Garden Days

The girls have headed off to Melbourne for the first week of the school holidays, and it is eerily quiet in a very peaceful way. This morning I decided to sleep in for an hour, because I can. I heard Benson pacing around the house and hopped up to see what he was up to. Well, what he was up to was weeing on Rosy's beanbag. Honestly, that dog can sleep in with the girls until midday without a morning toilet break, but on the day I decide to sleep in until half past eight he has a bladder malfunction? And why the beanbag? Really Benny? The beanbag? Sighing loudly for effect, I stand in Rosy's room contemplating what to do next. I have to empty the beanbag to wash it, but into what? There aren't any garbage bags in the house because plastic = evil. I finally decide to use a doona cover (what are these called elsewhere? Quilt covers maybe?). This is quite a brilliant idea as it is so large, and the beans transfer with a minimum of spillage and I tie some string around the top to keep them in. Happy holidays to me.

For the rest of the day I have been pottering in the garden. There has been intermittent weather. Rain, no rain, sun, rain, sun, rain. I have spent the day putting on my raincoat and/or sunglasses and taking them off again. But pottering. In the garden. Happy, happy. There were about a million and fifty seven baby weeds in my newly tilled vegie garden, but this meant that I could get the hoe out. I like hoeing. I also like chanting "Ho, ho, ho," under my breath as I hoe, and chuckling to myself, as this is the sort of thing I find hilarious, which is why normal social discourse is often somewhat of a trial for me (and others).

There were also approximately eleventy-six tiny baby tomato seedlings emerging in the herb garden where I dumped all the compost from my old house. I have great faith in tiny self-sown tomatoes. It usually means that it is safe to plant tomato seeds in the open garden. I might wait another week, just to be sure. I will also transplant the eleventy-six self-sown tomatoes, and see what kind of tomatoes they turn into. There is also baby lettuce popping up out of the compost, and something that may be a melon.. it is always an entertaining lucky dip. Vegetable roulette..

Today I dug lime, blood and bone, pelletised chicken manure and sheep manure into the vegie garden. Tomorrow I will find my box of trace elements and sprinkle some of that over as well. As I plan to grow most of my own vegetables in my back yard, I will get my soil tested for its nutritional profile, but until I do that I will add trace elements (a smorgasbord of most of the minerals that plants and people need in tiny amounts) to make sure that neither the plants or us end up with any nutritional deficiencies. This is especially important in areas, like most of Australia, with nutritionally poor, very old soils. Land masses that have had geologically recent contact with glaciers grinding through the countryside, or volcanic activity (much of Europe, New Zealand, Japan, lots of the Pacific) have much younger and more nutritionally rich soils. Lucky you. For the rest of us - we must take precautions.

Yesterday was the last day of school. We did some cooking and then wrote about it. One of the six year old poppets wrote that she had cooked a CKON. Think about that for a minute.  What did we cook? Here is a picture of a pretty flower to contemplate while you work it out..

 Do any of you clever gardeners know the name of this small, lavender bulb? It has popped up in my garden. The photo is turned sideways but I can't seem to fix it..

Yes, you are absolutely right, we made SCONES. Isn't the English language wonderful?


Anonymous said…
Jo, your prepared bed looks wonderful.As I'm getting ready to settle my garden for the winter, yours gets me itching to start all over.
Poor Benson....I have kitties, so I know all about the inconvenience of bodily of my kitties is a "puker" the best I can hope for is I'm not in bare feet when I discover it.
Duvet Cover is what we call it, I sewed 2 of them this summer...sort of like a patchwork quilt without the batting.
I used a volunteer tomato seedling this year, I got millions of cherry tomatoes, OK I exaggerate....but enough that any visitor was not allowed to leave unless they were carrying a bag of cherry tomatoes.
Jo said…
Marieann, ok, I'd much rather have wee than puke. Benson is usually so reliable, but he hates it when the girls go away. It must be nervous weeing, poor poppet. 7am this morning, yep, did it again.. not on the bean bag, thank goodness.

A couple of years ago I had the most ENORMOUS cherry tomato plant grow out of my paving and up the wall. It was at least six feet high. Sometimes I wonder why I bother gardening at all..
Unknown said…
Hi, Jo

My, your garden beds look great! I should be digging mine, but I've had 'flu, and am in no state to do anything much. The sticky weed will have taken over the planet by the time I get out there!

You're probably right about Benson's nervous bladder. One of my grandmother's dogs was like that, it would lose it if she was away for a couple of days.

Aren't volunteer tomatoes the best? I haven't planted cherry tomatoes for 4 years, because a couple of plants sprout every year. The fruit is tiny, incredibly prolific, and they are the sweetest tomatoes I've ever tasted!

I think your little flower may be an ixia, but I'm not 100% sure. I assume it's a bulb?

Unknown said…
Hi, Jo

Actually, I just looked up ixias, and they don't look anything like your flower! I have the same plant as you, and I was told it was an ixia, but it seems my informant was talking through her hat, just like me!

Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Thanks for providing the answer to that riddle as my poor brain would have required at least 100 years to work it out, and then again, maybe not...

