Wednesday, July 28, 2010

garden beast compromise

They scuttle, hide, scare and slide.  The bugs in my garden, that is.  I don't like them, they don't like me, but we both like vegetables.  A bit of a problem perhaps, but something on which I guess I need to compromise.

I just hate picking up a rock and seeing some alien-like creature squirming in the sunlight, I hate picking a bulb of fennel and having a spider crawl up my wrist, cut off a cauliflower head and see it crawling with tiny aphids, or dig into the compost heap and find that a family of rats call it home.

What's started this rant?  Well, tonight I dug up my first ever leek (hurrah), and jumped with surprise at the fat worm entwined in the plant's roots:

 'oh thank duck, it's just a worm'.  
It was just a worm this time, but I garden in fear always....

ps. the leek was delicious

Monday, July 19, 2010

In two years time I'll be rolling around drunk on fruit

The rest of my fruit trees went in today.  I didn't plant them though.  I'm slightly ashamed to say that I hired a gardener to clear the weeds up the back of my garden and he put in the fruit trees at the same time.  The garden[weed]beds had been there since I moved in last September and the ground is prohibitively dense and hard to dig.  Many of the weeds had mega roots and I destroyed two gardening forks in an attempt to clear them.  In the end it seemed like a happy compromise to get someone stronger than me to dig them up.

The decided order in the end (from the left) Granny Smith/Pink Lady Apple; Stella/ White Cherry, Moorpark Apricot, Goldmine Nectarine (white), and Santa Rosa Plum.  The decision was mainly due to sunlight.

 From the other side, with the rhubarb in the foreground

The Greengage/ Goldendrop Plum tree planted yesterday

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The first of the fruit trees is in!

Today I planted the first of my fruit trees: a Greengage/Golden Drop Plum combo.  While the cherry, apple, apricot, plum and nectarine trees are going to be planted along the southern fence in my backyard, I thought I'd plant the mini plum tree out the front for a bit of variety (plus I kinda ran out of space along the boundary fence in the backyard but still wanted a greengage).

I read quite a bit about planting fruit trees - many of them say things like 'start preparing your soil early, 6 months is best' (!).  Despite my best intentions, I haven't had time to even so much as weed the area out the back and the front year patch has only had a bit of minor digging in of mushroom compost.  However, I've spoken to a few v successful gardeners since then, and they all say that as long as you mix some good compost or well-rotted manure into the soil when you dig the hole for the tree, that should be more than enough.  In fact, if you believe some of Peter Cundall's recent articles in the local paper, fruit trees are pretty resilient and can actually benefit from a little neglect!

I mixed in some compost with the soil, and planted the tree in an earth mound for drainage as I have very dense clay soil and plum trees appreciate good drainage apparently.  I then laid wet newspaper over the soil and spread sugar cane mulch over the top.  I've got a lot of crazy little annoying weeds in the area and the newspaper coupled with mulch will stop the weeds from making home in the area and also keep soil damp come summer (that's if the black birds don't dig it all up like they do the pine bark).  I'll also extend my front yard watering system next weekend to include the tree.

I did a wee bit of remedial weeding as well.  As a result of my 3 week leave, I've got a mini weed jungle in the back yard including some very irritating, quick-spreading weeds that have a clover like leaf and a root that stems from a bulb like thing at the bottom.  It's quite hard to pull up the plant without leaving the bulb.  Additionally, if you leave it more bulbs grow on the root stem, and so it spreads.... ergh!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I've had a bit of a hiatus from blogging due to a 3-week trip to Turkey.  I left my flatmate in charge of watering the garden (if necessary in damp, wintery Hobart) while I was away and frolicked amongst the very different landscape that is Western Turkey.

The landscaped gardens around the Blue Mosque, Istanbul

The one thing I noticed the most about the Turkish landscape was the number of Oleander trees.  My travelling partners and I were all taught by our parents at an early age to be very very afraid of the Oleander.  Luckily, my parents just taught us not to eat them, but my friend was told that if she touched them, she'd be gone.  As a result, when we passed by the strangely named 'Oleander Restaurant' in Olympos, none of us were very keen to try our luck.  Despite their deadliness, the pink flowers were very pretty growing by the country roadsides.

hardy Oleanders growing in the salty slopes of the travertines, Pamukkale

We hired a car and drove down from Istanbul, stopping at Iznik, Bursa, Bergama, Çeşme, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Fethiye, Olympos, Göreme, Ankara, then back to Istanbul.  We drove over some amazing mountain ranges, saw the unlikely Pamukkale salt springs and rock forms of Cappodoccia. 

 My sister sitting on the salty Travertines, Pamukkale

  the town of Göreme, Capadoccia

The optimistically named 'Love Valley', Cappadoccia

The mountain drives through the coniferous forests and steep alpine peaks in middle of Turkey were well worth the petrol money (they do need to do something about the lack of guard rails and massive car-sized boulders that occasionally appear on the mountain roads however).

 a somewhat speedy image taken from the moving car

Turkey's meant to be one of the few countries in the world that is self-sustainable agriculture-wise.  It doesn't surprise me.   Crops of all descriptions were planted in any spare bit of ground available.  Along the roads, we'd see olive trees, citrus or cherries, and amongst the trees would be silverbeet, curcubits, tomatoes or other low-growing crops.  We stayed in fantastic accommodation in Olympos called Saban Pansion, where the log cabins were surrounded by such diverse planting, particularly citrus trees, and the ingredients for the home cooked dinners were all sourced from either their garden or local farmers.  The bar and dinner area was cloaked in shade by mulberry, fig, apple and lemon trees, as well as twisted grape vines - very welcome in the intense Turkish summer heat.

 the citrus trees and impressive cliffs that surround Saban Pansion, Olympos

Additionally, along the roadsides throughout the country, local producers set up temporary stalls selling watermelon, cherries, figs, peaches and greengages.  On our first day, we stopped by one such stall and bought an entire shopping bag of cherries for only 5 lira (about $4 Australian).  We couldn't believe our luck.

My garden might be weed-ridden and overgrown now, but Turkey was really inspiring produce-wise.  I can tell this weekend is going to be happily spent in the backyard.

smart chickens hanging out by their house on the road in the middle of Goreme.