The holiday was great .. but it is heaven being home!

Every trip away for me is the same. It is usually in the plane on the last leg that I start really wondering about the state of the garden. In fact truth is, I start to get a bit anxious. Not really surprising given that I grow the majority of my vege from seed, make the bulk of my own fertilisers (buy some too), mulch gardens, make hot and cold compost, tuck the vege in a cloche for winter, the list is endless! So with this in mind the first visit to the garden is always filled with trepidation.

So, once home, a quick visit to check on the state of chook towers and say ‘gidday’ to the girls is in order. Then it is time to view that garden. It is a nerve racking experience given I have no idea what state those vege beds are going to be in. There is always one chook that manages to get out of their vast enclosure and Gladys (yes I have named a chook after my Mum) being a little lighter than the others manages to get over the fence, even with a clipped wing! Plus there are always those slimey critters to contend with and sure enough in my absence they have been having a bit of a munch on things. Not too bad though! There is plenty of new weed growth, but then the vege are all looking famous and the slug and snail damage is bearable! Phew.

Three weeks of growth has really got those brassicas in bed one heading skyward. Rather a large coriander has fallen over and is happily growing over a spent haberno plant. Yes I have over planted this space (cloche has been removed here) and the calendula and nasturtium in this bed has taken liberty. Time to haul some of these wonderful companion plants out for some breathing room.

Sadly there is a little damage from a chook or two in the next bed which is where the leeks and red onion are. Regardless of this the plants in here are now starting to show significant growth. The alyssum (great at attracting parasitic wasps and hoverflies) is also doing well with a few self seeded parsley plants. I’ll leave these and see what transpires.

My favourite brassica bed is literally out of control! Time to harvest some of these beauties … The nasturtium has grown like mad, so again I will haul out some of these to free up some space. The dill and coriander plants are doing ok. Lavender … looking splendid!

The pea plants in the next bed are everywhere! Doing a fab job of crawling along the ground … so much for my silly trellis! I’m going to leave these plants in for the winter. Peas are a legume and legumes are nitrogen fixing plants. They do this by attracting bacteria to their root systems. A  symbiotic relationship occurs where the bacteria release nitrogen into the soil which the plants can then acquire. Nitrogen is necessary for plant health and growth.  So while the plants are providing peas, they are also feeding and protecting the soil. When they do get removed, I will just chop them up and lay them on the surface of the soil to act as a mulch – all being well they will be part of my ‘grow the soil’ lasagna mix!

There is beetroot, celery and parsley also in this garden and they are growing nicely.  Some slug / snail damage but nothing significant. Alyssum and calendula are also growing very happily here .. amongst some rather bedraggled chili plants which I still haven’t hauled out!

The next bed is RB5 which has a nice path through the middle of it, vege on one side, insectary on the other. The vege side is chocka with self seeded stuff which will also be hauled out in the next week or two for that garlic planting.

So all in all, my vege gardens have got by without me again! Fantastic …

Although glancing up the hill at the sheep paddock I can’t help but notice the poor state of the grass here which just so happens to be kikuyu ( I shall talk about this another day).  We own two rather overweight Dorpa X sheep – Poppy and Lucy. Pets only and I guess that is evident with the size of my girls. They share their paddock with 15 chooks and my rooster Russell -(a striking buff orpington) which they do quite happily. The paddock never gets a break from the browsers and if that isn’t enough there are about 100 pine trees also sharing the space.

It still amazes me that people are quite happy to poke pine trees into their soil. Sure they grow like mad and if you tend to them (give them a trim from time to time) they can eventually be harvested. They also do assist with erosion and can tend to hold water in the soil, which can be a benefit. However the downside and there is often one, is that pine trees create toxins that can prevent other plants from growing and yes they do contribute acids to the soil (especially those darn pine needles). 

So it is fairly evident that this paddock is in dire need of a lime, which we haven’t done this since we arrived here. The ideal time to do this would have been in autumn, but I will do so closer to spring when there is less likelihood of it being washed away by the winter rains. Not only will the lime raise the pH of the soil, but I believe that worms, bacteria and microorganisms also are more active with the addition of this rather necessary amendment.

Bring it on  Julie!

Pine trees … what pine trees?

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