Yeah, vinyl bean bags make a whole lot of sense if not being entirely environmentally friendly... Sir Scruffy took a dump in my office yesterday which is very unusual behaviour for such a refined gentleman of a dog.

Tomato seedlings are coming along nice here too. And I reckon the mystery melon variety is Sweet Siberian - the green one that tasted like watermelon...

That plant maybe some sort of lily which are natural to your part of the world. Chocolate lily's turn up all over the place here.

Anonymous said…
I have the same bulb and scuttled to my bookshelves to look it up. But I seem to have de-cluttered my bulb book !
The hunt will continue. Think Benson (or my Bailey) with a bone.
Anonymous said…
Look up ipheion uniflorum and see what you think.
heather said…
Hi Jo-
I would have guessed CKON = chicken. But scone, of course, clearly…

Thanks for the reminder about trace minerals; I'll look for some the next time I'm at our local nursery. I know I should test my soil, but my problem is that I have many different beds which have been treated in a shockingly non-equal way. Some have tons of organic material as a result of having been heavily mulched for potatoes. Some are still mostly clay and rock, since I've never known exactly what to plant in that odd corner. Others have had various cover crops at different times. Some are raised beds filled with trucked-in planter's mix (different batches in different years), others are in-ground amended native soil… as patchwork and piecemeal as you can imagine. Unless I pay for twenty different soil tests, I'm going to have to do the best I can with the little N-P-K do it yourself kits and hope for the best. I'm trying to learn to read the plants to see what nutrients might be deficient, but I'm finding that many, many causes can make a tomato or bean plant look funny. One more good thing about gardening is that there is always more to learn! But I assume that a light sprinkle of mixed trace minerals can only help, as long as I'm not going overboard.

Enjoy your mixed sun and rain; I would love a bit of that here! It is forecast to hit 100 degrees F (37.8C) today. But fall weather will eventually come! Now I'm off to treat one of the beds to Austrian field peas for the winter, and hope that the gophers don't get them all.

--Heather in CA
Anonymous said…
You're such an active, fit young thing. My garden really needs me to muck in but I shall live my gardening self vicariously through you. I could go some fresh cherry toms right now though.

School ended here on Friday but I'm on band tour with 30 children around north western NSW. It's an adventure and exhausting.
Jo said…
Hazel, oh no, flu! Hope you are on the mend. Ah, so it is you responsible for the plague of sticky weed in my garden. Good to know who to blame.. and you are right, definitely not an ixia. See Specks below - she has sorted us right out!

Chris, bean bags of course not environmentally friendly in any cover - all those polystyrene beans.. love those mystery vegies - glad to know you have identified yours.

Specks, yes, that is exactly what it is, thank you! I might stick to the common name - springstar flower, so pretty. It's funny that I am so obsessed with knowing the names of things. It seems I am incapable of appreciating a plant without knowing its name, genus, family and order (this one has a disputed species name. Thrilling!). I went out to check, and yes, when bruised, the stems do have an onion smell. Excellent. Check! Good plant sleuthing there:)

Heather, apparently, when soil testing you have to dig down as far as you can, until you hit the sub soil, and take a sample from there, which tells you what is naturally in your soil, not what you have added to it. Anyway, I will let you know how it goes when I get it done. It is really only an issue if you get a large part of your diet from your garden - which I hope to, as otherwise you are likely to make up the nutrients from the rest of your diet, which generally comes from all over. However, I guess if you are a devoted locavore, it also pays to know what your local soils are low in, and whether your growers are amending their soil at all. For instance, I do happen to know that our local soils are very low, or even non-existent in copper and iodine. Many Tasmanians of past generations who lived off their own small farms had serious thyroid problems, until mid 20th century when the govt started supplementing schoolchildren's milk.

Lucinda, band tour! You are such a brave poppet! Hugs and xx

Mimi said…
Eleventy-six is a goodish number of tomato plants Jo. Especially as they're unintentional. Or only partly intentional. Have a peaceful week. Mimi xxx
Jo said…
Mimi, yes, I think eleventy-six is probably enough BUT I don't know what type of tomatoes they are. They may be all cherries! I may have to order a couple of 'knowns' from my local tomato man.. because you can never have too many tomatoes..
GretchenJoanna said…
What a thoroughly delightful post. I agree with lucindasans about your enviable energy. It is also fun for me to live vicariously in the Southern Hemisphere, and when my garden is winding down to see yours sprouting up - all those little tomato plants get me very excited.

The rats or opossums or both ate most of my tomatoes this year, but the unusually cool summer hadn't ripened many of them anyway... I have to do something different in the spring because I do not want to grow tomatoes in the boxes again. I don't even eat many tomatoes but I still have that gut certainty that "one can't have too many tomatoes."

The soil testing is very interesting! Organic gardeners here always say that it's not necessary, if one keeps adding organic material - but that must be because our soil is "young" -- something I'd never heard before.

Jo said…
Gretchen Joanna, all the organic material in the world won't add iron or magnesium or selenium or whatever elements your soil may be missing..
GretchenJoanna said…
Come to think of it, I did have to add iron for the lemon tree.... Mostly, our adobe soil is full of minerals, tho.

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