One of the things I love about gardening is the unexpected arrivals. After being away for three weeks we had a predictable explosion of spring weeds – sticky weed, nettles and grasses especially. Many of them arrived with the sheep manure dug up from under the woolshed a few months ago.
Also expected were the running-wildly-to-flower brassicas – broccoli, kale, and bok choy plants, as well as lettuces and leeks for a bit of variation (and wasteful non-eating).
More delightful were the strawberries (by the bowl), the remaining broccoli heads and the asparagus in big fat stalks. My theory was I should keep planting a few new asparagus roots each year until I began to have too much to eat in a season. I think I’ve finally reached that point.
Also doing well are the snow peas. All of them have been pushed along (like the weeds) by the big doses of sheep manure, so it was definitely worth the trouble. This year some of them were flowering pink, as were some surprise poppies. They matched nicely with Mum’s camellia.
Even the dwarf peach tree was hiding surprise peaches, despite the attack of curly-leaf disease which I was too sick to treat at the right time.
A further surprise among the overgrown parsley though, I have no idea where that came from…hmmm
Best surprise of all – having our friend Robyn Evans visit from Brisbane and weed the grass from among our irises, our sudden group of yellow irises among the usual blue ones.
This is the time of year for walking in gardens, when they’re often at their most beautiful. They’re also the most work if you want to choose a particular look, rather than just take what comes.
Out on the hills, “what comes” is pretty good right now. Continue reading
The Big Wilt has finally come. Every year when the frosts arrive, the summer plants die back and make way for the ones that can take the cold.
This year we waited a long time for the changeover. In some ways it was a vindication of my messy, lazy style of vegetable gardening, the one where I keep sticking in new things, but don’t pull out the old ones until after they’ve gone to seed and died. Continue reading
In the last couple of years we’ve netted the most accessible of the peach trees that have naturalized along Mullion Creek to keep the cockatoos from eating them. The whole operation is worse than trying to get a giant bride and her veil through a forest.
Four people were needed (one of them tall) and a lot of long poles. The trick is not to twist your ankle, fall into the wombat hole, the thistles, or in among the blackberries that grow lower down the bank. Last year Charles tried throwing the net over using a tent pole as a javelin, resulting in a snarl of unreachable netting at the top. This year we modified the system to prod the net over and then wrap it around. Continue reading
I get a certain amount of flak for my untidy veggie garden. I let things go to flower and seed and see what comes up from them next year. I love that I can grow carrots without having to do anything at all but throw around a bit of compost.
I enjoy the flowers.
That’s where I learned my new favourite word.
It’s a mumbling, ominous-sounding adjective that doesn’t really suggest the prettiness and regularity of an umbrella shaped flower. Continue reading
Fresh, juicy, aromatic apricots are one of the joys of Christmas time in Australia.
So I was horrified to see that criminals were in the garden stealing our treasures. I ran out shrieking swear words at them. Of course they think shrieking is just talking endearments in their own squawking language, but the running about flapping my arms gave them the hint. Continue reading
capeweed (arctotheca calendula)
According to Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire there are plants that, just by chance, have turned out to be something we really want. Potatoes as food, apples for fruit and alcohol, marijuana for druggy highs. Those plants that we like, we promote and encourage no matter how needy and pathetic they are. We choose them over all others. The attractiveness of tulips led to a bidding war that collapses an economy (in the 17th century, but still). We move them from continent to continent, grow them under lights and in hothouses and despite all discouragement.
I was thinking about this as I hauled out weeds from the bottom of the garden. Continue reading
It’s amazing how projects grow. I wanted water for my vegie garden. I wanted a gravity feed water tank that would allow intermittent use of drippers and taps that tend to freak out our heavy-duty sprinkler pump.
The result, so far, is 550 metres of pipes and two rock walls.
Somehow I thought, when I waved my arm at a patch of sloping grass, that flattening it wouldn’t be a big deal. And the retaining wall that would be needed would be maybe waist high. Apparently I have no eye for a slope. James O’Keefe, the master bobcat driver was pretty clear from the start that we would need to move a lot of dirt.
He was also going into hospital for his second shoulder reconstruction. So we had a time limit. Continue reading