Thursday, September 25, 2014

Just a little potty

I've been doing quite a bit of pottering around the garden lately. Pottering is all I can manage, it seems, as I have a little shadow...

The ginger hasn't sprouted yet, but thanks for checking

Like all shadows, I'm followed everywhere.  Which means what I do, has to be child-friendly. That overdue chicken-coop renovation, will just have to wait!

Even though I'm only technically pottering, its still important stuff though. I'm planting a lot of seeds at the moment...

New seedlings

I try to plant more pigeon pea trees, every year. Not only are they great forage trees which lure the kangaroos away from my vegetables, but they also double as mulch. In our dry season (winter) they will naturally shed their leaves, which helps improve the soil around the property. Gotta love the potential held within those tiny seeds.

Something new

I'm also trying a new forage shrub, called Old Man Saltbush. Its drought hardy and has good protein content. It will also feed the kangaroos and double as a mulch plant. I use anything which needs a regular trim, and drop it as mulch.

Oh my, Kipfler!

Can you believe there are POTATOES growing in MY garden! After all the years of failing, I hope this year will be a success. I've mulched them with dead grass, dried sweet potato vines, old passionfruit vines, and even trimmings from my wormwood. I'm hoping the scent from the wormwood will help deter pests.

Because I want LOTS of mulch plants, I need to plant seeds and take cuttings when I can. Its what occupies most of my days actually. While my shadow is napping though, I can occasionally be found outside rescuing trees...

Newly re-potted

This was a blood orange I had written off in the garden. I thought it was the root stock re-shooting, because the main graft had died. When I dug it up recently however, I found most of it was regrowth above the graft scion. What a delightful surprise. With a bit of TLC, I won't have wasted the money...and maybe, one day, blood oranges!

Waiting seems to be a pre-requiste to gardening I've found. Especially when you're still learning the ropes and making mistakes. I'm always making those. Like the reason I found myself planting some new Pink-Lady apple seeds recently, from a bag of apples we bought to eat. They tasted nice, so I planted them.

New trees sprouting

We will have to wait several years before we get any kind of crop from these wee nippers! Would you believe I planted these Pink Lady seeds, because I already have a Granny Smith Apple I grew from seed...

At least three years old

Only I didn't quite know it was a Granny Smith apple tree at the time. I did plant the seed several years ago, but it didn't grow. I promptly forgot about the apple seed, until the 2011 floods, and this suddenly sprung up. I couldn't be sure if it was the same apple seed, or a weed species which had trickled in. It was deciduous though and sort of looked like an apple tree. I got confirmation last year, when I sprouted another Granny Smith seed in a pot. Thus the search for a new pollinator began.

Eat apples, plant seeds - can't beat that kind of pottering around! But you have to wait for the results. Nothing happens quickly in a garden. It helps if you've got the snowball effect on your side though. Just keep planting...just keep planting...mistakes can happen but at least you've got more plants!

The promise of healthy food

Then of course, there are the punnets of vegetables, purchased from the mark-down shelf at the hardware store. It's getting a little late for cabbages and cauliflower for our climate. They will just go to seed in the summer. But David bought these, so I had to rescue them. I potted them into a larger, recycled punnet. Plus gave them a little artificial feed.

I'll find some place for them in the garden...eventually. I wonder if I can keep them potted until autumn?

 Cos Lettuce (left) Fordhook Giant silverbeet (right)

In the meantime I have greens growing in recycled styrofoam boxes too. Styrofoam is not my preferred means of growing vegetables, but if you look at the soil in the background, you'll know why I've resorted to them!

We get the boxes for free, from David's workplace, and we put them to use growing pampered vegetables. I've got fresh pick for the guinea pigs and us. That's what pottering around, can amount to.

Taking a step back...

Actually, my pottering enterprise is pretty productive. My whole garden is a pottering wonderland. Like a mad scientist, I'm busy experimenting in my laboratory, to see what works and what doesn't.

I've got a particular new garden bed, I'm trying for the first time. I'll update on its progress during the end of summer. But like everything in my life at present, it will just have to fit-in around my shadow.

I hope that shadow will make an excellent gardener, one day.


