Thursday 6th October is our next working bee. 11am in the library, as usual. Come and join us packing seeds. Our group is very friendly and everyone is welcome.
We will put the beans out next, these are best directly sewn in the garden, but are not frost hardy, so wait til November to plant, or keep an eye on the weather reports through October and cover any emerging seedlings on frosty nights. Beans are easy to grow and easy to save, (they don’t cross-pollinate), so make sure you leave some pods on the vine to go brown, and return some beans to the seed library.
Refill of seed board
The seed board is full to the brim. You will find coriander, lettuce (mixture), basil, carrot, light green chard, celery, dill, Parris Island lettuce, flat leaf parsley, Serrano chilli, mixed cherry tomatoes, Tommy toe tomatoes, Spacemaster cucumber, Lebanese zucchini, fennel, mustard, top-setting onions, Royal Oakleaf lettuce, and mixed coloured Hollyhocks for bees/pollinators and sheer loveliness. It’s beautiful out in the garden right now, so get to it, growers!
Thank you to the dedicated volunteers taking home extra seed packs to fill! Thanks too, for the new donations. They will be on the board soon! Thanks to Gail, our regular Seed-Board-Replenisher, who has been away dodging covid!
Use the barcode
When you borrow seeds, please remember to zap the QRcode with your phone and fill in the form, even if you are a regular borrower. It helps us keep an eye on numbers and gives you a chance to put in any seed requests! If you don’t do QR codes one of the lovely library staff will do it for you if you go to the desk.
A Walk Around The Garden with…. Anna
Earlier in the week I went for a walk around the garden with artist friend and fellow Campbells Creekie, Anna. Anna designed the new gates leading to the park on the Main Road in Campbells Creek, beautifying our little park and referencing some of the animals and insects we share the area and the waterway with.
E: When you came here, did you have an empty space to start with, was there anything here?
A: Nothing. It had been a paddock before us. So we did a cut for the house and there was a big pile of topsoil at the front of the block and not a single tree on it.
E: How did you approach working out what was going to go where? How did you begin?
A: Lived in the house for a period, and walked around the block. Then started doing sketches. Particularly working out where the paths would go round the block was important. And once the paths had been established, then working out the beds in relationship to that.
E: It always seems to me to be really amazing that you’ve packed so much in here. You have this little zone here, and this little zone there.
A: I wanted to make a garden for habitat, as a primary intention, and a food garden. So I kept that in mind. And the majority of the garden is native. There’s that idea of creating rooms as well. So the orchard is like a room, and then there’s the native area at the front of the garden being like another room with more small flowering native plants. And then there’s an area which is just the native grasses. There’s a sort of pond area. So, creating rooms in the garden is how I imagined it.
E: So, because I’m always interested in food, let’s go to the human food first, then you can show me some of the other rooms. Apart from your massive garlic crop...this is a huge garlic crop….
A: Big garlic crop. Best garlic yet. We’ve had a few varieties, but this one, which is a stiffneck Creole, but I’m not sure more than that about its name. But it’s really pungent, very hardy, doesn’t seem to get diseases. So we’re really happy with them, and we get about 200 a year. Which gets us through a good part of the year.
And then, because of Campbells Creek being so hit by frosts and cold we don’t get a great deal of winter crops happening. Although we’re talking and thinking further about that and how to create a vegetable garden that can produce food for us during the winter. So we’ve just got chards and beetroot.
E: And a few perennials as well. You’ve got your rhubarb…
A: Yes, we’ve got the rhubarb, and this extraordinary brassica that I side pick. Now we’re getting heaps of beautiful little shoots. It’s terrific. It’s more like a tree…
E: How long’s this been alive for?
A: So it was growing all through winter. Definitely one [to save] for the seed.
E: Oh yes. Are you going to let it go to seed?
A: Some of it for sure. We’ve got asparagus as well.
E: Let’s see your asparagus. I know it’s really nice and fat.
A: We’ve got all this purple stuff, which is nice. Someone might have given me that. It’s been growing there for about 6 years and we’re just starting to get a lot of good shoots off it. The beautiful [perennial] leek that came from Zoe.
E: Which is all coming up again. So did you take that out of there, or has this all come back from the bits that were left in?
A: Bits that were left in. It keeps on giving that one!
E: I’ve noticed you do this quite a lot in your garden Anna, you let things go to seed, and then see what comes up.
A: Yep. We more and more are letting things go to seed. And over the winter we just keep feeding it up with compost. We’re pretty good with our compost. And we’re mulching - most of what comes out of the garden goes through a small mulcher we’ve got, and then back into the compost. So by the time we get to Spring and planting new veggies in, the quality of the soil’s pretty damn good.
E: Will you let that kale go to seed?
A: That kale just seeds out all through here constantly. It’s in our compost now. And our compost seems to be full of tomato seeds all year round. Don’t ask me now they survive in our compost throughout the winter but come Spring we’ll start getting all these beautiful tomatoes coming up.
E: And what’s the idea of having this comfrey growing along the edges of the beds like this?
A: Just great to chuck in your compost anytime you’re throwing anything else in, just keep chucking the comfrey in once it starts producing leaf again, which is now. And make the comfrey teas from. And it seems pretty much to stay outside, be contained.
E: If it grew in the bed would you pull it out?
A: Absolutely. Someone gave me a few roots and I put them in. So I’ll never get rid of it, but I’m very happy to have it there. And it’s a great pollinating flower as well.
E: Yes, the bees like it. What’s over there?
A: Snowpeas just starting to take off. Your beautiful celery. That’s just starting to take off, it just sat there all Winter.
