A GreenFoodie’s Garden Journal – Welcome Spring

Sunday, 4 September 2011

A GreenFoodie's Spring Heaven

Another lovely Spring day in the garden. Things are starting to get exciting as all our plants are sprouting, blossoming and thriving, even in the most unexpected places. I noticed that under our still sad looking lime tree, chives are sprouting and happily multiplying. How on earth did they get there? It was a mystery until I remembered we’d put the soil from last year’s chive crop into the compost bin over the winter then used some of the compost on our plants a couple of weeks ago. The lime tree must have got a big clump of chive seed encrusted soil. Not that we’re complaining, its a wonderful thing to discover unexpected abundance in the garden.

A GreenFoodie's Gardening Heaven

In a confident gesture of saying our goodbyes to winter, David took all the plants out from their frost shelter and we re-arranged the garden to take advantage of the sun and warmer weather. I do love how it looks now and I feel so happy meandering through the garden, seeing what’s going on in the private lives of my plants. The bees are starting to buzz all over the blossoms and we’ve already harvested a couple of heads of broccoli for dinners. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of eating and tasting the fruits of our labour. I don’t even mind sharing our broccoli leaves with bright green caterpillars, I wonder what they’ll turn into when they metamorphose.

Heartease busy protecting my broccoli crop

I’m even more excited about our garden now that we’ve planted the first of our Spring and Summer seeds. There’s cherry tomato saved from last year’s crop, snow peas, cucumber, chilli, hot ceyenne pepper, zucchini, basil, mixed lettuce, cos lettuce, chamomile, nastertium and marigold. All are lying snugly in their soil beds in the hothouse, hopefully as eager to sprout as we are eager to see them grow. I have also found out what the gorgeous and determined little flowers are that have sprouted up all through the garden. It seems that heartease has been used for centuries in western herbalism and in love potions of various kinds. It is also an excellent companion plant for the garden as it keeps away pesky insects like aphids and attracts good insects like our little bee friends.

With this mystery solved I can’t wait to see what gardening adventures next weekend will bring!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Beautiful Plum Tree Blossoms

What a fantastic weekend of glorious weather and delectable food after our foodie weekend away in the NSW Southern Highlands. We’ll do a post about some of the amazing places to eat in a couple of days. Though it was a fabulous weekend it took a lot out of me and I didn’t have the energy to go to work on Monday. My pregnant body is slowing right down in this last month before birth. So, with no work to worry about I decided to enjoy the sun this morning while I had my breakfast and happily absorb the life I could see exploding all around me. Our broccoli is ready to be picked, the garlic has gone crazy, and our carrots look like they might be growing after all. The strawberry now has enormous leaves and the mint, thyme and rosemary look green and healthy. My poor lemon and lime are still looking very sorry for themselves. I just hope that the warmer weather will start cheering them up.

The decorative plum tree in the back corner of our garden is dripping with gorgeous pink flowers and humming with busy bees. The dwarf nectarine has now started to bud as well with deep pink flowers. The raspberry plant is sprouting leaves in all its nooks and one of the apple trees has a tiny crown of new leaves erupting from its tip. Even better to see is the tiny purple and yellow flowering plant that has tenaciously grown in a sheltered corner of the garden for the last two years and is now popping up all over the garden. I transplanted a couple of the plants into my veggie pots last year and it flourished. The one that I protected from the frost even flowered throughout winter. I am fairly in love with this determined little plant. I wonder what it is though.

Well, now to get on with household duties before an afternoon nap followed by shopping and preparation for my weekly girls night in. Hmmm, I wonder if I could use the broccoli in dinner tonight. How does gnocchi with tomato, garlic and basil sauce, home grown broccoli and a salad sound?

Sunday, 21 August 2011

After such a gloriously warm and mild week this weekend has turned into a bit of a disappointment. Scudding clouds, intermittent showers and a chill wind didn’t stop Dave from continuing his mission to find a suitable feed trough for the veggie patch. It apparently needs to be a feed trough rather than just a normal raised garden bed so we can transport the whole thing to our property in Bungendore when we move in (hopefully by Winter next year). I hoped we would find what he was looking for at the stock and feed store in Hall because I didn’t feel like being dragged around Canberra looking for the perfect thing. Luckily, we found the perfect thing… 2 large, black, round feed troughs for a reasonable price. So Dave hauled them both into the back of our car along with a bale of hay and back home we went (after a stop at the local hardware store for gravel and a heap more soil).

