The thing I find myself searching a lot is what to grow in Queensland summer. It’s hot, wet, and there’s a lot of pests. As I have unfortunately come to find. I’ve seen a lot of people in my gardening groups say that they just can’t be bothered planting anything once it gets to summer. And I’ve definitely been advised against it. Which is fair enough. But if you’re relentless you’ll do just fine. So long as you learn what is appropriate for each month of the year. When I first decided to start growing my own stuff I thought it’s as simple as you put stuff in the ground, water it diligently and soon enough the garden beds will be bursting with fresh home grown organic produce.
I didn’t know that crops need to be rotated. Or that you shouldn’t grow cold season crops like broccoli and cabbage in summer. I also thought that you could plant whatever you like next to whatever you like and it will grow just fine! These are all lessons I’ve learned the way. And I recommend that gardeners who are just starting out to absolutely research this stuff instead of taking a cavalier approach. This time around I’ve done my research about companion planting, crop rotation and seasonal planting, and I’ve been rewarded with some really nice produce. I’ve also learned some other important things along the way.
Like the fact that birds are a gardeners best friend. Or worst enemy if you’re a particularly greedy person, which I’ve realised much to my surprise that I’m not! Provided you’re a cute, friendly garden friend. Like the King Parrots which have full permission to raid my tomato crop twice a day. I mean look at how cute they are? How could I not let them? They are also very friendly, cheerful birds. Very confident too as they don’t mind posing for me. The exact opposite of the horrid big fat rat that has eaten both of my passion fruit plants to a stump. I’m hoping that the Boobook owl that I’ve spotted sitting on the washing line gets onto that problem ASAP. Last night I caught the horrid thing in the act and it just stood there on its hind legs staring me down as if to say well, what are you going to do about it? It wasted no time scurrying away once I called Diago to the scene of the crime.
Bird friends are a big part of keeping an organic garden from being overrun by pests. The more birds the better. They pick off all of the problematic insects and I really enjoy their company. Not long ago I set up a bird bath for them. All of the insects and small animals (lizards, rats) have made our garden hot real-estate in the bird world. Some mornings it does get a little ugly though, with the different species competing with each other for breakfast. Especially when both have families of their own to feed; like the Kookaburras, Currawongs and Noisy Miners. Mr & Mrs Currawong are proud parents to two chicks this season so they have been extra cranky with the other birds. They’ve got their work cut out for them.
With the exception of the tomatoes and zucchini, all of the vegetables in these photos were planted around October/November. The tomatoes and zucchini were planted in winter and are still going strong, especially the zucchini which has only started producing adequate fruit in the last month. I can’t remember the name of these long yellow ones, but they are delicious and superior in flavour to the Black Jack variety. They are so buttery and taste more like button squash than regular zucchinis. So delicious in a ratatouille which is what I cooked with them this week. I thought the cucumbers were an impressive size when I took these photos a few days ago, but today I went out and picked the most enormous cucumber that was triple the size of the ones here.
The accomplishment I’m most proud of with this garden is the corner where the tomatoes are now thriving. When we moved in that spot was a dense, overgrown area with thick weeds and an ugly sago palm. Even though there were plenty of other spots good for planting on this block of land I saw a lot of potential in this space. I also just couldn’t stand the eyesore. To keep the weeds from returning I planted useful things that grow in an invasive manner and take over. Which called for tomatoes, pumpkin and nasturtiums. Big leafy things that create a lot of shade to stop weeds taking over. So far that’s working very nicely.