What’s been happening in my garden?

Probably, tons.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been out there to do anything or see anything much lately. I have had ongoing major deadlines and have been working most weekends. Sadly, my poor garden has been left to ramble on, unattended by me.

I have glanced out at it every now and then, and did spend a morning a few weeks ago clearing out the dying sweet peas (*sniff*) and laying some much needed mulch before the very hot weather hit. Aside from that, my husband has been keeping on top of the watering for me and I have been working.

I am hoping that over the Christmas break I can pay some attention to my poor neglected veggie patch and salvage what is left of the prime growing season of the year. I wanted lots of pumpkins this year; instead it is looking like I may end up with zip.

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Weekend jobs – 27th & 28th October 2018

“Why is it that every weekend we end up at a garden centre?” my husband muses, as we pull up at the Big Green Shed.

He’s exaggerating, frankly. Clearly, a tree nursery is not a garden centre.

And that place that sells the donkey poo is an organic apple farm that just happens to sell donkey manure by the bagful for a buck.

OK, the plant sale last week – that was at a garden centre. But the free sausage sizzle made it totally worthwhile. And today’s expedition for an additional compost Dalek was a necessary pitstop. War on waste, etc. Doing our bit, etc.

I’ll admit, as soon as the weather warmed up, it was like a switch flicked, and every weekend has been all gardening, all the time. It was as if I was a little kid with my nose pressed up against the glass, waiting until my mum told me I could go outside to play. As soon as I got the nod, I was out like a shot. Now I only come inside when the sun comes down. Or when I have to feed my kids.

Nigella, or Love-in-a-Mist

Seriously though, who wants to be indoors in weather like this?

Anyway, we got the Dalek home, and my husband and I surveyed the veggie patch. So many jobs and not enough time to do everything that needed doing this week.

He offered to hill up the potatoes, which have been growing like crazy now that the weather is fine almost every day. The spuds are planted in a deep trench, and now that they have poked their heads up, they will need hilling to ensure continual growth. I left him to do that while I turned the compost, transferring the top layers in the old bin to the new bin, and digging the ready compost out to the garden.

The addition of pigeon poo (a friendly gift from my neighbour a few weeks ago) activated the compost so quickly that the bottom half of the bin was full of ready to use compost, while the top half needed to be moved over to the new bin. It’s a messy job, but I honestly don’t mind it. I put the ready compost around new tomato plants, on some mounds ready for zucchini plants, and in a bed I am preparing for tomatoes.

Now I have one half-empty compost bin, and another empty bin. Since we have started composting, we have reduced the household waste we send to landfill by half. Other changes, like switching to ground coffee from coffee pods, and leaf tea from teabags (mostly) has also helped. We still produce more waste than I am happy with, but composting is the single most-effective waste reducing effort that we have instituted in our household.

My husband picked the rest of the broad beans and broccoli – another kilogram of broccoli and 2.5 kilograms of broadies – and then went inside to shell and freeze them. Meanwhile, while I took on the task of mulching with sugarcane mulch. I only managed one bale today (we have at least three bales worth of mulching to do). It’s a huge task in our garden, and I will have to finish the rest next weekend.

Heading back out in the early evening to look over the garden, I noticed that the potatoes had already grown over the hilled soil and the mulch. No wonder spuds fed an entire nation!

Mind you, broad beans probably could too…

A mountain of broad beans, forsooth!

Gardening jobs – Weekend 20th & 21st October 2018

As part of a concerted effort to ‘relax,’ my husband and I decided to forgo our usual Saturday routine of housework and other crap we hate chores and headed out to a big garden sale. This garden sale was made extra special because it had a free (that’s right, free) sausage sizzle. We were there, baby. We lined up like the rest of the sad sacks with nothing better to do, and got our free barbecued snouts’n’entrails in bread, smothered in mustard and tomato sauce. A perfect artery-clogging waste of 10 minutes on a Saturday, probably resulting in 10 minutes reduced lifespan later down the track.

