Here’s a picture update of the garden’s progress in late May 2011, the end of autumn in Melbourne, Australia.
Mandarins are ripening round this time, the tree is so heavily laden with fruit, the branches are bending under the weight. I’ve had to tie the branches to stop them breaking.
The mandarins at the top of the tree are as large as oranges!
The grapefruit tree also has a mandarin grafted to it, you can see the mandarins on the lower branches, and the grapefruit sitting above them. The grafted mandarin portion produces about 6kg of mandarins each year.
A closer look at the dual-grafted citrus tree.
The Babaco can be seen towering over the mandarin tree here.
The fruit have grown considerably over the last month or two.
It also has a great silhouette against the evening sky!
The Blackthorn tree has lost all its leaves in autumn, the fruit is still on the tree.
The Black Mulberry, which was once struggling in a pot, about 1.5m (5’) tall and thinner than a broomstick, has taken off now that it’s been in the ground for twelve months. It’s higher than the house guttering , and still growing. This will need to be pruned back soon to lower the canopy and create a denser branching.
A closer look at the Black Mulberry. It’s a very young tree, around two years old, with only one year in the ground, and it’s already this tall. It’s an indicator of how vigorous these trees are – and also how big they get! Black mulberries are the smallest growing of the various mulberry varieties, but they will still grow to 10m (30’) high and 15m (45’) wide!
The comfrey patch under the mandarin tree has become dormant for autumn, and the leaves will rot down to create a rich fertiliser for the citrus tree. Come spring the roots will send up new shoots and start the cycle all over again. There are still some ground cover plants in the foreground, including violets, which form a natural, protective, ‘living mulch’.
The summer this year was so short, it was almost non-existent! You can see a tomato plant dying down in the middle of this photo, with a tomato still ripening. The short summer didn’t allow enough time for many summer vegetables that were grown from seed to ripen. There was a reduction in tomato harvests, watermelons all failed to grow (they’re usually tricky to grow in this climate anyway), and the latter part of the pumpkin harvest didn’t ripen in time. The pepino cascading over the edge of the garden bed in the bottom left is growing abundantly, looks like it will need to be cut back. It’s still ripening fruit at this time. The garden looks pretty vibrant for late autumn.
Here’s the other side of the garden, it’s looking very good for this time of year. That’s the great thing about food forests, there’s always something growing, keeping the whole living ecosystem alive and well. There’s no bare patches of dirt that you get with regular veggie gardens. And therefore, no weeds! Other than what comes in when you put animal manure or hay/straw mulch.
Lots of colour in a late autumn garden!
Plant propagation – this is the hardening off area for plants I’ve grown from seeds or cuttings. The pots all sit on self watering trays (my instruction on how to build these here – https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/self-watering-tray/) so they don’t run out of water during the week. these plants will eventually be planted into the garden beds or given away to people. The important thing to realise is that a food forest does not just produce food, it produces lots of extra plants that can be distributed throughout the local community. Food forests are a resilient plant stock repository too.
The water garden is still looking good too, the one in the foreground has two goldfish in there, the second one further back has white cloud mountain minnows to control mosquitoes.
After a disappointingly short summer, the garden is still green, vibrant and productive. The garden has seen many visitors in the regular garden tours we run all through summer, and the demand has been so high, we’ve had to re-book people for later tours. Luckily, there’s been plenty to see all the way through autumn, and plenty of plants to give away too. Goes to show that life doesn’t stop in a food forest in autumn at all!