Thursday, August 26, 2010

End of Neglect?

Over winter the garden has been a little neglected. This has been reflected in the lack of gardening content on this blog. Now winter is coming to a close but its last effects remain.

We’ve had only five rain free days this month (and eight last month) and our water tank has been continually full and overflowing. If only that overflow water could be saved until it could be put to good use in summer!

A 10,000 litre tank seemed to be a good size but it fills quickly with steady rain and empties equally quickly during dry spells. But what more can be done on land in town? Even if we could afford more tanks where would we put them?

I can only wonder what can be expected in summer. How quickly will the garden dry out again once the temperatures start rising? Will we go from one extreme to the other?

At the moment the veggie garden is starting to show a little promise. A bed of onions is coming along nicely, and for once my brassicas aren’t looking too bad. I’ve been growing most of my cabbages and broccoli under bird netting to prevent access by butterflies. Last year we had a lot of trouble with caterpillars. I’m confident that the netting will keep the butterflies out. The holes in the mesh are about 1cm in diameter.

I also have another bed with Kale, lettuces and more cabbage which will need to be netted soon. So far it’s been too cold for butterflies to cause a problem with more newly planted seedlings. The covered bed with more mature plants was established earlier while there were still a few butterflies around before the real cold of winter hit.

This year’s crop of garlic is showing mixed results. I have Russian garlic going well and I also have Silverskins and Australian Whites. One of the latter two has been growing quite strangely (I don’t recall which one at the moment). It has sent up leaves like clumps of thick grass. Gloria told me that when she used that type of garlic in her cooking, each individual clove tended to disintegrate further into separate, thin little bulbs. I also found the same thing when I planted some of them. I’m not sure that I’ll grow that type again – even though they didn’t show that characteristic last year.

Another plant that is causing me some concern is the raspberry. I planted it last year and had no fruit at all over summer (which would probably be normal) but now it is sending suckers everywhere and little shoots are springing up a metre and a half away from the parent plant, even in my garlic bed having tunnelled under a small brick retaining wall.
I’ve decided to leave it alone for the next growing season, hoping to get enough fruit for it to repay the cost of purchase. Then after fruiting I’ll rip it out. Even so I’m sure it will be quite some time before we no longer have to deal with its offspring.

Earlier today I received an email to let me know two apple trees I’ve purchased have been mailed. I ordered a Fuji and a type I’d not previously heard of, a Winchester Pearmain. They are only small trees so will take a few years until they fruit. Hopefully they will eventually be productive enough to give us a decent crop of apples each year.

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