22 August 2011

Changes in the backyard

Life is never static. Things change all the time. Just when you think it's looking fine, change breezes in, and the work starts again. On Saturday, Hanno and I were having breakfast and discussing our vegetable and fruit gardens. I said I thought it would be a good idea to fence the chooks off from the fruit - that we should look at the fruit area as an orchard, and put in more fruit. I suggested that we move the picket fence we have at the front of the vegetable garden - the fence we originally put up to keep two mental and energetic young Airedale Terriers out of the vegetable patch, over to fence off the orchard from the rest of the garden. Those two Airedales are now one and she is old, almost blind, totally deaf and certainly doesn't run anywhere. The garden problem now is that the chooks scratch around the roots of the fruit trees because they're covered with mulch. So, the problem has been discussed, we'll work out what we'll do and get around to it fairly soon.

The original setup, now 14 years old.

Wrong! By the time I was washing up, the picket fence was being taken down and the configuration of the backyard was changing again.

When you first start out on backyard gardening, you often think your designs and ways of working will stay the same forever. That is rarely the case and if you stay at it long enough, what used to work, will stop working and if you want to continue, you have to change what you carefully set up.

I love change. I love the new possibilities and opportunities it brings.

Our aim now is to have fruit growing all year. The two recent weather events in Australia that shot banana prices up to $12 a kilo shocked us and has made us determined to keep our bananas growing as much as we can through the year. In that orchard area we're also growing loquats, grapes, oranges, pink grapefruit, mandarins, passionfruit and loofahs. All the citrus are loaded with flowers for the next lot of fruit and, amazingly, the loofas are still growing from last year, and they're flowering again. They grew all through winter! When we get the fence up I plan on planting raspberries along the fence and vanilla orchids in with the loofahs. With the chooks unable to access the fruit trees, we'll be able to look after them properly and keep the fruit going longer. We hope to have different types of fruit growing throughout the year.

We've also been thinking carefully about what new vegetables we have to plant so we don't have to rely on buying too much at the market. With the financial crisis dragging on and on, I think it's prudent to think more about the money-saving benefits of vegetables, fruit and hens, and not just the health and lifestyle benefits. It's one of the easy things we can do that will make a difference to what we eat and how much we spend on food. The vegetable garden has always been a priority for us, now we'll give that same emphasis to the fruit we grow and make sure we keep the garden going for as long as we can. Our succession planting will move up a notch and we'll be growing lettuces and herbs in containers this year so they can be moved around as the weather changes. That's the plan - spend a little more on seeds, mulch and fruit trees and expand a little. Wise economy.

What's happening in your vegie patch? Are you making changes that will see you through the tough times ahead? How has your garden changed since it went in?

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