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My garden– the End of Spring

November 27, 2012

Today I thought we’d have a look around my garden…

I rent a little brick house that was originally a granny flat (but for a bloke) ,which is situated on a tiny pocket of land. It has a little lawn with no fence and a small garden out the front and a courtyard with a narrow garden by the fence out the back. Neither garden gets much sun, so I don’t use them for much except as a home to some of my shade-loving potted plants, and a place to dump some of my sulking herbs. People say you can grow rosemary and sage in pots. I disagree– or rather, my plants do. The sage limped along, growing the tiniest leaves in the world and the rosemary just looked BAD until I dumped them out there. Within weeks of their transplant, both were looking better, and the sage had produced giant leaves and flowers, if you please. The rosemary has quadrupled in size in a year. I felt a sense of betrayal– I’d tried so hard to keep them alive and they had shown no appreciation at all.

Here’s the traitorous sage, flowering away.

In reality, there is a companion-planting synergy thing at work here: sage and rosemary grow crazily well together.

Moving on…

My courtyard has a picnic table in it and I have a potted garden out there. I incorporate the table to get the 6-8 hours of direct sunlight that most fruit and vege plants need to do their thing successfully.

This year I’ve been experimenting with ‘square foot gardening’ principles. So far, the plants I’ve potted up with vermiculite and peat moss (yes, I know it’s not sustainable, but neither is petrol and I’m only needing one installment of peat moss) mixed with compost seem to be happier than last year’s ones. I think they’re appreciating having their moisture retained. They don’t need as much water, either.

I have been also been experimenting with how to replenish the compost so I don’t have to buy new stuff all the time. Last winter I tipped my used compost into a bottomless barrel and added horse poo, sawdust, some ashes, and the chopped up remains of things like the tomato plants that I’d grown over the summer. It worked OK I think, but my tomato plants really took off after I mulched them with chopped up stinging nettles.

My brother’s property has a few lovely patches of stinging nettles and I am working on him and my dad, trying to convince them to leave them where they are because nettles are good for the garden. You can eat them, too, but I’m not that keen…

I’ve been gardening in pots for a few years, now, and have over 20 pots and three trough-things. Here’s a round-up of what is out there:

There are two blueberries, three raspberry-type things and a strawberry patch under bird netting. I only got the raspberries and blueberries last year, so I’m pretty excited about getting my first berries, and am very unwilling to share with the blackbirds 🙂

I have six tomato plants (four from saved seed and two I was given) this year, and nine pea plants (from saved seeds). You can see four of my tomato plants in this shot:

I have two artichoke plants, and have eaten five artichokes in total. They’re so interesting to look at, and tasty, too!

I have a lemon tree that thinks it is going to set heaps of fruit. I’m going to limit it to two to per bunch.

There is a pot of calendula (featured in a previous post), and a trough with garlic and spring onions in it. I’m growing the spring onions from the cut-off ends of shop-bought ones. They are pretty slow-growing, but they are coming along fine.

There are also some eggplant, pumpkin and a zucchini seedlings I’m raising for my SIL:

eggplant

In addition to fruit and veg, I have a variety of herbs. There is French tarragon, chives, parsley, oregano, lemon balm, lemon verbena, mint, peppermint, lavender and a bay leaf tree, in addition to the thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram and borage that are in the front garden. I also have a pot of salad greens that went straight to the flowering stage (will be starting over) and a comfrey plant. I’m growing chamomile and chickpeas, but they’re babies on my windowsill, yet. Here’s the chick pea:

I planted some from my pantry after reading about growing them on James Wong’s website. I planted six but only one was successful. I’m pretty impressed, really, and am trying again, as I’d like to have two plants. I’ve got The Homegrown Revolution coming to me in the post. Once I’ve got it I’ll probably add other interesting plants to my collection. Can’t wait!

Not everything I try works, though. I’m trying to grow coriander but I’m not having a whole lot of luck, even though I’ve broken open the seed pods and whatnot. Likewise the angelica I’m attempting to germinate: no sign of it, though I put the seeds in the fridge like you’re supposed to. I’m freezing more seeds now, to see if that helps.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour of my garden. One day I will have a bit of land so I can have some fruit trees- my courtyard is pretty full up, so I can’t really even have dwarf ones in pots 😦 For now, however, I enjoy trying to grow new things and then staring at the results several times a day. It is a simple pleasure, but those are the best kind…

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