My Inner Farmer

Posted on December 3, 2016


img_4673As the weather started heating up quickly in November, I went under the house and got out my gardening box. I haven’t touched it since we moved back to Sydney a year ago. Too busy.

I got out some things to grow seedlings in.

I got out some kitchen paper which I’d put tomato seeds on when we were living in Leura two summers ago. I cut out enough seeds to fill an egg box and put some dirt in them. Within a week I was counting the seeds that were growing.

I enjoy seeing whether my seeds survive. They survived for two years, easily. With an incredibly hot day yesterday they grew so fast that they are outgrowing the egg boxes.

When we moved back to the city, I brought styrofoam boxes which I’d filled with good soil from the landscape supplier in between Leura and Katoomba. Vegie growing soil, mushroom compost and something else. Interestingly for me, my son had to do a science experiment growing snow pea sprouts in three different media, and we found that they grew best in mushroom compost.

Tomatoes growing

A post shared by Frances Jones (@francescajones) on

My beautiful tomatoes

A post shared by Frances Jones (@francescajones) on

This hot weather's been good for my tomatoes.

A post shared by Frances Jones (@francescajones) on

Finally the tomatoes are ripening. Need a couple more warm weeks.

A post shared by Frances Jones (@francescajones) on

So here I am back in Sydney with a few boxes of good soil and some seedlings bursting with life. I learned up there in the mountains that I never want to grow plants in pots ever again. We were renting and had to, but I just don’t think plants want to be in pots, they want to reach down and go for it in the deep soil.

Having seedlings is like having babies which grow feverishly and you’re responsible for providing all the water, soil and nutrition for them to thrive. It’s such a responsibility, but I love it.
This evening I went out and took the large tomato seedlings and put them into larger pots with good soil and plenty of worms. They’ll thrive in there for now, but I need more because my cherry tomato seedlings are bursting up and the rocket and basil have sprouted in record time.

I have cleared a space in the garden and will have a path put down the middle and I’ll buy some good organic soil, vegie growing mix or mushroom compost. See that’s the problem, I want the best one but I don’t know which to get. This is my list of suppliers:

Bexley Caringbah Sand and Soil
Australian Native Landscapes, ANL
Skippens, Perry St, Matraville
BC Sands, Taren Point
Flower power, Mascot

Next week I’ll have to bite the bullet and order something because my babies will need to go into the ground.

I love growing seeds, but then they grow up and need space. I don’t grow too many but I know they need the heat of summer so the sooner they’re in the better.

Another thing I grow every summer is sprouts. Alfalfa and mung bean sprouts. They just grow in a jar or anywhere really, I have two sons who eat healthy food so I grew more in a saucepan.

More summer salads

A post shared by Frances Jones (@francescajones) on

Have you bought vegetables lately? They’re not getting any cheaper. This way we have a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals growing fresh every day.

I bought sprouting seeds from

Alfalfa grows like mad in this heat.

A post shared by Frances Jones (@francescajones) on

Growing alfalfa

A post shared by Frances Jones (@francescajones) on

The problem is, land is expensive in the city.

I started a worm farm in the winter, putting our fruit and vegie scraps in it. In the cold months they ate slowly but now that it’s summer I have to empty the worm juice so fast or it overflows. The herbs I have in pots love the worm juice. Later I’ll put the worm castings into the soil I grow herbs and vegies in.

Lemon Thyme, a delicious herb

A post shared by Frances Jones (@francescajones) on

I found myself out in the garden in the evening when mossies were biting, transplanting tomato seedlings into pots so they have enough time to grow while I get the garden bed ready. It’s a lot of organising. I want it to be good soil, I’ve got to hurry up in the race against time.

So it’s fun, I enjoy the whole process of saving seeds then growing them again, knowing what to grow and when. In the mountains you have to get the tomato seedlings in the ground after the last frost, but Sydney is warmer and it should be OK putting them in now.

It’s a kitchen garden so I save water in the sink which hasn’t had detergent in it, and put it straight onto the plants. A bucket can collect shower water with no soap.

There’s something nice about the whole process. I love seeing life grow, the miracle of life and the enjoyment from caring for things. My father is house bound with Alzheimer’s, so he waters the plants and forgets he’s watered them which doesn’t seem to be a problem. The kookaburra visits and eats worms. Over the 50 years he’s lived there, he had a strange habit of filling plastic bags with leaves and leaving them on top of the soil. The aim was to create damp dark places for worms to gather under and it really works. He has worms all over his garden. Up the back is like a rainforest. The leaves from trees above provide mulch and organic matter for the soil.

Posted in: Uncategorized