How does my garden grow?

In time for this spring’s planting of summer vegetables I increased my growing space by converting some of the lawn, bought heirloom and organic seeds from The Diggers Club and planned out my beds in advance. The planning was a novelty and some of the plans got changed along the way, but the planning is paying off and this summer’s crop should be more bountiful and varied than last summer.

New Zealand spinach

The majority of the fruit and vegetables we eat are not endemic to Australia (except macadamia nuts). One edible endemic plant I grow is New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia tetragonoides). I think the New Zealand part of Tetragonia’s name comes from the fact that it also grows in NZ. It’s cooked like English spinach or silverbeet, thus it’s a good addition to quiche. There are a few other bush tucker plants local to the Swan Coastal Plain that I know of, but they’re not in my garden.

this strawberry looked so good until I turned it over. The critters can have it

New Zealand spinach spreads as much as the strawberry plants it grows next to. I regularly rip most of the Tetragonia out and it pops right back up. It also grows wherever I put compost (as do tomatoes and lettuce). Even though strawberries are an introduced plant, lizards love them and while partaking of the strawberries, they can hide in the New Zealand spinach. In the past a bob-tail lizard has visited for this feast and I’m hoping it will again this summer. My strawberries fruit every year and assorted animals often get to them before me, but there’s always a few for me to nibble on, even if I have to chew around bite marks. Usually the fruit are mini-strawberries, but this year they are more the size of “shop-bought” strawberries, which I’m very happy about.

bean seedling

This spring I’ve planted

  • lettuce
  • tomatoes
  • marigolds
  • capsicum
  • green beans
  • cucumbers
  • sunflowers
  • carrots
  • brown onions
  • spring onions
  • various herbs to replace those going to seed – parsley, basil, thyme

lettuce seedling

I ripped out a lot of the endlessly spreading mint to make some room, but kept and transplanted two bushes. At first both of them were looking very sad, but they’re coming good now (you can’t kill mint) and shoots are still popping up in the old spot, so there should be a forest of mint again soon.

lettuce from winter still going strong

These plants need regular watering during Perth’s long, hot summer. The 30°C plus (86°F) days have already started. In order to help my sandy soil retain water, I add compost and then pea-hay mulch to my garden beds. The oldest bed in my garden is always a bit moister than the newer beds, but over time they should improve. The mulch grows peas for a bit after its first put down, but I pull them out as I see them and feed them to the worms.


4 thoughts on “How does my garden grow?

  1. Very impressive! I wish I had gardening skills – everything I’ve ever tried to grow has died :( I always either under- or over-water. Do you have any suggestions for learning to garden?

  2. I’ve killed my fair share of plants in the past :)

    Start with herbs. They’re the easiest to grow, because lots of them grow like weeds and they’ll self seed (or its easy to collect their seed). I’ve been growing parsley, basil and mint from when I didn’t have as many gardening skills. Coriander is as easy, but I don’t like the taste or smell, so its not in my garden. And herbs like oregano, lavender and rosemary don’t need much attention at all (except picking).

    I don’t think its possible to kill sunflowers, just throw the seeds around, water them a bit, altho it doesn’t have to be every day and watch them shoot up.

    Tomatoes and beans are pretty easy to grow. Plant bush beans rather than climbing beans and you won’t have to worry about providing something for them to climb up, but you will have to stake tomatoes as they grow bigger. I find it easier to grow things in the ground than in pots, because they often get the nutrients they need from the soil, but you do need to add compost or some other fertiliser when you first put them in. And as summer gets hotter you have to remember to water them every day.

    And watch Gardening Australia on ABC and you’ll find out everything you ever needed to know.

  3. Very impressive Claire and you’ll get so much pleasure & satisfaction from doing this. Beats picking up the veg from the local supermarket!

    Your mention of silver beet reminds me of my father making the family dinner many moons ago. He did this very rarely but wanted to show off his new silver beet crop. Unfortunately as we munched through our dinner we discovered he’d forgotten to wash out the snails. Crunchy!


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