Featured Gardener: Blue Jeans and Dirty Gumboots
June 21, 2016
Each month, or once in a while, my co-host Kate (Rosehips and Rhubarb) or I feature one of the members of the Garden Share Collective. The Collective is a group of vegetable gardeners who get together each month to share their gardening successes, challenge and progress. The Garden Share Collective provides a way for gardeners all over Australia, and the world, to connect and share their love of a productive garden. For you these posts provides a mountain of knowledge and experience to help with your vegetable garden. The Collective is live here on the last Monday of each month, the next one is coming up on Monday June 27th.
Let me introduce you to Jan. I love the name of her blog – Blue Jeans and Dirty Gumboots. These two things are my daily uniform! I love the way dirty gumboots signal the end of satisfying day in the vegetable garden. Be sure to drop by and visit.
Hi Jan, please introduce your self:
My name is Jan, originally from the western suburbs of Sydney, I moved to Gawler, South Australia, 7 years ago. The summer here is hot, hot, dry and long with very little, if any rain. Winter is our wet season, it can rain for a week straight with no break and then there will be a few days of sunshine and then it will rain again, it’s my favourite time of the year.
My vegetable garden is approximately 6.8 metres long by 5.5 metres wide, divided up into ten beds and would be best described as country garden style. There is an extra 2.2 metres at the back of the vegetable beds that contains an insect garden and my greenhouse. It is my favourite place to spend my time.
This image below shows Jan’s garden when she first set it up:
Tell me about your blog:
I started my blog as a way to keep track of what was happening in my vegetable garden, pests, diseases, what worked and what didn’t. It has evolved over the last 3 years to include other things that I am interested in, recycling, growing plants and flowers for bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. It is still very much a work in progress. Having my own blog has opened up a whole new world of bloggers, who like me are enthusiastic about growing their own vegetables and fruit.
What do you grow in your garden?
That depends on the season. In summer I grow tomatoes, corn, chillies, lettuce, basil, pumpkins and spinach, plus I have a permanent bed of asparagus which is now 4 years old.
In winter I grow peas, brassicas, lettuce, spinach, silverbeet, garlic and potatoes.
I would also like to get to the point where I am completely self-sufficient in fruit. I will be increasing the number of fruit trees I have over the next few years with that aim in mind. At the moment I only have 2 plum trees, a mandarin and 2 orange trees.
What are the biggest problems you face in your garden?
The summer heat. I seem to spend most of my summer, making sure the vegetables are covered and protected from the harsh sun. It certainly makes growing anything in summer a challenge, but it hasn’t stopped me trying. The other problem I have is keeping water up to the gardens, although I have added a lot of organic matter to the soil over the past 7 years, it still dries out very quickly in summer.
In winter it’s trying to keep up with the weeds which seem to appear out of nowhere with the first drop of rain.
What is your tip for new kitchen gardeners?
Only grow what you love to eat. There is no point in growing food that you don’t like because it’s trendy, or you think you should, it’s not only a waste of food, but also a waste of your time and your money.
What are your favourite ways to use/preserve home-grown produce?
I usually freeze my surplus produce. I freeze chillies, tomatoes, basil, coriander, corn; if it can be frozen, I’ll freeze it. My other favourite way of preserving is drying, you’ll often see bunches of herbs hanging in my kitchen window.
Thanks for dropping by to share your story Jan. I love visiting your garden each month as part of the Collective and watching it change over the seasons. See more of Jan’s garden here.
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