I have been wanting a hydrangea plant for a neglected shady corner of the front yard, and found one at the sale, along with a beautiful carnation bush, all for 30% off. We got out of the sale with a carful of mulch, plants, and potting mix for less than $80 and called it good.

This was the weekend that I vowed to remove the remaining broccoli plants to make way for the Summer seedlings. And yet, they are still producing more than a kilogram of broccoli heads and sprouts a week! So I decided to leave them a little longer, and to start slashing down the broad beans instead.

Some people do not enjoy broad beans, perhaps remembering the grey, overcooked bullets of their childhood. In fact, they are a delicous, elegant vegetable that is very useful in the garden as a soil improving crop over the winter time.

Nitrogen nodules on the roots of a broad bean plant

Broad beans, like all leguminous crops, are ‘nitrogen-fixing.’ Simply explained, this means that they draw down nitrogen from the air, and store it in little nodules in their roots. They use this nitrogen to feed the plant. Nitrogen-fixing plants are good for the soil, because when they die, the nitrogen in the little nodules is released into the soil, nourishing it. Runner beans, peas, and broad beans are all good crops to grow either before or after heavy feeding crops (for example, corn or tomatoes) to prepare the soil. I am planting tomatoes in the bed that held my broad bean crop, and I have planted climbing beans directly alongside the corn crop.

I picked half the broad beans and slashed down the plants, leaving the roots in the soil to release the nitrogen. I left the slashed plants on top of the soil, as although I am planning to mulch in the next couple of weeks, I did not have time this weekend. The pile of broad bean stalks will help the soil retain moisture in the meantime. I’ll pick the rest of the broad beans next weekend.

With the 2.5 kilograms of broad bean pods we picked (no kidding), we gave some away, and used the rest to make Jamie Oliver’s Broad Bean Pesto recipe. My husband patiently shelled and blanched and then skinned all those beans! He deserves a medal.

If you grow broad beans, or even buy them frozen, I recommend this recipe – delicious and easy (unless you have to shell two kilos of broadies).

The rest of my time outside was spent pricking out my tomato seedlings and replanting new seeds. I am trying yet again to grow watermelon. As with cucumbers, watermelons are my white whale. Hopefully I don’t suffer a similar fate as Ahab…but I doubt anyone was dragged to their untimely demise by a watermelon plant.

Gardening jobs – Weekend 13 & 14 October 2018

Nigella, or Love-In-A-Mist

It’s halfway through Spring and the flowers are out in force. Bees are buzzing, lavender is going off it’s rocker in my garden – so much so that it self-seeds everywhere and I pull it out like a weed – and the whole garden smells like sweet pea flowers. It is a beautiful place to be right now.

Foreground: Thyme and lavender (pink) in flower

The Summer bearing fruit trees are starting to set fruit, and the Autumn bearing fruit trees are bursting into bud. The first blossoms burst on one of our apple trees today: an early variety called an Early Macintosh. This is its second year, and I am so excited to have fresh apples. The other apple tree, a Cox’s Orange Pippin, can’t be far behind.

Apricot tree

This will be our first year of a decent apricot crop. The tree is three years old now. Last year, we scored about a dozen lovely, juicy apricots, but it is really this year that all our patience and care will be rewarded. As you can see from the photo above, the tree is heavily laden. Thinning sacrifices some fruit to make way for the rest of the fruit to develop. While I have no problem thinning carrots or onions, for some reason I can’t stand thinning fruit, so my husband did it for me.

My first job this weekend though was to give everything in pots and containers, including the raised beds, a feed of seaweed extract, Charlie Carp organic liquid fertiliser, and Go Go Juice, a liquid probiotic and soil conditioner. Go Go Juice is great stuff: a local company here in South Australia, Neutrog, makes it. It helps to nourish the soil as well as the plant.

