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In shocking news, my garden blog will have pictures of, wait for it, my garden! These are from earlier this year, in response to Dr Sister Outlaw’s post at Progressive Dinner Party. I’m kinda jealous of her chooks.

empty-potsThis is the ‘soil’ in our front yard. It’s mostly sand, the lad is sitting quite near to where next door’s cat likes to poo. The gnome has met with a sad fate since this photo was taken, and so have a couple of the pots. The pots are all empty since we moved out of flats, they were quite handy when we gardened on windowsills, but they do dry out rather quickly.

side-gardenThe blind on the left is our kitchen window, straight ahead is the loungeroom, and on the right is the next door neighbour’s kitchen. The white thing up the back of the garden bed is the plastic cover on the compost, the plants are corn, eggplant, capsicum and marigolds. The beige pot is the one we were collecting broken glass in. We found enough of it that we had a designated spot. This garden bed gets around two hours of full sun a day, needless to say, it’s less than ideal. However, it’s worth growing veggies, even for a small crop, rather than leaving it bare and having to weed it. We grow excellent nettles. We did grow tomatoes there the first summer we lived here, they weren’t as good as the sunnier spots in the garden, but they grew and they produced fruit.

view-from-the-backdoorFinally, here’s the view from the backdoor. As you can see, we’re practically on acreage, with a dam there on the right (um, baby bath, catching rain fall), rolling lawns native reserve toward the back and tomatoes to the left. There’s also a sunflower in there, some tyme and oregano, chives and marigolds and basil. We didn’t buy any tomatoes last summer. Off to the right, out of shot, there’s a small clothesline which is too low for me to stand under, so we’ve grown a couple of things there, largely unsuccessfully. Immediately below where I was standing to take the shot, to the right, I had a couple of good rosemary bushes. In an effort to make the place neat and tidy for the upcoming move (no, I still don’t know where or when, but soon) I moved them around the corner to a spot where the landlord would see them. They died. I should have known they would. In the spot above where you see the sunflower there is a sage bush, since then it’s become enormous and floral, I’m very proud. Next door’s cat likes to sit on it, I’m less excited about that. It now has a big empty patch in the middle of it where it’s been squashed and broken. The sage bush that is. I haven’t caught the cat.

This here little gardening blog completely failed to mention last week that Australia’s best loved gardening god retired from television. The blog also failed to mention anything about Peter Cundall’s final episdoe of Gardening Australia, primarily because its author was cooking dinner for her outlaws when it aired and the tv was on Scrapheap Challenge for father-son bonding time (uncle and cousins were highly entertained, auntie was less thrilled).

So other people have written marvellous things about Peter Cundall and his work first, and done it well, and I will add merely that (apparently like many of current young presenters on the show) I grew up watching Peter Cundall’s veggie garden taking over the Botanical Gardens in Hobart and thinking he’d make a pretty cool extra grandfather (I wouldn’t have trade either of my actual grandfathers). My mother is a keen gardener and has watched nearly every episode of Gardening Australia, I watched many of them with her while eating our Saturday evening meal before I left home. She may be their only committed viewer who is determinedly anti-compost heap*, who redesigned the garden and eliminated the veggie patch** and who was less than excited about being provided with free worm castings. I may never succeed in convincing my Mum to keep her own worm farm, or grow edibles beyond the basics***, but all those years of watching GA means I don’t have to explain what the hell it is I’m doing and look like the only person in the world who’s doing it. So perhaps GA deserves a medal for bridging the generation gap. Or at least for encouraging mother-daughter bonding over strawberry plants.

* she’s convinced there’ll be rats. I think there’ll be rats with or without the compost heap, they’re vermin, they’ll find something.

** I retaliated by planting my broccoli and red cabbages amongst the roses, she called me Cabbage Girl for a few months. She didn’t object to eating the bounty.

*** I think she’s slipping though. Last year she made cumquat marmalade from all the fruit on her (previously ornamental) cumquat, I can’t remember the last time she threatened to cut down the lemon tree, and she’s been debating whether to prune her plum tree for maximum fruit production or let it grow for less fruit and more screening. It may surprise you that I argued for screening, but two people don’t eat that many plums.

We went away on the weekend, the lad played and played and played and saw animals and was entertained by his cousins while we were in the Yarra Valley for a vineyard wedding. The wedding was late afternoon, the sun was getting low and pink behind the grape vines, there was food and wine and lovely company, all followed by a sleep in and kid-free breakfast. We collected the kid, had a good lunch and visited a relative who plied us with more good wine and cheese before I put the roast on for us and another friend.

But then we had to come home. Back to work and study and childcare. None of us were really excited about it. Blergh.

So when feeling rather uninspired (maybe it’s the effect of the drizzly grey sky) I think it’s good to make a list:

* Sort out the worm farm – take everything out, wash the sludge from the bottom layer, put a new layer of newspaper bedding and stick the worms back in with food and the covering layer of newspaper to keep them warm.

