Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Aahh the garden.. (and profound gestures of love)

There's been some sickness in our tiny strawbale of late. Weeks of it. The sickness has primarily been located within the uber-productive Annie. In fact you could say she has been in the grip of a full immune meltdown. I'll spare you the details. But it has meant that things have been moving slowly around here of late. Though not as slowly as you might imagine, given Annie's penchant for productivity... and so despite the sick we have been happily moving into Spring. It's true, our house is not finished, the exterior walls call at us each day asking for more lime render but we ignore them to focus on the garden. 

Ah the garden... we have been quite thrilled to observe the micro-climate we seem to possess on this here side of hill. While the lower land surrounding us gets all frosted up overnight, our top of slope positions remains remarkably frost free. This has allowed us to embark on Spring/Summer planting with little fear of frost damage to our delicate seedlings. Many people we have spoken to in the Bega valley have told us they don't plant anything out until November as it is not until this time that they experience their last frost. And so we have found ourselves exhaling with excitement and embarking on the joy of garden creation. 

This garden we are creating is our first in a place that is actually our own. I think this adds to our excitement as it is more of a forever project rather than a temporary response to a desire for growing one's food. It has allowed us to plant our first swathe of orchard and berry canes and asparagus beds and to start planning olive and pomegranate groves and a temperate food forest system. Oh but I am getting ahead of myself. Though this getting ahead of oneselves is something we seem to do each day as we traipse across our hill imagining the fruity, nutty abundance it will one day contain. 

Our first little orchard has been planted in the contour that carries water down to our (soon to be) duck dam. Unfortunately the slopeyness of our block will slow down our food tree planting a little bit on account of the fact that plonking fruit trees into the side of a hill without a swale or some kind of water slowing/catching earth manoeuvring is just silly. However swale building is either extremely labour intensive or else expensive. Further earth works are on our list of things to do when we have more money. For now, we content ourselves with nurturing our first twenty-something trees. We have four apple varieties - Cox Pippin, Sturmin Pippin, Pomme de Neige, Pink Lady, a few different pears - Corella, Williams, Nijiseiki Nashi, two Apricots and two Nectarines, some Plums - Sugar plum, Santa Rosa, Greengage, D'Agen, three peaches - Golden Queen, Anzac and Elberta, a couple of figs - Black Genoa and White Genoa and a couple of quinces - Smyrna and Pinepapple. Oh yes and two mulberries - the white mulberry 'Shatoot' and 'Hicks Fancy'. We got most of the trees as bare rooted stock so it felt like we were just purchasing sticks on massive root stock. We were relieved and excited when we first noticed the green buds appearing towards the end of winter, then the blossoms were an added bonus. Recently I've noticed no less than twelve teeny tiny peaches on the Anzac peach. We've been mulching with straw and Azolla, watering with worm juice, planting comfrey around each tree and trying to keep the damn kikuyu away from the burgeoning trees. Kikuyu! Whoever thought that was a good idea?! Soon we will have some fencing and our ducks keeping busy in the orchard so our our orchard maintenance will be made a little easier.

thyme growing amidst the sleepers

We've also been busy out the front of our little house with a mattock, broad fork, bags of collected cow manure, azolla and straw mulch as we make our zone 1 vegetable and herb garden start to happen. It's been so good to refer back to our favourite ladies of permaculture - Rosemary Morrow and Linda Woodrow as we've been planning what and how we plant. We've revelled in rediscovering these wonderful and practical writers on permaculture and felt happy in how much more illuminating it is to read something in the context of creation. We've also enjoyed mulling over the disjuncture between the planned semi-formality of a permaculture approach and the laissez faire approach espoused by Jackie French. Annie enjoyed re-reading 'The Wilderness Garden' while lying sick on the couch. And truth be told, she would love a crazy feral garden like that suggested by Jackie. Me, not so much. In a gesture of love she built a tomato trellis from some lovely hardwood stakes. It was a profound gesture of love because she would be happy for the tomatoes to ramble on endlessly, while I like to know how they are going and feel certain that no fruit has been wasted, rotting under endlessly rambling plant. 

While reading and discussing and debating the virtues of various systems we've been in quite the planting frenzy, planting a mix of perennials and annuals (gotta keep those roots at different depths in the soil!) as we start to create a kitchen garden that is bigger than any we have created before. So far we have rhubarb, asparagus, spring onion, violas, calendula, globe artichokes, strawberries, comfrey, cucumbers, lettuces galore, rocket, geranium, sugarloaf cabbages, coriander, parsley, sorrel, cavelo nero, salvias, salad burnet, pyrethrum, yukina, choy sum, pak shoy, ruby chard, English spinach, silverbeet, bloomsdale spinach, wormood, nasturtium, dandelion, chicory, chololate mint, choumollier kale, watercress, Vietnamese mint, thyme, marigolds, daisies, lavender, lemon balm, tansy, lemongrass, zucchini, chives, many heritage tomato varieties, bush beans and climbing beans for eating fresh and dried and there's still so much more to come.... Yes so much more to come.

teeny tiny burgeoning kitchen garden


  1. Ooohh so exciting! I'm just finishing my sleeper beds now ready for vegie growing. Yippee! Can't wait.
    Love all of your fruiting choices. Yum. yum x
    PS Get well soon, Annie. I've ehard these are good: Microgenetics Immune Support tablets

  2. It's an exciting Spring for you Kim! New house and new garden. Wowee...
    Hey if you're looking for tomato seedlings, Christa is selling heritage tomato seedlings at the SCPA market. She has about 10 varieties. In fact the market is awash with all your seedling needs - there are no less than 4 seedling sellers - all local and chemical free... xx

  3. happy planting!
    It's a lovely feverishness to be caught up in.

    Our house is about to get render! So rather then planting in dirt I'm whacking it on vertical surfaces....and again thinking "It would of been good to have built a bit smaller first time around!"