Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Not-So-Quiet Winter

If you believe the gardening books, winter is supposedly a quiet time in the garden. A time for rest and reflection, maybe planning ahead for the following year. Are they kidding??!!! I have been busier than ever this winter working in our garden.

I posted about building our veggie patch a few months ago after we moved here. I am pleased to say that although it was a fairly rushed job, with me desperate to get something (anything!) into the ground before winter hit, it has done extremely well and has fed us many greens over the colder months.

 Plenty of kale, spinach, silverbeet, rocket and lettuce through the winter

Following that, in the past 2 months I have :-

  • Planted a row of 6 bare-rooted rose bushes, outside our main front window (as a bit of a privacy screen from passing bushwalkers and locals walking their dogs!)

I have since made this into a long strip of 'rose bed', with mulch to keep out competing grass

  • Planted a hedge- row of  5 hazelnut trees I bought 2 years ago. see here   for the original post. Somehow they have miraculously survived living in large pots (thank you) and hopefully will thrive now they are in the ground.

  • Planted over 500 flowering Spring bulbs throughout the front, back and side gardens, and in pots which can be moved around to suit our window view when they flower. Some of the daffodils are just starting to flower now. I also planted tulips, freesias, jonquils, muscari, anemones, ranunculi, ixias, snowflakes, dutch iris, chincherinchee.... so many more!

  • Established a small garlic patch of both Australian Purple and White bulbs (around 30 plants) and a separate potato patch (around 30 seed potatoes) including Sebago, Nicola, Desiree and Ruby Lou.

  • Planted 2 varieties of blueberry bushes -Northland and Anna- in the back garden. The area I chose to plant them in is a sunny spot but has pine trees hanging over the fence from the property behind- this means the soil here is naturally acidic which blueberries love, and the pine needles that fall create a natural acidic mulch. Ideal conditions for them, less work for me!

  • Planted a variety of dormant berry canes- thornless blackberry, boysenberry, and 13 raspberry canes. All are against fences where they can be tied up when they start to grow (hopefully profusely!)

  • Started transforming the side garden into a mini orchard (we call it the side garden, its the equivalent of a normal front garden but our house is long and sideways on a corner block). In there we have planted 3 apple trees- (Granny Smith, Red Fuji and Gala), 1 nectarine and 1 peach (all dwarf varieties) along with rhubarb and the raspberries. I am thinking of buying a double-grafted pear as well, if I can make a space! The garden was already quite full with deciduous trees and a few other random trees, including a huge cypress which is beautiful but creates a lot of shade Luckily this is a sunny North facing garden so the fruit trees should do well. Our daughter has claimed the Gala as her tree, and our son has always loved Granny Smith apples and wanted his own tree since he was 3, so it was a happy day when he got to plant it :-)

    This corner was not even visible when we moved in- covered in overhanging trees
  • Oh and of course not forgetting our feathered friends! We put up a brushwood fence along the back boundary to hide the tangled mess of ivy and other weeds in the property behind us (after lopping off several huge pine tree limbs that were overhanging our garden). We then built the chook pen similar to the first one we made. Chicken wire and star pickets, old gate, A-frame inside for shelter, sleeping and nest boxes. It is approx 25 m2 so plenty of room to scratch around in.

Our hens were so happy they immediately started laying again! After our egg-less winter, the very next day 3 of our 5 hens had laid! And they haven't stopped since. we are now getting over 20 a week from the 5 chooks which is great.

It is exciting to see my vision coming into reality, although I can be a little impatient at times (!) and the vision is a pretty fluid one, and often morphs into other ideas.
Our ultimate aim is not to be self-sufficient here, but to provide as much as we can for ourselves of fresh, healthy food, whilst enjoying our garden and also living in a practical and beautiful space.


Watch this space.



Chris said...

I've got to say, marathon effort there! Starting from scratch is really difficult. It's fun at first, but then you have to wait for everything to grow into itself.

I'm not always patient so that's the really difficult part for me, LOL. I love that bed of greens (so lush) and wonderful to hear your chooks are settling in too. Their tractor home has served them well.

It's great to hear everything is coming together. By the way, I've nominated you for an award on my blog too.

Bring on Spring hey!

Chris said...

Just thought I'd pop in again, to let you know my last word verification was "hypeak".

Love it. :)

Anne said...

WOW! It looks amazing.
Strawberrys like the acidic soil too.

I planted an apple tree last year it's not very big but we got 2 apple off it but the birds ate then before we could pick them.

I saw a brown snake yesterday I all most walked on it.I was about a meter and half away from it before I saw it. They blend in well with the tree roots on the ground. It looked up at me & Lou then slithered off in to the bush.
Gave a me bit of a fright.

mountainwildlife said...

Aww, thanks so much Chris! I feel quite honoured! I am a bit impatient so the veggie bed wasn't too bad, but waiting for fruit trees.... mmmmmm..... ! 'Hypeak' seems very appropriate for our location!
Anne- I'd be happy even with 2 partially eaten apples, but then I get excited at little triumphs. It will be interesting to see how you go this year, do you have another to pollinate it? I understand the golden del. are partially self fertile, all others need a pollinator. BTW- I have passed on the Liebster award for you! I think you deserve it not only for your lovely blog but also to get over your snake fright (OMG!) Too early for those nasties to be out.