With the slide towards winter, the busiest and most productive time for my vegie garden is on the wane.
Two weekends ago, mum and dad came up for a much-needed ‘backyard blitz’. Three pairs of hands made very light work of end-of-season tasks, the two biggest being dismantling the tomato patch (rolling off the netting, pulling up the stakes and the now brown and brittle tomato plants, and giving the bed a quick once over) and pruning back the yellow peach tree.
About six weeks ago, maybe more, I came home from work to find one of the peach tree’s limbs had dramatically split, due to the weight of all the fruit it was bearing. The limb had sort of cleaved, forked, but somehow was not entirely damaged; the fruit continued to grow and ripen. But with most of the fruit now picked or fallen, it was time to cut back the broken branch (to the relief of the sage and chrysanthemums trapped beneath) and many other limbs, too, that knocked and scrapped noisily against the gutter in any winds.
Poor ugly tree
Dad largely did these two jobs, with mum and I catching limbs, picking up tomato debris, and tidying things into the council green waste bins or a pile for dad to come back and take away on his truck. Mum then took to two of my roses with the secateurs and gusto.
All this dramatic cleaning out and pruning – combined with the dramatically reduced lily-pily and the now denuded autumnal birch trees in my driveway – left me feeling a bit exposed for the first few days; like a kid with a too-short haircut. It was so bare, everywhere.
Work in progress. Tea essential
Elsewhere, I’m waiting for the various lines of beans to completely finish, their swollen pods to dry off for next season’s seeds. I’ve already collected a good handful of borlotti beans for this purpose.
The zucchinis are on their last legs – I get a couple of delicately slim fruit every couple of days; enough to make me wistful for their fat summer siblings.
Over the next month, I hope to pull out just about everything, then feed the soil before letting it hibernate. This was new soil put in after dad built the frames lastspring, and I have been feeding the soil ever since, mostly by digging in kitchen scraps directly, between the plantings. On the weekend, when he was uprooting the tomatoes, Dad said this was doing good – there were a pleasing number of worms about. Which cheered me tremendously, because wormies are a good thing! I’ve organised to get some bags of horse poo from a co-worker who has horses, and I’ll be looking out for bagged-up sheep poos when I drive the country road down to my parents place. Ah, the bliss of being a gardener – getting excited about poo.
I am also collecting marigold seeds for next season
The only things I intend to plant next are some silverbeet, some purple sprouting broccoli (if it’s not too late) and some garlic (if I get around to buying some local organic bulbs).
The biggest and newest addition to chez Dig in is my second lemon tree. Say hello everyone to Lemonicious (Beyonce has a lot to answer for). She is a birthday present from mum and dad, after I have been whinging every since I bought my home (ten years ago) that I wanted a better lemon tree. Last weekend, I enlisted the help (muscles) of my friend A to dig the hole, and together we planted this sturdy, upright young tree (thank you A, you shall get some lemons!). This variety only grows about a metre to a metre and a half tall, which is just perfect for my backyard. I’m already dreaming of the G&Ts in a couple of years’ time – yes, I know you have to let the tree, not the fruit, grow for the first year or two. Gardeners need patience – and a few helping hands - don’t they?