Week 3: Urban Farming

Every spring, the fragrant climbing roses that frame our front window burst into bloom, showering us with generous crimson flower heads that shine all too briefly before dropping their petals onto the deck below. These roses always serve as markers for me, delineating the passing of winter, and sending a promise of warmer and, perhaps, happier times. They're in full, luscious bloom at the moment, and I've picked enough to create this week's garden posy without making a visible dent in the rose frame around our window.

Roses

The spring winds have arrived in Canberra, almost as if they were scheduled for delivery on the first of October. The sun is warm - we've even breached 20 degrees Celcius a couple of times - but the nights are still cold, with the threat of frost an ongoing consideration. So there are limits on what we can plant out. But that hasn't kept us out of our garden. It's a great time to get all the infrastructure in place to maximise our chances of being able to grow food year round.

Determined to use every possible square metre, we've created a garden bed this week alongside our pool, on terrain that was previously only growing weeds. We're going to plant some herbs in this new bed, with some flowers at the back to make decorative use of the obligatory pool fence.

Our new pool garden bed: Before and during construction.

Our new pool garden bed: Before and during construction.

New poolside garden bed, ready for planting.

New poolside garden bed, ready for planting.

We've also created a large, new bed out the front, expanding on the existing garden by including areas that were previously covered in red wood chips. This will significantly reduce our weeding burden and also give us much more growing space. This bed is going to be devoted almost entirely to flowers so we can achieve our goal of being able to pick fresh flowers every week.

Our new, expanded front garden bed.

Our new, expanded front garden bed.

There's been a frenzy of seed starting in our urban farm this week (organic and open-pollinated, as always) - loose leaf lettuce of every possible kind, lebanese cucumbers that were prolific last year, red and yellow currant tomatoes that fruited for a full six months, a few different varieties of eggplant and capsicum, some little nugget pumpkins that I plan to bake whole with a savoury stuffing, some zebra beans, pak choi, squash and the golden zucchini that grew enormous, club-like offerings that continued last year until we could no longer stand the sight of them.

Two weeks ago today, I started some micro greens as a kitchen table crop to give us something to harvest early in the growing season aside from our constant, generous supply of silver beet and Asian greens. I'm pleased to report that our kitchen table crop is now ready for use - once I overcome my reluctance to take to the lovely shoots with scissors, that is.

Thriving micro greens

Thriving micro greens