A good old working bee

21 August 2017
Hanno asked me to pass on his thanks for all the good wishes you sent.  Reading through your comments made him feel better.  He's still weak but his chest has cleared and it looks like he's on the road to recovery. Thank you all for your thoughtfulness.

 The delicate and tiny Cecile Brunner rose.

There is no doubt about it, old roses are bullet-proof. When Hanno took down our ancient wobbly wooden arbour in the front garden, we got rid of the wisteria and moved the 20 year old Cecile Brunner rose. I hoped it would survive but I wasn't sure. The transplanting procedure was typical - we carefully dug it up and let it sit in a bucket of diluted seaweed solution. When it was planted again - this time in the vegetable garden fronting the chicken run - it was watered in with seaweed and watered every day.  That was a month ago. I hadn't seen any signs of life and took my trusty garden knife out to check the cambium layer; that is the layer under the bark where moisture and nutrients travel through the rose. It was moist and healthy so I knew Cecile was still alive, she just needed more time. Yesterday, I noticed the first shoots on both trunks and now I have visions of Cecile Brunner establishing herself along that back fence, providing me with a beautiful backdrop over the wire chook fence. Every time I see a Cecile Brunner rose, I think of my mother who grew her Cecile rose along the side fence. It's such a beautiful reminder to have in the backyard.

I transplanted some of the Welsh onions to make way for Cayenne chilli bushes. This bunch was divided into eight clumps.
Another basket of delicious tomatoes.
I've spent the last couple of weeks working in the garden and sitting in the shade thinking about the plants and the coming hot weather.  I've finished doing all I can do now. I'm hoping that as it gets hotter, the mulch will keep the weeds down and the water in the soil. Everything that needs it is cut back, tied up, fertilised and ready for Spring.  Don't forget to get out and do some pre-summer jobs in your garden if you have the time. Just about everything will benefit from a cut back, vines and tomatoes need to be supported and tied back and if you're in Australia, it's the ideal time to fertilise.  I've just added liquid potash, organic pellets and liquid seaweed and fertiliser to the entire back garden. It will make a big difference in the coming days and weeks and the plants will go into renewed growth much healthier and better able to cope with the heat.

I'll stop gardening when the humidity returns some time in November. When it's humid, there are lots of bugs and it's too hot to be outside for long periods. Then I'll put it all to bed for a few months and start up again in March next year. But until then I can keep harvesting parsley, thyme, dill, rosemary, basil, mint, oregano, bay, green leaves, tomatoes, cucumbers and chillies.  I've ripped out all the large tomato plants and we're continuing along with two cocktail tomatoes, about golf ball size, and one cherry tomato. In future years we'll only grow small tomatoes because we have too many problems with the beautiful large heirlooms.  We don't have fruit fly but we've always had a night-visiting moth that sucks juice from large tomatoes. It seems to have been worse the last couple of years so I'm giving up and staying with the smaller varieties.

This is the new edging around one of the orange trees. It's holding in the mulch.

The citrus are thriving and they're very important to us. We always get a huge return on the work we put into our lemons and oranges.  I've put up a small border around two of our Washington navels and filled in with organic sugar cane mulch. We also have a late orange - Lane's Late - which is starting to grow well and will extend our orange season by a couple of months. One of our Eureka lemons has had a boron deficiency - brown patches in the flesh - so I've given them all a dose of trace elements that should  fix it. Hanno balanced out the other side of our old lemon tree by cutting off the old branches and now it's looking better than it has for many years.

I was going to plant cucumbers in the trellis garden where we grew berries last year but I don't have the will or the strength to dig up the hard soil there. I'll plant the cucumbers over the garden arch this year and let the berries come through again. I'm learning to be very flexible with my gardening plans. ;- )

The garden looks quite bare now although there are still lots of greens. I've harvested a lot of tomatoes and herbs and pruned back the roses. Everything should start growing strongly when the warmer weather starts again. It feels good to have done this garden work. It's a long time since I've had sole responsibility for the garden but when I packed up my trolley and brought in the garden tools and hose, it felt good. It was certainly time well spent.

Have you done any work in your garden lately?