* Plant the rest of the broccoli seedlings

* Plant a few more of the snow peas

* Plant some broad beans in the spot where we had the tomatoes over summer

* Mix up a new compost pile with the food scraps that have been Bokashi-ed the remains of the tomato vines and old mulch

* Buy new straw to keep the ground warm

* Get the balcony hanging things for the window box type pot, so it will hang from the railing by the back steps. We’re looking around to find more and more places we can plant, preferably spots that have some sun and are easy to water (emptying the teapot, washing the veggies and so forth, which I tend to do after dark and it’s best if I can stay as close as possible to the house)

After two weekends taken up with weddings, I think we’re overdue for a few days at home, and it looks like we’ll have plenty to do.

This weekend we:

* pulled up the eggplants, despite flowering, not one of them produced any fruit

* dug compost into the potato bed and cheered on the self-sown spuds

* optimistically planted some pumpkin seedlings, I’m not confident that they’ll produce any pumpkins over winter, but they will hopefully provide enough ground cover in that corner to keep down the weeds

*  re-potted the lemon tree that had become water-logged (the drainage hole was blocked) and was growing fungi, and gave it some worm compost as an apology, it sprouted a new leaf the next day in gratitude, maybe one day it will also produce some fruit

* made what feels like a definite plan about planting for our winter efforts, carrots and radishes in the front yard, snow peas along the back steps, onions and broccoli ah um gosh… possibly in pots

* remembered again that we really do have to borrow my brother’s ute and a trolley to get the half wine barrels home (temporarily at my Mum’s place, inherited from her neighbour) and operational so we can use some of our concrete space more productively

* cheered the capsicums, which are looking good, if a little late and small

* ate chocolate and (not) hot cross (-less) buns between every task

It’s 19.8C. Feels warmer outside in the sun I have to say, but that may be the micro-climate of my garden, where the sun reflects off the windows of the tall building a few doors up.

The no-dig garden bed dried out too much to break down properly. The compost looks dusty. The soil all looks like grey sand. The worms seem happy enough though, and the vermiculite is ready to put on the garden to start the revival. I’ve cracked an egg at one end of the worm farm to attract all the worms to that end. So tomorrow I’ll be distributing the vermiculite. Yay!

The parsley seeds were ready to harvest this morning, so I shook them off into a bag. At the moment all the parsley grows in the front yard, and you can never have too much so I’ll be raising seedlings and planting them in the backyard (and possibly giving some away as presents).

The eggplants still haven’t produced any fruit. This continues to make me sad. The ones down the road in the community garden have, but theirs aren’t growing in almost full shade.

We harvested the corn a few days ago, and ate it all in one evening. I don’t think we’re heading for self-sufficiency on that front, but it tasted good. Again, the shade is a problem, as are earwigs.

The capsicums are looking good. The lad picked one and ate most of it.

I still haven’t gotten around to fixing the photos for the purposes of uploading. I’ve been a bit slack.

The broccoli seedlings are growing well. We look set to eat quite a lot of broccoli. I may be redistributing broccoli seedlings amongst my friends shortly. I’ve used them as the banner image. Edit: How stupid. My banner image is not broccoli seedlings, it’s a capsicum flower. That would be a pepper if you’re foreign.

The onions have started sprouting in an old egg carton, but only four or five so far. They’re slow.

Potatoes have started re-sprouting from last year. Which means they’re growing in amongst the eggplants (which haven’t produced anything but flowers so far) and the capsicums (which are tiny at the moment).

I’ve been reading up on compost, in an effort to make ours more efficiently. I’m also still looking for an airtight bucket for the Bokashi experiment. I’ve started with an icecream container in the meantime. The worms are doing well, and the lad is singing along with the Choir of Hard Knocks cd, which has nothing to do with the garden but is highly amusing for me.

Maybe that should read “Garden Centres versus Nurseries”. When I was growing up (which wasn’t that long ago) the place where one bought plants was a nursery. The place where my mother used to take us when she bought plants is still called a nursery. They also still have chooks and a playground, although the whole place is a lot fancier than it was twenty years ago. The chooks are ornamental now and their coop has a sign saying ‘Birdhouse’. I went there today with my Mum and the lad. He’s obviously been watching us when we shop for plants (and perhaps he’s had too many opportunities) because he toddled between plants looking at their tags and turning the tags around. He seemed pretty impressed with all of the trees and was most unimpressed with being put back in the stroller. Anyway, my point is that this nursery has grown over the years to sell lunch, garden furniture and outdoor sculpture and all sorts of other junk that isn’t plants or mulch. It’s what I think of when I hear the term ‘garden centre’, but this place is sticking with ‘nursery’. Yesterday (you’re seeing how our kid has learned so young about plant-buying behaviour?) I went for a walk to my local plant sellers, who have called their business Adjacent Suburb Garden Centre and they don’t sell anything other than plants, basic tools, pots, manure and mulch. They grow veggies in a corner of the carpark. They guerrilla garden the dead space between their land and the road. They inherited an ugly old fence from the site’s previous owners and (rather than building a stark new wall) they planted a grape vine on it. In short, this place is run by people who love plants, who think garden furniture takes up space where their ought to be plants. It’s what I think of as a ‘nursery’. I don’t think this is an earth shattering observation, but it niggles away at me nonetheless.

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