Archive for July, 2013


winter garden 1 The garden has been plodding along quite nicely lately, with only the occasional fertilisation and weeding from myself. Both the front and back garden are now in full swing and looking pretty lush.  winter garden 5 winter garden 6 winter garden 8 I have been eating leafy winter greens from the garden (mainly mizuna, silverbeet/chard and kale) regularly over the past month as they’ve been doing well, but this week I’ve had a larger harvest – broccoli! winter garden 4 brocc 1 Earlier than expected (they were quite late last year), the broccoli heads have grown and are ready for harvesting. They were probably ready last week, but I thought I’d try to leave them to see if they got any bigger. However as they now look like they’re about to move towards flowering it’s time to feast on them instead. Given the pumpkin soup I made in summer never made it to winter, I thought it was high time to try making some winter soup from the garden – so today I harvested a few broccoli heads and set out to make some broccoli soup for lunch. My recipe included about 6 small broccoli heads, as well as some mizuna, kale, oregano and rosemary from the garden. I also added garlic, an onion and a couple of potatoes to help thicken it. brocc 3 After it was all cooked up (and given a good pounding with a potato masher) – I added a sprinkle of parmesan cheese to finish it off. I have to admit it tasted pretty good! Almost better though was the smell that filled the house of the freshly baked homemade bread to go with it. Too good 🙂  soup 1 soup 2

One of the best things about having your birthday in early winter and being a gardener – people give you fruit trees. I now have 7. Not that I’m complaining – I’m absolutely thrilled with the additions! Enough so that I thought they should have their own introduction…

1. My “Oldest” Tree – a Dwarf Valencia Orange.

Ok, so 4 years isn’t that old, but I’ve had it the longest out of all the trees. I love the smell of it and the look of the beautiful white flowers it produces. Unfortunately I haven’t had any oranges yet (despite my initial hopes of making marmalade in the first year I had it… I’m so naive) but I still have high hopes for the tree. In spring the flowers are glorious, then buds form and one by one… they all fall off. I’ve tried different fertilizers, different watering methods, heaps of compost and lots of mulch… but still nothing. After the small fruit buds have fallen off, I throw around the idea in my mind of throwing out the tree and getting a “real fruiter!” But then it starts to flower again… and the smell is great… and it brings in the bees… and it wins me over again for another year.

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Dwarf Valencia Orange

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Orange blossoms

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The buds usually grow a bit larger than pictured

2My Kalamata Olive

A couple of years old now this tree has grown so much! Initially a small cutting, it’s now a miniature tree. Still waiting for it to flower, but at the moment the foliage is just as pleasing. I realise one day I’ll have to move it to the ground, but for now – until I make up my mind about where, it seems quite happy where it is.

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When I first planted the tree compared to now

3. & 4. My New Dwarf “Lots A Lemons” and Dwarf Tahitian Lime

I must admit, I have wanted both of these for quite some time. Given the limited space I have though, I’ve tended to remind myself “you have a citrus tree, just an unproductive one”. So this year when I was given both of these I was over the moon. The “lots a lemons” is a very small, pot friendly type of lemon which I have out in the backyard at the moment.  The lime I’ve put out the front and hopefully it will encourage the orange tree to fruit!

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Lots A Lemon

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Tahitian Lime

5 & 6. My Two Ballerina Apple Trees

Another fantastic thing about birthdays is nursery gift vouchers so you can match companion apple trees which are needed for pollination! Another purchase I’ve put off due to limited space, but this year I couldn’t resist – particularly when I discovered these “ballerina” style apples which grow and fruit in a column shape rather than branching out making them perfect for small spaces for now. I have one green “Bolero” and a red “Waltz” which are a pollinating pair. At this stage I think I’m more excited about the idea of apple blossoms in spring than the actual apples – updates to come…

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7. And Finally – My Bay Tree.

Just a tiny cutting when it first moved in – it has continued to grow, be used for cooking and preserving, and has foliage which looks good throughout the year. All without a smidge of effort on my behalf. I can live with that.

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So there is a glimpse at my small space orchard – mostly unproductive at the moment, but I have high hopes for the future. Even so, at least the flowers and foliage are worth the trouble. Apart from the bay (which I bought), each of these trees was gifted from people who follow my blog – so thank you, thank you, thank you!

My indoor avocado “tree” is still growing strongly too… maybe one day it’ll make it to the list as well, but for now I’ll have to wait for a rather long time.

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One of my gardening goals this year was to learn how to take cuttings. I have always been envious of more experienced gardeners taking (or stealing) cutting from other people’s gardens – they’ve always given the impression of really knowing what they’re doing! The ultimate step to “you’re not an amateur anymore”. Plus it’s a really cheap way to get more plants! I must admit, I have tried cuttings in the past – but they never worked. In fairness I did absolutely no research into the type of cuttings I had, or the best time of year to try. I did try a little rooting powder but just stuck them in a pot & hoped nature would do the rest… nature didn’t.

So this year I decided I really wanted to learn how to take cuttings in order to move up the imaginary ladder of experience that is in my head. I decided to try again with the variety of correas I have, as I would really like multiples of the ones that are growing well. A little research found the best time to try correa cuttings is in autumn, and also that correas are supposed to be very easy to take cuttings – perfect! Back in March I filled a seedling tray of potting mix, cut tips off a few different correas, dipped them into a cutting rooting gel – and voila my work was done. I kept them covered with the seedling tray lid and all that was left to do was wait…

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My cuttings tray when first planted

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Cuttings when first started (March)

Several died extremely quickly. Way faster than I would have expected. It really didn’t get my hopes up. However I kept watering the ones that had survived every now and again, and after a while, when I’d really forgotten about them – I realised most of the remaining ones had started to grow!! With a joyful little jump and cheer I raced for the camera, and while the growth is small (considering I started them 4 months ago), the only way is up! I’ve now learnt that cuttings can be quite easy – I just needed a little research – and a lot of patience.

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Before and after of the same cutting – it’s grown!!

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Before and after of the same cutting – small amount of growth

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Before and after of the same cutting – 3 new leaves

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New shoots (July)

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Most are growing!

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Current tray (photo taken today) – a few have died, but lots are starting to grow

(Almost wordless – these photos were taken in late May in the front garden, just found them on the camera!)

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