  1. How exciting! And Little Shadow is learning to garden too:)
    We were driving past a farm during the heat of summer when we noticed shade cloth over the crops. It turned out to be spinach. I'm thinking that you could grow your cabbage under some sort of protection-even a very thin sheet or gauze could help. I know you get hotter than we do here so this might not be a season long solution but there is nothing wrong with baby cabbage that I know of.
    We are told here that apple trees will not grow true from seed so I am curious to see what you will get from the Granny Smith apple. Do you think it will fruit? I hope it does. I'm asking because trees are really not my forte at this time.
    Its wonderful to see that you are getting food to nourish your family with! Love the styrofoam box idea a lot!

    1. I too have heard that you don't get apples true to type from seed but I've planted heaps anyway. :) Where did Granny Smith come from in the first place? Mrs Smith grew the first Granny Smith by accident from seed discarded from cooking apples. Seed grown apples grow all around Ballan from discarded apple cores and some are nice but there are some that are great! I've got nearly 50L of apple juice bottled and put through the vacola, on my shelf from the wild apples aroundabouts. :)
      I've also got a seed grown mango, seed grown almonds, seed grown walnuts, seed grown hazelnuts and more. :) Always worth trying.
      I too have a shadow, although a little older I think than yours. Orik is 3 and loves to play cars and dinosaurs in the garden beds. Thankfully he mostly chooses the currently fallow beds. MUST get that sandpit built asap I guess. :) Still, he's learning about gardening. He saw me water in an almond tree wiyth a cup of worm wee and a watering can of water. I came back to the tree a little later and discovered that the remaining 20 or so litres of worm wee was missing and the soil around the almond was rather damp. It hasn't died yet but it isn't looking too healthy. ;)

    2. Good points. I wonder why on earth we are told to graft our apple tree to propagate it. It's an heirloom and we like it as it is, but cannot identify it. I'm convinced to try this myself now.

  2. Linda, I will definitely give the shade cloth some serious consideration if they start busting out of the punnet in summer! Its not just the heat though, but the poor soil I tend to grow in, which terrifies any plant into going to seed early, lol.

    I do have some spare shade cloth laying around.

    Regarding apple seeds not growing true to type, I suppose its technically true. It requires cross pollination between two different varieties of apples, to bear fruit. But as one of my favourite authors, Jackie French likes to say, fruit trees grown from seed, grow true enough.

    So I think a Granny Smith apple will still taste like one, even though it may have been cross pollinated with a different variety of apple. What I love about the Pink Lady apple being the cross pollinator for my Granny Smith, is they're both a slightly tart apple. They should provide a nice tasting fruit - though I'm yet to try them!

    I'm pretty excited to see what comes of my trees grown from seed. The ultimate experiment! Even if they turn out to be gnarly, awful tasting things, I'm sure the chickens wouldn't mind them. ;)

    I think I need to find a suitable gluten free apple-pie recipe though, because that will definitely be on the menu! :)

    1. Cabbage is a heavy feeder and needs water. Use kelp and water at the roots as well as the shade cloth. They should be okay.
      I imagine that even a reverted apple would be tasty. I tried an heirloom from a vendor last year that tasted nutty. I wish I can find the same vendor again- she told me the variety but I've forgotten. Her trees were about a hundred years old. Ours is near that as well and sour. I think you will love whatever you get.

    2. Did she say whether it was a table apple or for cooking? Gotta love some of those old fruit trees. They stand the test of time, don't they!

      Thanks for the tips on the cabbage. I actually want to make some 'craut with them, if I can get them to grow well through summer.

  3. Hi, Jessie. Are they the apple trees you said you were putting in the ground this year? The ones grown from seed that is? I've grown two avocados from seed, quite accidentally. They sprung up from compost.

    As I had read Jackie French say about avocados grown from seed, they tend to be more vigorous in growth - which I have certainly found to be the case. The two I purchased from a nursery, have died after several years, yet the seed grown ones which popped up without my having to nurture them, have survived our summers without any added protection. That really surprised me!

    Give me the seed grown variety, any day! But then there's also the risk that after all that time waiting for fruit, to ultimately be disappointed by the flavour! I guess that's why nature disperses MANY seeds though, so there are more opportunities for success among the failures.

    What you describe about Orik is exactly what Peter does. He sees me playing with plants, so he's got to have a go! Only he can sometimes pull them right out of the soil! If I get too lost in my gardening bubble and forget to check, I can find a massacre of plants all over the verandah, lol.


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