I've been away for a couple of weeks (travelling to the US for a conference). Now I'm back, it's great to take stock of where the garden's at.
The most exciting thing: snowpeas! I planted them on the 14th of April (ha, thanks, Growstuff!) so it's been a little more than 2 months. They're now taller than I am, bushy, luxuriant, and this morning I saw the first tiny flower bud that means I'll have actual snowpeas soon.
This is the first time I've grown snowpeas and I'm really enjoying them. They require basically no attention once you've set them up with something to climb. I hope they're productive! Very much tempted to buy some more stakes so I can plant a second lot while these are still going. Will need one of the housemates (or a friend) with a car, however, as carrying a dozen tall bamboo stakes home from CERES seems a bit awkward on the bike/walking/PT.
(Aside: when I grow up, I will have a bamboo grove so that I never have to pay money for stakes again.)
Parsley: going wild all over the place! The first parsley we planted when we moved in here (October 2011) went to seed over the summer. I saved a lot of it in a ziploc (anyone want some?) and scattered handfuls around intentionally, wherever I wanted parsley to be. Apart from that, I'm also finding it self-seeding between the paving stones of the paths, in the lawn, and in a couple of pots full of dead/unwanted plants that I've inherited and haven't bothered throwing out yet. Oh, and in between any other intentional planting in the other containers.
So, I need to thin it and start using it. I've been bookmarking parsley recipes and first up, today, I'm going to make a minestrone/ribollita/something-along-those-lines type of soup with chard from the garden and a parsley-lemon-garlic gremolata to go on top. I'm also eyeing white bean salad with tuna and parsley (would make good lunches) and the Greek-style stewed parsley which I think would be great with toast and an egg for breakfast. I'm trying to avoid tabbouleh, because yawn, and also because I like it best in summer with tomato and cucumber. But there is a version of it that I sometimes make with currants, toasted slivered almonds, and finely chopped Moroccan-style preserved lemon, that is pretty winter-appropriate.
Speaking of chard, it's still soldiering away like it does. As I said, I'll use some in soup. I think I want to get another couple of tubs-full going; the two tubs we currently have give me a chard-oriented meal every couple of weeks, but I'd be happy to have more. Or perhaps I should just be feeding them more and encouraging them to grow more luxuriantly? Anyway, these ones won't last forever -- they're about a year old now -- so it's probably good to get the next generation started.
As well as the parsley growing all over the place, we have a lot of self-seeded nasturtiums. They're coming up all over the back lawn where they were last year, and around the compost bins where the ripped-up plants were thrown when they were done. I'm also finding them popping up in containers here and there. Finally, the snow pea seeds I bought from Eden Seeds seem to have had a couple of nasturtiums mixed in, so I've got yet more coming up among the peas. I'm actually fine with this (though I called them to let them know they might want to check their quality control), though I'm hoping they're a wildly different variety from the ones we already have, so we get some new colours. Last spring the nasturtiums were full of whiteflies in the spring, so we pulled them up, but it didn't seem to help much -- the whiteflies were everywhere, as other Melbourne gardeners will attest. So this year I think I'm just going to let them do their thing, and assume that they're drawing the whiteflies away from the other plants. I think we need more pollinator-attracting flowers in our garden anyway.
Apart from that, I have two chilli peppers (one thai, one jalapeno) that I'm trying to over-winter, which I think I'd better bring indoors now the weather is cooling down, and a tomato that also seems to want to go for another year -- I cut it back to pretty much nothing in preparation for digging up the root ball, but it resprouted and seems to be thriving. It was my favourite tomato last summer, so I'm tempted to let it try. Not sure I have room for it inside, though. We shall see.
Failures so far this winter: brassicas, generally. Had some reasonable success with bok choy (currently being used in Asian-style soups) and mustard greens (turned into saag a couple of weeks ago) but the kale and purple sprouting broccoli that I planted in seed trays never got beyond about a centimetre high and didn't really seem ready to plant out. I might have another shot now I'm home for a while and can put some effort into them.
How's everyone else's southern-hemisphere winter gardens coming along?