24 Apr 2016

garden ramble: autumn update


 Leaves on my birch trees

Autumn is here, and with it cooler mornings that tease of the dreaded dark months of winter just around the corner; it brings boldly coloured leaves shining through the suburban landscape — all reds and golds and burnished oranges. This autumn has seen (felt?) more blustery winds than usual — decimating those lovely leafy displays — and not much rain at all.

I am starting to despair for my ornamental garden, despite my parents’ reassurances; even with weekly watering (all I have time for), I’ve got some trees and shrubs looking decidedly sickly. Summer’s dry heat may have been too much for them, and sadly, I fear autumn’s continuing dry may finish them off completely.

Leaves off my birch trees

On a productive note, autumn means cleaning up and closing down the vegie garden. It’s a quick job this year, as again, due to summer’s harsh weather, I’ve already gotten rid of most of the crop. Over Easter I pulled up all of the tomatoes and most of the beans, all desiccated and messy in their crisp decay.

New silverbeet

There is very little left. Apart from the fruit trees (which are still very green and leafy), the exuberant passionfruit, and of course the rhubarb and herbs, I have five new silverbeet plants, transplanted from dad’s vegie garden and doing very well. I also have an astounding, sturdy forest of self-sown capsicums. These plants came up from kitchen scraps I’d dug into the vacant beds over last winter! There are massive dark green fruits on them, and I’m impatiently waiting for them to ripen before the winter chill sets in. I’ve even managed to make my dad envious!

Still life with capsicums

My lovely friend A and his strong male muscles came over one weekend to dig over one of the vegie beds, which was particularly compacted. The others I could manage myself, but I’m hopeless at sustained digging in such hard soil; even with a heavier new garden fork (I figured I deserved it) I just don't have much weight or strength to throw behind it. A’s generous help was so very welcome. He broke it up and we then fed it up with some lovely pongy sheep poo dad had delivered for me a few weeks ago (the neighbours must love me), and threw around some gypsum for good measure.
Out with the beans

I’ll now be able to dig in kitchen scraps again to reinvigorate it over the winter months (and maybe get another crop of self-sown capsicums).

Finally, I've planted my garlic. Or rather, T’s garlic — I hadn’t saved any of my own garlic this summer, but froze it all for eating! The gorgeous T generously came to my rescue with a bag of her beautiful fat homegrown alliums. What a joy.

Last of the carrots

Besides the watering that is still needed (let's all pray for rain), now I can settle down with a cup of tea and lots of gardening books to start thinking about next season. After a tip off from Caro, I found Sarah Raven’s ‘The best vegetable plot’. I should read Australian books, but I just adore British books and magazine, and blogs!
And last of the beetroot

Reading books like this make the misery of dry soils and dying plants dissolve for a moment; they allow me to escape into fantasies of lush and abundant and always-green gardens where there’s never an aphid or sparrow or hard patches of soil, just tender leaves, juicy produce, vibrant flowers — and relaxed gardeners. Ah, let me put the kettle on and we can all dream on …
A pristine dahlia



10 comments:

  1. Sorry it's been such a dry year with you, I hope your ornamentals do better next year. An amazing capsicum crop though, I'd never manage that here, it's not quite hot enough for long enough. In fact I've stopped growing them now. Lovely to get the new season's garlic in, that always feels like the start of the new year's growing to me. The Sarah Raven book is brilliant, I've read it cover to cover and I'm always referring back to it, it's my veg growing bible. I just wish she'd do a fruit one! CJ xx

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    1. the capsicums are a complete surprise! I just hope they continue to ripen - otherwise I might agree with you CJ, not hot enough for long enough here in Tassie.
      the garlic have already started to pop thru, which is very exciting too!

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  2. Gorgeous carrots and beets! I never manage to grow either well - beautiful green leaves and tiny roots. One day..

    I just love autumn. It is my favourite and my best:)

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    1. carrots I have mixed success with Jo; I will send you up beetroot luck :-) and don't they look pretty the orange and purple ones together?
      I agree with you - it's a lovely time of year.

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  3. I have Autumn envy :( Oh to see the seasonal changes would be amazing. None of that in Brissie! You are a lucky one.

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    1. having grown up in a western Sydney where there were few autumn trees, I really do love this season! I will think of you next red tree I walk past, jem :-)

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  4. Thanks for the link :o) and glad you've found solace in Sarah Raven's book! I need to reassure you though that it's not all lush and green over here - I once spent two years digging over an allotment, front to back, to remove couch grass and waist high weeds. As soon as I'd done one end, the weeds grew back - and the soil was really heavy! Now I just have to put up with aphids - even on my tulips in spring time - euugh!! Cxx

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    1. you're welcome caro! aphids on tulips are horrid, such a blight on a heavenly flower! and I shall keep your experience of all that hard work in mind then when I pick up my next English magazine.

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  5. So much goodness in your vegetable garden e! I love that bowl of beetroot and those healthy capsicums. Those autumn leaves are so pretty. Our leaves are not to that stage yet. Happy mid weeking to you!

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    1. ah now happy end of week to you jane. my other capsicums are finally almost ripe - lovely bright yellow ones! can't wait to pick one or two of them on the weekend.

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