After feeding the tomatoes, strawberries and chillies in containers, I planted out some new basil seeds – Cinnamon Basil, and Lettuce Leaf Basil. I planted these in the pots with the tomatoes and chillies, as basil is a good companion plant for these. I use a lot of basil in Summer for homemade pesto and salads, and I love trying new varieties. I could not resist trying Cinnamon Basil. It sounds so beautiful. Lettuce Leaf Basil apparently tastes and smells like regular basil, but grows larger, ruffled leaves.

Tomatoes, strawberries and chillies in pots
Tomatoes ready for planting

I planted out the tomato seedlings (Rouge de Marmande, and Red Truss) that I have been growing out over the past month. I bought these as seedlings in little punnets in early Spring, and then transplanted them into larger pots. This has given them the time to grow to larger, tougher plants, and for the soil to warm up properly. The soil up here in our Southern hills area of Adelaide really doesn’t warm up enough for Summer vegetables until now, so the tomatoes have been having a nice cozy time in our patio. The patio receives enough sun to keep them alive and growing, but is sheltered from wind and rain. I raise all my seedlings in there.

This extra time also gave me an opportunity to prepare the soil and harvest the last of the Spring greens and brassicas to make room for the tomato plants. I still have broccoli and broad beans in the garden, but over the past six weeks I have been slowly making way for the Summer vegetables.

This has included preparing a large bed for corn and beans. My husband dug through a couple of bags of donkey poo a few weeks ago, and we have let it sit since then. Today I dug it over again and planted two varieties of corn: Jubilee Corn, an F1 hybrid sweetcorn I grew last year with great success, and Painted Mountain Corn, an ancient heirloom variety, grown for popping. This corn was grown by First Nation peoples in the Americas before colonisation, and nearly became extinct until a concerted effort by seed savers in that country. The seeds of the Mountain Corn are beautiful, jewel-like things, coloured blue, purple, red and yellow. I almost hated to cover them with soil, but I cannot wait to see these plants grow.

I planted climbing beans alongside the corn. The beans will provide nitrogen to the growing corn, which is a very hungry plant, and the corn will support the beans as they grow. I planted two heirloom varieties: Scarlet Runner, a green bean that has beautiful red flowers, and Climbing Butter Beans, a yellow, waxy bean that has beautiful purplish black seeds.

The last little job was planting out some Golden Zucchini and two varieties of pumpkin. I am once again trying the Lakota pumpkin – in a different spot in the garden – but if it proves a dud again this year, I am giving up on it. I am also trying another heirloom called the Australian Butter, a squat, golden pumpkin with heavy ridges. It looks sort of like an orange Queensland Blue. Of course, I cannot go without planting the traditional Butternut, and last year’s big success, the Kent – but I ran out of time this weekend so that will be a job for next time. The fun thing about gardening is that there is always a next time: another job, another plant, another flower.

I picked another kilogram of broccoli, some broad beans, and peas for dinner. I love watching my kids tuck into a bowl of vegetables straight from the garden. I showed them how to slip the broad beans out of their skins (although when they are this young and tender, it’s not entirely necessary). They got a kick out of popping the slippery green beans out of the skins and slurping them up. Gardening creates fun, sensory food experiences for children. Plus the flavour of fresh peas straight from the garden is incomparable.

Just as I finished planting tomatoes and pumpkins, and went inside to shower the dirt of myself, the rains came down and stayed for quite a while. Grow, my pretties [insert cackle here].

Composting

Composting is an activity that is critical to the organic garden.

It is also important to reducing waste in landfill and minimising your carbon footprint. Composting green and kitchen waste creates a closed loop system for your household waste.

When kitchen scraps and green wastes are thrown in a bin and sent to landfill, they don’t break down into compost. Landfill is an anaerobic environment; instead of breaking down, the scraps turn into a sludge and release methane, a greenhouse gas. Most of landfill waste is made up of food waste. Anything homeowners can do to reduce this will cut greenhouse emissions and our collective household carbon footprint.

