Gardening. Yes, I Still Do.

It has been so long since I did a post on gardening (can’t bring myself to look back that far) that people may have forgotten that I still do that.  And I think that it is really important to do so.  For everyone.

This is learning time folks.  While there is still back-up in the form of shops.  The time to make mistakes, lose crops, find how to plant the right things when and where, and what to do with whatever it is you manage to grow, is now.  Now.

There will come a time, sooner or later, and it could be sooner rather than later, even this year the way things are going, when there will be no shops.  Or restaurants.  Or MacDonalds (I make the distinction MacDonalds  Restaurants, for good reason, but that’s another story) or other take-away places.  Don’t believe me?  Oh, that’s ok.  Until it happens.

Then the only way you are going to eat, unless you are growing your own food, or are prepared to steal from someone else (and I am sure there will be those), is to go out and hunt for it.   Good luck with that, when every Dick and his dog is trying to do the same.  It may work for a while, but eventually…  no more little wabbits to waste.

So, learn to grow food.  The best time is now.

Ok.  So, how’s my garden going?

Oh, just a note:  click on the caption link below each picture to see a larger version.

First, the orchard, if such it can be called.

Four apple trees produced four apples.  Well it is only one year since planting.  All four apples fell, were blown off, or knocked off before ripening.  I did get a taste of the last Cox’s Orange Pippin but it was nowhere near ready.  Next year will I hope be a different story, but with no high expectations.

The Nashi pear produced one fruit, which is still hanging in there.  You may just see it among the leaves.  I have never eaten a Nashi so I don’t exactly know how they taste or what they look like when ready.  A case of suck it and see (not literally).

It appears that I may see a few Goji Berries this year.  Well, there are quite a few blossoms currently on the plant.  Bear in mind that none of these plants have been growing for much more than a year.  The remaining plants, blueberries and I think a pomegranate (my memory is hazy on that), are going ok, but nothing to write home about so far.  The same goes for my two hazelnut bushes.  All are still hanging in there, which is Ok.  I will expect more of them soon.

I obtained a Black Muscatelle grape vine a few months ago (I do love Muscat Raisins) but I wasn’t sure where to plant it so l left it in its pot secured to the garden fence.  During a couple of consecutive really hot days before Christmas, all the leaves burned and I thought I may have lost it, assuming that the roots had cooked in the plastic pot (hope no-one reports me to the society for prevention of cruelty to plants).  I decided to plant it anyway and fortunately it has started to sprout shoots again.  A second chance for me.  I will try to look after it better from now on.

OK.  On to the vegie patch.  I am pleased to say that I had a spurt of energy today (which is probably why I am writing this) and got all of my remaining garden areas planted with sow direct seeds.  A crop of potatoes and also peas have already been harvested and a second lot of peas were planted a couple of days ago.  I planted them in the same spot because it looked to be too much effort to move all of the supports.  I will move them over winter of course or after this next crop is done, to a different spot.  I only have so much energy to devote to this and it is better served by planting more seeds.

Let’s do a roundup then.  My two Rhubarb plants are struggling.  They were too embarrassed to let me take a picture.  Each has only two leaves and half of those is only just making it out of the ground.  They were doing much better than that but bugs and heat have treated them badly.

Before I go on, let me say that I have put a huge amount of effort into the garden this year, but it is still not as ready as I want it to be and there is still a lot more to be done to protect the plants from the elements.  I think that is going to be a major factor in the future and not just for the backyard gardener.  Our global food supply, even if the globalised transport system remains intact for a while longer, is going to be greatly affected by the same two things which drive all gardeners crazy, bugs and heat, bugs and cold, bugs and flooding, bugs and drought.  Did I say it was just two things?  I obviously can’t count.  However, we have no option but to persevere, and win somehow, if we don’t want to risk starvation.  That is something that the modern citizen of the world really doesn’t want to think about.  But think about it we must.  And we must also begin to act.  To not do so, is to sign our own death warrants, whatever that old saying means.

So much for struggling Rhubarb. What else?  Well, I have some Sweet Corn growing, and some pitiful looking Capsicum plants.  While the Capsicums are at least beginning to get flowers, there is no sign so far of anything resembling that on the corn, much to my daughter’s amusement because hers do have actual corn cobs on them.  Ah well, we’ll see who laughs last.

Beans and Peas.  As I said before, the peas are a newly planted second crop and only just showing above the surface.  The seed is still from saved stock from a 2012 harvest I had back at my previous garden.  Three years old and still germinating at a high percentage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I planted three rows of beans, a different variety in each row.  The middle row have all died off for some reason.  I guess it could have been a bad batch of seed or maybe I just planted the rows too close and they were starved of water.  Anyway the others have climbed well and have lots of flowers on them.  Some pods can be seen but most are still quite small.  Oh well, I will give them time, and maybe I have learned something from this.  It is the first time I have grown climbing beans.  I have definitely learned why there appears to be a no-growth gap about a third of the way along the rows.  I am pretty sure this is because a drainage channel runs diagonally across this bed which starts way over in the distance across the grass in the photo above and then out to the boundary fence.  I think it must have been put in there to get water to a dying tree which has since been chopped down and the trench is filled with white river pebbles.  Perhaps this is sucking all moisture out of the soil above it.  Just something else to think about.  I do hope to get a nice harvest of beans at some stage.

