Bounty from our top paddock

A little while back, I replaced all the balustrades around our home. During this renovation I made a mistake and cut the plank that was to be used as the fascia of the upstairs balcony, too short. It was treated pine suitable for outdoor use and it about 4500mm (approx. 15ft) long by 300mm (12″) wide and 50mm (2″) thick. It wasn’t a cheap piece of wood and to add insult to injury, I’d already painted it with about 4 coats of paint.

It really bugged me that it would be wasted.

Every time I saw the wasted plank it annoyed me. Another thing that was bugging me was my upstairs balcony. In short, it was a useless waste of space. The view from the balcony just looked into other people’s back yards and it was completely open to the elements which meant it was too hot in the summer and too cold and wet in the winter.

Our backyard is very small and the little vegetable garden beds that we have, needed to have their crops rotated so we didn’t build up too many pests. Trouble was that we only have two garden beds and I wanted to give the beds more than a year’s rest from any specific crop. This dilemma led to me using the wasted plank to make a planter box for the upstairs balcony.

From the plank I was able to make a planter that measured approximately 800mm (about 2’6″) x 1500mm (5′).  I mounted the planter on 9 castors to make it easy to move.  The castors came from a series of cheap office chairs that I’d been stupid enough to buy over the years.

Engogirl had been reading about a new theory (to me at least) of mixed crowded planting. Basically the book she was reading suggested that in nature plants take up whatever ground is available and natural growth is quite dense and varied in species.  Apparently this crowded mixed planting helps to control pests that love monoculture crops. We decided to plant chillies, cherry tomatoes, basil (a good companion crop for tomatoes) and chives.

The upstairs balcony gets much more sun than the rest of the garden and it wasn’t very long before our efforts were paid of with lovely organic vegetables.

Engogirl with delicious home grown cherry tomatoes and chilles

 The planter has been so productive that we’ve jokingly named it, “the top paddock”. You’ll notice that we cover our tomatoes in brown paper bags to protect them from pests so we don’t have to use insecticides.

The tomato seeds we planted were called “Tommy Toes” and they are a heritage seed which means that they are an older strain of tomatoes from the 1800s. We chose heritage tomatoes because they are “indeterminate” which means they bear fruit over a period of four to six months instead of the fruit becoming ripe all at once (determinate) like many modern tomatoes that are bred for industrialised agriculture that needs a crop to ripen all at the same time so as to be more efficient and economical to pick.

As I mentioned before, one of the main reasons why we grow our own tomatoes is because of how low quality the tomatoes that are offered by the supermarket chains are. I’ve never had a good tomato from a supermarket yet! The supermarkets basically dictate to the growers that they want a tomato that looks good for longer and travels well, rather than tomatoes that taste good.

A pox on all their houses!

To try and ensure that we will have plenty of tomatoes, we gave a few packets of some other heritage tomato seeds to my wife’s parents to plant on the property of their holiday home out at Tallong. This has already paid off because a few days ago my father in law dropped by with a shopping bag full of tomatoes. Of course we couldn’t use them all straight away so I semi-dried them

Drying organically grown roma tomatoes

 and put them in mixture of olive oil, herbs, garlic and capers.

These are sooo delicious

Once you’ve eaten your own home grown tomatoes, you’ll never go back to those hard and tasteless excuses for tomatoes that the supermarkets sell.

A pox on all their houses!

9 thoughts on “Bounty from our top paddock”

  1. Oh,love this post. Love love love IT! If I were a painter, I’d paint Engogirl’s face and pose. The bounty is seen in both her face and the bowl she carries. So kind and lovely AND she reads books about mixed crowded planting! I love the pictures of the semi-dried wheel and jars. Plus, I now know to buy heritage seeds so I don’t get 50 tomatoes ready to eat in the same week! Oh, and your “mistake”?? Isn’t it wonderful when a mistake, and a costly one, time and money, transforms itself into a harvest?

  2. Planetross

    I so totally agree. Another thing that bugs the hell out of me is that the big supermarkets have all but crushed all the little green grocers and market gardeners making a decent tomato an almost mythical thing.


    Yep that first picture is a catalogue of the abundance in my life. Engogirl would have to be a saint to be married to me. I just hope don’t I anger the gods with how blessed I feel and cause them to bring us down a few pegs.

    “O Fortuna, who dost bestow the throne’s high boon with mocking hand, in dangerous and doubtful state thou settest the too exalted. Never have sceptres obtained calm peace or certain tenure; care on care weighs them down, and ever do fresh storms vex their souls.”

    Make sure that when you buy your seeds to ask if they are “indeterminate” because some of the older “heritage” seeds can also, all ripen at the same time. There’s a few traps for young players in the quest for delicious tomatoes!

  3. Nat

    “I wish I had in-laws now”

    But that would mean that you’d have to be nice to a guy. Having said that, if you come to Australia, I can introduce you to some guys I’d like to see disciplined.


    Thanks and I passed on you compliment.

  4. Yes I agree a pox on the lot of the supermarkets, especially Cole & Woolies rip off agents.
    We have been growing our own tomatoes for the past 3 years now & the taste is always so unbelievable.

  5. When my wife read this post few days ago, she said: ” I want to go to Turkey”. The tomatoes they have there…. hope they stay out of EU for this reason alone.

    In season, we buy them at our local market but the home grown stuff that my mother in law gives us is just sooo much better.

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