Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More than I can chew

Deciding to tackle the bougainvillea and actually doing it are two quite remote things. In full protective gear I began the assault on Saturday morning, and by lunchtime had to admit that perhaps the tortoise approach might be a better option. No hiring a skip and knocking over the job in a weekend, this is one enormous tangle of skin lacerating jungle the size of a large 4x4, interwoven through the pergola and threatening to take half the house down with it. Nope, a careful snip and saw here and there over the next few weekends may be the only way to save the plant, its shade effect and the fixtures. Meanwhile I get RSI chopping it up small enough to send off in the wheelie bin. I'm sitting here looking out the window at the behemoth and I can assure you I am not thinking good karma right now! The aphids are sucking away, but they seem to be surrounded by small insects with wings which I am hoping are the wasps that like to lay their eggs in aphids so the babies can feed off them. This of course means curtains for the aphids, RIP. I just love nature when it's in harmony, especially since I got to harvest my first broccoli this week. I can't even describe how fantastic it is to make an omelette using just veges and herbs from the garden, and of course the eggs are home grown too. My antioxidant levels must be sky high!!

We have had even more rain, with yesterday being very unusual for Geraldton where it literally rained all day and half the night. For a town that is almost famous for only raining at night, this is seriously inconvenient as I have to find a raincoat, and even a brolley!! I already have 2 full rainwater tanks but I could easily have filled a third one this year, and apparently there's more rain coming! Then I discover that there are two dead whales washed up on our local beaches, plus the one in Perth, so perhaps there's something weird going on.

I have started watching windsurfing videos, in preparation for the start of the season. I am particularly enamoured with the one about forward loops! This is going to become an obsession this summer and I am threatening to take Kate along as well. More girls looping the better I say! Many of my friends are heading off to Exmouth and Gnarloo to catch the early season winds up north, but I'm just going to have to wait it out here - to be perfectly honest I couldn't be bothered with a trip north at the moment.

Besides, I've broccoli to harvest!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sucker alert!!

After a couple of days of glorious weather we are back to more brutal westerly fronts and yet more rain. Can't believe I'm saying this but I am just so over the rain now. I don't want any more storm fronts, I want the weather to swing into big highs over the ocean and nice sea breezes. Yeah I know it's only September, but there's great swell and I want to be out there enjoying it.

Admittedly, I have seen a few keen souls out at St Georges in the last few days, but it's dead onshore and not great for either jumping or waveriding. And it's cold, grumble grumble........

Back in the garden those warm days have brought out everyone's favourite sap sucking chaps, the aphids. In my "good karma" garden I resist all negative thoughts about these visitors, simply snipping off the heavy infestations and feeding them to four highly appreciative chickens. So far the aphids are only eating the leftover chinese cabbage, which had gone to seed and I had kept in there to create just such a decoy. They are welcome to the cabbage, just leave the broccoli for me please!!

Unfortunately I planted my broccoli seeds rather late this year, so if I get any crop at all that isn't aphid infested I'll be thrilled. I've been using home made seaweed tea to keep up the plants' resistance, and of course encouraging the ladybugs, who are having a feast this year amongst all the excess greenery (aphids will eat any fleshy plant, they appear quite partial to dandelions, and aphids are a ladybirds' favourite food!). The broccoli are forming nice flowerettes, and some are close to harvest, let's just cross our fingers that the "good karma" works!!

Elsewhere in the garden I've got tomato plants at all stages, including harvesting some Romas, I've parsley self seeded everywhere, and the asparagus shoots get eaten raw within seconds of being picked. Yummo!! I've just planted some swiss chard, and some more zucchini seeds, whilst another zucchini plant is already producing nice healthy fruit. The sweet potato plants look happy, and the grapefruit I put in last winter is flowering like there's no tomorrow.

The cherry guava is developing lots of fruit this year, helped on with lots of moo poo from Kate and Curls' Dexters. The passionfruit hasn't really recovered from last summer, and I should probably just pull it out and start again - it seems to spend more energy putting out suckers from the root stock than on growth from the graft - but I'm hoping to nurture it through and see if it'll fruit. And the mulberry, which gets zero attention except an occasional severe pruning, is putting on so much fruit it's going to be a bumper season. Very purple and very messy, but oh sooo enjoyable!!

The big garden challenge for the next week is a monster! I've decided to cut back the bougainvillea by about a half, since it now extends up to the roofline and halfway along the length of the house. This will mean long sleeves and trousers, long leather gloves, and heavy duty protection against paper wasps - though the nest does look dormant/empty at present!! I'm also hiring a 6 cubic metre skip for the garbage disposal because with 2 inch spikes this is one plant I don't keep on site as mulch.

If you haven't heard from me in a month, send in the SAS!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Preparing for the season

Ah yes, it's that time of year again, when the final vege crop for the year goes in and all thoughts turn seaward!

Geraldton has fierce summers, so it's a brave gardener who tries to grow crops over the traditional summer months. By November the first of the blistering easterlies will be upon us, a phenomenon that can frizzle a shallow rooted plant in less than 4 hours. But I've decided to be brave (perhaps foolhardy?) this year, and helped by windbreaks and shadecloth I'm going to attempt to grow some veges year round. I may be deluding myself, but hey, it'll be a challenge!

Today I packed the car. That meant rigging up the racks for hanging the boards up near the roof, restringing the boom with new outhaul rope, tightening up the bolts on the mast feet and checking through the wetsuits for wear and tear. And making a thorough check to ensure everything is in and ready to go, it isn't all that uncommon for me to head off to Coro on the first day of the season having forgotten a mast or a boom!!

Yesterday Kate and I went to the Chapman Valley Show, and on the way back we noticed a light southerly. Immediately we had our serious wind examiner's faces on, analysing the amount of whitecap formation and tree branch swaying to work out whether it was enough for us to brave the cold wind. Kate's really hanging out, having got herself a new Stone board she's aching to get wet!

And my challenge for this year? A forward loop of course!!