Categories
How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my garden grow?

We are having very stable Autumn weather at the moment. It’s my favourite time of the year, especially to garden. The soil is still warm enough to plant things in (although very dry) but the cooler nights are turning the leaves into glorious reds and yellows.

But it is dry ~ our driest start to a year on record. That’s a scary stat, because we are well used to dry conditions. So, let’s hope for the rains to come soon.

Let’s turn our eyes away from that for a little while, and look to what is happening in the garden, because I have been trying to get things under control.

As you know the front yard is our veggie patch. The corn, beans and tomatoes are finished, and I cleared away all that debris. We left the corn roots to rot down into the soil ~ it’s not just laziness!

At the moment there is nothing to see, except the spread compost. If you had x-ray eyes you would see the pea seeds and snow peas seeds beginning to germinate under the soil.

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Nothing to see here!

The bees have been very active over the last couple of months. At the moment the rosemary bush is one of the few food sources for them. It looks scraggly, but the bees are loving it. And I have been delighted to see a native blue banded bee. It is a beautiful bee, with quite a loud buzz. They are solitary bees and you can find out more about them here. The backyard bird bath is too deep for bees, so I set up their own water station ¬†in a shallow bowl and stones under the rosemary. I will say that I’ve never seen them use it!

The other thing to show you before we head down the back is the containers ready for my neighbour to collect. Dagmar lives in a flat, with no chance for her own garden. Like all of us, she hates wasting her food scraps, so we have set up a system where she leaves her scraps and coffee grinds. We put them into the compost or worm farm and return the washed container. The drop off point is the blue stone block near the tap.

Chillies are the only produce to share with her at the moment.

The backyard is looking more under control too (well, parts of it).

The salvia is growing so well I have planted two more.

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A helebore made it through years of neglect, so I figure they grow well in the garden too. Two more have gone in.

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The tatty one on the right is the older plant. One of the new plants is at the back, behind the foxgloves.

Mum gave me a punnet of corn flowers. They are doing well, growing at the base of the sedum.

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The poor fuchsia isn’t doing so well. It may need more sun. And a repot.

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The pelargonium is flowering well, but something gets in and munches the flowers before the bud opens. Any thoughts?

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But the begonias are thriving on neglect

While our vine is looking rather tatty, and there are so many leaves to sweep…

I am lucky to be able to enjoy the neighbour’s tree from my back door. Autumn is a magical season.

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How does my garden grow?

How does my garden grow?

It’s quite a while since I have done a gardening post. But before I get to that, let me wish each of you the best for 2019. I hope it is a calm and healthy year for you. We can certainly do with both.

In my last post I spoke about my lack of New Year celebrations. Well, this year I did see some fireworks. The Fella and I walked to Footscray Park and watched them on the bridge over the Maribyrnong River, then walked home! Fireworks always make me smile.

The walk home was good too, because all the families were leaving the celebrations, and I could see how diverse my community is. We had all come together for this. That made me smile too.

Now on to the garden….with a slight detour to talk about the weather, like all good Melbournians love to do. It does affect the garden, so there is some connection.

Many parts of Australia, including my favourite arid inland place, Menindee, have been experiencing prolonged hot conditions, with many days well over 40 degrees C. Our Summer has been pretty mild. Then we copped the blast of heat yesterday.

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But we were really lucky because the cool change came through mid-afternoon and the temperature plummeted, 10 or so degrees in about 20 minutes.

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Melbourne can be like that. My Fella says “Melbourne doesn’t have weather, it has samples”. ūüėČ

Today it is 18 degrees, with a misty rain, which my garden will be loving. Nice way to bring it back to the garden. But a little more weather…..Our Winter was dry, but we had some good Spring rains. I mention that because the garden loved the rain and flourished.

The garden has been something of a work in progress, as gardens usually are. Over the last couple of years some plants have gone and some planted. Then, in the lead up to my Open Studio, the Fella and I had a Big Clean Up. It helped that it was the annual council  hard rubbish collection. We got rid of buckets of unknown garden stuff ~ potting mix? worm castings? ash? We cleaned and cleared and weeded and swept. Very satisfying.

The other difference was the garden hose we bought this time last year. I have no connection to the company, but I am quite happy to spruik my Hoselink hose. It wasn’t the cheapest on the market, but it works wonderfully. It is a relief to not battle old bits of hose snaking the way through the garden. It retracts like a dream.

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The fitting is brass, not plastic that breaks up in the sun. It has so many settings and a great feature that allows me to adjust the flow without having to go anywhere near the tap. That’s the yellow lever three quarters of the way down. My only slight criticism is that it is heavy, and might be an issue for someone with arthritis.

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Now, let me show you some pretty pictures of how my garden is growing…..

