I had my sister here over Christmas, and both her presence and her presents have re-inspired me to put more effort into the garden. Truthfully, I had already planned to find more gardening time in January. I missed the Spring plantings (with being o/s), not to mention the Spring weedings!, but I could still do some summer planting right?
I recently bought me a copy of One Magic Square by Lulu Houbein, and I was thinking, surely I could manage that. If I reclaim one square metre of my veggie garden this year - preferably next to where the comfrey and rhubarb are still going strong, so I have one edge taken care of, and only one area to water - maybe next Spring I'll manage a little (or even a lot) more. But one square metre shouldn't be too hard for now, and I could get a zucchini in there maybe (and not much else, but that might be okay).
Anyway, that is still going to be my first goal. But. Like I said I had my sister visiting. She's only owned her own place for a short time, but in that time she's done a lot more with it (food-garden-wise especially) than I have. I blame the fact that I have three children and she only has one, but since I had none when I first moved in here and she had a newborn when she first moved in there (who is now three), that's probably not the real reason. Whatever, she has done a lot, and she's done some courses in organic gardening and joined a permaculture blitz group and everything.
So when I put "fruit trees" on my kids Christmas wishlists* (wishlists are a tradition in my family), my sister immediately claimed them, and bought each of them a tree, plus a blueberry bush for me for my birthday (which is shortly before Christmas). So now I have a nectarine, pear and orange tree to find places for (that is, the kids have them, but I have to find places for them). I don't need to find a place for the blueberry bush, I've got that planned out. I plan to have a whole bed of blueberry bushes.
Not only that, but while my sister was here, we did a full garden walk around and talked through some ideas I had and she added some more ideas - plus of course we were talking where to put to the trees. And then, while we went up to visit my grandfather in Forster after Christmas, she stayed here in my house and she dealt with my over full compost bin (making all the delightful compost down the bottom accessible) and did a few other garden chores. I know, I have an amazing sister. And she has a much different work ethic to me!
So today, my first day back at home, it is 35 degrees outside (95 F) but I have spent the past week planning and dreaming and am desperate to get back into the garden. So this morning I dug some compost into my blueberry garden to be, before it got too hot. And then I couldn't help myself, I got the kids to help me move the chooks into the supposed vegetable garden. It is full of the two banes of my life, couch grass and ivy. Actually, the ivy is just encroaching, it's not full of it yet, but the grass and other weeds are spreading throughout. There is also gone to seed silverbeet and parsley, but I can live with them not self-seeding next year if the weeds don't either.
Of course, they were only in there for the day. I didn't move their house and anyway our labrador, Lochie, put a hole in the fence recently (we fenced the vegetable garden off to make it safe from him a couple of years back), so having the chooks in there today meant having Lochie locked up on the deck for most of the day (he spent some time in the chook run too, but then he started to whine, so I brought him back). And there is very limited benefit to the garden having them for a day, but on the plus side they got a lot of greens today!
Now, tomorrow Chris is off work so that I can work. In three weeks I will be back to my 'real' job in the public service on Wednesdays, but for the next three weeks I have Wednesdays to do my home work. Mostly that is meant to mean writing for Sustainable Suburbia, but I had thought I might spend tomorrow morning on garden tasks. Originally I'd been thinking maybe I could clear a metre or so of the vegetable garden, dig in some compost, and maybe plant a zucchini. But now I'm considering whether I could possibly build a small chook dome, a la Linda Woodrow, in a morning? I only need a very small one, to house three hens temporarily. Then I could have my square metre and they could gradually work over the rest of the garden, without getting into my rhubarb (poisonous leaves, and they did peck at them a big today), or my zucchini.
Mid last year I seriously contemplated getting one of these, but decided I had to learn to live within my budget instead. (By the by, that blog is now defunt, more or less, because I've lost the password and the wordpress installation seems to be buggered and won't show the captcha, so I can't get a new password. I have back ups, so I could start again and just reinstall it all, but I can't be bothered at the moment, so I'm just back to blogging about everything here. I always end up that way anyway! The main Sustainable Suburbia site is still going though.) So maybe it's time to make something myself. Or maybe not :) So that's what I'm off to do now - research the design, and make a decision.
*This may sound a little self-serving, but aside from Eliane, who doesn't care one way or the other, my kids were really pleased with these presents. The big kids each have an apple tree that is "theirs", planted over their placenta when they were each about three or four, and one of Mikaela's other gifts was a purple flowering ground cover to go in her 'purple garden' around her apple tree. Neither kid is all that good with the work part of gardening, but they both love the concept (a bit like their parents really).