Season summary for my food garden in Ballarat (Victoria), Winter 2022. This is mainly of relevance to gardeners living in the Ballarat area, but it might be a useful comparison for food gardeners living further afield.
The winter temperatures were average. June being slightly below average and July almost a degree above. It was a slightly wetter than average winter, though it felt wetter than it was due to the high number of overcast drizzly days. There were plenty of days when rain fell but few when the rainfall was heavy.
Overall, the vegetable garden was very productive this winter. Some highlights (both good and bad) were: –
- BRUSSELS SPROUTS: While not the biggest Brussels sprouts that I have grown the new variety I trialled this winter (Abacus F1) was very tall, producing a lot of sprouts per plant.
- LETTUCES: Did well in the greenhouse, though the new variety of lettuce I have been trialling (Exanimo) is showing a disturbing trend to wilt and die prematurely. The other lettuce varieties seem unaffected.
- CABBAGES: A good crop, though lost one to possums. The Chinese cabbages fared less well with most of them going to seed.
- SPINACH: Continued to crop well, though not as productive as in Autumn.
- BROCCOLI: Peaked a little early this year. Normally I would still have good side shoots through to the end of September, but the run has pretty well finished as I write (6th September). I might plant my last broccoli seedlings a little later next season, my last ones this season went in the ground in the third week of April.
- ASPARAGUS: My first asparagus shoot came up on the weekend (27th August), which is about average for my garden. I usually get my first shoot somewhere between the last week in August and the first few days of September. Though the cool start to spring has meant that I am yet to begin harvesting, the shoots are still too small (6th September).
- LEMON TREE: The lemon crop was by far the best ever with huge numbers of lemons.
- GRAPEFRUIT: Possums continued to plague the grapefruit tree with most of the new season’s fruit being eaten, though I have been able to protect some of the fruit by covering them with fine netting. I am not sure why the possums have been so active this year, possibly due to increased numbers or simply that other sources of food for possums have been poor.
- WASHINGTON NAVEL ORANGES: Poor crop this year, in fact the worst I have ever had. The trees are healthy, but only about a quarter of the usual crop, even less on my Lanes Late tree (a Washington Navel variant).
- EGG PRODUCTION: Averaged 4.5 eggs per day from five hens, though note they are only a year old, egg production will drop off as the hens get older. Considering that there is a tendency for egg production to fall in colder weather my hens have done remarkably well this winter.
- GENERAL HEALTH: There were no noticeable disease or parasite problems.
My Brussels sprouts were excellent this winter. The variety was Abacus F1 (first time I have grown them), the seed was bought from Lambley Nursery. Not the biggest Sprouts I have grown, but certainly the most numerous per plant.
The last of my broccoli side shoots. The crop peaked a little early this year.
Lettuces and snow peas in the main greenhouse, 15th July. Greenhouses are excellent for growing lettuces, rocket, and peas in winter (Ballarat’s climate, cool mountainous zone).
My first asparagus shoot came up on the weekend (27th August), which is about average for my garden.
LEFT: Grapefruit eaten by possums. You can tell it was done by possums because they usually eat the skin and leave the pulp, rats eat the pulp and leave the skin. RIGHT: Damage to a cabbage caused by possums.
There was a good crop of lemons on my Eureka lemon tree this year. The tree was planted several years ago, but it has taken this long to produce a mature crop. Though the tree did suffer a bit of frost damage on the top.