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The Size of a Family Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden Layout

What is the optimum size for a family vegetable garden?

It is difficult to get a view of the layout of a garden from photographs when garden areas are spread out as ours is. Over the past four years our vegetable gardening area has increased as I add in more and more planting areas.  I had this graphical representation created so that you can get a clearer idea of our vegetable gardening space. Overall our growing space is approximately 40 sq/m. The first single raised garden bed we planted was 3 sq/m. If you are anything like me and fuzzy when trying to determine a concept based on space or a number – our vegetable garden is now equal in size to a large double garage (I am told).  Our house is set on an old quarter acre block.

The planting layout in the image shows what I intend to plant this Summer. When I drafted the information for this image it served a dual purpose of acting as my Spring/Summer garden layout plan as well as providing an image of our family vegetable garden that I hope people can relate to. Note: The image is slightly (alot) neater in appearance than my actual garden!

Our current vegetable garden is THE best size for our family, our lifestyle and for our needs. It has taken me four years to achieve the perfect size. Your lifestyle and requirements are sure to be different to ours so don’t feel like this is an ideal size for everyone. It works for us.  Our vegetable garden allows me to collect almost all of our vegetables across the Summer and partially through Autumn. We purchase just a few items that we do not grow plus all of our fruit. Our fruit trees are immature and are not currently producing enough to contribute much to the family meal table, or the kids lunch boxes.

During the Summer and Autumn months the raised garden beds become jungle-like. They overflow out of the beds. The pumpkins begin to wander from the garden beds across the lawn (as shown below). I have previously written a post that outlines most of the vegetables that we plant across the year by volume. You can find out how much to plant for a family here if you are interested in numbers of plants.

Summer vegetable garden

I don’t enjoy the cold of Winter. I am happy to stay indoors more then I do the rest of the year. The vegetable garden reflects this by reducing in size.  I keep the essentials such as lettuce, spinach, garlic and a few Winter vegetables growing over this period. Late Autumn to Winter some of the areas of the vegetable garden are rested, or planted with green manure.  There are items to harvest and add to family meals many times a week, however I need to purchase vegetables regularly during this period. This is evident by the image taken of this area of the garden recently in the gloom of Winter, there is not alot going on.

Vegetable Garden beds in WInter

How much time does it take to maintain?

A garden of this size does not take a lot of time to maintain if you average it out across the year.

As mentioned above, I spend more time outside in the garden across the period of late Spring – early Autumn and very little time in Winter. From mid Spring through Summer I am in the garden for a short period of time almost every day – either planting more seeds or seedlings or to harvest produce that is ready. If this is not been possible during the week I generally spend a few hours across the weekend catching up. Remember that the reward for the time I spend is the ability to harvest the majority of our vegetables for our family meals over the Summer period = big reduction in trips to the shops across the week for 15 minutes a day or less. A pretty good return for a ready supply of organic vegetables I would say!

Growing fresh food cannot be done with no effort. What you put into the activity is what you will reap, or harvest. The more effort and time you put in the more your efforts will be rewarded. In Winter I venture out daily to do a quick bug check on the broccoli and kale and to collect ingredients for dinner and that is about it. Generally speaking the rain takes care of the watering so that is not required.

Don’t be put off by time. The more you tend to your garden, the more you will learn. You will recognise when things need to be watered, fertilised and removed from the garden. It becomes a cycle and routine that is easy to accommodate.

Revised Garden Share Collective Format:

This post is the first of  a new series of the re-vamped Garden Share Collective. An online group of gardeners hosted founded by Lizzie from Strayed from the Table and now jointly hosted by Lizzie, myself and Kate from Rosehips and Rhubarb.

This post is themed around the word Size. I am excited about reading the variety of posts that evolve from this topic. Along with a monthly post on the first Monday of each month the theme is ope to use on Instagram across the entire month. Be sure to #gardensharecollective so that we can all see your posts. You don’t have to have a blog to join in, we would love to gardeners everywhere to join in and share their posts across the month. The themes for the next few months can be found below.