We have a compost bin in our backyard, and an internal compost bucket in the kitchen to hold kitchen scraps. My kids are regularly reminded to throw their fruit peelings and avocado skins in the compost bucket, rather than in the bin. I especially loathe to open the garbage can and discover a discarded banana peel. My kids will hear an enraged cry: “Who chucked a banana peel out? Compost! COMPOST!!”

Banana peels are powerhouses of nutrition for garden plants, and I will stick my hand in the bin to retrieve a banana peel if I see one.

Compost not only reduces waste, but creates healthy soil. Australian soils are heavily depleted. They were not meant to sustain the cropping we have subjected them to for the past 250 years, and require replenishing. Recent research has found that much like human guts, the soil is dependent on a vast microbiome of beneficial bacteria and fungi that helps to feed plants and the species that feed on those plants. Compost contains many of those bacteria and fungi, replenishing what we remove when we grow plants and wash nutrients away.

Making compost is pretty easy, but also easy to get wrong. These are the main ways to stuff it up:

  • Make it too wet
  • Make it too dry
  • Unbalance the ingredients
  • Don’t turn it

We make compost two ways.

Compost Bin Method

We have a black, cylindrical compost bin we purchased from Bunnings for $40. It has a lid on the top, and two sliding panels that can be removed if necessary. It sits on the ground and can be moved around the garden when empty. I call it a Dalek Composter because it has the same rough shape as a Dalek and it exterminates my weeds and scraps.

The basic recipe for compost is a 50/50 mix of ‘greens’ and ‘browns.’

Greens are: weeds, grass, lawn clippings, kitchen scraps. Kitchen scraps means almost anything that comes from your kitchen that was once alive, with the exception of fats, meats and dairy products. Peelings, tea leaves, coffee grounds, leaves, avocado skins: these are the most common kitchen scraps to end up in our compost bucket and then into the Dalek. Some people say not to add onions or citrus to the compost, but I do. I wouldn’t add a whole bagful of oranges, but a few lemon peels won’t hurt.

Browns are: manures, straw, shredded white or newspaper, leaves, wood chips, old potting mix and soil. I also add moderate amounts of woodash from our fireplace, but only a few handsful at a time. Woodash adds potash to the brew, but too much can raise the PH as it is alkaline. That being said, my husband admitted to me the other day that he accidentally tipped an entire bucket of ashes in the compost bin a month ago, and the worms are all still wriggling away, so it can’t have done too much damage.

Manure is very important, particularly if it is chicken or another bird manure. Composting is positive for the manure, and manure is positive for the compost. Manure ‘activates’ the compost, helping it to break down much more quickly than if it had not been added. A few shovels of chicken poo can speed up the process by six weeks. If you don’t have manure, a cup of blood and bone or dynamic lifter will do the job.

Composting is also important for bird manures. Bird manure is high in urea. Their manure has to be composted before use, or it will burn plants. Six weeks in a Dalek and it will be good to go.*

The final important ingredient is compost worms, 1000 of which you can literally buy in a box off the shelf at Bunnings for $30. Toss them in the bin along with your compost scraps and let them go.

I don’t pay attention to my worms, except to toss them back in when I dig the compost over. They are fed when I top up the compost, and the moisture in the bin keeps them watered. We share a mutually beneficial relationship, but we don’t need to overshare.

The mix of browns and greens should be roughly equal. I don’t layer it carefully. I just toss it in as I have each component, and every month or so, I dig it over. I do this the annoying way, but lifting the composter up, shifting it over a bit, and then re-digging all the contents back into the bin. You can buy fancy compost aerators that go all the way to the bottom of the bin and apparently make my cumbersome process unnecessary. However, I like to dig it over. When I do this, I can see how it is progressing, and make any changes. If it is too dry, I water it. If it needs more brown or green, I can add it. I can see whether the worms are still alive (they are).

Truthfully, I never have to water my compost – if anything I have to watch the moisture to make sure it is not too wet. If it looks like it is getting too soggy, I need to add some more browns.

