November garden guide

PHEW! The last couple of days have delivered a reminder of just how thirsty the garden can suddenly become, with rapid increases in temperature combined with today’s strong winds. We recently extended irrigation to various areas of the garden that didn’t have it last summer, but I seem to have over-compensated for this by filling gaps with an awful lot of pots in my early spring enthusiasm, making myself a slave to the watering can again.

But there’s been a good reason for going a bit potty – I’ve reclaimed the front garden space that used to be occupied by a cubby house, and carved out a little quiet retreat there. In the early days of filling up every niche with edibles, we really didn’t pay enough attention to our own comfort in the garden, so I’m happy to be redressing this imbalance.


Now I’m hanging out for the temperature to drop for the next few days, so that I can plant out the vegetable seedlings that are desperate to bust out into garden beds. Cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, rainbow chard, honeydew, gourds, etc.

It’s also a good time to put in: Beetroot, cabbage, capsicum, carrot*, chilli, chives, coriander*, corn*, dill*, eggplant, fennel*, kale, lettuce, melons*, mizuna, mustard, pak choi, parsley*, parsnip*, potatoes*, pumpkin*, radish*, rocket*, silverbeet, spring onions, tomatoes, turnips, zucchini*.  (* = sow seeds/tubers direct)


Meanwhile the tomatoes and climbing beans that went in last month are starting to make their way up the chook house. Spuds that had started sprouting in the pantry drawer have been buried deep in an improvised little raised bed, pushing up leaves now, and the snow peas just keep producing prolifically at their tops, while the lower parts of the plants succumb to powdery mildew. They have thoroughly outgrown their trellis now and collapsed over their salad veg neighbours, so I will have to be ruthless and take them out any day now to make room for the cucumbers.


One of our compost bins had been rather neglected for the last few months, but most of the contents had just about finished breaking down. To give this a boost, I’ve taken the charcoal left from a recent pizza night, crushed it and added seaweed extract, chook manure, urine and water, to create a rough form of biochar. (BTW – for any biochar boffins reading this, I’m aware the process can get really technical but that’s not my style – what I’m making here is just an opportunistic byproduct of both pizza making and the occasional need to wee in the garden, without a purpose-built kiln… not a patented product). After soaking for several days to fully impregnate the crushed charcoal with the bio-boosting goodies, it’s gone into the compost and will eventually make its way into veggie bed soil. Interestingly, the charcoal nicely neutralises the smells of those rich liquids it’s soaking in. Good to know in a suburban garden.


Grape cuttings have been in plentiful supply since pruning time. Here they’ve gone to good use, forming temporary screens for our baby avocado and cherry trees, with the offcuts used as mulch.


Something tells me we’ll have plenty of grape cuttings again next year. And by the look of it, plenty of grapes this summer! There are white grapes on the front pergola, red ones out the side and little black ones on the chook house. More importantly though, the chooks have seriously cooling shade for what looks like being a sizzling summer. This vine is just entering its third summer. It grows up from the south side of the chook house and twines its way through the mesh roof and walls. We didn’t prune it last winter but we’ll have to next winter or it really will get out of hand. We’ve learnt the hard way that living shade is just so much more cooling than other forms of roofing – and much better for keeping chooks alive through heatwaves. And now the vine has irrigation too…


Apple blossoms of all kinds are appearing, alongside the delicious, nectar-filled petals of feijoa flowers (darn, the lorikeets have discovered my favourite spring treat!).


And a few back garden surprises I just can’t wait to try… our first avocado and loquat fruit have set (our loquats must be the slowest in town to ripen), and the rhubarb I thought I’d killed (again) is back! Hooray!

It was a delight to share the garden with a lovely group of visitors for this week’s afternoon tour. Next Wednesday morning I look forward to a more in-depth taste of permaculture with a small group – there’s just one spot left – tickets at EventBrite.

A Taste of Suburban Permaculture

2008-2018 - Copy

This 2.5 hour workshop includes:

  • An outline of permaculture’s ethics and principles, and why it’s relevant to suburban life
  • Permaculture strategies appropriate to the local climate
  • Learn about David Holmgren’s ‘RetroSuburbia’ concept – retrofitting the suburbs for sustainability
  • The story of how this home and garden have developed over 10 years
  • Garden tour illustrating permaculture influences
  • See how different elements of garden and home are integrated to support one another
  • Morning tea supplied
  • Time to discuss principles and strategies applicable to your own home and garden
  • Collect cuttings, photos, notes and resources list
  • Meet others on a path to increasing resourcefulness, regeneration, self-reliance and community resilience


Wed. 7 November 2018,  10:00 am – 12:30 pm ACDT

For tickets, please click through to EventBrite.


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