I have felt sooooo behind this summer - last winter I ignored the garden due to being busy with other things, but somehow I never really got caught up in spring, and then it was Christmas, and January has been a month full of visitors end on end. Wonderful to spend time with everyone, but it has meant almost no gardening. However, I reminded myself of one of my "rules" when I started gardening: No beating myself up - learn from any mistakes and move on!
So, I decided to make a post showing all of my garden, warts (weeds) and all! I took some photos a couple of days ago, but the sky was very grey and the light wasn't good, so I decided to wait until the sky cleared to take new photos. Meanwhile I've been puttering a bit - an hour here or there - tidying up my plant pots, clearing a couple of beds, weedeatering a few paths - it's amazing what a difference that little bit has made! Things don't seem half as bad as they did just a few days ago!
The Banksia rose on the left was a tiny, sick little plant I found at Mitre 10 2 years ago - it looked like it would surely die and I talked the guy into a discount. Clearly, it has recovered. It is thornless, has tiny white, deliciously fragrant flowers in spring. It's so lovely to walk out there and smell the delicate fragrance!
The nasturtiums on the right are all self-sown; I have them everywhere! Flowers are great on a salad.
Before I started the garden, this was just a rough area reclaimed from the paddock - low lying, wet, covered in dock, buttercup and couch grass. In winter I would literally wade out to the washing lines, and try not to drop clean items in the thick mud underneath them!
None of the garden beds existed - neither did the fence you see above or anything behind it!
I created this area by laying down doubled weed mat (to kill the grass - it will later be removed so I can extend the garden beds) and barking over the top, using whatever I could find lying around for the edging.
Next to the blueberry patch is my Herb Tree which I created last year and won a prize for, but which I haven't planted this year. I'm intending to take it apart and put it on Trade Me - have to be realistic about the fact I just don't have the time for something that needs watering by hand every single day in summer. It's a fabulous structure for someone who wants lots of hanging baskets though!
At the end of the raspberry patch is this sweet-leafed fennel which is now well over 8 feet tall! It has regrown from last year's plants. I will save the seed and use it to brew a tea that is soothing to the digestive system and relieves wind.
The net-covered bed next to it is my blueberry and strawberry patch, with a young dwarf pear in front of it.
These 8 garden beds (pictured left), each 3.25 x 1.25 metres, are what I call my "main garden beds" - actually one of them has been replace by two 2x1m beds. The four at the front have been almost totally neglected for some time. Let's take a closer look at them all one by one.......
The closest bed is mostly full of self-sown parsnips. Parsnips are often reputed to be hard to grow, and I've had problems getting them to grow in the past. But last year I had 4 plants in this garden. I let them go to seed. Now I have parsnips EVERYWHERE lol - from one end of the garden to the other, in beds, paths, cracks in bricks - you name it. Well, they do say you need fresh seed for success - can't get much fresher than blown straight off the parent plant! I also have a bag full of saved seed for planting where I actually want it. :-)
The next bed over was carefully planted in rows of red and brown onions. Sadly, only 16 remain - the rest turned up their toes. Oh well, I have more seedlings in the greenhouse, and some other things that can fill the rest o the bed, which I'll plant out in the next week or so. The nets on steel hoops are the easiest way to keep the birds from digging up freshly planted beds!
The next bed with bare hoops was planted in broad beans, which finished a while ago and had just been left, along with all the self-sown parsnips that were growing underneath. I finally cleared the bed a couple of nights ago - interestingly, quite a number of the "dead" broad beans had new stalks sprouting from the base, complete with flowers and some baby beans. But I've had enough of broad beans for now - there are plenty in the freezer still, so I cleared the bed anyway, ready to plant in something else.