The roses are abundant. I love salvias and this one is a stunner ~ dark blue and black. It looks great with the nasturtiums that are taking over. Nasturtiums make me smile!

Many of the plants have flourished with the Spring rains and repotting.

These plants (I forget what they are called) cause me grief, as they want to take over the garden. However, they fill in the area under the maple and I enjoy their flowers, and the bees love them. I am ruthless whenever I see a seedling trying to escape the strict boundaries I have set for it.

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Our vine has featured in posts before. We don’t have air-conditioning, instead use the vine to shade the house. The pesky possums are still eating the new tips and slowing the growth. That makes the vine more determined to grow, and it is getting up over the supporting wires. In fact, I can see further growth when I compare these photos of a week ago to today. It might be there next time the really hot weather hits. Yay vine!

The front yard, where we grow the veggies is doing okay too. We have corn and beans powering along. The strawberries continue to be lush and have started to produce for the Summer.

[You will just have to imagine these photos, because the gremlins are in my WordPress photos and not allowing me to upload. Anyone else having problems?]

The marjoram is something else that the bees love. You wouldn’t think these flowers would be a bee magnet, would you? So it stays, even though it does get droopy (but then, don’t we all!)

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While I haven’t been blogging much of late, I have been creating. I’m sewing more pumpkins¬†(scroll down the page in the link to see a previous one) and creating landscape trees¬†(again, scroll down). My Letter From the Studio will start up again for the new year soon. So, if you would like to keep in touch with my art work, sign up for the letter, or leave me a note in the comments and I can add your email address to the list.

Categories
How does my garden grow? Odds and Ends Plants

Pesky possums*

* Warning: alliteration ahead!

Pesky possums have been a part of life in Melbourne for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a house next to a park, so we always had possums playing. They loved to chase each other around the roof, sounding like marauding hordes. Then there is the unholy scream they make, enough to chill your bones.

I well remember one time when we were woken by our dog, Galahad barking on the front verandah. We had long ago dropped the “Sir” from his name, as he did not live up to his gentle, ethereal namesake. So image our surprise to find that a baby possum had ousted Galahad from the door mat and was keeping this big dog at bay. I felt sorry for this wee, frightened creature and went to pick it up. My reward was a bite on my finger, and later a tetanus injection that hurt more than the bite! From memory the possum scampered off, and probably grew up to be one of the marauding hordes on the roof.

Then I moved to my own house and I would listen smugly to gardening shows where there were inevitably complaints about possums.

“The possums have eaten all my rosebuds. What can I do?”

“The possums eat the rind off the lemons and leave the fruit to rot. What can I do?”

“The possums…..” “The possums….”

I say smugly because I didn’t have pesky possums. My roses and lemon tree had many other problems, but not possum problems. However, the Gardening Gods do not like smug gardeners…….and you know where I am going with this……..

Yep, I have possums, pesky possums.

My pesky possums are not pilfering the roses or the lemons (and that is not smugness ~ just give them time!). No they are plundering the vine.  And this is a problem because it is one of our main forms of summer cooling.

You may remember me talking about the vine before. We have ceiling fans rather than air conditioning, and rely on the vine to cover and shade the eastern side of the house. It’s been a great system as the morning sun doesn’t get a chance to beat into the house. But now the possums have come to play, and they just love to nibble the new shoots of the vine down to little nubs.

The weather has been hot this November¬†~ 36¬ļ today. We seem to have gone straight from the cold of Winter to the heat of Summer, without Spring in between. We are missing the covering of the vine.

So, I am trying to out-fox the pesky possums. Surely with some human ingenuity and the rampant growth of the vine I can get the tendrils up the wires. My thoughts are that if I can overwhelm the possums with young shoots some of them will sneak past and take hold. Armed with a ball of string and a rake I have been tying and training, trying to keep the young shoots away from places where the possums can reach out to take a nibble.

This is the state of the vine:

If you look hard you can see the string amongst the tangle of tendrils.

At the moment I think it is nil all, but it’s only half-time! And a long hot Summer ahead of us. I will let you know the final score!

Other gardening news….

It is time for the jacarandas to flower. Again I have written about them before.

I have had a delightful volunteer in the front garden, in among the onions!

A red poppy was a delightful surprise, and I wonder where she came from.

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Uncategorized

How does my garden grow?

Before I show you my garden, I just want to remind you of my tree painting giveaway. If you would like to be in the draw to win it, head to my last post to leave a comment. Hugs to those of you who have already entered.

Last year my veggie patch in the front yard looked like this

with the tomatoes still in their pots and the seeds in their packets.

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The tomatoes did okay, but the volunteer plants were much more prolific. Both varieties have given us rich red tomatoes, our best for quite a few years. I think a consistent amount of water was the key.

