Saturday, October 10, 2009

Purple moments

All that rain has produced a bumper crop of mulberries this year, huge succullent berries the size of a matchbox car, and more than enough for me, the bobtail lizards, the chooks, the kids next door and any insects and birds that want a feed. I am toying with the idea of getting George across the road to show me how to make mulberry wine but meanwhile I am just gorging myself daily. Last week me and the Bradley kids made mulberry tarts, with lots of honey, which then got demolished pretty quickly with huge lashings of vanilla icecream. But with the kids away for a week the tree is groaning and has taken on a rather pleasing weeping habit. A directive has gone out that on their return they must hightail it round here for a mulberry picking session, otherwise known as a purple feast!!

The broccoli has yielded, although towards the end I was consuming some protein along with the flowerettes, and has now been pulled up and fed to the always appreciative chooks. The enthusiasm with which the girls got into stripping those aphid infested leaves was so enjoyable to watch. I just wish I had more to give them...

I recently got another disused corrugated iron water tank and after cutting it down with a grinding disc I now have three more tubs for raised garden beds. This will make a total of eight raised beds altogether, probably about enough to grow enough food on a rotating basis to keep the organic production viable. Currently I am filling the bottoms with all the extra weedy growth that the winter rains have produced, and these will be solarised for a few months to kill any seeds before being covered with soil etc for planting next autumn. It'll mean some of my other beds can take a break or have a green manure crop sown to improve the soil. But meanwhile they are in full production, with three different varieties of tomato fruiting, lots of snow peas and asparagus to eat straight out of the garden, and a continuous supply of small silver beet leaves from the seedlings I only planted 2 weeks ago. I've also planted cucumber and eggplant, and my sole zucchini plant is still supplying lots of fruit without succumbing to mildew as it usually does. I must be doing something right afterall!

This year I've planted some strawberries, in an old wheelbarrow whose bottom is rusting out. I've resisted strawberries for years, mainly as they need a fair amount of water and I've never been home enough to keep up the requisite required. But now that I don't have a job that sees me gallivanting around the countryside every few weeks I can indulge in such luxuries. Can't wait for the first fruit..

The passionfruit vine which I'd been nursing back to health has finally been binned. I got sick of pulling out suckers from the root stock, particularly when they started coming up 2 metres away from the parent plant. Enough molly coddling; out it went, and a new one put in nearby. The new one is getting special treatment at present, including liberal soakings with seaweed tea to get those roots established, but that won't last forever. Because the summers are so hot and unforgiving here, it's important to get plants to establish deep roots through heavy infrequent watering. After the initial establishing period this means pulling back to twice a week for veges and fruit, and weekly for the natives. After a year, the natives are on their own, as by then they should have reached the water table (which is quite shallow here) and can fend for themselves. I have a eucalypt which hit the water table last summer, since then it's gone into overdrive, while it's nearby mates continue to struggle. Survival of the fittest is what it's about...

Twice a week watering won't be enough if I want to grow veges right through the summer months, something I will be doing this year for the first time. So I'm planning on erecting shade cloth and windbreaks to retard the drying effects of a forty knot easterly at 40 degrees celcius ambient temperature - a regular occurrence from November through to March/April - and give my plants a chance at survival. That's my job for the next few weeks, in between that mammoth bougainvillea job I was mentioning in an earlier post.....

Since I've been banging on about my garden, I thought I ought to start putting a few piccies up. The little point and shoot is perfect for this so I shall be happy snapping and posting them as I go. You'll find them here.

It has been a sobering week internationally, with the tsunami in Samoa and the earthquake in Padang. Having been in West Sumatra for a month last year, having met so many wonderful people, I feel personally sad for their loss. I also met a number of the staff working for Surfaid, a non profit organisation which has been working on health issues in the region for about a decade, and who are heavily involved in the current humanitarian effort post earthquake. I'd urge anyone who wants to make a donation to do so

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