February in the Garden

by Alissa

The first draft of our starter garden is four months along now.

It hasn’t gone how I imagined it would, but the garden is full of growing things–much of it edible. Since the food crops outpaced the weeds in December, I haven’t spent as much time working the garden, but I had a good hour to myself back there this afternoon while my people went to the beach. Also, I’ve figured out how to move batches of photos from my phone, so expect more (phone-quality, sorry) photo posts from our walks around Newcastle soon!

Here is where we started back in October:

Before the garden.

Square one is now: sidewalk, grape tomatoes and herbs. Square two, cucumbers that never fruited, and a couple of sunflowers. Square three, honeydew melon. Square four, butternut squash, which has spread in every direction and fruited nicely.



The partial shade--home to most of the thriving greenery.

This is the other end today, where most of the greenery is flourishing under the partial shade of the neighbour’s gum tree. Left to right: mystery gourd, lettuce/greens, sunflowers, volunteer cherry and Roma tomatoes, parsley, peppers. 

We’ve been enjoying butternut squash, grape tomatoes, an abundance of parsley, mint, oregano, a little basil, and chard. The weather was too hot for the lettuce in January, so I’m letting it go to seed, as with the one cilantro plant that actually came up. Maybe their next generations will fare better. Between the force of the hose and the hands of the toddler, very little sprouted where I intended.



Honeydew! One of four melons to actually fruit after our hand-pollination effort. A few weeks ago, I was ready to rip out the cucumber and melon vines and start over when I noticed this one hiding beneath the leaves. Now to decide when it is actually ready for harvest. 

One of the survivors

One of the few surviving sunflowers.


See the tiny fruit?

Bell peppers! They are just starting to blossom and fruit there, at the edge of the enchanted parsley forest. 

These beauties sprang up on their own. Thanks, previous tenant, for composting!

Romas in progress. Thanks, previous tenant, for composting!

The previous tenant also left some nice wires on the back fence for the vines.

Our finest crop, the butternut. We’ve been cooking these with the skins on, cubed and sauteed with potato and onion.

The vines I planted have nearly spent themselves and it is time to decide what to plant next in those patches of earth. Summer seems to be fading, but autumn should be good for greens–maybe some kale this time, and more herbs. For the next draft, I’m looking into permaculture and ways to make more efficient use of the space. We have probably recouped the expense of the seeds by now in produce eaten, several times over if you count the things that grew and were claimed by other creatures. Since some of our most productive plants have been accidental, I’m becoming more inclined to let the garden grow itself and not hang too many hopes on specific plants. But I will be seriously disappointed if I don’t notice the melons are ripe before something else does.

It’s seed catalogue time in North America. What are you thinking of planting this year?