In the back patch near the rosemary hedge I planted Kipfler potatoes. They grew well. The potatoes are small, but tasty. Despite not planting them very deep, potatoes hide in the soil and reappear the next season. So, as well as the Kipflers we also harvested purple spuds that came up elsewhere.

The corn came up strong and tall. The cobs weren’t as good as last year. It may have been a different variety or maybe too much competition. Around it I planted silverbeet and beans, and the volunteer tomatoes flourished in amongst the corn. The silverbeet certainly suffered. Who knew that it wouldn’t flourish in all possible situations?!

I deliberately planted the beans at the base of the corn, hoping that the beans would curl up the stalk, giving back nitrogen for the corn to use. The beans loved climbing up the corn, but didn’t know what to do when they¬†reached the top!

To solve the problem I have untangled the runners from the tomatoes, silverbeet and corn and let them ramble on the Aframe that the Fella made for me quite a few years ago.

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Yesterday I had one of those extremely satisfying gardening days. I pulled out the parsley plants that had gone to seed, the old tomato bushes, dug up volunteer potatoes and sweet potatoes and dug over a bed.

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As well I took time out to watch the bees in the oregano flowers. It is difficult to cut the flower heads because there are always bees there, sometimes butterflies too. Anything that brings in the bees and insects is welcome in my garden!

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I also harvested and cooked.

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Slow roasted tomatoes are my favourite at the moment. Pop the tomatoes into a dish (cut them or not, as you like), add some oil, balsamic vinegar, parsley or any other herb you fancy, salt and paper, and some garlic cloves. Put into a slow oven 150 degrees or so until they are cooked to your liking. Mine stayed in for about an hour. I will use them tonight, with slow roasted eggplant and peppers, bought today at a farmers’ market, as the basis of a pasta sauce. ~Sigh~

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Remember to head over to Time for a tree giveaway to enter my giveaway. This is the tree painting you could win.

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Copyright: Anne Lawson 2017
Categories
How does my garden grow? Kindness

How does my garden grow?

It is quite a while since I have talked to you about my garden (aside from reblogging an earlier post about the jacarandas in my street). That’s partly because I have had so many other things to write about, and partly because when I got home from the Flinders Ranges it was an overgrown jungle. How could there be so many weeds in such a small space?

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)
How many weeds could there be? (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)

Let me remind you that my vegetable patch is actually in my front yard, because that is the part of my garden that gets the most sun. It is a good size, about 3 x 2 metre. I have built up 4 beds and do my version¬†of crop rotation. One of the advantages of veggies in the front yard is that you have all sorts of interesting conversations with the neighbours and people walking past. It makes it very easy to give away vegetables. I thrust broad beans on anyone who stopped for 2 seconds! ūüôā And we have had some generous donations in return, as you will see if you read on.

Once I conquered some of the weeds I found that I had a silver beet tower and a glut of  broad beans. I was forced to be inventive when cooking them, and wrote about some of the recipes here.

I thought we¬†would have a break from silver beet…until a thoughtful¬†¬†neighbour brought me some more seedlings. They could not be abandoned, so they have gone in, and are doing well.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)

I had some strawberry crowns that were past their best. So I dug them up and replanted them on the street front, where the non-existent fence is, as well as along the path to the front door. They are doing very well. I love strawberries so much that I bought 2 more plants, one is ‘Red Gauntlet’ and the other is ‘Bonnie’, a white strawberry. Such sweet little flowers and delicious fruit — if we can get to them¬†before the snails!

The neighbour who gave me the silver beet also gave me lots of tomato seedlings which are powering along. In the photo you may see a pumpkin leaf or two. It has come up out of the compost. Pumpkins tend to take over, so¬†if it wants to stay it must be well behaved. There are also photos of potatoes. Would you believe me if I said that they were free too? When I went to the nursery to buy seed potatoes they told me it was past the time to plant them. However, I could help myself to the bags over there, for no charge. I had nothing to loose if they didn’t come up, so I planted them out. They all sprouted¬†and are growing very well.

Next time I will tell you how to plant potatoes the easy way. And remind me to tell you about the sweet potato too.

I love the flowers of the Solanaceae family — tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants. They look like very fancy turbans, and are great fun to draw!

So, from mayhem to order, with a little help from the compost bin and worm farm and a lot of help from the Under Gardener (aka My Fella ūüėČ )

Categories
How does my garden grow? Melbourne Plants

How does my garden grow… early Autumn? (Part 3)

How does my garden grow... early Autumn?  (Part 3)

My garden is small, so I love the borrowed landscape that my neighbours provide. I see this beautiful tree from my kitchen and often thank my unknown neighbours for planting it.

