Posts Tagged ‘spring’

In which my garden is saved by sunshine and friendship

Honestly, I thought I’d never get back into the garden. The weather has been miserable, the weeds had grown high, and Mr Gorgeous has been too busy to be of any moral or practical support.
I’ve been dashing past on the way to the chickens, trying not to look at my weed strangled vegetables, or the rabbit damage.
Fast forward to last week, when my lovely friend Jenny came and weeded with me for the day. She and I spend occasional days in each others’ gardens, chatting about books and children and life in general, while we prune, or weed, or plant, or whatever needs doing. Never has it been more appreciated than this week, when we cleaned out no fewer than five vegetable beds in need of weeding. I’m so grateful I could weep, as it then gave me the push I needed to get into another two beds, one of which is now planted with strawberries which have been moved from where they were last year.

Then, to my great joy, my Gorgeous got a free afternoon, and spent it digging with me and moving strawberries. I love that man!
For the last three years I have dug, separated and replanted my strawberries, and the yields have been way up. Last year I had two picks of 1.5kg each, and many more on the other days. I’m much later moving them this year. I know I should have done it a month or two ago, but better late than never, I hope.
The daffodils are blooming along the old fence line, so it must be spring!

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Here’s one of the beds Jenny helped me weed. The onions underneath are thriving, and the brassicas are coming along, but not ready to pick yet.

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I’m trying to decide what to do with these capsicums. In Perth I would have cut them off for another year’s crop. So far they’ve never survived this long here, so I don’t know whether to pull them out, or prune them hard and see. Does anyone else have success in Victoria with keeping capsicums over winter?

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No matter what state the garden is in, the view is always beautiful.

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The citrus are in full fruit. Here’s the grapefruit which sadly lost a couple of limbs thanks to the weight of the fruit, and my lack of diligence. If anybody wants a grapefruit, let me know!

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This bed looks great after weeding. The rabbits haven’t eaten the kale yet, but I was worried that now that the weeds are gone, they’d been able to find them, so I’ve sprinkled lots of blood and bone around just in case.

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The rabbits definitely HAVE been in the parsley. What a chomp they’ve had. Blood and bone has been sprinkled here also, so I’ll see if the damage stops.

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Yay! Asparagus season is just beginning, and with all the eggs we’re getting, I think there will be a lot of asparagus soufflé on the menu, and steamed asparagus with our lamb. Yum. (Plenty of blood and bone here too!)

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I’ve finally pruned my fruit trees, after a talk in church in which the speaker mentioned in passing that he had done his pruning VERY LATE, and since mine wasn’t even done yet, I went straight home and did it. Now I know that wasn’t his point, but I take inspiration where I can!

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Our satsuma plum is absolutely COVERED in blossom. We’ll have either lots of plums or lots of broken limbs if I’m not careful.

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PLANTING
I’ve been busy in the sunshine planting seeds. I’ve planted up 60 punnets of summer vegetables including tomatoes, pumpkins and melons, capsicum and chilli, as well as lettuce and other salad greens. I haven’t put any seeds in the soil yet, but I’d like to put in one more lot of peas while there’s some cool weather left. Is it too late for potatoes?

HARVESTING
Little Miss Sunny, who is 18, has discovered kale chips, so the kale harvest is going full speed, and they being cooked and consumed by the teenagers (and us when we can get our hands on them) at all hours of the day.
We have buckets of citrus -lemons, grapefruit, oranges, limes and mandarins.

TO DO
Still five beds to be weeded. About 400 strawberry plants to dig up and hopefully give away. (Any takers?) lots more manure to add to the garden. That will do for now!
Thanks to Lizzie from the Garden Share Collective for hosting a garden round up. Pop over and have a look at some other gardens if you’re interested.
http://www.strayedtable.com/2014/09/01/garden-share-collective-september-2014/

In which I recover from Open Garden and start a new adventure

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the people who planned, weeded, pruned, tidied, fed us, sat on the front desk, took photos, labelled trees, and generally helped out with open garden, and all of you who came, and were gentle with us! We’ve had the most enormous weekend, and it makes me realise how much we need our friends.

I was wondering how I would keep the impetus going after the open garden (and to tell you the truth, the nana nap has featured big in my week!), but now I’ve got just the thing. I’ve been asked to be part of the Garden Share Collective. Yay. That should keep me going at both the garden and the computer. More about that later in this post.

The Garden Share Collective

So first of all, here are (quite a) few pics of the garden on open garden day, when most of the garden was looking its best.

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The “kids’ table’ set up by Master 10 (the aunty collector) and the flowers garden

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The newly weeded raspberry bushes, thanks to Master 15 (the hungry one)

IMGP3542Mr Gorgeous has done the most wonderful job making companion planting beds under the fruit trees. We used the leftover bricks from the front of the house. The chickens, however, think they’re the most perfect dust baths, so we’re yet to have that argument, which will involve large quantities of chicken wire until the plants are established, I suspect.

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Many of these seedlings probably should have been in the ground for open garden, but I was too frantic getting ready in so many areas of the garden that I didn’t have the brain space free to decide what should go where. So there they sat on Open Garden Day, but they were a good starter for conversation right where they were.

