This winter of 2019 has been a timid one. Even as I dare to type these words I know that with the temperamental climate we live in, we could have an unexpected freeze at anytime. Yet, it’s been warm and I am currently not too worried about losing plants and all too worried that the fruit trees will not strive if they aren’t exposed to enough of a “freeze”.
It’s this perfectibility of balance that is never quite present in a temperate climate such as this, so every morning I open up the kitchen door and stick my toes out purely to see what it’s doing out there. It astounds me that it can be completely different from one day to the next.
I am enjoying the greenhouse more than ever. After a couple of years ‘testing the water’, I think I am now confident enough to know what to expect. I took the shades down promptly before it got too wet and dark and have been growing an array of spring seedlings, while also nurturing my Autumn cuttings.
I have a plan for all these seedlings come Spring to put them all out in a new front garden, which will attract the bees and insects, birds and bats! These include cornflowers, Queen Anne’s lace, cat mint, chamomile, pansies, salvias, poppies of Californian and Icelandic variety, wall flowers and much more... It will be my own little flower farm, for cuttings and sharing as well as to sit in and enjoy.
The diamond garden
But of course, I got distracted while my husband built a wood shed and acquired two more second hand vegetable raised beds. I have a second garden to plan out the back. It’s called the “Diamond Garden”, where I plan to plant between the paver paths with more wildflowers and herbs that will attract the insects to the vegetables in the little secret garden nestled to the west of the back yard. Just a little extra pressure, no biggie!
- Pictured is the first Hugelkultur bed, full of garlic and volunteer potatoes in Diamond Garden (still a work in progress).
I removed our extra rhubarb crowns and planted them under our apple trees. An older man told me its what he used to do, to keep weeds down under his trees and it makes perfect sense to me. The dock weed grows steadily under there and now I hope the rhubarb will take over.
I woke up one morning recently and realised I didn’t have a strawberry plan, so I used a little ‘birdies’ raised garden bed that I had lying around and planted some 1 year old plants that were in our front driveway into it. Now I can net them and there should be a harvest of note come summer. Crisis averted.
From the 15-20 cuttings I took last year, only 3 gooseberry canes took. So at least I now have three new plants I can make more jam with at Christmas time. I will take more cuttings this winter and try again, like us gardeners must always do!
The first frost came, we have only had about four so far and it’s mid July. I fleeced my North-facing bananas this year, so they will ultimately grow bigger and suffer less from die back and browning. They look lovely and white covered in fleece. My very own bananas in Pyjamas.
We have noticed black cockatoos visiting our garden for the first time ever. It’s always so exciting when we see a new insect or bird and it spurs us on to think about new plants that we can put in the garden to attract the wildlife we love. It’s been pleasing to see dragonflies and a wider variety of butterflies over the summer months and wonder what we will see next.
View this post on Instagram
With the groggy Sunday style realisation that it’s August next week, I carefully avoided thorns and propagated some gooseberry cuttings. It took an age for them to drop leaves and bud up this year as the chill factor has been non-existent. Praying to the universe that I strike more than 3 (my current personal best). Ah well, there will always be next year if it doesn’t come to fruition (pun 🙃). 🤣🤦♀️ #plantlifebalance #propagation #gooseberry #berries #thegoodlife #takingcuttings #gardening_love #winter #garden #gippslandgardens #gardeningaustralia #weekendvibes #yorkshirechampion
Unfortunately we lost one of our beloved pet chickens to an attack, possibly by another wild bird or stray animal. My boys hand raised them so it was heartbreaking to tell them that Blondie was gone. Even though we love their eggs and they are a part of the way we manage waste and recycle in the garden, we love them dearly for their little personalities and quirks. We’ll miss little Blondie, but happy that she had four lovely years grazing on our hill and lived a nice life.
With Spring approaching at a rapid rate the stone fruit has arrived by special order, making the fruit salad that is our garden complete. After much research on having a couple of trees with great flavour, we opted for a ‘Flavortop’ Nectarine, that we first sampled in East Gippsland and a ‘Peacharine’, which is a smoothed skinned peach (no fuzz) with a great flavour that was introduced to me very recently a local gardening and singing friend Colin. It was love at first taste I must say!
We are putting these trees in ‘root pouches’ as we officially have no room left, most places left have septic lines under them so we have to be really careful. But now our orchard feels complete, we also have apples, citrus, pears and a fig (also in a root pouch).
Waiting for the sun
Finally, I anchored down a large sheet of black plastic to solarise the front garden, so I can prepare a ‘no dig’ style garden filled with perennials and wildflowers come October. Fingers crossed that with less soil disturbance there won’t be as many weeds or invasive grasses popping up.
As August comes for us, we have had two more crisp morning frosts (its up to 6 now) and I’m becoming more optimistic about the fruit production. The jobs are plentiful, as you can see from this article. Maybe there will be time for feet up by the fire, but it’s fleeting as gardeners know, it’s our busiest time.