That is the sound of a vegetable garden sleeping. Of not much happening. Because it is winter in Hobart; the days are dark and cold, as is the soil. At this time of the year, I only see my garden on the weekends; after work is out of the question unless I’m carrying a torch! And honestly, I’d rather be inside with the heater and my colourful woolly socks on.
Actively growing in my garden right now are three established silverbeet plants, and the row of ten I planted last month, now about a ‘hand’ high (see pic at very bottom). The newer plants need to be watered about twice a week, because we are not getting much rain on my side of the river; nor have there been heavy dews (STOP PRESS: I drafted this during the week, and while it generally holds true, last night we had a massive 35 mls of heavy rain, and it continues on and off today. Bliss! Tanks, buckets, bird baths and puddles are full and everything washed clean). So out comes my pink watering can (and mid-week, the torch) if I want my little forest of kale to flourish:
The garlic in the growbags continues nicely. I’m taking the healthy condition of the elegantly tapered greenery as a sign of good things happening below the soil.
The most significant recent work has been to dig over the beds. I know there are arguments against digging — damaging soil structure the main one — but I like to do it just once a year, to loosen the ground that has been compacted after the summer growing season and to dig in nutritious goodies. And oh what goodies! Dad provided bags of humid, pinkish mushroom compost; dry and finely pulverised chook manure that somehow smelt sweet and chocolately; ash from their recent burn off; and some sheep manure obviously procured straight from the shearing sheds, as evidenced by the occasional tuft of wool. Surely digging these riches right into the soil is beneficial? Especially when we get so little rain, not enough to drive the nutrients down.
My friend J came over for a couple of hours one Sunday, bringing with him his mattock, various spades and shovels — and most importantly, his all-male muscles. It took him a mere hour to lift the grass from an area about two metres square and turn over the soil. That would have taken me all day! He also made light work of loosening the existing beds as I distributed the manures and compost. J, thank you so much for doing the heavy work (despite the cold air, dear readers, he worked up a sweat) and bringing my new garden bed dreams a step closer to reality! Summer tomatoes and corn, here we come (J has been promised the first tomatoes).
What J uncovered in the new bed — or rather, didn’t uncover — has also cheered me immensely. I was expecting to find a web of roots left from the bay tree we removed recently. I mean, look at what’s in another adjacent bed:
I will be lifting this stuff out for months. How could anything else grow in such a tangle? It certainly explains why some of my peas failed miserably last summer.
In other areas reclaimed from the lawn, I’ve battled with old building fill — loose rubble, large concrete lumps and other rubbish that is not uncommon beneath suburban lawns (according to J, who shocked me with horror tales from other jobs he’s done). But he hit only one large concrete slab, right near the edge of the new plot. Quite manageable! So I’m off to a promising start, and will probably be able to use this bed this summer rather than spend a season rehabilitating it.
Now I just need dad to frame up the new bed and install some raised gangplanks or duckboards between the rows (as dreamt about in a previous Garden Share post), and I’ll be set for spring planting!
But until then, the garden will be a quiet. I’m looking forward to being made envious by the other gardeners in our Garden Share Collective this month — all in much warmer, sunnier, more northern, greener, more productive and colourful places! So join me by clicking on the logo in the column at right to see more green thumbs.