Early summer is a beautiful time of year on the farm. The green of spring is still lingering in the paddocks, the trees all have a flush of new growth, and there’s plenty of fruit on the trees.

But we’re expecting hot weather this week, and the landscape will no doubt change dramatically, as only the Australian bush can. It will probably go from lush and green to crisp and brown in a few days.

We thought we’d give you a garden tour before summer hits and things get crispy, so you can see how things are looking at the moment in the Grow Great Fruit HQ garden.

Young gala apples on the tree, with the bush beyond
Young gala apples on the tree, with the bush beyond

The relief of seeing green

We’re surrounded by green all summer, even though the paddocks go brown all around us. In the old fashioned style, our orchards, veggie patches and nursery literally surround our house, so we see green in every direction we look, with the dry bush beyond.

Where we live is completely embedded in where we work, which is a good thing in many ways. We don’t have far to go to get to work, and we’re very connected to what’s going on in nature. Having an irrigated orchard around the house gives us some welcome protection from heat and bushfires.

It’s also an important reflection of the way we choose to live. We try to create the type of environment we want to live in, which is beautiful, healthy, and feeds us as much as possible.

We thought we’d take you for a tour around the garden, to show you what’s happening at this change of season.

First stop – the vegetable garden

The first stop is the veggie garden. Merv (Katie’s Dad) is an expert vegetable grower and reigns supreme in this part of the garden. He fills every gap in the nursery with thriving veggies, which pretty much guarantees our summer supply.

We’ve just eaten the first of the zucchinis, with the promise of plenty more to come. No-one ever complains about not having enough zucchinis, right? That’s certainly true for us. Once they start, they’re coming out of our ears all summer.

Basil and tomatoes coming along nicely in the veggie garden
Basil and tomatoes coming along nicely in the veggie garden

The tomatoes are flowering, and the basil is big enough to start pinching bits for salads. We always interplant them because they seem to be good neighbours in the garden, as they are in the salad bowl.

We grow enough tomatoes each year to eat all summer, and to bottle for cooking in winter. We’re down to the last few jars in the pantry, so we didn’t do quite enough last year, but almost. That’s one of our autumn jobs…

The last of the pea crop
The last of the pea crop

The peas have just about finished. We picked about 12 buckets from them, and have heaps in the freezer, so we’re not too fussed that the last of them went a bit woody. They went straight to the chooks, so they weren’t wasted.

Which leads us to the chickens…

Speaking of the chooks, our spring chickens are about half-grown but getting big enough that they eat quite a lot now. That’s lucky because they’re an integral part of our pest management system.

They play a key role in the family, helping to dispose of any fruit or vegetable scraps that are unusable by us. In return, they give us eggs – in fact, we got the first two eggs from these chickies this week, which is very exciting.

A check in with the fruit trees

The apricot season is a bit dodgy this year. A wet spring has meant almost no crop from the first few varieties. In fact, we’ve only had one or two to eat so far. Later varieties look much more plentiful though. It just goes to show why it’s always worth growing a number of different varieties of every fruit type.

Katie eating the first apricot of the season
Katie eating the first apricot of the season

Meanwhile the first variety of peach (Anzac) is starting to colour up and get close to being ripe. How mouth-watering does this look?

White-flesh Anzac peach, almost ripe
White-flesh Anzac peach, almost ripe

Cherries, loquats, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and citrus are also ripe and ready to eat at the moment. Even though it’s still very early in the season, we love the fact that we already have so much choice of fruit to eat.

Our garden’s not perfect, but it is productive. We learned about permaculture soon after we moved to the farm, and are so glad we did. It made us think differently about how we grow our own food. It also made a massive difference in how we designed our gardens, chicken system, and fruit trees.