Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Neglected Blog Updated

This blog has been suffering more neglect than my garden. At least the remains of my veggie patch has been getting some occasional water from the tank.

The vegetable crop has been a little disappointing. We had a reasonable supply of Lazy Housewife and Purple King beans, but not as many as last year. Corn was very disappointing with less than 10 cobs out of three separate sowings. The last lot attracted a lot of bugs – Gloria refers to them a stink bugs, green things about the size of my little finger nail. I can appreciate the reason for Gloria giving them that name. A few months ago one flew into my mouth and the taste it left was revolting.
We also found the silk ends of the corn cobs were being eaten by something. What we managed to salvage were very juicy and had good flavour, but there were far too few to keep us satisfied.

We had far less zucchinis this year, but that lack was more than compensated for with our yellow button squash. We are still getting a few of those each day even though everything else has given up the ghost.

I’ve now sown one whole bed with seed I saved from my broad beans. We didn’t really like the beans but they’ll make good green manure. They are growing quite healthily. I also put in some green feast peas and snow peas. Those are two regular failures that I’m hoping will give us better results than usual. The only other things on the way are a few rows of carrots, beetroot, turnips and radishes. We always do okay with beetroot and had the best harvest of carrots we’ve ever had over summer.

One thing I want to try again is cauliflower. I’ve tried them every year and had only two successful heads. This time I want to read all of the books and make sure I do everything right. If I fail again we’ll have to resign ourselves to buying them instead of growing our own (which will be no change from the current situation).

Yesterday afternoon I was pleasantly surprised to find a few goji berries on our bushes. I’d been wondering whether it was worth keeping the plants because they were a bit straggly and have demonstrated a tendency to send out vigorous runners. We’ve had a few new shoots emerging a metre and a half away from the parent plants.

There wasn’t much fruit but we had enough to have a taste, and if they become more prolific it will definitely make it worth keeping them. The fruit was very pleasant: sweet and juicy but I’m not sure what the flavour could be compared to. The bright red-orange fruit would make a very interesting addition to a fruit salad. The fresh fruit is nothing like the dried examples we found packaged in the supermarket. As a dried fruit I found them tasteless and splintery. Gloria tried to re-hydrate some and describes the result as smelling like an old wet blanket, and tasting exactly like they smelled.

Last weekend I reduced our lawn by several more square metres. I laid down heaps of newspaper and had some topsoil trucked in. I think I’ve almost decided on the layout for that part of the garden. Part of the remaining lawn will be turned into a paved or gravelled area suitable for an outside table and chairs. I’d prefer gravel but I’m concerned about its potential to get weedy, and if I change my mind it’s much harder to remove gravel than it would be to pull up paving.

I now have quite a large area of bare garden beds. I’ve held back from planting anything until I decide what kind of plants would be most suitable. At the moment the whole area is covered with sugarcane mulch waiting for me to be hit by some inspired planting ideas.

For the last few days we’ve had swarms of locusts all over town. You can’t walk anywhere without stirring them up. We’ve often had patches of them outside of town but this is the first time I’ve seen so many in around the town itself. I tried to photograph them in the garden but they don’t come out clear enough in the photographs.

Sunday turned out to be a day marked by weird coincidence. In the morning I started reading a book called Blackout written by Connie Willis* In the evening Gloria and I were watching a new TV series called “Survivors” about the aftermath of a catastrophic plague that kills off most of the population of the world. Of course, as a result of the plague all public utilities including electricity collapse. Just before the end of the episode our own power was cut off, blacking out our part of town.
It was annoying to miss the end of the show, but there was some compensation for the disappointment: on a moonless, powerless night, the stars have never looked more brilliant.


* review to come on my other blog as soon as I finish it.