Gardening day at home :)

Much to my embarrassment, my own garden has been very neglected lately while I play and dream in other people’s gardens! So today was a catch-up day around here, and what fun it was. We made a real dent in the backlog of late winter/early spring tasks and I’m looking forward to continuing in whatever hours I can steal tomorrow…

green manure dug inThis is a small bed that grew pumpkins last summer and then broad beans as a green manure crop this winter. The pot in front had three delicious cauliflowers in it, and they turned out to be far safer from pests up there than in the garden bed. Today I slashed the broad beans as they were beginning to flower, dug them into the soil and added the contents of the compost bin over the top. This is a warm, sheltered, sunny spot where I’ll plant a lemon tree later in spring… probably a Lisbon to complement the Eureka that went in a couple of years ago and which is now bearing lovely big fruit. The compost bin will be moved to the backyard to slowly feed the pear trees for a while. (Our neighbours visit to deposit their scraps in our compost, hence the directions on the lid.) This garden bed is gently mounded up, which will aid drainage in our clay soil, so that the lemon tree doesn’t suffer too much from wet feet. Since the photo I’ve also chopped up a barrow load of grapevine prunings to use as mulch over the bed. 

Speaking of mulch, a street tree (a bottlebrush) was replaced last week next door to us, and the work crew kindly deposited the resulting mulch in our driveway. (Asking for free mulch doesn’t always result in success, but I figure it’s always worth a try as it saves their time, my money and everybody’s diesel emissions to drop it off close to the source). Today I shifted most of it to top up the mulch cover on our garden paths – very helpful to keep the worms happy, maintain the overall moisture level in the soil, gradually return carbon to the soil in the life-giving form of humus as the mulch breaks down, and somewhat suppress the weeds (although I haven’t kept up with the soursobs very well this season, much to the bees’ delight…sorry girls, you’ll get a rude shock in the morning when you see what I ripped out after dark!!)

One of my great allies in the garden is a mother magpie, who unfailingly turns up whenever I’m digging on my own, and scavenges all the bugs she can find.

magpie helper

I have seen her devour cockroaches, spiders, slaters and millipedes, along with the poor worms, and even carry off mice to feed her young when they had invaded the compost bin. Her visual acuity and speed are astounding, not to mention her appetite. If you don’t have chooks, it’s worth cultivating a friendship with magpies. Oh, and she pays for her dinner in fertiliser.

Today we also pruned the passionfruit vine which grows against the outside of our side street fence. It’s a dual-purpose beastie, giving fruit to us and the neighbourhood while beautifying the fence and leaving no room for graffiti. It had been over-reaching though, taking up too much of the footpath and obscuring a lot of its fruit behind a curtain of foliage, so it has had a good haircut all over and tomorrow will be rewarded with a feed. The succulent pigface which has colonised the road verge and cascaded over on all sides was cut back thoroughly too. It was fascinating to see how much new soil had been formed under this green carpet wherever it spilled over onto the concrete, amassing windblown leaves and dust, catching rainwater as it runs off the footpath, and inviting worms out of their burrows to process everything. This rich new soil was added back onto the verge garden, while the offcuts of pigface provided many loads of mulch for road verges further afield, where forests of parsley now grow after being mulched with last year’s plants that had gone to seed, and so the degraded soils of suburbia slowly come back to life, one patch at a time…

 

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