Monday, 19 November 2007

Victory Gardening Today

I have a confession to make. Last week I was struck with a nasty case of garden-envy.

What caused it? I read Rhonda's wonderful post at Down to Earth about saving money through gardening and saw the glorious pictures she posted of her vegetable garden.

Rhonda is an inspiration to so many of us here in Australia. She shares her wisdom through her blog and through her pseudonym 'Forest' at Aussies Living Simply, both of which I highly recommend even for non-Aussies.

However, after viewing Rhonda's pictures I looked out the window at my own parched garden and wondered at what pointI might have a productive, flourishing garden. I even posted a rather envious comment about how we have only had about 50 mm (2") of rain this Spring, so it's very difficult to get anything to grow here at all.

Soon, however, I began to think about the Victory Gardens of World War II. In many of the Allied countries people were encouraged to grow and preserve their own food so that there would be ample provisions for the civilian populations and the troops abroad. I thought about how rationing and the perils facing family members in the armed forces would have provided an enormous motivation to do well at growing food at home. Many of those people would not have had perfect growing conditions; they just did what they had to do.

Today we have such easily accessible food in the shops that many of the old growing and preserving skills are being forgotten.

Thus I have decided not to complain any more about how difficult it is to grow backyard vegetables and fruits in the drought, and start counting my blessings. I am blessed to have a little patch in which to grow things that taste good and nourish us all. Instead of complaining I am going to try to find more creative ways to keep things alive.

We are allowed to water using a trigger nozzle hose two mornings each week between 6 and 8 am, although I try to avoid doing that. To water the fruit trees we have a pipe connected to the downstairs shower. We don't have a water tank yet because we are planning to build a deck next year and will install tanks underneath that. I also keep a plastic tub in my kitchen sink for watering the roses. The vegetable garden struggles on with mulch and minimal watering; I am unsure about using unprocessed grey water on it.

Does anybody have any other suggestions? I would love to hear from you.

Here are some of the food plants that are surviving well.

zucchinis: we ate the first one for the season yesterday

oregano: loves dry weather

spearmint: all the books say mints like damp, moist conditions but this is doing fine

potted Kaffir lime: I use the leaves in curries

pineapple sage: I made some delish herbal tea with it yesterday. In summer it will have long spikes of vivid red flowers

rhubarb: although it likes lots of water (which it isn't getting) this plant is growing brilliantly

To conclude, I want to share a quote I read at Donna's Art:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more.
Melody Beattie


Frogdancer said...

I trotted out this morning with a bucket of shower water in each hand and discovered baby zucchinis. What joy! The plants have only been in for 2 weeks.

I'm resigned to the fact that this summer in Melbourne I have to do the bucket thing again if I want to save $$ on veggies.

Used water from the bathroom is ok to use on veggies. The soaps we use are safe for humans. It's a different story for the laundry water. That's only safe to use on trees. (Fruit trees are ok. I don't know why....)

Rose said...

Good Evening-We just finished a study about the Victory Garden in Molly's American Girl books based on the eary 1940's-war time. I love your photo's. It is almost winter here in the U.S. I'm so sorry about the rain-I do wish it would rain there. I really wanted to ask you how you were able to get your youtube video up -about a week ago you posted a video.I can copy but I cannot paste. I have tried and tried to get the Love Comes Softly film music video up but seem to fail everytime. If you find some extra time come post on my blog or I have subscribed to your blog so you must have my e-mail address. Blessings, Rose

Angela Louise said...

Oh how I know about garden envy. My youngest son Sam has been diligently growing some vegetables since the end of winter. Most of the time he has had to water them with tank water from watering cans...quite a mean feat when it takes about six once or twice a day depending on the heat. I think it is growing beautifully and so did he until he saw the neighbours patch. He was distraught. I told him not to covet their's and that they had had more access to water (a pressure pump driven hose from their tank) and manure etc than him. Well he spent the day sulking then the next day the neighbour came up and exclaimed how well his was growing and that his tomatoes looked like it would bare better than theirs. All fixed! He has declared that next time he plants he would add more manure.
Always delight in the fact you have some vegetables growing and that the taste will be woderfully homegrown and fresh.You are doing a great job.
The only suggestion I have is to add more shade if the weather is too hot and dry. Many of our cultural notes here in Australia have stemmed from England and I don't know about you but I think our climates are vastly different!
I've always found a little shade is beneficial during summer even when it says full sun.
Such a long comment!!!!Sorry!
Happy gardening, Angela.

