I’ve a hard time blogging over the past week. Our internet connection has been very erratic and every time I sat down to write it would go down again. It was partly due to the stormy rainy weather we’ve been having, but also because the cable on our roof has completely worn out. Quentin climbed up there on Friday afternoon to replace it just as a huge storm blew over. In the nick of time he managed to replace it and we are now very happily online again!
It’s the time of year when things really start to wind down in South Africa and the big exodus from the cities to the coast begins. We never go away over Christmas as it is a very busy time of year on the farm with planting of sunflower and reaping of wheat. We have plenty of visitors passing through on their way to and from the coast and hopefully we’ll be able to take a break in January. It has been raining a lot though (hallelujah!) which means that the farm work is being delayed so we will just have to wait and see how things go.
I’ve been wanting to do this post about the new vegetable garden for a while now. I can’t say how many times I’ve gone out to take photos only for them to become outdated as things keep growing and changing. I’m very proud of what Tsidiso and I have achieved in our new patch of paradise. It is such an improvement of what was there before and will hopefully get better and better over the years as we learn more and more. We’ve had some hits and misses this season and many of my seeds did not come up because it was either too dry or they were dug up by the chickens or dogs. The things that did come up are thriving though. It’s my new therapy to go and potter in the garden in the early morning or evening as the sun is setting!
The Vastrap veggie garden in December 2012.
In time yellow roses will climb up the arch and the fig and bay trees in the foreground will grow.
This is what the patch of land above the house looked like in August when I started thinking about the changes (see A Whiff of Spring!). I got the idea to use stone from the mountain behind our house to create raised beds from an inspiring and informative blog called Bealtaine Cottage, about a beautiful permaculture garden in Ireland. We have heavy clay soil which is hard to work with and needs a lot of compost to prevent it from compacting. Tsidiso is doing a great job managing our compost heaps so we should be able to improve the quality of the soil over time at no cost. There is already a huge difference!
The blank canvas.
I have tried to plant things that I love eating and which are a bit exotic. I have left the artichokes to go to flower this year as the plants are still young and they create a striking feature. I’m trying to grow more seedlings to have more of them in the main garden.
Artichokes in flower.
Otherwise there is the usual mix of things that I love using in the kitchen: peas, green beans, flageolet beans, courgette, gem squash, pumpkin, beetroot, carrots, radish, swiss chard, spinach, kale, white and pink mealies, rhubarb, tomatoes, basil, coriander, lettuce, rocket and various berries. I also planted two cherry trees which will take time to grow, but they will be beautiful one day. I also have apricot, peach, almond, walnut and apple trees and there are some very old catawba grape vines at the far end of the garden. For colour there are bright pink geraniums from my friend Vicky’s garden, yellow climbing roses, nasturtiums, sunflowers, zinnias and lavender. Everything is not in flower yet so watch this space for an update in February!
Fig tree with nasturtiums.
The plum tree.
Patch taking in the view and a cow passing by in the background.
Pumpkins starting to take over and sunflowers almost ready to bloom.
Squashes, mealies and beans.
An old tennis bench we had restored – a great place to take in the setting sun!
Frilly lettuce and rocket.
Early morning courgette harvest.
A bucket full of snap peas!