Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Time to Rethink

I think I saw the DVD Food Inc at the right time, when I was reconsidering what to do with my backyard. The film has reinvigorated my desire to turn it into something much more productive.

It is now almost 5 years since I started the garden and my approach has always been uncoordinated. I hoped something worthwhile would evolve as I tried a bit of this and a bit of that. My hopes haven't been very fruitful.

When we moved from out flat in Sydney I had three things in mind for our first garden. I wanted natives (especially Grevilleas), I wanted Roses, and I wanted to grow my own veggies.

I now have a promising native garden growing in the front of the house as well as a variety of Grevilleas near the fence at the back. Some of them weren’t placed very wisely and have grown much larger than I made allowance for, but at least they provide thick cover for birds and attract a variety of honey eaters.

Roses have been more of a struggle. They don’t cope too well with the weather extremes. We get a wonderful show of flowers for a week or so in spring and then they get knocked about by the heat, the rain or the wind. They have been a disappointment but I don’t want to give up on them.

The vegetable garden has given mixed results. At times we don’t seem to have enough room to grow what we want – and at other times we struggle to make use of the space we’ve got. We’ve also had a lot of failures; some things just don’t want to perform well.

Along with all of this I’ve tried to add a few flowering plants. While a few pockets of this ornamental part of the garden have been pleasing, we have far too many areas that haven’t worked.

I mentioned in an earlier post that the latest veggie season hadn’t been the best. At least the failures have given me the chance to clear up the veggie beds and start over again.

At the moment I have a bed of zucchinis, squash and pumpkins that are coming to their end. It will be ready for re-use in a few weeks.

The other three main beds were empty up to last weekend. One I have planted with garlic, taking up most of the room I had intended for onions. Another I plan to use for broccoli, which are the only brassicas that I’ve successfully grown.

The third has become a dumping ground for grass cuttings, leafy weeds and other organic material, along with an application of manure and blood and bone. I have now thickly sown broad beans on the top of it all and have covered the beans with some cheap potting mix. This third bed has become a no-dig project. When the beans have grown sufficiently I’ll either cut them down and mix them in, or I’ll flatten them and pile biscuits of straw on top.

Meanwhile I will be looking at the rest of the garden and thinking of how to reorganise it, to give more room for other edibles.

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