Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Garden Update - Part Two

Brian and I are having a wager on the outcome of these cherries. The tree has been in the ground for two years and is loaded with fruit this year. 
BUT, three weeks ago our state experienced a serious hail storm, causing widespread damage to fruit trees across parts of South Australia. The big growers are counting their losses, and the availability of cherries, apples and stone fruits looks like being low for the coming season.
While I was away on holidays, and taking to Brian on the phone, he explained the storm and prepared me for the damage [to our trees] that I'd find when returning home. Listening to the news on the car radio, I felt so sorry for the orchardists who rely on the fruit harvest for their income. Our small crops here have value only for us, so if we suffer a hit every few years, that's not the end of the world, and we need to accept it and move on towards the next season, but the large growers will be suffering. They still have costs and wages to pay, but will receive little income this year.

Brian sent me this photo of  hail lying on the ground while he was at the Post Office in our local town of Angaston.

The shade cloth covering the vegetable gardens was weighed down heavily with hail stones, but our fruit trees weren't protected.

I can see some spots on the apricots, but overall they don't look too bad and this tree is still heavy with fruit.

A few pictures of the wider garden areas. I made two new garden beds over winter. Edged them with logs from the wood heap, and filled the space with straw. This photo is taken standing with my back to an established Golden Delicious apple tree. We keep planting more fruit trees, and the little peach tree shown was a new addition this winter, so instead of having random fruit trees scattered about, I have enclosed a couple of trees into each garden. The spaces in between can be utilized to grow companion plants and vegetables.
I'm waiting for my pumpkins to germinate in these black plastic rounds that we use to deter the earwigs from nibbling the new growth.

Plenty of unscathed fruit on the old Jonathon apple tree.

It's been almost ten years since we grew strawberries here. Our big patch was becoming over run by millipedes and nothing I did could eradicate them. We're don't use chemicals or any poisons, so the only answer was to pull them out and grow a different type of berry. We're aware of the difficulty in growing strawberries without using toxic chemicals, so neither of us has eaten a commercially grown strawberry for many years. It doesn't matter how cheap those punnets of strawberries become in the stores, there is no way we would eat them.
A lovely friend occasionally treats us with her home grown strawberries that she grows in containers, so when I spotted these old water feeders in a rubbish pile, I thought of strawberries.
Now we have larger predators of the two legged, feathered variety, so the cages are to keep out the chickens who get to run in this part of the garden as part of their yard rotation.

Oregano grows like a weed with the drips of water from the tap. Self sustaining and useful, so it's allowed to stay.

The lemon tree is heavily mulched with large rocks around its base, to prevent the escapee chickens from scratching and disturbing the shallow roots. Containers of water are placed all over the gardens for the birds and lizards.

A still and cloudy evening is the best time for spraying out atmospheric fertilizers.
Nettle ferment tea is our favorite; helping the plant's sap to flow, and build stronger resistance to pests, mildew, diseases and hot weather.  This is a weekly event from the middle of spring until the end of summer, using our home made liquid manures and fertilisers.

When is a weed a weed?
A weed is simply any plant growing in the wrong place. For that matter, a beautiful rose could be a weed if it's growing in the wrong spot.
This humble Cape-weed (sometimes referred to as dandelion)  would be a weed if it was growing in the lucerne crop, or if it was taking over the asparagus patch, but here in one of the garden paths it's doing no harm. It's keeping the soil together as everything starts to dry out and the bees are finding pollen from the flowers. In turn, the bees that it attracts are pollinating the vegetable flowers.
Every plant has a use in the system of things, so think twice about removing "weeds"unless it really is a weed.
Caltrop or Bindii and nasty prickly weeds are another matter, but before you pick up the "Roundup" think about the damage that toxic chemical is doing around the world.
I'm off to the side paddock now, with my hand trowel and plastic bag, to dig up any tiny Caltrop plants before they set seeds and multiply.  Thankfully this is the only area on our property that Caltrop is growing, and over the years, through slow and steady digging and placing the weeds in a plastic bag in the sun to kill the seeds, we're getting on top of it.
Good and happy gardening to you my friends.


