Growing Your Own Food


My mum always had a vegetable garden, dad couldn't care less, he was a meat and potatoes person. And cabbage. All us Germans eat cabbage. Anyway, wherever we lived the first thing mum did was dig over a section of backyard and plant stuff. I remember being out there with her when I was about five, mixing radish seeds with carrot seeds in a bowl then holding the bowl so mum could sprinkle the seeds along the row. She told me the radishes would be ready before the carrots, so we could pull them up and leave enough space for the carrots to finish growing.

After I married, whenever I had my own yard I used to try growing vegetables, but never had much success in most places I lived. We moved around a lot, so there wasn’t time to plan, prepare, mulch etc, it was more like throw a few seeds into a bare patch of dirt and hope for the best. It never occurred to me to grow things in pots. Flowers, yes. Vegetables? No. I’d never seen it done before. Everyone I ever knew that grew vegetables had half their backyard under cultivation.

I eventually had success with tomatoes grown up the fence along the sunny side of a driveway in Sydney, way out in the suburbs, not in the city. The driveway was lined with passionfruit when we moved in, we didn’t like passionfruit so we ripped out the plants (silly us) and put in 24 tomato seedlings. Why so many? Because in the past I’d plant a dozen and have only one plant ever amount to anything. So I was planting for future failure. Well, wouldn’t you know it? Every plant not only survived, but thrived. They were soon as tall as the fence and covered in flowers.

Almost every day the kids were out there counting baby tomatoes, while I began wondering what on earth I was going to do with so many tomatoes. I had no idea about making sauce or anything else. All I knew was salad or tomato sandwiches. So there they sat, fat and ripening, with an occasional couple making their way into the kitchen and onto dinner plates. The problem solved itself when most of the plants became infested with fruit fly and had to be burned. When Hubby’s “marching orders” came the next week, we burned the good plants too. And moved to Melbourne.

Comments

  1. We tried to put in a garden behind the house, our first summer here. The tomatoes did well, until the tomato hornworms got them. Birds, too. We got a few little carrots, but the deer ate our corn and watermelons before they could grow big enough. Rabbits were always in there munching, too, while the lazy cats and dogs laid around watching them. Not wanting to fence the whole thing, we gave up.

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    1. Val; if I had deer to contend with I'd give up too. Nothing seems to be safe from them.

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  2. I am having a good year with my potted cherry tomatoes and the two larger ones planted in my two feet of townhouse property.

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    1. joeh; I've seen your tomatoes, they're growing well. I have my side patch where all the succulents grow, but the soil there isn't good enough for veggies, plus there's no fence so whatever grew in pots would get picked by anyone passing by. I'm thinking of growing beans though, I've got zillions of seeds left from my last attempt in a previous home and maybe passers by won't be interested in beans as much as they would bein something like tomatoes.

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  3. We always had a vegetable garden when I was growing up. Any excess was turned into jams, sauces, chutneys. I have had variable success over the years, but keep trying. And do love a home grown tomato.

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    1. In later years, living somewhere else, mum made jams, sauces and pickles of various kinds, I remember the bag of marbles kept hidden and used to prevent jam sticking on the bottom of the pot. I don't remember her doing that when I was very young, but maybe she did. I only remember 7lb tins of Glen Ewin Plum Jam.

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  4. Nothing tastes better than your own veggies. This is the only year I haven't planted. Maybe next year.

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  5. As good as i am at killing plants, if my family had to depend on me to grow our food, the kids would never have made it to adulthood!

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  6. Interesting gardening stories, River. Your observation that there was never time to enrich the garden plot reminds me that I always thought gardening was just putting the seeds in anywhere at all, because I thought that's what my parents did in the little garden I remember from my childhood. After many of my own garden failures and thinking about my father's later gardens, I have come to realize that he probably spent quite a lot of time and effort to amend the poor soil at our house. There's no way just putting seeds in what was basically "fill" soil would grow much of anything.

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