It's that lovely fast-paced time of year here in our part of the world, with projects and plantings and feedings and pest control, and all sorts of fun stuff going on. It's that time of year when I paint my toenails, more to cover up the dirt than some sort of fashion statement. It's that time of year when I have bigger cracks, stained with dirt, than a mud-wrestling plumber (though thankfully mine are on my hands). The housework gets ignored, and the kids spend the afternoons outside with me and the chooks, until I hear my husband come home, and I realise it is dinner time! I find myself on a little Spring (loaded) rollercoaster, of being full of energy and getting stuff done and thinking of more things that need doing, making lists and crossing things off! Then the inevitable down-time finds me flaked out, laying in the hammock or lounge, reading or hanging with the kids, with intermittent moaning about my lack of energy & how I am never going to get it all done. (I know I am never going to 'get it all done', I just like to moan to get attention is all!) Then I think about the joy of harvesting homegrown produce, and the thrill of seeing a front yard full of edibles, or how great it will be to have the greenhouse up... and somewhere inside of me, the crazy lady pokes me with her pitchfork and yells 'Get the pumpkin seeds in before it's too late!' What is her problem? Anyway, ignore her, let's have a look around...
The apples, oh, the apples. They are a bit hard to see, amongst the overgrown rocket and mustard, not to mention lavendar, rosemary, thyme, and erm, weeds. I am excited... but cautious. You might recall I had some apple dramas last year, and this year, we have put some Tanglefoot bands around all the apple trees, and I am getting ready to put the sockettes over the little fruit as they plumpen up. I am not 100% sure what I am doing, or if it shall even work, but boy there are lots of little fruit forming on all the trees this year, including the Cox's Orange Pippin. Don't you just love that name? I love to say it. Cox's Orange Pippin. Good luck little fruit...
Just beyond the apple trees you can see our ever growing raspberry jungle. Now apparently through my own neglect and lack of knowing how to prune these things, I get such good harvests from this Heritage Autumn bearing Raspberry, twice a year in fact. The berries come on in early Summer, I believe on last years canes, then come on again in Autumn on the new canes (or it could be the other way around, you tell me, do you know anything about berry growing?) Anyways, I am looking forward to raspberry season, and if we manage to get the third trellis up, and the transplanted suckers growing, we will be freezing and eating and enjoying more of them.
Now if you look right in amongst those raspberries you can see some overgrown weed... except that apparently it isn't a 'weed' at all, but an edible plant called Cleavers. I was pulling some of it up one day, and some internal permaculture voice told me, maybe it was something useful, so I went to look it up. Coincidentally, the next day I got my Weed Foragers Handbook and whaddya know, there it is! Will I eat it, probably not, as we have loads of greens coming out of the garden that I know I do like the taste of... but good to know I don't have to feel guilty about not pulling it up! Something I did pull up though, was a good patch of Sheep Sorrel out the front of our house. It is also edible, if you don't eat too much of it, but boy is it invasive. It was taking up room & nutrients in a patch where I am going to grow pumpkins!
Our huge apricot tree is putting lovely little fat fruit on already, but some of them have the shot hole fungal disease, on them already. We spray all the stone fruit (the nectarine, plum and new peach) with copper stuff (for the curly leaf) but it still happens. We get so many fruit from this massive tree usually, but we pruned it a lot this year, which should also make it easier to put the mesh sleeves along the branches too. Very exciting, we should have our first peaches this year too!
The wicking worm garden beds are all doing well. Three of them are still being full of cool season produce, which is gradually being harvested, including broad beans now coming in, crunchy little radishes, kohl rabi, loads of silverbeet and kales. The one full of garlic probably won't be ready to harvest, and then plant out with warm season stuff, for ages! I have tomatoes, tomatillos, zucchini, basil and marigolds in the one bed that was empty. The others I am squeezing cucumbers, beans and herbs in to. The great thing with the wicking worm beds is the hard work is already done for them. I've got chokoes to find a spot for this year (I'll squeeze them in a half-assed garden bed that already has a trellis), and we created a big potato patch too (on top of where the chook areas was in Winter). We have expanded our growing areas too, by making the most of the north-facing brick wall for potatoes in growing bags, and pots of chillies, capsicums, herbs, and a new lime tree. We knew this area was a good position for plants that need a lot of warmth, and always planned to transplant the lemon tree (which wasn't in a good spot in the garden) into a pot and put it there... it only took us 3 years!
I have also spent some time weeding the front hugelkultur beds, and we finally got ourselves a new rechargeable lawn mower and whipper snipper. What a difference that makes! We kept saying we would fix the old 'enviro' whipper snipper, or replace the worn-out battery of the mower, but after 8 years of use, they had done pretty well and deserved to retire. With the weeds and overgrown grass (not to mention the pile of river pebble still there after 2 years) the front yard looked more 'urban hillbilly' than 'urban homestead', but it looks more respectable now! I added some more layers of organic fertiliser, soil and mulch to the hugelkultur to recondition them. However, with the recycled plastic bottle cloches over the seeds, and the painted plant markers made from old bits of garden edging, the 'urban hillbilly' look is still there! These are all planted out with five varieties of pumpkin, some sunflowers, and I threw in some miscellanous seeds that probably won't even germinate, like rockmelon and capsicum!
A lot going on in around our house and gardens. It is great to have energy and motivation, but we are mindful of getting burnt out again. With that in mind, time for a cup of tea & play Lego with my little boy... the crazy woman can have a nap, she sure needs one!