Planning is well underway for the heat of summer – collecting jars and bottles for the summer fruit harvest, while Mum’s jam making has continued unabated from winter’s citrus marmalades through to loquat jam and jelly, mulberry jam and now cape gooseberry jam… I can feel the anticipation as everyone awaits her fig jam…
With the longer days, the semi-shaded vertical garden is becoming more lush and colourful – strawberries, chives and mint are delicious while lilies, gardenia and lobelia are coming back into flower. In the sunny raised beds the beans are up, recently planted tomatoes are flowering while the self-sown ones from winter are ripening daily.
We’re planting zucchini, beetroot, basil… Red grape cuttings have sprung into active growth and are just about ready to be planted out on pergolas.
Potatoes, garlic and parsnips have yielded a bountiful crop, coping with less than usual spring rainfall. Sultana grapes are abundant but still have a couple of months to go. Potted lime trees have been transplanted to former compost bin sites, with the bins moving on to fertilise other crops in-situ. As some seriously hot days creep in, we start planting to the east of anything shady – trees, cubby houses, fences. Some seeds haven’t germinated as the soil has been so dry, but well-established seedlings have made better progress.
Apricots are beginning to ripen, as the lorikeets have observed, so it’s time to put up the nets that rotate from one fruit tree to the next throughout the summer. Our first mulberries are ripening too, not yet spotted by birds, while Mum’s boundary fences yield daily snacks of youngberries and cape gooseberries. The pond needs topping up more often now. Sleepy lizards are active here. Wattlebirds have discovered a new food source, intercepting our bees’ flight path – how they gobble so many without being stung amazes me. Compost made last month has broken down very quickly with frequent turning and is now just maturing, nearly ready to top up vegetable beds.
Native hibiscus is in full and glorious bloom. It resembles lisianthus as a cut flower, doesn’t keep as long but is lovely while it lasts – and the trimming helps to keep the bush strong and dense. They are a little prone to branches breaking off in strong wind if allowed to get leggy.
We look forward to a summer escape to discover new wild places on the Fleurieu Peninsula!
This garden guide along with the Tropical and Warm Temperate zones also appears in Pip Magazine online.