Making compost is a lot like making pizza dough. You can tell by eye and feel if it is going to work out, and if it seems too soggy or too dry, add a little more flour (brown) or a little more water (green). Knead it (turn it) and let it prove until it is ready. In Summer that will be a lot less time than in Winter, when the cold naturally slows down the composting process.

Just don’t make pizza with it. Grow tomatoes with it instead, and use them on a pizza.

If using a Dalek, you can lift the little side flaps and just dig out the bottom layer. Then push down the top layers with a shovel and keep adding.

*If you ever get your hands on elephant poo, compost the heck out of that too, unless you want elephant sized weeds in your garden. Don’t ask how I know. Just trust me.

Next post: Trench composting

Gardening jobs – Weekend 6th & 7th October, 2018

October is tomato season in our region. I know this because the local weekend gardening show on the ABC, listened to by all people in South Australia over 60 and me, ran its annual Spring tomato segment this weekend. People call in and text the varieties of tomato they are planning to grow this season, and other gardenerds take notes. While I wasn’t exactly taking notes about the tomatoes, I was texting my friend about scale and citrus gall wasp (we have the scale, she has the gall wasp), so we are officially gardenerds. If you hadn’t already figured that out…

This year I am planting eight varieties of tomatoes:

  • Pineapple tomato (from seed)
  • Moneymaker (from seed)
  • San Marzano (from seed)
  • Jaune Flamme (from seed)
  • Black Cherry
  • Tiny Tim
  • Red Truss
  • Rouge de Marmande

I am also planning to find a Rapunzel tomato to grow from the balcony outside my bedroom, from which I have successfully grown cherry tomatoes in previous Summers.

I have planted the Tiny Tim and Black Cherry in pots already. The Red Truss seedlings, an F1 Hybrid, went in the garden on Sunday afternoon with a shovelful of compost and a handful of blood and bone. The seed plantings are still in their infancy, only just having popped their little heads up out of the jiffy pots.

Harlequin Carrots and Red and Golden Beetroot harvest

This was Spring harvest weekend, as we had to start making room for our potatoes. It’s at least a month late for potato planting, but we have had such a long growing season for our Winter vegetables. I still have heads forming on some of the broccoli plants, and I am unlikely to see cabbages at all this year – it is just too warm now. However, I have picked a quite astounding amount of broccoli – two kilograms on Sunday alone, so I can’t complain. I would have liked at least one Purple Cape cauliflower, but I guess the Romanesco broccoli will have to satisfy me. I gave some away to friends and my sister, and we made soup with the rest. There is still more out there, shooting delicious side shoots.

My husband discovered a cache of compost that I had forgotten I made. We have a worm tower that sits underground. Most of our worms live in our compost bin, but I recently tossed a whole heap of weeds and scraps in the worm tower, and chucked a couple of handsful from the compost bin on top. The worms from the compost bin got to work, and when my husband removed the lid he discovered that in six weeks the worms had created perfect compost.

Compost!

He dug it out for me to use in the garden, and we topped up the worm tower with more weeds and scraps. He replaced the worms and hopefully in another six weeks we will have more compost. I dug the compost around the rhubarb plant, an apple tree, and into the soil of the newly planted tomatoes.

Can I take a moment to say how much I love compost? Kitchen scraps thrown in the bin do not rot the way they do in compost; because landfill is anaerobic and the scraps are usually in plastic bags, they turn into sludge and produce methane, a greenhouse gas. At the very least, these scraps should go in the green bin where the council should dispose of them in the proper way. However, green bin pickup in our area is only monthly, and a month’s worth of kitchen scraps in a green bin will be pretty ripe. By contrast, our compost bin doesn’t smell bad, and eventually ends up back in the garden where it will feed the soil and by extension, us.

Potato planting

Planting potatoes is something gardeners do purely for kicks. Potatoes are cheap and easy to come by, so it’s not like we can’t go to Woollies and buy a bag of spuds easily enough. I just like growing them – but I am also well aware that I am lucky enough to have the space to devote to growing them. And by choosing to grow potatoes, I am giving up the opportunity to grow something else.

