Changes in the garden too

11 October 2017
The garden we have today looks different to those we had in the past.  We're in the process of preparing for older age while we continue to live here, close to our family, in a place we love. Next month it's been 20 years since we moved here. We've kept chickens and grown a garden for the past 30 years so it's not been an easy decision to let some of it go.  One of the must-haves for me is herbs. I use a lot of herbs in my cooking and can't imagine having land outside the back door without half a dozen different herbs growing in the sun.  We both love our fresh oranges and lemons too and if we can harvest 60 or 70 passion-fruits and a few berries, well, it feels like we're living on easy street.

The photos above are three of our past gardens. The last photo is probably around 2013-14. Soon after that we removed the two middle beds and now have four garden beds left. We're not taking out any more but we're not growing vegetables in the bed next to the chicken coop now. As you can see in the photo below taken last week, it's been given over to roses, sage, grumicharma (tropical cherry) and a late variety orange - Lane's Late. None of which require intensive care.

Two years ago when we took out those two beds, we still managed to grow what we needed in the four beds we had left. We moved all the citrus into the main garden and continued on with fruit, herbs and vegetables.

The photo above is of Hanno's soil preparations which always happen in March. When all is ready, we plant seeds and seedings and continue gardening till December. When it's too hot to garden, the herbs, citrus and berries continue on without much help from us, most other things die back and we start again in March.
 Above, I think it was 2014-15 when we took out the first bed, the one in the middle went soon after.

And this is what it looked like the following year.  The grass grew back and we moved a table in.

 Head gardener and his apprentice.

We frequently have visitors and these familiar faces - Nana Chel and Damac (centre) with her cousin have been here a couple of times.  This was us having afternoon tea in the garden last year.
Of course now we have our gardening Scottie, Gracie.

Currently we are growing our summer veg and herbs: corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, kale, berries, lettuce, chilli, capsicum, Welsh onions, dill, sage, thyme, rosemary, basil, bay, comfrey and fennel. Now that all the winter vegetables have been removed, we're planting flowers in the back beds closest to the chickens and next year we'll still have the four beds but will only grow veg in two of them. I think we'll manage that smaller space well. We'll be able to grow our favourites, still have plenty of herbs and fruit and the planting out and maintenance should be well within our capabilities. I'm only looking ahead three years, when Hanno will be 80.

I planted these out during the week. It's a selection of flower seeds - Cosmos, Bergamot, Queen Anne's Lace, Yarrow, Dill, Caraway, Cornflower and a few others that will attract bees to the garden.  I planted out my Thai Pink Egg tomatoes around the border of the garden and have sprinkled these seeds in the middle of the bed.  I hope they flourish there because the bees will help pollinate the tomatoes, cucumbers, oranges and passionfruit.

Hanno still loves gardening and looking after the chickens; he cleaned out the chicken coop and renewed nests yesterday. It's only when he's sick or dizzy and not feeling well when I step in. This past year he had two of bouts of pneumonia and a couple of other small things so I did most of the gardening. It took me longer than it takes him but time is something we're not short of so I pottered away at my own pace and enjoyed the time spent out there in the garden. We had a magnificent year for tomatoes and I've just planted a new crop of Thai Pink Eggs so, hopefully, we'll be eating our own tomatoes on Christmas day.

Some of our girls.  Above, a silver laced Wyandotte.
Blue Australorpe.
Gold laced Barnevelder.
Silver laced Barnevelder.

We have a lovely block of land with rainforest and a creek in the backyard and although the yard is big, Hanno enjoys mowing the grass with a ride-on mower. There will come a time when we hand over those tasks to others but I'm pretty sure we'll be out there watering and harvesting for a few years yet. There was a time in the not too distant past when most of us lived like this. Our homes were more productive then. We made bread and soap, cleaned our homes using a few basic cleansers, cooked from scratch, invited family and friends over and spent time in the back yard gathering vegetables, fruit, honey and eggs.  It's still a viable and very satisfying way to live and doing it gives you the feeling you can go on forever. Although none of us do. 😊