12. Out Of The Cold

This is the garden at its lowest point in its growth, just coming out of the coldest part of the year. It’s not growing too badly for this time, and it’s all starting to spring to life as is evident by all the flowering trees, as you’ll see below!

Here’s a jasmine plant (Jasminum polyanthum) in delightful full bloom, heralding the coming Spring. It has a most wonderful fragrance, and bright red flower buds which open up into brilliant little star shaped flowers.

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And yes, it’s growing in a pot, as you can see below!

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As you can see, I’ve fastened plastic coated wire mesh 10cm grid, 2.2mm thick to the fence (tied to the horizontal fence supports with wire) to the fence for the jasmine to climb across. This covers the corrugated iron fence and makes for a more aesthetically pleasant view. This jasmine has been in the 45cm wide pot for two years and is still doing well. Goes to show what you can do with container gardening. This can all be taken down with very little effort, which might be handy if one needs to relocate, or if the fence needs to be changed one day. It’s fed by drip irrigation (a Shrubbler® 180º Spike Dripper with adjustable flow) like the rest of the pots in the place.

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The fruit of the Babaco tree (Carica pentagona) grow over several seasons, these have seen a whole winter, and will resume growth now that the new leaves have sprouted once again.  The babaco is ideally suited to container gardening and also excellent for greenhouses. The plant takes up very little space, and can be planted anywhere where there’s a bit of free space. It can fit nicely in many parts of the yard, and even though it will handle shady locations it prefer a sunny spot. The broad green leaves and vertically held fruit add an exotic touch to the garden. the fruit of the babaco has excellent keeping quality, it has a shelf-life of around four weeks without cold storage.

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Here’s the highly productive 1m x 2m Kipfler potato patch. Strangely enough, the potatoes were in full leaf right through winter and did not die down. Mind you, I planted these as soon as the previous batch was ready to harvest. I suppose the ample nutrient supply might have something to do with this. When I dug up all the previous potatoes, I dig a trench running the length of the bed right through the middle of it, about 1 foot wide x 1 foot deep, and filled it with rich, fresh compost, then covered the trench with some of the soil I removed. Then, using a bulb planter (the fastest and most efficient way to plant potatoes in my experience), I planted the potatoes in rows on either side of the compost trench. The result, healthy looking plants. Harvest time will show how well the potato tubers have grown.

There are a few stinging nettles growing in there, and I encourage them. they support the local population of beneficial ladybird beetles (ladybugs) and they increase the health and vigour of the plants around them. It protects tem against aphids, blackfly and mildew. Nettles also stimulate the activity of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the soil, and improve soil quality. And people have the nerve to call them weeds! They are a valuable companion plant, and still have many more benefits and value than I have just mentioned. Incidentally, they are very beneficial to potatoes, and to horseradish. Planting horseradish near your potato patch will protect potatoes against fungus. So having all three together makes a great combination. You can plant the horseradish at one corner of the potato patch to gain its benefit.

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Broad beans growing well bearing beans which will be ready fairly soon. These have to be one of the easiest vegies to grow. Just sow the dried beans into the soil about 40mm deep, and they take care of themselves. In cold climates such as Melbourne, Australia, they can be sown from March until September.  In the warmer climates this generous window of sowing time progressively gets narrower such that in the temperate climates further north of Australia they can be sown between March and July, and further north where the climates is tropical, they can only be sown in March and April.

They have interesting flowers too!

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Well, these are Cymbidium Orchids, and they flower around this time of year, and sure they look quite pretty, but that’s not why I’m bringing them to your attention. Check out the next picture and you’ll see why…

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They’re growing in a garden bed with lilies, under a Pomegranate tree, surrounded by Goji berries and broad beans in the background, and Pepino plants in the foreground. They’ve been in there for three years, and they’re really happy there.

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These are just some azaleas in a pot, with a wonderful flowering display just to remind us that the growth season is at hand!

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And some Munstead Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia var. Munstead) which I’m using as a companion plant to my apple trees, it repels pests and attracts bees, which also pollinate the fruit trees. Munstead lavender is compact and early flowering. It has small leaves and a strong scent, this is the classic lavender used in sachets, perfumes,  etc.

