Friday, January 1, 2021

Another gardening year

It's all happening

Well hello there 2021. Didn't you come out of nowhere. I made no new-year's resolutions, because I was just happy to have a blank slate! Let me be deluded a little longer. Of no pressing responsibilities. School holidays are in full swing, and the weather has been gloriously perfect. Instead of baking in the summer heat, I've been pottering outside, in what feels like autumn weather. One thing I do know about this year is, I will be gardening. In fact, I couldn't imagine a more perfect way to spend the first day of the year, than in the garden.

The accidental pumpkin patch (above) spawned from sheet mulching with compost, has taken over.  The only thing stopping it seems to be the concrete verandah. Although we had to persuade it a little, with some pruning. After all, we need room to walk as well. The native bees are swarming the two Emu-bushes in the background, and copious blossoms are falling to the ground.

On the vine

Checking the pumpkin vines, there are plenty of fruit. Initially, I thought there wouldn't be many pumpkins, because they were prematurely aborting. It was too hot prior to Christmas, before the weather turned for the better. So the bees weren't out pollinating. I hand pollinated a few that took, but others started to grow - then unexpectedly turned yellow and died. So thought our accidental pumpkin patch, was just going to serve as ground cover.

With the cooler temps and overcast days though, the copious vines that volunteered, are now covered in so many pumpkins.


This is a Kent variety, also knows as a JAP pumpkin. When I saw one of the pumpkins had been munched on by a critter, I picked the largest ones I could see. Four have already cured, and two were picked recently (the greenest ones). I leave them in the sun, upside-down, for their skins to harden. I had them on an outside table, to keep them elevated from hungry critters. But I needed that table for something else, so put them in a plastic tote with holes in it - raised on a milk crate.

Gotta love those make-do solutions. I haven't successfully grown pumpkins for years, so I'm very protective of these. Although, honestly, the fruit still on the vines, and still being pollinated, I think I'm going to need the neighbours help to get through them all.

Plant babies

So this is what I needed the table for - various plant propagations. Some of these were purchased new, some gifted as cuttings, and others were either cuttings taken from my existing plants, or made from compost - like pineapple tops. This is how I afford all the plant material I need. Through Propagation. The elevated table allows me to provide sunshine for a few hours, before placing them under the verandah again. 

I don't have the perfect space for my plants to grow, so I have to alternate them between sun exposure and verandah time. Most mornings, I do this little dance - carrying out my plants, only to bring them back in again. But it's one of those make-do things, that has to happen too. You work with what you have.

Grass jungle

What doesn't need help growing right now, is the grass! Turn your back, and it's upon you. Though I don't mind, because it's all free mulch. Something I need lots of right now, as I engage some larger projects of disturbance. Setting my hands to those projects today, I stopped for a moment and looked up at the grass on the slope, above me. Naturally, I started calculating all the places I could use it, as chop and drop material. I don't always have this kind of abundance, so when I do, I exploit it.


Another thing that caught my eye in the area I was working, was the Leucana Tree I recently pruned. It never ceases to amaze me, how quickly it re-shoots from a hard prune. I needed the former branches for some projects, and in under a week, it set to business, growing more. I hope to be able to get at least one more harvest from this tree, before winter. 

As David's brush-cutter, whirred in the background, I knew there was my own work to return to, if I wanted to get it finished. 

Moving dirt

If the pattern holds true for the wet season, there's normally a big downpour in the first week of January. Knowing we had some minor erosion from the last downpour, I wanted to improve some of the upper swales. The best time to work this clay is a few days after serious rain. It was like carving through butter. So I spent the afternoon shifting dirt. Some might consider it an arduous task, but it's something I always enjoy. 

After recovering from Christmas, we were straight back into the yard work, trying to use what the temporary abundance provides. Which is why I've been so preoccupied lately. Just throwing ourselves into what we can, without killing ourselves!

So did you get to spend your new year, doing something you enjoy - just as we did? I will return to the second part of my recent post, soon. I just wanted to pop-in quickly, for the new year, first. Thanks to those who commented on my last post. I'm a little late in replying, which I apologise for. Because I like to reply in a more timely manner. Anyway, hope you're all safe, are well, and this year is filled with abundance for you too. 