E: And an onion going to seed there..
A: Yeah, that was just from the onions I had last year. So over the years I’ve become far less rigid with the garden and just let it have its own...a natural flow and progression of plants seeding out and dying off in the garden. Without so much intervention.
E: Cool! Show me another room!
A: Do you wanna go round the back?
E: Look at your lovely lemon!
A: The lemon is a labour of love. I have to cover it every frosty night. But it’s got lots of little flowers and some fruit happening.
E: What variety is it?
A: It was gifted to us when we moved here. A Lemonade maybe? Stonewall - heatbank. And with covering it. But you know, that’s been in ten years. Did you see that Steve made some pardalote nests?
E: Oh yes.
A: It’s good isn’t it?!
E: Why do they need that little tube there?
A: That’s how they like to nest. They often nest in the banks of the creeks. They sort of tunnel in. So it’s to re-create that.
E: This is a beautiful tree.
A: Can you believe I planted them 9 years ago? They’re great for the nesting boxes. That one’s got a couple of Easterns [Rosellas] nesting in it. I’m just putting fine wallaby grass seed all along the edge here. It hasn’t come up yet, but this should be a thick band of wallaby grass.
E: What’s that fluffy stuff?
A: That is Tintin’s fur that I peg there for the little birds to use in their nests! Cos they do, they love a bit of doggy fur. This bank is quite good for blue-tongues. When I find them in the garden I tend to put them up here because there’s lots of great hiding spots in the rock wall, and there’s water here for them. We’ve got another pardalote nesting box, and one for the micro-bats here. This is the orchard. We had to dig up our apple, which was very sad, because it was very established. But it was diseased. So I put in another of my pomegranate cuttings. It’s the most beautiful pomegranate I’ve ever seen. Fruit the size of big apples and scarlet red. That’s the cherry. I think they need a lot of water. The years I’ve really focused on it and given it lots of water it has done incredibly well in terms of fruit production.
E: A fig, is it? It’s got loads of tiny baby figs on it already. A: I know, and we’ve got a big frost tonight, so I might need to cover it up. I haven’t been, but I think I will, with all that leaf and fruit.
E: And this is all herbs that you’ve got through here? A: Yep, marjoram, golden oregano, chives, mint.
E: I remember with this (plum tree with aphids) that you bought little baby ladybirds to put in there, did that work?
A: It worked to a degree. They bred up and we had them for quite a few years, but the plum aphid was so voracious that it couldn’t manage them. So we just started, in the middle of winter, spraying the trunk with white oil because I think the aphids climb up the trunk. And hopefully it will not be too bad a year. We never completely get rid of them.
E: But do you get plums off of this? Cos I can see lots of blossom.
A: Well last year we didn’t, because we got a really late frost. Or we got a frost at the wrong time. Cos actually it’s flowered already. But they just got hit, as did the nectarine, with a severe frost last year, and we lost all our fruit. This year’s looking more hopeful.
E: I love a nectarine
A: This one’s a beauty. Steve’s very good with his copper sulphate and pruning. That’s the pistachio. There’s two females there and there, and this is the male which is about to have these superb flowers. These long tendrils of red flowers all over it. Tassels. And then that dies off pretty fast and then somehow, because the females never look like they’ve got anything on them to pollinate, but somehow they’re pollinated and we get beautiful nuts.
E: One of the things I’ve always loved is this combination of plants that you’ve put together in front of the house.
A: Which you would imagine could look quite lurid with the lime green of the euphorbia and then the purpley reds of the smoke bush which is just about to come into leaf. But they actually work really well together. It’s the flax. That acts as a nice bridge. But it’s basically all purples and greens with some silver. From the sedum. That’s the smoke bush. The wrens love the spent flower heads for their nests. It’s a nice soft seed. And then there’s the pond bit.
E: What do you do with these (harlequin bugs) Anna, do you get them off?
A: I’ve just noticed them in the last few days. If there’s not too many. Cos they’re actually a native, the harlequin beetle. I wonder if the goldfish would eat them!
I love this area. It’s my little wetlands. I’ve got a few ponds, some native fish. Which frogs love. I’ve got some Murray Rainbow fish in there. And then the hakea, which has died, but it’s still great protection for all the little birds. It’s a chaos of plants, but it’s perfect habitat. I’ve put more hakeas further down, so I’m creating good protective areas for our little birds, which we get lots of because we have lots of the native grasses in here.
E: You’ve managed to get your clay wattle going. That’s an amazing plant.
A: It is, but it gets massacred by the frosts, so it does pretty well in there.
E: You recognise a lot of the birds and insects that you get in the garden.
A: I’m trying to be as educated as I can about what comes into the garden. And working more and more to create habitat for different things. I’m going to make some insect hotels. I’ve got all the materials ready, and pop them around the garden. Bringing in more logs and rock for lizards, etc. Cos I think there’s so much you can do in a tiny space. This thriving little ecosystem.
E: I like, as well, that it’s not just the people who need to eat, it’s the insects and the birds. We’re all doing the same thing here, we’re just trying to survive and fill our bellies.
A: Yep, it’s a shared space.
E: What have you done out the front there?
A: I’m extending the garden a bit. I’ve got beautiful feathered spear grass in here, which is just starting to flower. I think once it flowers in between the wattles and the gums, it will create this sort of mist of seed heads. Then I’ve got eremophilas, prostrate eremophilas which will spill out over the front. I’m going to put some ruby saltbush in there as well, cos little birds love that. Creating a nice, inspiring pathway that my neighbours can walk and enjoy.