Archive for February, 2014

In which I dig into my heritage

Following my grandma’s funeral, I spent a week or so I Perth. My Mum is laid up in bed waiting for an operation on her spine, and though my Dad is doing a great job of looking after her, it was great to be able to help out for a bit, cooking, scrubbing and, of course, gardening. I mentioned in my last post that I come from a long line of gardeners, so I thought I’d show you all my Mum’s vegetable patch. First though, I want you to see what she has to work with. Boy am I blessed to live where I do, with our beautiful soil.
Here’s Mum and Dad’s coastal sandy soil. That they can grow anything at allĀ is a great achievement.
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Mum’s only been out action for a few weeks, so all that was needed was a general tidy up, a bit of succession planting, loads of manure, and any other touches I could think of that would say “I love you”. Might I say too what a pleasure it was to work in a garden that’s a fraction the size of mine, and hear myself say the words, “That’s finished”, something I never get to say at home. Here’s a few before pictures….
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I dug some of the compost out from the bottom of the compost bin. Mum has a snazzy one that comes apart at the sides. Some of the cuttings on top I chopped a little finer before closing the bin again.
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And here’s the end result. I weeded, planted some corn, beans, cucumbers, eggplant, beets and lettuce, and spread 10 bags of manure over the little area, and 2 bags of compost where the beans went in. The summer garden in Perth has such a long season compared to Gippsland, so even in February, I could get away with planting corn I hope. Hope you enjoy it Mum!

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In which I garden long distance

Well, this will be a funny old post. I’m writing this from the top room at my mum and dad’s house in Perth. I’m here, thousands of kilometres from my home for my grandmother’s funeral tomorrow, and so I’ll be posting without the usual stream of consciousness flow of photos.
First I’d like to do a shout out about my grandma, who was a gardener. Some of my early memories are of happy childhood days spent in her backyard, eating cape gooseberries, pulling apart an old TV in the back shed, cooking jam tarts, sorting the button tin, and answering the dreaded question, “Have you opened your bowels today?” at least once a day, more often if we dared answer in the negative! No wonder we spent so much time eating the cape gooseberries.
Although she had Alzheimer’s disease of late, and was no longer the cryptic crossword loving quick wit that I grew up with, that lady had been replaced with another lovely gentle lady whom we also loved. So thanks, grandma for the legacy you’ve left our family.

And now on to what’s happening in my garden. You can read what other gardeners are up to in February here at Strayed from the table.

HARVEST
Being February I have mountains of zucchini. I’m making family favourites like zucchini quiche, creating new recipes, and grating and freezing the rest, which is lots. I’ve harvested all the kohlrabi, swedes and parsnips, which I’ve cubed, blanched and frozen for soups.
We’re eating beans, kale, and lots of herbs too. The herbs have taken off, and I’m pruning them back to keep them in check.
We’ve had quite a bit of hot weather here. The veggies don’t seem to have minded, but many of my flowers have been cooked to a crisp. At least the Jacaranda seems happy.

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We’re getting some autumn raspberries too. I think we’d be getting lots more if we watered them more, but we’re a bit stingy on the water, giving everything only enough to keep it alive. The plums are in full fruit. We’re eating Satsumas this week, with juice dripping down our chins.
The strawberries are still fruiting, but have slowed down a lot since they started putting out runners. I never know whether removing the runners will help them to keep fruiting or not. Does anyone know?

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PLANTING
I had a flurry of planting before I flew out to Perth. I put in seedlings of lettuce, eggplant (too late, perhaps) basil, and lots of flowers which will hopefully bloom in time for an upcoming party. I also planted three rows of beet seeds with the Aunty Collector. Mr Gorgeous loves beetroot so I hope to be able to present him with lots.

TO DO
Keep everything alive. Mr Gorgeous is doing a great job of watering in my absence. It was 41 degrees yesterday, so it will be quite a job, especially with new seedlings. He is even texting through updates on the watering!
While I’m in Perth, I’ve got two permaculture and self sufficiency books that I’d like to read.
Also, I’d like to tidy my mum’s veggie patch up, as her back is giving her grief, and it’s getting away. Mum’s a great gardener, even coaxing vegetables out of the coastal sand they have here. The veggie patch isn’t big, but it’s productive. I’ll try and post before and after shots.