The Garden Share Collective: October 2013

Garden Share Collective

I’m participating in the Garden Share Collective again this month, so here’s a round up of what has happened in our garden over the last month.

I volunteered at Northey Street City Farm, but it’s starting to get too hot to be working outside in the garden in the middle of the day.

In the vegetable beds, I planted Red Kuri pumpkin, Eggplant Listada di Gandia, Leek Elephant, Hales Best rockmelon, Sugar baby watermelon and Minnesota midget rockmelon. Some of these seeds were old, so it’s more than likely they won’t come up. We also need some decent rain to soak the beds.


The red bottlebrushes of the King’s Park are spectacular and are really the highlight of our garden this month. The rainbow lorikeets adore them.


We have been harvesting lots of green beans and green leafy vegetables. My parents had an abundance of lettuce, so we got a bunch and made lettuce soup – delicious, if not unusual and very subtle.

Plans for next month include working out how to revive my citrus tree that looks half dead but still bares a fruit. I also want to plant out the first bed with more vegetables.

Post for the Garden Share Collective challenge hosted by Stayed Table

Book reviews: Oriental vegetables

I borrowed the following two books on oriental vegetables out from the library. Both books have a entry for each vegetable, which includes use, characteristics, climate, site and soil, cultivation, sowing, planting, pest and diseases, storage and choice of variety.


Oriental Vegetables: The Complete Guide for the Gardening Cook by Joy Larkcom – is a comprehensive reference book. The Telegraph even calls Joy the queen of the kitchen garden. The vegetables are illustrated as line drawings. Based on 10 years of research, it features a cornucopia of crops: a whole new world of vegetables that includes hardy leafy mustards, komatsuna, Chinese yams, lablab beans, Japanese pumpkin and water bamboo. The book is written for an British climate, so the growing information charts list only temperate and warm (subtropical) climates. The book provides over 50 of her own delicious recipes. Look for the revised edition.

Oriental Vegetables: How To Identify, Grow and Use by Waters, Morgan and Geary – sorts the vegetables by classification, and includes Chinese cabbage, Chinese mustards, other brassicas, other leafy vegetables, legumes, root crops, onions, cucurbits and mushrooms. It also has illustrated line drawings and is written for an Australian climate. Snap it up if you can find one. It’s a gem.

List of the best storing and preserving methods for fruit and vegetables


Different produce responds to different treatments – and some things just need to be eaten.

The list below gives a summary of which fruit and vegetables store and preserve well. It may also help in planing your edible gardening year.

Stores well:

  • apples, pears (not early variety)
  • beetroot, cabbage, carrot, garlic, kohlrabi, onion, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, swede, turnip

Good for bottling:

  • all fruits
  • tomato

Makes delightful things:

  • all fruits
  • aubergine, cabbage, cauliflower, courgette, cucumber, onion, tomato

Can be dried:

  • apples, damsons, plums
  • beans, peas, tomato

Freezes well:

  • berry fruits, apples and pears (if pureed)
  • broad beans, broccoli, calabrese, French beans, peas, runner beans

Lasts well on the plant or in the ground:

  • rhubarb
  • artichoke (Jerusalem), beetroot, broccoli (sprouting), Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celeraic, celery, chard, chicory, kale, leeks, lettuce and salads, parsnip, swede, turnip

Eat when ready: few or no good storage preservation options

  • artichoke (globe), asparagus, cardoon, radish, sweetcorn

21st-Century Smallholder – by Paul Waddington

The Urban Orchard video

The Urban Orchard is a network of households in your local community who are meeting monthly to swap and share the produce of their backyard (or frontyard!) gardens, and conduct workshops on gardening and preserving the harvest.

In November 2007, Friends of the Earth Adelaide and the Goodwood Goodfood Co-op launched a homegrown fruit and vegetable exchange in the inner south-western suburbs of Adelaide. It’s a concept that has been practiced formally and informally in communities probably since time began. The basic format of this particular exchange was inspired by the Urban Orchard project initiated by Melbourne’s CERES community environment park.

The Urban Orchard project was initiated in Adelaide by local community members passionate about gardening, good food and building community.  Through providing a central space for community members to come together and share their homegrown or gleaned surpluses, the exchange offers a number of strong social and environmental benefits, including:

  • reducing waste by redistributing surplus fruit, vegetables, herbs and seeds
  • cultivating networks within the neighbourhood and building stronger communities
  • providing healthy, seasonal food for the community
  • sharing valuable skills in gardening and food preparation
  • avoiding greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the need for produce
  • transported from outside the local area

The Urban Orchard is currently active:

Communities around Australia are adapting the Urban Orchard concept to meet this unique local needs. A  do-it-yourself guide is available for download.

Hardy vegetables for self-sufficiency and survival


Isabell Shipard recommends growing hardy vegetables for self-sufficiency and survival. Here are the ones that store well:

  • African cucumber – will store for over 12 months
  • Choko
  • Gourds
  • Pie melon
  • Potato
  • Pumpkin – Australian Ironbark, Baby Blue, Jack Be Little, Jack O’Lantern, Jarrahdale, Marina di Chioggia, Musque de Provence, Queensland Blue, Red Kuri
  • Squash – Blue Hubbard, Golden Hubbard, Green Hubbard

When pumpkin vines die down, pick mature fruit with plenty of stem. Make sure they’re well coloured and the stem has cracked. Cure the fruit for 10 days in the sun outdoors, or on a verandah in poor weather, to harden the skin so that they keep.

Store under cover on straw or shredded paper – in a cool, mouse-proof place.

How can I be prepared with Self-Sufficiency and Survival Foods? – by Isabell Shipard

Watering edible plants

“Every dollar’s worth of fruit and vegetables has needed at least 103 litres of water to mature. Every equivalent dollar’s worth of home grown food uses only 20 litres”.
David Holgrem

We purchased a three thousand litre plastic tank with the assistance of a government grant. It collects rainwater that runs off of our one car colourbond garage.

Fortunately we are allowed to use the rainwater as we choose, and it’s the main source of water for the vegetables and fruit trees. Our tank is situated close to the beds and trees, so we have managed to do without a water pump. Gravity works well until the tank is below a third full, then the pressure seems to drop off and watering takes twice as long. So far the tank has been big enough.

Natural rainfall always gives our plants a big boost in growth.

The Diggers Club has an informative article on “how much water do I need to grow fruit and vegetables? [PDF]”