The other bed you can see here, with the fork in it, was a huge overgrown jungle of weeds, which has been ignored since I harvested the spaghetti squash, cucumbers, watermelons and parsley that were growing there last summer! I cleared it only this morning - surprisingly it only took me an hour! This is one of the advantages of using woodchip mulch - the soils become so soft and loose, weeds are easy to pull out. WHY did I put this "huge" job off so long?? It's really been bugging me! To the left is what the bed looked like this morning, before I got stuck in while it was still cloudy.
I do, however, still need to spend some time removing the rest of the mass of couch roots that have spread through it during my neglect. I'm actually intending to remove the wooden beds one by one, starting with this one, and go for row planting in heavy woodchip mulch. The bed frames are beginning to break down, and I can't afford to replace them.
I picked up this single bed from the local Sallies - I've placed it over this garden bed which I planted with spaghetti squash, so they can grow up through the mesh of the bed, and sprawl all over the top of it, keeping the fruit off the ground. This morning I added some warratahs and an offcut of steel mesh, to make an "upper bunk" with some strings going from one layer to the other, so the squash can climb up.
Spaghetti squash are a small oval yellow squash that stores really well (I used the last of last season's this past weekend). It is baked in the oven, then stripped out with a fork to yield vegetable spaghetti - naturally gluten free. :-)
This old step ladder has had some mesh added to one side and the back. Buttercup pumpkins are growing up the steps and around the base. Telegraph cucumber seedlings are around the side and back and will climb the mesh. I had to start again with seeds planted between strips of wood after birds dug up all my original seedlings. So they're a bit behind!
The spaghetti squash were also planted very late - hopefully they will have time to produce this season, but if not, oh well - I'll get onto it earlier next year.
This has been quite an odd summer so far - it seems summer has hardly started! Today I saw 5 white butterflies - the first time this season! Normally the garden would be thick with them by November! Also no psyllid yet - usually a major pest by the beginning of January. Many of the plants, even if planted at the regular time, have been slow to get going. The real indication of where the season at is the self-sown plants; most of them have appeared much later than normal for their species. The only question is how late the first frosts will come, and whether there will be time for things to produce first!
This bed is planted in sweetcorn - just about time to remove the nets. More self-sown nasturtium has popped up among the corn. I should probably remove most of it.
Again planted much later than I normally would, though any time up until Christmas is usually ok here - this was sown just before Christmas on Dec 18th.
This bed has 7 watermelon vines in it - Sugar Baby and Crimson Sweet. I had old freezer baskets over each one to keep the birds off, but now they're getting too big I removed those. The dratted birds have been digging close to the roots though, so I used the parsnips and broadbeans I removed from the other bed last night and put them all around the watermelon as rough, large mulch, which should deter the birds, as well as suppress weeds and retain moisture, and give the watermelon plants a bit of extra shelter. The mulch will soon begin to settle and break down, and the vines should take over without trouble, all going well.
This bed was planted in two varieties of garlic plus bunching shallots. A random pumpkin popped up in the middle recently. Since I had failed to get most of my intended pumpkin plants in the ground, I let it grow. The back half has been harvest of one garlic variety, but the rest wasn't ready yet - it is due to come out soon.
I'm pretty happy with the ones I've harvested so far - pictured below. These are now hanging in our shed to dry before I braid them.
This north-eastern corner of my garden is a bit of a mess! The grass and weeds were chest high - I've just cut them mostly down with a weedeater. Under it all is a big coil of irrigation hose I need to pull out.
Along the fence are some tyres I planted 3-4 years ago with rhubarb, a gooseberry and a red currant - they all need moving. In the corner is a tractor tyre I foolishly planted with blackberry. I've been meaning to remove it all. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this area - I've considered fencing it and using it as a chickens-make-compost area, or perhaps put the ducks in there; I could then tip out their poo-y pool water and it would seep into the lower-lying garden area through the ground. Hmmmm......
The northern fence is a real jungle - there are lots of blackcurrant bushes along there, but the flowering perpetual spinach, self sown leeks, nasturtium, celery and weeds make it hard to tell! I need to clear all this and plant more leafy greens, which will appreciate the shade at this time of year.