Sept - Seeds Oct - DesignNov - Growth (2)

For those of you who are wondering what is going into and out of my garden this month in the way of planting and harvests at the end of Winter it is:

Planting Now:

  • Basil
  • Beans
  • Beetroot
  • Coriander
  • Corn
  • Cucumber – just a couple of seeds to see if they come up yet
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Tomatoes – just a few seeds to see if they come up yet

Harvesting Now:

  • Coriander
  • Fennel
  • Kale – a little bit
  • Lemons – lots
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Rocket
  • Spinach – a little

I’d love to hear about the size of your vegetable garden. Do you feel like it is the right size for your family? Please tell me in the comments below.

Kyrstie

 

 

 

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Pulled Pork and Fennel

Pulled Pork and Fennel

Winter in my vegetable garden has been delivering a steady stream of fresh fennel. Our meat delivery for the month arrived recently and included a beautiful leg of free range pork so of course the two were destined to meet. We (or maybe it is just me) have become concerned about how the meat we are eating has been raised. Since we began ordering our meat from a local farm and talking with them directly about our orders it has reinforced my desire to eat meat only from animals ethically raised. You can read my thoughts and experience with cooking with grass fed beef here. I like to be able to ask questions about how (and where) our food has been grown or raised. I understand and appreciate that not everyone is as passionate about this but it is important to me and influences the food choices that I make for my family. This passion has grown since we began growing more and more vegetables and herbs in our backyard.

We recently had a “free range” butcher open in our local strip of shops. When they first opened I was excited and eagerly went in to look at the range. I quickly noted that the “free range” pork was not actually free range but rather it was bred free range. This simply means that the animals were born outside instead of inside in stalls. The pigs are then moved indoors after weaning. This is opposed to the animals living outdoors with access to shelter but allowed to roam and wallow as they wish – free range. Read the RSPCA definition here. It annoys me that a butcher is misleading the customers trusting that they know the product they are selling. Determining free range vs bred free range product is an easy oversight for the consumer as the labeling is confusing at best.  My brief experience at this butchers has resulted in me disregarding all of the stock in that store. I have never shopped there and am unlikely to do so. I do not trust their knowledge or quality assurance. Maybe they just need to change the name of the store so that it does not indicate that they specialise in free range meat??

Free range pork is a treat for our family.  It is not a cheap meal thus it has become a treat we enjoy once in a while.   The flavor difference between pork we have eaten in the past and free range pork is marked.  This is true not just of pork. Since we have been growing our own vegetables and herbs organically it is difficult to enjoy produce that is not of the same quality. While we have become more educated about our food choices and decisions we have also become very specific about what we find acceptable and not. You live and learn and make your own choices…

Ok, so I will get off my soap box now, and tell you about my recipe. I know that you will love it. The sweetness of the fennel with the pork and celery is glorious. This family friendly meal is simple to create, add the ingredients to a pot and set it to cook for a couple of hours. When the meat has almost cooked, prepare the rice and sides of your choice. If you are not serving this meal with sides of vegetables use some crusty bread to mop up the gorgeous juices.

Pulled Pork and Fennel
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Garden fresh fennel and pork make a glorious pairing. Serve this family friendly dish with vegetable sides and rice. Enjoy the left overs the next day with crusty bread.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1.2 kg boneless pork leg (free range)
  • drizzle of oil
  • 2 fennel bulbs - sliced
  • 1 stick celery - chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves - sliced
  • 1 capsicum - sliced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • pinch salt
  • rice to serve
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 130 degrees celcius
  2. Add the oil to a pot that can be transferred from the stove to the oven
  3. Brown the pork on each side to render excess fat
  4. Add the fennel, celery, garlic and capsicum and reduce the heat to allow the vegetables to begin to soften
  5. Add the red wine vinegar and then the stock and salt
  6. Cover and place into the preheated oven for 2 hours
  7. Serve with rice, topped with fresh parsley and sides of choice
Do you consider the source of your food? Has growing your own vegetables changed the way that you shop for food?

Kyrstie

 

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