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The babies!

I made a display table for the day with some of the food I’d preserved during the year, and lots of cordial (raspberry, lemon and lime/ginger), which we shared with our visitors.

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Now that Open Garden is over, I have a booking with these chairs. One of the lovely things about the Open Garden was chilling with visitors looking at what’s good about the garden. When I work in the garden I tend to see only the jobs, but having new eyes in the garden made me appreciate again what I have.

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I made some posters for the day: one of the history of the garden, and another of our year.

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Now, to a mystery. I had a lovely conversation about tomato seedlings with someone on the day (A wonderful lady, I do remember that much) and then this lovely gift arrived during the week. I have a tomato seedling here to return the favour, but I can’t for the life of me remember who I was talking to. Some of the day is a bit of a blur! So if this is you, contact me, and I’d love to share my seedlings with you.

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So, onto what’s happening now. The Garden share Collective (you can click on the picture at the top of the blog to go there) is a bunch of people growing food, who share what they’re planting, harvesting, and what they’ll do next, in order to encourage one another. Here’s what I’m up to.

PLANTING

As well as putting in the other seedlings in regular beds, I’ve been making a pumpkin patch. The netting is necessary as the chickens free range in this part of the garden. I have hammered thin bamboo posts into the ground, and joined them with poly pipe. I’ve then stretched a piece of old netting over the top, and then sewing up all the holes. The bottom edge is fully pegged down with some homemade pegs, thanks to some fencing wire and the next door neighbour’s generosity with his cutters. I’ll peg down the top (front of photo) once the plants are in.

It’s also time to get in my beans and corn in, and to plant some more greens like mizuna and lettuce so they’ll be ready when this current lot finishes. I have been planting beans to dry the past few years, and I’ll do that again this year if I have the space. I have 2 big new veggie beds – surely I’ll have space.

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HARVESTING

The day after Open Garden, I went around and picked lots of the stuff that I’d left there for people to look at, and the result was a big stir fry, a garden salad and 2 lovely bunches of flowers. The strawberries have just started to ripen, and need better netting soon. I’m also picking a bunch or two of asparagus every second day, and the peas and broad beans continue.

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TO DO
Nearly everything needs netting. Urgent are the strawberries, cherries, apricots and blackberries which also need weeding. ( A shame really, my arms have only just recovered from weeding the raspberries.)
Also, and very importantly, I plan to sit in the garden and enjoy it.

In which I wish my motto was “small and often”

I have done too much in the garden and not enough on the computer this week. Now I have so much to tell you all!

Firstly, one of our chickens has gone clucky, sitting, staring to space, even being willing to let me change the straw all around her without getting startled. I’ve had trouble getting the girls up and going once they go clucky, so this year I decided to give her some eggs to sit on. As we really have enough chickens already, I figured three eggs would be sufficient. So I labelled them to stop my helpful children from gathering the wrong ones, and set them under her. What I didn’t account for was the level of attrition. After 10 days, we are down to one marked egg. I don’t want to give her any more, as the hatching times will be too different, but I really hope this one is alive!

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The labelled egg

I’ve got the potato crop in. I chose three varieties; one for potato salad, one for roasting, and an all purpose. This won’t feed the family in just these quantities, but will keep us in potatoes for several weeks at least.

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Desiree, Kipfler, and Russet Burbank

The garden bed where I’ve planted them is not really finished, but I couldn’t wait any longer. This is the place where we ripped up the old passionfruit rootstock earlier in the year. In breaking news, I had a big win at the local hardware store. I’d been trying to get untreated sleepers to edge the bed, and was going to have to settle for something fairly quick to break down, but the store had just five hardwood sleepers left over from an earlier ordering mixup, which they gave me very cheaply, so I was a very happy gardener. It did involve me getting them home on the courtesy trailer, but even that is seeming less scary these days, since the nice man at the tip showed me how to back one.

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The soon to be boxed up bed

I would consider that our garden has two really big events each year. One is the raspberry harvest, and the other is the flowering of the magnolia. This signals time for our annual family photos, and is one of the main reasons we have stayed in our older house – the magnolia and all the other older trees.

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Magnolia

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Our beautiful carpet hides the missing grass!

We’ve moved the sheep back home as the grass is on the move. There are lambs galore at the moment.

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One of my favourite bucolic scenes!

The garden is getting back into full productive swing after winter, and to celebrate, I’ve gone off shopping again! I need to buy dairy and some fruit, but with two sheep in the freezer, and about five eggs a day, we’re not really needing much at the moment.

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Tuesday’s harvest

We even have too much of a few things, so I was able to give them away. I’m not always so generous with the extras, as I try to preserve what I can, so that I have vegetables through the winter. By this time of year, I have enough veg left in my freezer to make two big (tomato-ey) meals if you’re OK with lots of spinach. I used the last of the pumpkins on Thursday, so perhaps a little less Kakai, and more eating pumpkins this year!

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We are blessed

I’ll update on the grass front in my next post. We have some green, but not a lawn by anyone’s definition!