Under the second washing line is another Queensland Blue pumpkin.
This elevated seating area was one of my favourite spots last summer, it looked so pretty. Now it's overgrown and messy. The stauntonia on the right hand trellis is never, I don't think, actually going to produce fruit; I think I'll pull it out and replace it with kiwifruit. There is a grape along the fence behind it, laden with fruit, and baby kiwi fruit vines below the left trellis, but they've been overshadowed by the self-sown sweet peas I keep pulling out. The swing seat as free, recovered by my daughter, but we should have put drain holes in the seat - it tends to collect water and leaves and then get very messy. It's also awkward to weed around/behind, so I'm intending to remove it from there and put in a bench seat instead.
There is a bed of Chilean Guavas along the front of this area, just developing fruit.
The path to the paddock gate (beyond which the chickens free-range). The grape on the left, despite repeated prunings, is completely covering the four compost bins.
On the right are a row of young feijoas.
The wormwood growing in tyres at the end of the compost bins, under the grapevine, needs pruning again. I spread the clippings in the chicken's nesting boxes and house, as it deters lice and mites.
Now we're about to head around the other side of the grapevine to my greenhouse. First we pass the worm farm bath-on-a-stand, and some old shelves from the dump, filled with spare pots, also from the dump.
The greenhouse was made out of recycled windows I found on Trade Me, which my darling husband put together for me to my specifications. I come up with the ideas, and he gets to make them work. :-) Recently he put a spare window up beside it where I needed a new fence - it forms a windbreak/fence for now, and may become part of the future extension of the greenhouse - we'll see.
The shelves I use for seedlings were an old greenhouse frame, minus it's plastic, free from the dump.
This summer I'm mostly growing tomatoes and potatoes in the greenhouse, as the psyllid that plagues them in the garden don't survive the high temperatures of the greenhouse, even though I leave the doors and windows open all summer. It's only got to reach 37C for a couple of hours at a time to kill of the young. I've got potatoes I drums and spud planter bags - three varieties; two are different Maori potato varieties my neighbour gave me, the other is a variety I haven't grown before called......ummmm....something German sounding starting with "A" - will have to find the label. It's an early, but that's all I can remember right now.
I have two big Moneymaker tomatoes growing in the ground - one on the front wall, one to the left, being trained on bamboo stakes. I also have two Sub Arctic Plenty tomatoes in buckets in the foreground, and three Tiny Tims in pots on the shelves.
There is also a Pepino out of frame in another bucket, and a lemongrass in a pot you can just see on the left near the end of the walkway. Should probably move that out into the sun.
Inside the greenhouse, I'm growing a couple of Tigerella tomatoes on the trellis of the side wall, some Kohl Rabi under the shelves (never grown them before, and expected white butterfly to be a major problem out in the garden) which also has chickweed underneath. The cyclamens I had in the house have done very well out here in the ground instead.
Along the back wall is a stainless steel bench and double sink - very handy for potting - which I got from Freecycle. Eventually we will connect the taps/mixer up. A piece of white trailer panel is up on the wall as an effective whiteboard where I list what needs sowing/planting each season. And a pin board also comes in handy.
The freezer baskets mounted as drawers underneath hold punnets and small pots.
Moving to the front yard now, the row of dahlias and other flowers, along with two young Kowhai trees, which I planted a few months ago are starting to do well. They've been netted to keep the birds off - time to remove that now.
Nice to have some bright, easy care flowers just inside the driveway gates to welcome visitors. :-)
I had plans to clear this area off again this summer and grow all my pumpkins here, surrounding black compost bins which I would half-fill with half-done compost and water the pumpkins through the bins, providing them with compost tea. But I just never got there.
My plan for winter is to hopefully have my husband build me a massive walk-in berry cage here, so I can plant currants, gooseberries, raspberries, boysenberries and strawberries under permanent protection from the birds, and access it without the hassle of lifting bird netting every day.