We're only seventy kilometres from town but it's still hard to get motivated to do a grocery shop. It's not like you can wake up in the morning, discover there's no milk and go for a quick walk to the corner store to get some, still wearing your pyjamas. For the 70k trip, you have to psych yourself for a 45 min drive in, 45 min drive out, and the hour long pick-n-pack routine. That's 2.5 hours if you don't speak to anyone. But this is a country town. You can't feign anonymity here. Inevitably you'll get chatting to someone or many someones. A grocery shop is a full days activity regardless of what else you have to do. I get to town about once a month, if that. Needless to say, my fresh veges, if not eaten within a week will have gone off anyway leaving us without for a good three weeks, maybe more.
So I started a vege garden. Never having been a gardener, this was somewhat of a challenge. Luckily for me, my husband (a grazier, not farmer) has had some farming background and he helped me plant my first seeds. I'm not going to tell you the proper ways to plant a vege patch (you can google that yourself) but here are some things I have learned about vegetables since I started.
Silverbeet is difficult to kill.
One silverbeet plant seems to be sufficient for all of my spinach requirements throughout the year. It can be pruned right back to nothing and still sprout again. I learned this when some cattle got into our house yard. It is also impervious to frost and as long as you keep the water up to it in summer, it will handle heat as well.
Tomatoes grow from seeds dropped the previous year.
I haven't planted any tomato plants this year but I had heaps last year. So many in fact, that we couldn't eat all the tomatos and they were ripening on the vine, promptly getting eaten by birds and seeds and skins were dropped back onto my vege patch. This season, I have half a dozen tomato bushes with plenty of tomatoes for our needs. These always frost in the winter but it is good to know they come back.
Pumpkins grow in summer.
I always thought these were a winter vegetable. I probably sound like an idiot here. I never intentionally grew pumpkins before. Last summer, during the floods, a single rogue seed sprouted under our verandah and took off. We picked the pumpkins around March this year and we haven't had to buy a pumpkin since.
Sandy loam is not the best soil to grow lettuce.
It's almost impossible to wash the sand off.
Shallots never die off.
I have had the same shallot plants for four years now and it is growing like a weed. At the end of winter, the stalks are really woody and seeds grow on the top, but after that, the stalks separate into smaller parts and new shoots grow. By spring you have many more shallot bushes. I can't eat them fast enough.
There's more. I'll keep you posted when I think of them.