Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Spring has Sprung!

Well spring is definitely here, not sure if the weather knows this yet, but our garden certainly does. The raspberry canes are starting to bud and shoot out new leaves, the strawberries are flowering and DH & DS have planted a multitude of seeds which all seem to be thriving. Our gardens both vegetable and native are only about 3 years old, before we moved here there were 3 sick looking little banksia trees and a lot of scrubby grass in the back yard and nothing else, now we have a frog pond & native surrounds, a large native garden area with the most massive and prolifically flowering kanagroo paws and gravillias that attract so many birds to the garden, a small cirtus area and a few other fruit trees where ever there is some spare space and of course our vegetable beds which seem to be constantly producing something. We do still have some lawn left for kicking the football around on and also a large strawberry patch - without which I wouldn't be able to make yummy strawberry jam that lasts us almost through the year, although we are now sadly down to our last jar, but fortunately I made a batch of blackberry earlier this month so we'll have to switch to that until our plants do more than produce lots of flowers. Of late the garden has also been producing a massive crop of snails, which our 3yo loves to collect for us in a bucket, which is infinitely better than having to put bait down, for some reason we've never had any luck with beer traps for snails?

Gardening on sand is problematic at the best of times, it has almost zero nutrients and is totally hydrophobic so our main aim initially was to add a lot of organic material quickly and thanks to a friend who has horses and another who has sheep we got a lot of manure in, added some pea straw and now our compost bins also add back to the garden, but joy of joys I finally discovered where to get bentonite clay from at a reasonable cost. Bentonite clay (aka sand remedy) is a lot cheaper than applying wet a soil agents to the gardens annually, this is a one off application and that's it so it works out really cost effective and best of all they deliver free to metro areas and were so polite and helpful I almost started to believe customer service was alive and well again so if you are looking for this or a wonderful seaweed product try contacting this site so here's hoping this season will be a really good one for our garden's productivity and allow us to use even less water!

We are also very strong believers in growing heirloom plants (i.e. ones that you can save seed from for next season and not modern hybrids which are sterile) this also means our produce tastes a lot better and generates a lot more conversation as it is far more colourful - take yesterday for example as I bottled two large jars of beetroot from the garden, no boring beets for us - we had white, orange and the traditional dark red beets in our jars and the same goes for carrots, ours are white, red and orange. We don't just grow for uniformity of size, colour, texture in the minimum amount of time that will transport well and last weeks on the supermarket shelf - we grow for taste, biodiversity and enjoyment. As a couple of added bonuses they seem to be fairly robust against disease which allows us to be organic without losing too much to pests and also through gardening our 3yo loves eating vegetables (raw or cooked), digging, planting and understands where food comes from. We get most of our heirloom seeds/plants from which is local and has excellent customer service or which is interstate.

I was reading an article recently that said over 15% of people had started gardening since the global economic recession hit and it is a trend that I truely hope continues, even if it is only a few herbs in a container or a potted citrus, it's good for the urban environment (if it's organically done), looks much more interesting than boring lawn, it's good for your health and the produce tastes so much better than anything you will buy. Happy gardening!

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