Potato growing: a lesson in opportunity cost.

I am also well aware that I am lucky enough to have a partner in crime bonkers enough to spend his Sunday afternoon digging trenches to plant them. The trenches in the photo above don’t look that deep, but they are quite deep and took a long time to dig. In the end he had to dig five trenches to plant two kilograms of certified seed potatoes.

We are growing Red Otway potatoes. Last year we grew Red Otway and King Edward, and we preferred the Red Otway. They grew slightly smaller in size than the King Edward, but were more prolific. They were also a good all rounder for our purposes. And they were delicious.

Dig the trenches as deeply as possible, and plant the tubers at the base of the trench, about 10-15 cm apart. Use certified disease-free seed potatoes, unless you want to take the risk of spreading a fungal disease to your soil. We bought ours from Bunnings.

We ‘chit’ our potatoes before planting. Potatoes usually have several ‘eyes’ from which the sprouts grow. ‘Chitting’ the potatoes simply means cutting the potatoes into several pieces, each one with an eye/sprout. Let them dry out for a couple of days, then plant each piece. This way you end up with more potato plants from one bag of seed potatoes.

Cover with soil – but not all the soil you have dug up to create the trenches. Just cover the potatoes and then wait for them to sprout above the soil. Then hill up with soil and let them grow above the hill. Keep hilling them up as they grow. Eventually you will run out of soil and you will have to use straw. Keep doing that until you decide the cost of the straw is not worth it – when your potatoes are roughly the price of a barrel of oil per kilogram, stop.

When the potato vines flower (a pretty blue flower), let the potato vines die down, and bandicoot one plant. This means to dig down the side of one of the plants to check the size of your potatoes. If they look good to go, start digging!

Gardening jobs – Weekend 29th September – 1st October 2018

You know you might be a gardener when you return from a trip to the local wine country to find your neighbour has left a bag of fresh pigeon poo on your doorstep. Because it was accompanied by a bag of homegrown oranges and lemons, we assumed it was left as a gift and not a warning to get out of the neighbourhood.

Or, you might be a gardener if on said trip to wine country, you don’t visit a single winery, but instead you visit a garden centre, a herb nursery, a tree nursery, and make a stop at an organic apple farm to buy apples, honey, and two bags of donkey poo. Because, well, donkey poo: $1 a bag. We left with local bluegum honey, a box of herbs, chilli plants, tomato plants, an avocado tree, a grapevine, compost, apples, and donkey poo.

McLaren Vale is home to a specialist herb nursery, Hillside Herbs, and a specialist fruit tree nursery, Perry’s. Whenever possible we try to buy our fruit trees from Perry’s, as their trees are always excellent quality. They also give good advice.

Hillside Herbs is an amazing place. They specialise in herbs and succulents. They also have a range of heirloom chilli plants in varieties that I had never seen. We like to grow at least three types of chillies each year, so we were very excited to find this large range of chillies. I grow tired of finding the same old batch of jalapeños, habaneros, and birds eye chillies at the nurseries every Spring. I try to seek out different varieties at gardener’s markets, but even then it’s same old, same old.

We had a good chat with the owner about the different chillies, and bought some new plants to try, as well as some new herbs: variegated golden oregano, variegated lemon thyme, caraway thyme, borage, salvia magic magenta, and two cherry tomato plants (Tiny Tim and Black Cherry). I’m excited about the caraway thyme, which I grew many years ago but had not been able to find since. It is a beautiful herb: it looks like a standard thyme plant but smells strongly like caraway. What it says on the label, really.

I don’t enjoy growing succulents so I didn’t buy any, but even I enjoyed looking at their hothouse full of stunning succulents and was almost tempted to try growing a couple. Then I remembered my skill at killing them, and stopped myself. They were too beautiful to inflict me on them.

