The countdown to Christmas has started. The usual end-of-year round of social and family events, shopping, school celebrations, reports, awards, and expectations to have our homes, gardens, families and lives in perfect order to be showcased, and all the loose ends tied up at work before we take a break.
I’m not going to make that target. I’ll have most or all of my current design work completed, the family fed, and we will have good times together. The rest is peripheral. Hence this garden guide turning up mid-month. In this post, I want to focus on one thing – taking it easy and staying sane. Including in the garden.
Never mind the garden ‘wow factor’, let’s keep our gardens and ourselves alive and functioning while our summers get hotter. Let’s get drip irrigation set up and get some slow, deep watering happening to support this lush new growth – and to give us a cool, shady place to relax. Let’s add mulch to reduce evaporation. Let’s put up shade structures to create a cool microclimate until plants have grown up enough to take over that job.
Let’s not go nuts planting new plants until we’ve managed to look after the ones we have already – that might mean…
- painting some sunscreen (aka watered-down light acrylic house paint) on exposed trunks and branches of our fruit trees
- fertilising those that have put on rapid spring growth and then started to look a bit off-colour
- hoisting back the passionfruit that’s gone rambling over the house and getting it rearranged on its trellis, trimmed where necessary, fed and well watered
- checking what’s in the salad bed for lunch instead of starting with what’s in the shop
- leaving the messy flowering parsley right where it is so that adult ladybirds have a nectar source while they are laying eggs where their babies will take care of the peach aphid problem
This garden has been under development for nearly 10 years now, and moderately ‘established’ for the last seven years. But an ongoing priority is to increase summer shade, especially on the western side, without losing control and having the jungle take over. Each year we learn a little more and get our strategies into better balance.
So, in the 10 minutes a day that I usually find while the tea is brewing before breakfast, here’s what I plan to do in November:
- Plant tomatoes, chillies and basil. And more lettuces. You might also choose beans*, eggplant, capsicum, carrots*, celery or celeriac, coriander* (put in a few seeds every month), cucumbers*, fennel, spring onions, pumpkins* and squash* of all kinds, kale, mint (runners with roots, in a damp pot, e.g. under a tap), melons*, parsley, parsnips*, potatoes, radishes, rocket, silverbeet and zucchini. [Those with * are best sown as seed directly in the garden bed. And seedlings would be happiest planted out in the early evening and watered in, so they can settle in during the cool of the night.]
- Keep adding shade until I have restful spaces scattered all over the garden.
- Fix up my dear old secondhand wooden garden bench with some hidden steel brackets, so that it doesn’t fall apart, and sand off the splinters. Then put out the blanket and cushions for some reading time.
- Reconnect the misting system to keep chooks and strawberries cool during heatwaves. And keep training the grapevine over them for shade.
- Grow some spare seedlings to give away on the Grow Free cart and keep adding herb cuttings to it regularly. (Anyone can set up a cart – see the website.)
Enjoy the end of spring, and have a sane start to summer! See you in December 🙂
Nadja’s Garden will be at the Organic Corner Store market on Thursday November 16, December 7 and 21 – with organic seeds, home-grown fruit trees and plants, 2018 art calendars from Tangerine Meg and dozens of examples of edible garden designs around Adelaide as well as some fetching pet portraits from Pet Pics Adelaide.
Bookings are available for home garden consultations, design packages and you can order custom pet portraits for Christmas gifts.
Ph. 0410 636 857 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.