  1. Gardening is an all at once hobby or past time and like you I love every moment outside, but then our garden is tiny and even though we also have heavy clay, nowhere near as many issues as yours. I love working with cuttings, and will take cuttings from friends and neighbours gardens.

  2. The joy of gifted cuttings!! Is there anything more exciting? I'm always glad to hear of fellow enthusiasts, who delve into the unknown of making new plants. Some stick and some don't, but there's always the anticipation for success regardless. And when they do, there's the opportunity to make even more plants, lol. You do fit a lot in your space, which is the sign of a very keen gardener! I hope your garden can bring you much joy this year. :)

  3. Hello Chris, Happy New Year to you and yours. I am so envious of your pumpkin patch! I sowed my seed early, then we got a cold snap and they rotted. A second lot came up and have been planted out, but still only have a few leaves and haven't started to run yet. I'm only growing Butternut this year as they were successful last year. I actually got 5 pumpkins! I'm getting lots of Lebanese zucchini though and I pick them small (about 200gm) so I get a couple of meals out of them. Cucumber are still to produce fruits...I do a really good cucumber pickle.

    The thornless blackberries are really going well.I was a bit disappointed in them the first year...I picked them when black but they were sour little things. Then I learned that if left till they drop into your hand, they are incredibly sweet.

    Tomatoes were late this year too and because it's been cool and humid, they're getting white mould for the first time. Growing food is sure a challenge. Did I tell you we have wallabies coming in from properties down the road now? They've wrecked all my fruit trees, tugging on branches and breaking them down. Whether to keep them small and net them or allow them to grow tall and lose fruit to the birds is a new problem. There's always something.

    I look forward to hearing your gardening exploits for the coming year.

    1. Nice to hear what's happening in your garden, Bev. My large tomatoes were attacked by pests, and the cherry tomatoes haven't been at all prolific, with all these overcast days. I got a lot of fruit on my cucumber, but they were mostly attacked by the 8 spotted lady beetles, and grew stunted and deformed. I got about 3 fruit they didn't find though.So I can thoroughly empathise with the frustration it brings.

      The pumpkins on the other hand, were a happy accident, lol. Volunteer plants are usually the most prolific and hardy though. I found the best deterrent for kangaroos around fruit trees, is to place branches around them to create uneven ground. Although that would be a tripping hazard for you, so not the best solution. I find kangaroos prefer grass to browsing trees, to I can tell something has changed in your eco system, where there isn't enough grass available.

      But you're right - there's always something. ;)

  4. Chris, I didn't make any New Year resolutions either. I went to bed at 11.30pm on New Years Eve but may as well have stayed up as I was awake till 1am and heard the fireworks at midnight. I am not sure I will get any pumpkins as they started off well but don't look too promising now. Sometimes I wonder why I bother growing veggies as I go to the Farmer's Market each Saturday anyway. Anyway the lettuce is growing well so that's something. Have a wonderful year.

  5. The Farmer's market is a true blessing! Always have the best tasting broccoli, beets and rocket. We also buy Gluten Free oats from there too. Expensive compared to regular oats, but they taste like the oats I grew up with. Not sure what they've done to the regular oats, which just seem to taste like pasty glue.

    Thanks to the Simple Living class David attended (2019, I think) where he learned how to make porridge from buckwheat groats, we've been making a groat-oat combination since. So we can make the expensive oats go further, but it's also the best tasting porridge we've ever had! David really enjoyed that cooking class. So not only are we blessed with great tasting fruit and veg in the region, but also great instruction.

    Pre pandemic, that is. Here's hoping the worst of that is behind us now. :)

  6. Your garden is looking amazing Chris!

    I have to admit that mine isn't doing too bad either with the mild weather we are having this year.

    I love your propagation table.


  7. I've haven't any new year resolutions either, Chris. I am just going to keep on doing the things I love around here...especially gardening! Your Emu Bushes look healthy and beautiful in your photo. My back neighbour grows them in her garden and I adore the silvery foliage and purple flowers. I really want to plant one in my garden too. Today, another neighbour from across the street brought me a lovely tub of succulents she had potted up. I was able to give her some pups from my 'growing' collection. I love the sharing and generosity that often exists among gardening folk. MegXx


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