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What, who, me? Yes, he looks surprised, but he’s on garden patrol, he plays a valuable role in the garden, along with his two siblings. Being well fed they have no interest in eating any birds, but their presence is a deterrent to any birds who would pick off the abundance of strawberries and raspberries in the garden. It all works out well, because there is also lots of places in the garden which only the birds can access to eat insects, nectar or fruit safely out of reach of any threats, so they get their share too.

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Here’s the northwest view of the garden, showing all the growth even at it lowest point of the year. No bare dirt patches here, there’s always something growing all year round. It only gets better from here!

The point is that with the permaculture concept of succession planting, you always have plants going in to replace the ones being removed, maximising the utilisation of both garden space and the growing season.

Also, by maintaining consistent soil cover with plants, it doesn’t get compacted by rain or dried out by the sun and rendered lifeless. Remember, the soil is alive, it’s a whole ecosystem, teeming with all manner of living organisms, and plant cover protects it from the elements (wind, sun, rain) so it maintains its ability to support plant life. Bare soil doesn’t exist in nature (unless it’s damaged, usually by human intervention), so it shouldn’t exist in your garden either. Cover it with mulch or plants or both!

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And here’s another angle, this time facing north.

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Spring is a great time, I just wanted to share the wonder of a Blackthorn tree (Prunus spinosa) covered in flowers! This is a plum, and you can see the small blue plum in the picture that managed to stay on the tree, they are about the size of a grape, and are used to flavour gin. another name for this tree is a Sloe bush, hence the name of the flavoured liquor, “Sloe gin”. And this is another specimen growing in a pot. As this can grow into a huge tree, I’ve decided to be generous and have given it a 120 litre pot to live in.

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The promise of plenty. The Black Mulberry (Morus nigra) is covered in berries, which are green turning red, and will darken to a deep purple-red colour when ripe.

Of all the mulberry varieties (red, white and black). the black mulberry produces the tastiest fruit, and  is the smallest of the three, sometimes growing to 30 ft. in height, but it tends to grow as a bush if not trained at the start. It lives longer than the other mulberries, and will live and fruit for hundreds of years. This one is growing in a 45cm wide pot, so they do work as a container garden specimen quite well. These can easily be propagated by taking cuttings.

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The neighbour’s lemon tree overhanging and dwarfing the 7 foot high Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia) tree evident in the corner by its white trumpet-shaped flowers. This is a scented double-white flowering variety, and the scent is, well, heavenly! It has a very heady and wonderful perfume that complements the foot long flowers.










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Purely for flavour, quality, not quantity. Alpine Red strawberries springing back and starting to flower. Alpine Reds are  close to the “original” strawberry. They are tiny, about the size of a cherry pit, but their flavour in superb, more flavoursome than any other regular strawberry variety whose berries are many times larger. Behind them are raspberries, a variety which produces very large berries. They are about four times larger than regular raspberries, lighter red in colour, much more juicy, but with a weaker flavour. These raspberries provide shade for the strawberries to protect them from the summer sun. there’s a Rue (Ruta graveolens) on the right hand side, it’s a great companion plant to raspberries.

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Spuds in the compost heap, they’re still growing, this is an experiment to see if potatoes grow any better or worse in straight compost! Truth is, I had spare potatoes to plant and I ran out of space, this was the last place left!

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More pretty flowers! This small 2 foot by 1.5 foot bed contains the pretty Anemone flower, broad beans, and a mullein plant whose green-grey leaves you can see in the lower right. Incidentally, theres, a blueberry behind them. The Vervain  herbs have not emerged yet from their winter slumber. If that’s not a mixed planting, I don’t know what is.

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There’s not long to go now until I’ve reported on the full 12 month cycle since I first built the garden. The first week (7th) October will be 12 months exactly. We’re roughly at the 11 month mark, the garden has produced almost  124 kg of food form 686 sq. feet (64 sq. metres) of garden bed, only two of the twenty three fruit trees are old enough to bear fruit, and I’m not counting any of the hundred odd herbs growing here either. I’ll see how much more I get in the next 30 days, and I’ll post up the final tally of garden yields.

It’s Spring time again, so get out there, and happy gardening!

Next Page – 13. Full Circle, One Year In



1 Comment

  1. Phenomenal! Your babaco and jasminum, and the munstead lavender are just gorgeous. Now I see that you’re in Australia, well I am moving to southern Florida soon so I will be able to grow similar things I believe!


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