Note to self: That reminds me that I have kilos of various types of organic beans in storage that I bought for cooking.  I did make quite a nice spicy baked bean recipe at one time but since I have been at my present place of domicile (towards two years now) I haven’t done any of that sort of thing.  I must try planting some of those and see how that goes instead of buying more expensive seed stock.

Tomatoes. I planted 38 tomato seedlings this year, the most ever. Most of them I raised from seed in my cold frame. Another first. They were from seed stock obtained from a local gardener in Melbourne.

This patch is about 6 metres by 1 metre and the plants are in two rows with about 50cm between where each plant hits the ground.  A little tight, but I had to throw away quite a few good seedling specimens that I didn’t have room for.  I wasn’t sure how they would go anyway, being from a new source.  There are four varieties and until I had planted them and filled up the available space, I realised there were no red tomatoes among them.  There are some large ones that are supposed to be pink.  Some tiny pear-shaped yellow ones.  A variety called Black Russian with a purple-ish hue, and, I think, a green variety.  Well, they are all green at the moment but I can see the four different varieties.  A few are ripening and I have tasted some of them, which I am pleased to say that so far I am happy with the result.  They all have fruit on them but have not really grown to full height yet.  Still, it is only mid-summer season.

Raised beds.  You may have seen my three sided raised bed in an earlier post.  I have recently added a 2.3 metre square raised bed, to only one sleeper height.  None of this space has been utilised so far, until today that is, except for a few lettuce that are now going to seed, deliberately being left to do so.  But today was the day.  Seed Planting Day.  And now every square inch, or at least every few square centimetres is planted with some type of seed.  Wahoo!  I finally did it.  Now I can sit back, for a while, and watch them grow.  Hopefully.

I am very proud of my nettle which can be seen at the end of the three sided bed above.  This grew unexpectedly from the soil that I bought for these gardens.  I had been looking for one for quite some time for their medicinal benefits.  They have all been killed off in agricultural areas.  There is not too much that I can do with it at the moment I think.  It is just hanging on to get through the heat.  But over winter or next spring when it is at full vigour  (hopefully nettles are perennial, I didn’t check) I will be able to extract some good stuff from it.  Nettle tea, at least, but much more I hope.

Just one more thing.  I haven’t mentioned Pumpkins.  Pumpkins, along with Tomatoes were my first success story when I first started gardening in earnest a few years ago and since then I haven’t really done much with them.  But I have plans.

I am gathering materials to build a Hugelkultur bed around in the back corner behind the water tanks.  I plan to grow Pumpkins on that mound.

Hugelkultur beds come in all different shapes and sizes but their construction all follow the same basic pattern.  This is something that I have done before and I think it is a great idea.  These beds are built on a base of unwanted dead wood (the fallen poplar tree in one of the earlier snaps which was brought down in strong winds only last weekend will do nicely to form part of that) and cuttings, left to rot away under a covering of soil, compost material and grass or straw.  The whole thing gradually sinks as the timber rots, but it can be added to if necessary.  Most plants can be planted into such a mound, which has the dual purpose of producing good soil from waste material and providing an above ground level, minimum bending, harvesting experience.  If combined with a down slope water harvesting feature such as an on contour swale (which does not have to be a huge excavation project, depending on the area covered by Hugelkultur of course, and the amount of water run-off expected).  This area, like most of my garden, is on a slight slope but I expect any overflow from my water tanks throughout the wet season will take care of any watering needed here.  I might dig a shallow trench on the uphill side of the bed but I can decide that later.

Well, that’s all for now.  Happy gardening, all.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Gardening. Yes, I Still Do.

  1. Yes, nettles are perennial…mine seem to die back over winter and they’re in such a position that I can run a hand mower over them to tidy up all the dead sticks. My patch is about 1 m x 3 m. They will sucker and spread. I haven’t tried nettle tea, but I collect, dry and pulverise the leaves and put a tablespoonful into each loaf of bread I make.

    You can help the hugelkultur mound rot down more quickly if you pee on it…if that’s not an option because of overlooking neighbours, just collect it in a bucket in the bathroom. Wonderful stuff.

    Great to see what you’re doing…I hadn’t realised so much was happening there.

    • Thanks for the advice Bev. I haven’t tried nettle tea either but then I haven’t had access to home-grown nettles previously.

      I think I can pee just about anywhere on the land I control without upsetting anybody. My nearest neighbour is at least 300m away. I have from time to time collected it and added it to my compost heap. It’s just a question of getting into the habit and, like everything else, when there is an easier option it’s difficult.

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