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In Season In January in Northern NSW

Last year at this time I was picking bucketfuls of mangoes.  This year not a one.  Mangoes tend to bear biennially at the best of times, and on top of that, this La Nina year had a very unusually wet spring that knocked around the flowers.

This time last year I was just beginning  to pick grapes as well, and this year there is not a one of them either.  Wet summers often split the grapes before they open, but this year’s wet spring prevented them even setting.  Ah well.  In gardening you win some, you lose some.  The permaculture principle of using diversity to create resilience is really showing its value this year!

The bananas are loving the rain, so much that even the turkeys can’t get all of them.  The wet weather has slowed down the fruit fly so much that we are picking peaches from self-sown seedling trees. The figs are more prolific than I have seen them for years, and tamarillos are loving the hot wet weather.   The rain has been perfect for watermelons and rockmelons.  The Eureka lemons bear much less than other varieties but their progressive flowering has meant some flowers have struck a break in the rain long enough to get themselves pollinated.

In the garden, the warm wet weather has brought on the cabbage moths and mildew, so that’s the end of all the crucifers – kale, broccoli, cabbages – but the curcubits love it.  Every visitor goes away laden with cucumbers, and the zucchini and squash grow before your eyes.  All the leafy greens have keeled over, even the rocket, so I am basing salads on cucumbers and beans – snake beans, french beans and purple beans all prolific.  Capsicums and chilis also like La Nina and the sweet corn seems to have found enough dry weather to pollinate.

I managed to get most of the potatoes in very well drained spots in the garden, and picked them early to beat the waterlogging – not as large a crop as some years but enough.  The eggplants and tomatoes are having a tough time of it this year though.  I’m getting enough cherry tomatoes for eating but I won’t be bottling this year.

Not many of the carrots and none of the parsnips survived the deluge, but the ginger and turmeric are exceedingly happy.  Spring onions are surviving and leeks are loving it.

Seasonal eating makes for interesting challenges in unusual years like this.  It will likely be a good year for recipe inventions!


{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Fay January 17, 2011, 12:25 pm

    I am so glad I found your blog!
    Here in SC, USA, I’m getting thru this time of year getting ready to start tomatoes, peppers and some flowers from seed indoors. I live to garden and I’m so ready to get my hands dirty again. I’ll be following.

  • Linda January 17, 2011, 2:52 pm

    Hi Fay, you’re six months ahead of me, so I’ll be really interested to hear your comments.

  • dixiebelle January 17, 2011, 4:43 pm

    Loving the collage of photos!

  • cityhippyfarmgirl January 17, 2011, 7:30 pm

    Your garden pictures look so lush. Interesting to read that your cucumber and capsicum are happy. For some odd reason these are the two plants that have moved in to my geranium planter box hanging off a fence. Very odd to see them looking happy in about 12cms of soil, but I’m loving it and hope they’ll stay.

  • Sandy January 17, 2011, 9:16 pm

    Its the variety of gardening that I love so much. Work can get into a bit of a routine, even when its a great job, but the garden changes ALL the time. I love it.

  • Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial January 18, 2011, 7:24 am

    It’s interesting how differently our gardens are traveling, despite being in the same state! Our cucumbers have been ok, we pick a few every other day, but not the abundance we’d hoped for from our three plants, and now the plants are getting mildewy. Similarly the zucchini haven’t produced a single edible veg – our neighbours are in the same situation. We all only seem to produce either male or female flowers, never both at the same time! Maybe our location isn’t quite right. On the other hand, the really big performer in our garden has been eggplant – more than enough to pickle. The broccoli is all running to seed now – even the seedlings are going straight to seed in their punnets!

    The tomatoes have just about had it and have all started dying off. Basil continues to grow like mad, although most of the plants are now starting to flower (much to the delight of the bees). We still have one bed of potatoes to pull up – the last bed produced about 8kg worth, which is more than enough for us! We baked the most wonderful tray of roast veg for dinner the other night, with all homegrown produce – potatoes, eggplant, red/orange/yellow/white carrots, garlic and tomatoes. Bliss! 🙂

  • Linda Woodrow January 18, 2011, 8:39 am

    With cucumbers, it can be a matter of getting the right variety. I grow continental cucumbers and Richmond River whites – the latter (unsurprisingly seeing as they’re named for our river) are the ones that go berko. It took me a while though to find ones that loved exactly this combination of day length, aspect, temperature, soil, and water. With zucchini though I can’t imagine what is going on. They should cross pollinate with other curcubits so that’s not likely the problem. But the nice thing about a varied garden like yours is that you can afford to be philosophical about it when you have a harvest like you have!

  • Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial January 18, 2011, 10:06 am

    Oh, you’re absolutely right, Linda! I went out early this morning, and saw three fat cucumbers (the boys like the small seeded Lebanese variety), a few ears of corn, some chunky kohlrabi, lots of carrots, basil and couple of hidden leeks for dinner. As I mentioned, there’s still a row of potatoes to harvest as well, and we’ve been growing a couple of endamame plants which are just laden with pods. I think the zucchs might be suffering from pests – there’s a lot of cucumber beetles on one of the plants at the moment (we keep picking them off and feeding them to the chooks).

    We really are quite philosophical – particularly as this is our first year – so everything that we try and doesn’t work, we know to look for something different next year. Interestingly, capsicums have been a waste of space – we’ve only got small green ones, which are bug infested by the time we cut them open. In contrast, chilli plants seem to thrive. It’s been such an interesting learning experience! 🙂

  • Cherie January 18, 2011, 11:42 pm

    Hi Linda,
    It’s a shame about the mangos, but extra figs and melons should compensate…yum.
    I was after some chook advice if you have any for aggressive hen pecking. We have 4 in a dome (3 red X and 1 white X about 7 months old) and one of the red ladies has peck our white lady’s bottom relentlessly until it is bleeding and looks hideous. We have isolated the white one for now, but don’t have really secure housing for her…. and I’m not sure what to do. Any advice would be really apreciated. Thanks :0)

  • Linda Woodrow January 19, 2011, 9:23 am

    Hi Cherie, chooks can be so mean! From their point of view though, they are focussed on having a stable social order and no sick or injured flock members. So you’ve done the right thing getting her out till she heals – it may be that it started with proving dominance but once she’s injured, it becomes culling the weak member of the team. If that’s so, when you put her back it might be ok. It may be that she’s ill or has parasites – they have no sentimentality about sacrificing one of the flock for the good of the rest. Or it may be that they’re just going overboard on establishing pecking order. A rooster usually pulls them into line, but that may not be possible in the city. You can try dipping the victim’s bottom in vinegar but she might just change to picking on the head instead. It may be that the one red lady that is the bully is crazy – chooks can get so inbred that they go nuts. If that’s so, she may just decide to pick on the next one down the pecking order now her original victim is out. You can try putting something in the dome that the victim can get up on to escape. Up equals high in the pecking order in chook hierarchy. But it may be that there’s just nothing you can do but find her a new home. I’ve had chooks just decide they didn’t like one particular one for no reason I could see, and just refuse to let it go.

  • lewie January 19, 2011, 10:30 am

    Try clipping the wing tip feathers of the biggest bully. and putting something up high for the victim to get onto. also try putting some (cold) ash from a fire on them all to get them distracted and get their scent off. also put the bully out for different days on it’s own. chooks are pretty dumb so work on confusing them.

  • Cherie January 19, 2011, 11:31 am

    Thank you so so much Linda and Lewie. I really appreciate the advice.
    It’s a side of chooks I am going to have to get used to I guess.

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