Even though the weather wasn’t particularly pleasant, Dave and I happily pottered around outside making giant dirt lasagnas. The bungs were taken out of the troughs, which were then place at a slight angle towards the plug hole. We blocked the plug holes with squares of shade cloth (to let the water out and keep the gravel and soil in). We added a layer of gravel then layers of soil, hay, potting mix and the obligatory alpaca poo. I added a couple of worms that I found stranded on the cement porch, then a layer of hay to finish it off and voila! Lasagna a la Hopkins! Even the birds looked impressed, well they were probably sizing up the pieces of hay to swipe for their up and coming home builds.

Speaking of birds, we have been lucky to get visits from a flock of very noisy finches every morning. I’ve also noticed a pair of superb blue wrens darting in and out of our plants or chirping along the back fence. The male has got such a beautiful blue feather necklace while his lady may be a bit plainer but she certainly makes up for it with her lovely voice! We also have a neighbourhood magpie who occasionally serenades us in the morning with his beautiful warble. He doesn’t mind having an admiring audience but don’t appreciate my interruptions of his performances with my attempts at making friends.

Well, the chill is creeping up again, along with the wind so time to go inside for some warmth and relaxation.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Waiting for Spring to Arrive

What a beautiful day spent in the garden. The warmth of the sun feels like heaven after a rainy, dreary and cold winter. The wattles have been blooming all over Canberra for a couple of weeks, letting us know that Spring is just around the corner. All the trees on every neighbourhood and city street have buds scattered all over their naked branches and you can almost see them quivering and ready to burst! I can feel life starting to pulsate all around me. In our garden the broccoli and broad beans are finally looking healthy. We’ve got at least 6 broccoli heads happily growing. The broad beans finally have flowers on them, and there are little buds on the tip of our apple trees. The rosemary, thyme and mint are looking better now that they’re in the plastic hothouse that we bought last week. I’m still worried about my poor, frost-bitten lemon and lime trees. They’ve lost most of their leaves and are looking very bedraggled and sad. I’ll have to find out what they need to be revived.

Earlier on in the day David and I went shopping to try and find some large troughs to plant out this seasons Spring and Summer veggies. No luck unfortunately and we came home empty handed save for a large bag of alpaca poo that we bought at a road-side stall. Well pleased with his find, Dave immediately set about lovingly sprinkling the precious little pellets under the mulch in our veggie pots. It didn’t take long as our garden is not particularly large. Not happy with such a small effort on such a lovely day, Dave went out once again and came back with a few more surprises for the garden. Two raspberry plants looking more like a couple of forlorn, thorny sticks stuck in some dirt. Hard to believe they’ll actually grow and produce such yummy fruit once Spring gets here. Dave also brought home one dwarf nectarine almost groaning with buds waiting to burst. He also bought several large pots and more potting mix and we spent the rest of the afternoon fertilising with Sea-Sol and re-potting the bare rooted trees and shrubs.

Its funny, I’ve never really been a gardener and neither Dave nor I have ever grown fruit trees before but it is oh so satisfying to get our hands dirty and wait excitedly to see whether our ‘hard’ work will result in happy, healthy plants and even better when we get to taste the results! I guess we’ll also need to start thinking about the veggies and herbs we want to grow for spring and summer. Seedlings are easy to shove into the ground but Dave and I will try to grow everything from seed this season. We’ve saved the seeds of last year’s cherry tomatoes and they’re definitely on our list. We just have to have snow peas because we ate them by the tonne in every summer salad last season. We weren’t so successful with ourĀ  cucumber but we can try again this year. The same goes for our basil. I’ll try growing nastertiums and marigold again, hopefully they won’t turn their noses up at me this time. I also want to try growing chamomile as a companion plant and because I love sipping on chamomile tea.

Well, the chill is creeping back as the sun starts its slow dance towards dusk. Time to go inside and enjoy a warm cup of chamomile tea while Dave puts his chef’s hat on to cook us a lovely Sunday roast.


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