Categories
How does my garden grow? Melbourne Plants

How does my garden grow….in early Autumn (Part 2)

Our front yard faces north. That is the direction that captures most of the sun in the Southern Hemisphere. It is a reasonable size, about 3 x 2 metres. So it is the perfect spot in my garden for growing veggies. Unfortunately, last year it was simply a pile of dirt, even though I tried to trick myself into believing that it was left deliberately as fallow ground! All that grew were untended parsley and strawberry plants.

This Autumn the time had come for an upgrade . My Fella grabbed the fork and turned over the soil. After some lovely soaking rain I added compost and lightly forked it again. Then I mounded it into “beds”. Two of them are finished; the other half is still to be worked.

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I planted out the silverbeet that had been growing in a pot. I rummaged through my old seed packets and found broad beans, radishes and beetroot. They weren’t too far out-of-date, so in they¬†went too. All enjoying today’s lovely soaking rain, no doubt.

I planted the silverbeet with a dollop of worm castings. This is an amazing, magical ingredient, which you get free from the worms. It is surprisingly soft, rather like chocolate mousse ~ and I am sorry if that image has put some of you off chocolate mousse for life!

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I also use the worm juice (the dark liquid that comes out of the worm farm into the square bucket). Diluted down it makes excellent liquid fertiliser and helps plants get established.

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There are some of my little beauties, munching their way through the kitchen scraps and leaf litter. Remember though, worms for the compost and worm farms are not the same as worms found in the garden. If you wish to set up a worm farm (and it is very easy), you will need to get the appropriate worms. That could be from someone else’s farm or compost. If you live in Melbourne, come and visit and I will give you some.

I mentioned parsley before. It loves my garden and all my plants are self sown. During the front garden’s “fallow” period it grew like topsy and set more seed.

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An avenue of parsley!

Just look at all the parsley seedlings we have growing ~ and this is only a small number of them!

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I have also planted out sweet pea seeds in the back garden. I quietly picked these seeds from one of my very favourite gardens in the neighbourhood. The gardener had mass planted the sweet peas so that they tumbled down her fence. It was a riot of flowers and colour and perfume.¬†So I only quietly picked a few pods from the mass, and they were on the street side of the fence ~ and I am sure she wouldn’t have minded!

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Last thing to tell you about is my hellebore. Once I planted about half a dozen bushes under my maple tree. Only one survived. Imagine my delight when I looked the other day and saw that it had had babies!

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When I looked further I saw that one little leaflet was growing up between the bricks in the paving, surrounded by weeds. (Brick paving is rather grandiose, but that’s a story for another day.) Not the best spot, so I dug it out. I thought it would be a seedling. Instead it had this strong root system that made me think it was a runner rather than a seedling. Does any one know? This is the root system.

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It is replanted nearer the parent plant. I hope it will have a long and happy life! It may be sharing its life with sweet peas, because I sowed the seeds around there too.

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Categories
How does my garden grow? Plants

How does my garden grow….in early Autumn? (Part 1)

Today is dull and rainy, perfect for staying inside to tell you about my Autumn garden.

We had a run of¬†very hot days over Summer ~ 40 plus degrees. That knocked the garden around. In Spring last year I planted out a bed with annuals and over the Summer I learnt what survived and what didn’t. The lobelias didn’t make it through. The pansies were a mix. The first ones I put in as small seedlings in Spring limped along ~ a couple of plants have survived. Later in Summer I put in some larger pansies to add quick colour to the bed. (I was hosting a family BBQ.) They have done well. The wallflowers are now flourishing and the aquilegias have a second burst of leafy growth. They didn’t flower this year. Any thoughts on why?

Backyard

This photo is a long shot of the garden, down to the shed and the back fence. The annuals are to the left ~ you can just see the pansies and wallflowers. The verbena, at the bottom left corner, also did very well over Summer. The bush in the centre is a correa and you can just pick out its long red and cream flowers.

The next 3 photos are of the grapevine being cut back. We don’t have air conditioning in our house so our back living area relies on the cool shade of this vine. It works remarkably well. Come Autumn though, it needs to be cut back. Now the sunlight streams through the windows.

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There is a lot of green waste. We filled up our green bin, as well as the neighbours’.¬†The bins are collected fortnightly. The waste is used composted and used on Council garden beds. It is good to know that if we can’t use it it is not going to landfill.

I also added leaves to the worm farm and the compost.

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I am always fascinated with the small things in the garden. These pelargonium seed pods intrigued me.

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Lastly, for this post, is the beautiful nerine that is in flower at the moment. Tough as old boots, but always comes up trumps.

I have been working in the front yard, and will show you what I have been up to next time.

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