I have been slowly working on my husband for us to plant an avocado tree for a while now. He was reluctant to plant anymore fruit trees on our property, as we already have quite a few, and typically avocados require two trees (an A and B variety) to successfully bear fruit. However, we only have two dwarf apple trees on one side of our backyard, and no other trees on that part of the property.

We chose a Reed avocado tree, which has three main benefits. Firstly, it is self-fertile, meaning we do not need an extra tree for pollination. It is also not too large: while some avocado trees, like the Hass, grow to 10 metres, the Reed is relatively compact, topping out at about 4 metres. Finally, the Reed avocado, while not so easily available in shops, is one of the largest and tastiest avocados, producing cannonball-sized, green avocados that do not brown when cut. Reeds do not transport as well as Hass avocados, making them harder to find in supermarkets.

Baby avocado tree

Planting an avocado tree was much more hassle than I expected. We were given a list of seven steps that were were told to strictly follow if we wanted the tree to live. Given that this was not an inexpensive tree, we chose to follow their strict instructions. Avocados apparently hate to have wet feet, so must be planted in a mound of compost mixed with soil to ensure good drainage. After planting, a wind barrier must be erected for protection and kept in place for 18 months.

Shade cloth windbreak for the avocado tree

Very regular watering and monthly feeding with citrus food keeps it going before fruiting in the third year (fingers crossed).

Our other fruit trees are showing the results of good nutrition and careful pruning. It looks like the Trevatt apricot has a bumper harvest in the making. My husband is telling me he will have to thin the little apricots to make room for them to grow. I know he’s right but I hate thinning fruit – it always seems so sad to me. This is why I get him to do it. This is the third year for this apricot tree, so it should be the first year of a proper crop.

Baby apricots

This was a long weekend, so we had extra gardening days. The long weekend Monday we had a long list of gardening tasks, chief of which was planting our new acquisitions. In addition to planting the avocado tree, we planted out a Thompson seedless grapevine near our patio. I am hoping to train this up over the patio for additional Summer shade (and delicious grapes). With these latest additions we now have the following fruit trees and fruiting vines in our garden:

  • Apricot;
  • Black mulberry;
  • Passionfruit (Nellie Kelly);
  • Pomegranate;
  • Feijoa;
  • Apple (Early Macintosh)
  • Apple (Cox’s Orange Pippin);
  • Boysenberry;
  • Raspberry;
  • Lemon (Meyer)
  • Lemon (Lisbon);
  • Lime (Tahitian);
  • Grape (Thompson Seedless);
  • Avocado (Reed).

My husband would like us to plant a Cherry tree and I would like to plant a dwarf Blood Orange tree. Then I think we are officially out of room for trees (although I would love to have a Quince and a Black Genoa Fig – but I think we would be pushing it). All of the trees we do have are very young and most have not reached fruiting stage yet. I am hoping that in the next year or two we will at least be able to manage several months of the year without buying any fruit from a store.

My husband also had the fun task of digging donkey poo through the part of the garden set aside for sweet corn planting a bit later in the season. Because he loves me and he is a good man, he did it with as much goodwill as he could muster. Because I love him, I managed the pigeon poo, which was much smellier. The pigeon poo went straight in the composter. Pigeon poo is an amazing activator for compost due to its very high nitrogen component, and over time it will turn my compost ingredients into beautiful, sweet smelling compost. For now, it is pretty ripe. Never put straight chicken or any poultry manure straight onto the garden: it is full of urea and will burn your plants. The donkey poo was already pretty well composted and could go straight on. Even then, we will let it sit for several weeks before we plant the corn into the soil enriched by the manure.

Finally, we planted out tomatoes and chilli plants into pots, and fed all the plants in raised beds and pots. I grow cherry tomatoes and chillies in pots as I find these tend to do best in containers. Larger beefsteak style tomatoes I will grow in the ground in a few weeks time. I have ordered basil seeds from the Digger’s club to plant in the pots with them.

Baby Cherry Tomato (Tiny Tim)

Next week: potato planting. It’s a little late, but we should just manage a crop of spuds before the end of Summer.