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On Our Block

By Jacky Cronin, Seed Savers Albury-Wodonga

My husband Jim and I, have kept a vegie patch since we bought our house on a ¼ acre block in 1995. Basically we were tempted with visions of fresh, home grown produce. It wasn’t long before we discovered our distinct lack of vegetable growing knowledge. We did have some successes in those early year; a wheelbarrow full of butternut pumpkins, green beans and masses of zucchini, everyone can grow zucchini! We persisted, became Peter Cundall’s biggest fans and now enjoy much better success in our vegie patch. Now we are quite the pros practising crop rotation, growing and digging in green manure, and liquid fertilising with worm juice. We tend to choose vegetables that are easy to grow, that are hard to buy in shops and that taste better home grown… nearly everything!

From July 1st, 2011 till June 30th 2012 we took part in an exercise called “Harvest Tally”. We recorded all produce that entered our kitchen from our garden for an entire year. In the beginning it was quite tedious weighing every sprig of parsley, counting every egg but then it became a habit.

Well, what an amazing exercise. Just look at some of the harvest we produced. A whopping 37 kilos of blood plums from one tree! I gave heaps away, made copious amounts of jam and froze the rest to become pies and crumbles. It was a good year in the vegie patch too; 13 kilos of zucchini, 9 kilos of beans, and 32 kilos of tomatoes are just some of what we produced. We only grew 9 tomato plants but used some seed sent down from Queensland by Jim’s Auntie Barb. “Auntie Barb’s Oxheart” is now the queen of our tomato bed in summer producing grapefruit sized beauties full of flavour.

And our “girls” did well too, heirloom breed chooks of course. Considering we only have 3, (sadly now 2), they managed to produce 437 eggs. And the eggs are delicious, with deep golden yolks which were appreciated by us and our friends and neighbours who donated chook scraps.

So, all you would be gardeners out there, have a go. Start with easy vegetables like zucchini, lettuce and beans. Or grow herbs in pots, squeeze in a zucchini or two amongst the ornamentals and record your own harvest tally. You will be surprised at the results. And your budget may be pleasantly surprised too.