Our Red House said...

Frogdancer, congrats on the zucchinis. Thanks for the tip on soaps.

Rose, you need to look up the video on the Youtube site itself then download from there. Click the 'share' button and it will have an option to download to a blog.

Angela, I think you might be right about providing more shade. I'll look into it.

Your son sounds like he is growing into a great little gardener.

Louise said...

I also live in Melbourne, and I am a renter so I only garden in pots. I haven't gotten up the courage to start a garden in the ground yet - I think I need to grow some veggies in pots first (so far I have only grown herbs). As our pot garden expanded I have found that saving water from little things - like rinsing out pots or waiting for the water to turn hot - have provided me with ample water for the plants. I have also started cooking my pasta without salt, and then using the water (once it has cooled) on the plants.

Also, I agree with the comment about adding shade. I only have a small patch of shade on my decking, but once I figured out which plants benefited from it, they have thrived now that they get a rest from the full sun for a few hours of the day. (My mint is currently growing in almost full sun too, as it has been crowded out of the shade by less hardy plants. It seems to be doing fine, I just give it lots of extra water.)

Rosehaven Cottage said...

Tomatoes are traditionally grown in the California's Sacramento Valley without being watered all season once they're established. You may want to look into dry-farming tomatoes! That could work. Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Kathleen said...

Like frogdancer, I have a bucket in the shower, and I also bucket out of the kids' bath onto the garden.

I have been picking snowpeas that are thriving on the water left over from the kids' drink bottles, and also from collected water from running the tap hot or cold. I somehow manage to get about 4 litres a day by this method! Sometimes I add cooking water as well.

River said...

Frogdancer - watch those zucchinis closely. Literally overnight they can become too big.

Tan said...

Im impressed that you're actually growing as much as you are! Well done. Bet you're looking forward to the supposed rain we're getting tomorrow :)

Kristen said...

Oh, I am so sorry that you are having such a hard time with your garden. I just love to read stories about the victory gardens. Those women did endure some serious hardships! You might want to try to create some moisture by using wax paper or even a plastic wrap stapled to wood stakes that, when heat is trapped in it, would drip water onto your plants. If you made it at an angle the heat that rises from the ground surrounding the plants would provide enough heat to create some moisture. Just a suggestion.

Rhonda Jean said...

I should hire you as my publicity officer. ; ) Thank you for your kind words about my blog.

Your photos looks fabulous! I agree with the others about the shade, we'll be putting our shade up soon. We have shade tunnels that we put up over tender plants.

I like clean water on my vegies, so if you're allowed to water, why don't you fill two buckets of water from the tap and water with those. That way you're getting clean water and you're limiting what you use. I'd do that a couple of times a week, more in the hotter weather. Commercially grown fruit and veg use a lot more water than back yard produce does, so moderate watering your own plants does save water if you're not buying your vegies.

Good luck!

T*mmy said...

I loved looking at your herbs. I may try my hand at growing some next spring. I just bought some at the grocery for my Thanksgiving turkey and thought wouldn't it be nice to have some on hand!

Have a great day!

Rose said...

Good Afternoon-I finally was able to post the YouTube Video of Love Comes Softly! Thankyou for all your help. Come see it, soon. Blessings, Rose

Donna said...

Your garden looks wonderful! Being a novice at vegetable gardening myself I'm sorry I don't have any tips or advice, but you look like you're doing something right!
Thanks for mentioning me in your post! How sweet.

Kirstin said...

I love your garden pics. I was envious and cannot wait to have my own garden again!Your veggies look so lush and healthy. How do you get your pics within your text? I'm also curious as to how you got your "snippets from the word" in a box. I have yet to figure out these two things for my blog.

Be blessed!

Our Red House said...

Thank you for all the encouragement and inspiration. I do so appreciate it. It's been raining overnight. YYYAAAYYYY!!!!!

As you can tell, I am really excited about that!

red tin heart said...

I love your writing style. And i love to garden and cook. Also have a fascination with Victory Gardens. xoxo nita