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I have a little garden in Rozelle about 5km from the centre of Sydney. I love to grow as much organic food as I can in a tiny space. The garden calms and excites me, and is a wonderful little green space in a big city. This blog is a record plotting the changes over seasons and years.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

8 shade tolerant veggies, and a few tips

I did a post a couple of years ago about shade tolerant veggies, but this included a huge list of possibilities. Since that time, I have experimented a lot and read up a bit more. Trial and error is always a big part of gardening and I have had plenty of failures and a few successes.

My 8 veggie successes in semi-shade have been:

1. beetroot
2. potatoes
3. silverbeet
4. lettuce & rocket
5. spring onions
6. leeks
7. lemongrass
8. kale


* Shade really means 2 hrs of sun a day
 When everyone talks about shade tolerant edibles, they aren't really talking about complete shade. These vegetables all need either: (a) at least 2 hrs of direct sun a day OR (b) dappled sun for most the the day. They are unlikely to grow in dense shade, although I'd love to hear about anyone who has managed this!

* Plant seedlings rather than seeds
Either plant in warmer weather or start from seedlings. I have not had success growing any of these veggies in my shady spots if I direct plant seeds in the cooler months. The soil just doesn't get warm enough to germinate the seeds. I plant decent sized seedlings (any time of year) that I have either raised in a warm spot or purchased from the nursery. The exceptions are of course, potatoes.

* Make sure the soils is perfect
In my shadier spots, I try to pay closer attention to good soil. These areas get copious amounts of my best compost, worm castings and liquid feeds at least fortnightly. I also tend to do a pH test on these areas before planting and adjust accordinly. My reasoning is that since they don't have ideal light/sun conditions, everything else needs to be ideal. Since I have been doing this, I have had far more success in the shady spots.

* Don't over-water
I think I have killed a few plants by being so concerned that they needed special care because of their dodgy position in the garden, that they died of root rot. I am a bit more aware now of feeling the soil and only watering when it feels a bit dry.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

No fail kale

Kale often tops the list of 'superfoods'. It is reputed to cure cancer, increase fertility and prevent lung diseases. The reason I love growing kale however, has nothing to do with any of this.

I love it because it is easy to grow, looks good in the garden, produces for months and my kids really like it. Yes, you read correctly. My kids like it. Kale has quite a mild flavour, and when shredded and coupled with a nice dressing and toasted coconut, makes a great salad (rough recipe below).

This year I planted curly kale seedlings before leaving for our 102 day overseas trip. The renters watered it, but didn't feed or nuture it in any other way. When we returned at the end of winter, it was thriving! And has continued to thrive, even with four of us eating it a few times a week. That said, I have been very nice to it since returning - fish emulsion and worm wee watered to its roots or sprayed onto its leaves. The curly kale has been the best variety I have grown, with very few pest problems.

I've made a path for Dudley - a good alternative than him jumping over the small fence into the garden bed (amongst the kale)

Simple Kale Salad ingredients

bunch of kale, finely shredded
handful of shredded coconut, toasted in a dry frypan
mint, coriander and flat leaf parsley  - finely chopped
Optional - toasted nuts (chopped almonds and hazelnuts are good)

Dressing - olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, sugar

Throw it all together and enjoy!