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Summer Vegetable Garden Lessons

In early December I attempted to prepare my vegetable garden for a five week absence. I wanted to do everything I could to ensure that I came home to a vegetable garden with living and producing plants. You can read about the preparation I did in the garden prior to our holiday here.

This is my garden before I left on holidays:


This is my garden yesterday:

(Photo taken from the opposite direction but of the same space)

garden after holiday

 holiday garden follow up

 As you can see, my garden is alive and producing. I have a fabulous supply of zucchini, herbs, chilli and tomatoes. The corn is almost ready and the eggplants and pumpkins are maturing well. 

The primary reason for this I attribute to the three wonderful mum’s from my mother group who managed to water my garden in between their own busy schedules over the Christmas period.

I learnt, or confirmed, from my period away from the garden:  

  • Mulch and fertiliser application prior to leaving on a holiday is a must-do activity
  • Gardening is rewarding and creates pleasurable memories for children
  • Growing your own produce provides new flavour experiences and new cooking activities/meals
  • Picking produce grown in the garden changes the way that you and your family eat, and the foods you eat
  • Small (heirloom) plants need care and attention
  • Plant one regular variety seedling of each vegetable you enjoy eating in addition to the heirloom varieties. They are generally more hardy and give you a higher chance of a crop
  • Regular planting of salad greens and vegetables is required to maintain a constant supply
  • Left to their own devices, weeds will strangle and destroy your garden
  • Left to their own devices in limited space pumpkin vines can deprive other plants of light and space
  • Chickens are not a good match for my family. We have given away our last one to a family with a new group of similar aged birds. I will be planting more vegetables next year in the space instead
  • If I see a space in the garden that should have something growing I am equally anxious and excited!

I did not maintain a regular planting schedule due to our holiday and as a result, do not have my usual Summer abundance of salad greens. There are also many gaps that I would have otherwise filled.

This is what I am doing in my vegetable garden now:


  • Spinach
  • Beetroot
  • Carrots
  • Beans
  • Rocket
  • Lettuce


  • Removing yellow leaves from tomatoes, trimming laterals and securing long stems
  • Fertilising
  • Building up soil around the base of the corn plants
  • Weeding
  • Removing dead leaves from pumpkin plants and continuing to train climbing tendrils
  • Spraying zucchinis with milk solution


  • Looking for a new supplier of organic garlic bulbs to plant
  • Crop rotation principles to determine what I can plant as Summer plants end production

Have you left your garden for an extended period? How did it fare?




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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Jane @ Shady Baker February 19, 2013, 1:21 pm

    Hi Kyrstie. Great tour of your garden and an informative post too! I like your one regular seedling/one heirloom variety advise, I need to follow this too. I am interested in knowing why chicken’s don’t suit your family? It will be good to have some extra space though. I am planting almost the same things as you are …although it is almost 40 degrees C here today so I am impatiently waiting for some cooler weather. Have you considered the Diggers Club for garlic? I had great success with their garlic last year. Happy late summer gardening to you! Also, your must have some lovely friends in your mother’s group, how wonderful to leave your garden in such capable hands 🙂

    • Kyrstie February 20, 2013, 9:01 pm

      Hi Jane,
      The chickens we had were a little too finicky. They were on and off the lay, a couple died and the eggs were really small. One died when we were away and we decided not to replace her and to find a new home for Penny. She had also just discovered the vegetable patch and ate her way through 3 plantings of salad greens. i decided that the space for the chicken coop would be better utilised for garden. Now that my gardening skills are improving there are loads more things I could get into the space and I would love to plant more fruit trees. I hadn’t seriously started looking for garlic yet. I have just found out my usual supplier is not providing organic garlic this year so thanks for tip. I will look it up. Happy (late) Summer gardening to you also. Your garden is amazing, mine is tiny in comparison! Thanks for visiting. x

  • Miss Piggy February 19, 2013, 9:05 pm

    Wow, you’re garden is going great guns…! Shame about the chooks…I’d love to have backyard chooks but I can see how gardens & chooks don’t mix well. I’m going overseas later in the year for a month and I think I’m going to let my garden “go” over that time as it seems to long a time to have people come and look after it…I’m a bit sad thinking about it.

    • Kyrstie February 20, 2013, 8:57 pm

      It is sad! Once you get hooked on gardening it becomes something that you need to keep finding ways of growing MORE so having a gap would be stressful. As a payoff, you will have a fabulous holiday though.

  • Seana Smith February 20, 2013, 6:14 am

    I haven’t left mine for long, and in fact my patch needs some major work now and I’ve been here all the time. There’s only celery going really well at the moment. I have a great recipe for celery and leek soup which I think will be made again today. I shall be taking note of your list when I go off to buy new seedlings.

    • Kyrstie February 20, 2013, 8:56 pm

      Hi Seana, leeks are almost ready to plant again too so add them to your list 🙂 Congrats on your new book, I am really looking forward to having a look at it.

  • Ruth Baker March 6, 2013, 9:55 am

    Hi, just stumbled onto your blog. Very informative. I got my organic garlic bulbs from “Green Harvest”, the have a great mail order service. Just google the name and they should come up.

    • Kyrstie March 6, 2013, 10:11 am

      Hi Ruth, thanks so much for the tip and thanks for visiting. Kyrstie

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