes my idea of using the seeds up!

I also had some impressive cos lettuce, which ended up getting thrown away, because in my excitement of carefully cultivating the Most Amazing Cos Lettuce Ever Grown in Toy Boxes, I forgot that I don't like it, and neither do any of my kids.

The tomatoes, as always, did famously, and, in related news so did fruit fly. Fruit fly was the bane of my last summer. Bastard, buggery little evil bugs, they are. My garden is completely organic, so all I could do to compete with the evil ones was a homemade garlic, chili and pyrethum (never could spell that word) spray which, when sprayed on the tomatoes offended every dog and cat within a 2 km radius. It failed to deter the fruit flies much, though.

My leeks were fab, the spring onions are still growing since last summer. I could say that I left them in there as a botanical experiment to see what would happen, but that would be an outright lie. I just couldn't be bothered moving them.

My more epic fails included items from the cucumber / squash / zucchini sort of families. They grew, oh yes they grew. But they were, um, odd. Their very shapes made my boys giggle and my mother avert her eyes at the sight of them. I have burned all photographic evidence, but take my word for it, cucumbers were not meant to look like these.

Anyway, I plan to look at last summer as a bit of a learning experience. A Very Expensive Learning Experience! Ah well, if I've got a few things learned, a well-established compost heap on the go, lots of containers already full of potting mixture and had oodles of fun with dirt under my nails, then I consider it worth it.

This year? Well, the biggest difference is that I'm flat out refusing to buy punnets of seedlings from commercial nurseries. A little bit of research has proven that the DNA in these little things has been manipulated to within an inch of its life, and that's not what I'm after at all. I've discovered the heady joys of Select Organic Seeds and will be ordering some lovely heirloom varieties of seeds from there.

And I'm excited! Dirty fingernails, here we come!



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