As we Australians seem to get busier, there is a growing urgency for a chance to reverse the trend and STOP and take time to share with others around our local community having a common love for the traditional things that our climate dictates we should have in abundance.

I get to plant out my Tomatoes in a few weeks indoors, a bit earlier than last year and I am banking on an early spring. I haven’t thought too much about what else to plant, but will give it some thought and use up all my capacity. Last year I trialled about 18 odd tomato varieties from memory but they were a bit late to ripen, due to the heavy cloud and cold and wet conditions. My first pick came in mid November. This year I will again grow Apollo, because it is so reliable and tough; Rouge de Marmande as it is very early (but short lived). I will also trial my neighbour’s incredibly well flavoured small beef steak heirloom that I have, as yet, failed to grow successfully. I want to get this growing and share the seed with as many people as I can, as it is the best larger tomato I have ever tasted, as well as some newbies that I hope are spectacular, but more importantly can handle the local wet climate and fungal issues that arrive with the combination of heat and wet.

In 2011 I trialled a range of varieties of bush and pole beans growing in identical 9 litre, 80 cent buckets (no sprays at all) and now have some favourites I can recommend will endure the excessively wet and early cooler conditions better than others. I started the beans off indoors in August in 80ml cells, planting out in the last days of winter … (who says you can’t transplant snap beans!). I harvested 562grams of Brown Beauty beans from two buckets. These are a flatter bean, picked early; my Provider bean yielded 480 grams from two buckets. This variety is a yum round bean, which the Americans tend to dry.

Most of yield was obtained between 12th – 29th October, (five harvests) which gave me 5 baked dinners! …. I love home grown beans and it is fun growing different varieties with their subtly different texture and flavours.

No other variety came close to matching the yield of these two best beans. Flavour was also very good, better than the climbers people rave about. Windsor long pod was my choice on flavour (by a very small margin) but failed miserably once the conditions became too wet, with only 1/3 of the yield due to some of the bushes drowning. I will try again this year with a very open growing media. I will also repeat the exercise adding yellow wax and purple varieties which failed to germinate during my trial, as it was most likely old seed. The wax types, planted later, are good beans (and it’s really easy to see the beans on the bush for harvesting). The year prior I trialled some varieties during winter and the wax were the toughest, yielding a few bent little yellow beans through the frost. They have a slightly milder buttery flavour and grow like weeds when the weather warms up as do most beans if conditions are half OK.

My Dad lived to 85 and my Mum is now 90 and very healthy. They made an effort to always have at least one vegetable from their own back yard on the table each night and often more. With staggered plantings, every other weekend, you keep healthy plants with beans to share from week 7 to 9. Black recycled plastic buckets are cheap and work well, if you don’t have back yard space for a proper earthen garden. You can start with commercial or home developed potting mix and improve it from your compost heap and worm farm as you move along. I tried to keep a few red worms in each pot, and have noticed with my organic additions their numbers are increasing each year. That tells me I am getting close to where I want to be. Apart from the speckle of some perlite and ash I have added over the years to improve drainage I now have dozens of these filled with now deep black sweet smelling mix that each year gets a little closer to perfection.

I grew corn this year too. I only had tiny little cobs, (not enough sun where I live) but wow, what a difference – the flavour – when it is only minutes from plant to the dinner table. There is a push toward better food. I have eaten six truly excellent products this year, three of which were home grown. The other was Salumi Salami Salsiccia Sarda, which is amazing (to my older fashioned taste buds) and two commercial tomatoes which tasted amazing. Home grown Salsa (on bacon and eggs) with tomato and chilli from the back yard was amazing and I assume can only be beaten by growing ones own onions too!

This year I want to grow a larger range of amazing home grown products, and in time have more and better food for the lunch and dinner table. Unfortunately a bigger back yard is not on the books for this year, but I console myself that perhaps I have to fill up this one with produce first, before I need something larger and sunnier.

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