December (what, already?) Garden Guide

This week the permaculture principleCreatively use and respond to change‘ has been slowly distilling its way through my experiences and into consciousness. Like all the principles, it’s applicable on so many levels that often just as I recognise an example of it in the garden, it suddenly seems relevant to a few other things that are going on in life as well.

This week’s gusty winds brought their share of unexpected change to Adelaide homes and gardens, and I suspect they were at least partly responsible for shaking up a few humans and their connections at the same time. While the level of shelter in our garden kept damage to a minimum, the unripe stone fruits were substantially thinned out, a tall and flappy white shahtoot mulberry tree nearly lost its footing when its supporting straps gave way, and two ageing eremophila bushes were blown over.


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I am a big fan of chop&drop mulching – perhaps the easiest way to return nutrients to the soil, while also shading the soil and providing plenty of lizard habitat. It’s just slightly speeding up what nature would do with fallen plants, while tidying up a bit. So the eremophilas (which had pretty much reached their use-by date anyway) are now just a bit compacted and still shading the same bed where they stood for the last eight years or so. Shortly I’ll pop around to a relative’s garden to do a bit of the same thing.

And then I’ll get onto thinking about what I’ll replant in that patch once the heat of summer is over. The wind has shown me (‘Observe and interact‘) that this little patch of the garden is a bit exposed, because it’s next to a wide path, where the wind lands after it has sailed over the western side of the garden. It’s north of a veg bed so I don’t want to overshadow the veg in winter. Perhaps a nice dense but low-growing citrus – although I think we have nearly all the citrus we want. Perhaps that’s where I should have planted the quince that went outside the fence – it’s deciduous, so winter overshadowing wouldn’t have been a problem. Maybe something deciduous and ornamental since it’s part of the view from the living room? A crabapple? (which would also benefit pollination for the nearby apple tree). Well, I have all summer to think about it, because I’m not going to plonk a new tree there just as we head into an even harsher season. I shall ‘Apply self-regulation and accept feedback!

When larger trees come down (or to extend the metaphor, when we have bigger losses in any realm), the gap and the resulting grief are rather more significant, and it takes longer to sit with it, comprehend the changes and make plans for reframing the crisis as opportunity. It’s often tempting to rush in and replace what’s lost, but taking a little more time to evaluate and consider options might result in a more satisfying or productive outcome. Zoom out. Ponder. Design from patterns to details. Perhaps experiment with some small and slow solutions until the ideal solution becomes apparent.

Here’s some gap fillers for your summer garden, to put in this weekend… (as usual, * means sow seeds etc direct – everything else is fine transplanted as a seedling):

Basil, beans*, beetroot, brussels sprout, cabbage, capsicum, carrot*, cauli, chilli, chives, corn*, lettuce, melons*, mizuna, mustard, parsley* (just chop&drop the old plants that are going to seed – especially under the stone fruit trees, to attract ladybirds!), parsnip* (another great beneficial insect attractor when flowering), potato* (tubers), radish*, rocket*, silverbeet, spring onions, tomatoes (be quick!), zucchini* (watch for mildew on the leaves after humid weather, and spray with milk spray if needed).

Have a wonderful last weekend of spring!

If you enjoyed Steven Hoepfner’s tips on prepping veg beds the other day, tune into 891 ABC Adelaide talkback gardening tomorrow morning from 9am to hear more from him about growing your own food.

I’ll be enjoying this little permaculture workshop – the last tickets are going now, and with them your last chance to snap up this book bonus offer: take home one of these two books when you grab tickets for yourself and a partner or friend to attend the workshop together. There’s only one copy of each – first in, best dressed.


Any queries please phone 0410636857 or email 🙂

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