  1. Sally we have what is known as Hervey Bay burr up the back. It gets stuck on any fabric as you walk past. They are extremely prickly and hurt like heck if you step on them. I try and dig them up was the plant shows itself. I noticed last night that two had grown and gone to seed, hiding behind a tomato plant. I need to get a plastic bag and go and pick up and get rid of as many of the burrs as I can.
    Bundaburg had the hail and some farmers lost the last of their winter crops and the start of their summer crops. Here I lost most of the grapes and a few small avocados in a big storm. This was mostly due to the winds.
    Growing your own is both wonderful and heartbreaking all wrapped up in the same package.

    1. It all looks so easy in the glossy books Jane.. haha!!

  2. There's Bindis all around the street verges here but hubby goes out regularly and digs up any that spring up outside our front fence or in our yard. We seem to keep on top of it just with his hand weeding. I don't use any chemicals either, Sally, I want to grow the healthiest food I can and I want to take care of all the creatures that call our garden home. Meg:)

    1. Meg I think Caltrop is the worst weed that grows in our area. The poor dogs are in awful pain when they step on one of the prickles, and they limp straight to me to have it removed. There's a man living in our local town who walks every day, I saw him always carrying a plastic bag, but he hasn't got a dog with him, (poo bag) so one day I asked him what he was putting in his bag. He digs up every bit of caltrop that he sees on his walks.! He deserves a medal.

  3. Sally, that last picture appears to be of what we know as Capeweed. It seeds prolifically and here, on the Southwest Slopes of NSW, has taken over paddocks and lawns. It is terrible stuff to mow, having very juicy leaves when it is growing strongly. When it finally dies back there are bare patches in the lawn. In recent years it seems to me that the purple/blue haze of Pattersons Curse has given way to swathes of yellow Capeweed in the surrounding paddocks.

    1. Jane, you are correct, it IS Cape-weed, but in my mind it always comes to me as dandelion, due to the dandelion chains we used to make with the flowers when I was little, and now make them with my grand daughters. But it is indeed Cape-weed and is a pest when in a crop or pasture, but the bees love it, and since the Salvation Jane (Patterson's Curse) has almost been eradicated in these parts, Cape-weed is excellent bee food just coming out of winter when they're hungry and looking for pollen and nectar. It also grows scattered among our grass/lawn but I hate to mow it because it's always covered in bees that I don't want to starve or kill. It's a juggling act of what is allowed to grow where and there are times when I think "we're dammed if we do, and dammed if we don't!"

  4. How fabulous! Our few fruit trees didn’t do well this year, either. No plums and very few apples. I need to spray neem oil earlier and give a good trim when early Spring comes. No chemicals here!
    Thanks for sharing! What a nice garden you have! No wonder you’re always so busy! (Garden, animals, grandchildren....)

    1. Debbie, we haven't yet tried Neem oil, but I think we probably should, to see if we can drive the earwigs away. Fruit trees do seem to have alternate years of good production, so maybe yours have just had their off year.

  5. We had a hail storm here but our side of town only got light hail thankfully. It was much heavier and larger in other suburbs. It does so much damage and I really feel for the farmers as we live near the Lockyer of the main veggie growing areas in Queensland.

    1. Spring time is just so unpredictable in Australia Chel. A few weeks ago we had bush fires all over the state one day, and hail storms the next day..!!

  6. your gardens are looking wonderful, what a good idea with the fruit trees, that would certainly confuse fruit fly; i want to put a mini orchard here in the extra chook pen that i hope to get.
    no hail here but gosh wish it would rain, the last lot was just a fine mist barely touch the ground!
    thanx for sharing

    1. Selina we are so fortunate not to have fruit fly here in South Australia. The border patrols are very strict about fruit entering from other states. We have plenty of other pests though, especially earwigs.

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    I can share the ideas of the future as this is really what I was looking for,
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  8. Great to see someone else use the marriage of trees and vegetables in the garden. I started mine completely by accident, when an avocado seed sprouted in the compost I put in the veg-bed. Now it creates a better micro-climate for the vegetables to grow. I like those kinds of happy accidents.

    We also got hail about a month ago, and the silverbeet in the exposed beds, were shredded. But the ones growing under the cover of netting were still perfect. So I learned a valuable lesson about protection in a changing climate. If you can protect what you're growing, and it won't cost a fortune, then you should.

    I've enjoyed reading your garden updates. Thanks for sharing.


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