The start to our growing season this year saw a few early warm days, but by the time I was ready to begin the weather had turned. After that it seemed that the re-warming was so gradual that most of my veggies got off to a late start. Add to that the fact that I had to first eradicate the Giersch, and I wasn’t as on the ball as perhaps I could have been.
I realise that to get the best out of my garden I should be purchasing seedlings or growing them myself indoors. Austria has a much colder climate than Australia, and insisting on waiting to plant outside means shortening the veggie-growing season even further.
Due in part to the slow start, I was faced with the same problem as last year: when only one of my many seeds would sprout, I’d frantically plant more, and end up with an overabundance of certain things. There were only two zucchinis in the end, despite my trying to grow three. One of them, however, was a monster of a plant, so as it turns out, two was about right for our needs – and when I say our, I mean that my brother in law’s girlfriend happily accepted probably half of what we produced. I always plant an extra zucchini for her.
The radishes and snow peas, which I’ve previously not struggled with, grew pitifully slow or not at all. I got a few radishes but nowhere near the usual five per week I’ve gotten used to. I picked a grand total of two snow peas (and I don’t mean plants, I mean individual peas), which was especially disappointing since I rigged up a great climbing frame for them.
I decided not to purchase any tomatoes, since they come up wild on their own, and eventually weeded them back to 11 plants (far too many, of course, but I can’t resist). I need to learn more about pruning tomatoes though – because maybe in this situation less is more!
My vow to plant only one cucumber failed when a second came up on its own, annoyingly the wrong sort, so I ended up with big ugly cucumbers along with my intended cute small ones. A good many of these ended up back on the garden – demand for ugly cucumbers is simply is not there. Though I did find one good use for cucumbers… juicing them to go in gin… and I even froze cucumber-juice ice blocks so I can enjoy it all year round.
The corn struggled to begin with but I got a good crop in the end, even after losing a couple in storms. Sadly we were in India as the last of the crop ripened so I wasn’t able to enjoy them all. This year I didn’t bother caring for the silverbeet, refusing to protect it from snails (survival of the fittest, guys!), and surprisingly 2-3 healthy plants grew. The beans, trusty things they are, grew well again, and there’s plenty waiting frozen for later use. The broccoli progress was excruciatingly slow, to the point where I thought they’d have no chance. After I arrived back from India I assumed it was all over – but no – there it all was – a couple had gone to seed but the rest were thriving. So we got a surprise pot of broccoli soup.
By far the most successful plant this year was the humble pumpkin. We counted 26 over 6 plants. And now we’re into stuffed pumpkin, pumpkin soup, pumpkin curry, and… well I think I’ve started to look like a pumpkin!
All in all, it was a good year. We experimented with covering some sections of earth to limit the amount of weeding. This was great a success and I’ll be expanding next year for sure. I would love to commit to planting seedlings indoors earlier, but I’m going to wait and see how motivated I am in Spring. For now, the garden is a mess of dead plants, and it’s cold… so I’m afraid it’s going to stay like that till the weather warms up again.