Time for an update on how we are doing with our garden in Turangi. It feels as though we have really turned a corner and we are really excited with where things are now and where to from here.
This is the front garden in early January
Our food forest in the front garden is a complete joy to us at the moment. All of the fruit trees are doing well and we have even had two pears and some peaches already, even though the trees are just tiny and we planted them late in the season. One of apple trees will probably have to be moved, as it is probably going to grow too big for where we originally planted it. We'll relocate that in winter when the tree is dormant. We've had to do some re-engineering of the swales to help the water flow easily from the top swale through to the second and third. All the roof run-off has been directed into the swales so that our rain water goes where it is needed.
Just two weeks later, and the garden has just exploded with growth!
We have a riot of colour in the front garden, with beautiful white cosmos, cheerful nasturtiums, beautiful blue cornflowers, marigolds and calendulas, antirrhinums, lupins and some gigantic dahlias all in flower at the moment.
Dead-heading is a nice job to do before work each morning - I did that throughout January to keep the flowers blooming nicely for a little longer, but now I have stopped doing that because we want them to go to seed so that we will have self-seeded plants coming up naturally next season.
So the garden is just starting to look slightly more bedraggled and a little less glorious but it is worth it. Coming up now we have asters coming into flower and some white antirrhinums will be next.
Although the flowers are just gorgeous, that's not all that we have planted under the fruit trees - the whole space has been (pretty randomly) planted with a mix of annual and perennial food crops. We have rhubarb and asparagus doing well and there is plenty of coloured beet, curly kale and cavolo nero, beetroot, spring onions, masses of lettuces, some beautiful magenta spreen, and all sorts of brassica - cabbage, broccoli, cauliflowers. I have to admit that I had to resort to buying seedlings for our first crops due to time constraints, but last weekend our first home-grown-from-seed seedlings were planted out. They were mostly brassica, so our number one problem from here on is going to be the white butterflies - they haven't been too bad up until now but I notice their numbers are increasing now so there will have to be a bit of egg-removing soon.
The front garden has been a complete joy, and a bit of a talking point with passers-by, but we have been UP TO THINGS in the back garden as well. Just before Christmas we put in two garden beds, after long discussions on layout. They are dividing the lawn in two and at the moment we have crops of potatoes, sweet corn and some fledging Winter Sprouting Broccoli in one bed, and mixed planting of all sorts of vegetables in the other. The back part of the lawn (under the fruiting cherry tree) may be a wildflower garden / wilderness garden next year (spot our cunning plan to avoid mowing it?) but for now the bunnies are enjoying the long grass.
We have also planted a line of feijoa and have under planted with pumpkins and zucchini plants. Oh, and I popped a couple of extra tomato plants in there as well when no-one was looking. We have another warm spot for tomatoes and basil and they are doing well. We've only just started harvesting the first home-grown tomatoes we have had for two years, so that felt like a milestone. I have a well-established obsession with growing a huge variety of tomatoes so just wait until next season!
We have been growing on our tiny lavender seedlings all summer, and they were finally planted out around the house last weekend. They are still tiny, and almost can't be seen amongst the river stone "mulch" that was already there. We decided not to bother removing the stones. The lavender plants are under the eaves, so we just have to remember to keep them watered and look forward to them growing bigger and flowering next season.
Having had a massively HOT summer, we realised we needed a shade tree, so our most recent project was moving the clothesline off to the side so that we could put a silk tree in its place. We are feeling like bona fide optimists, as of course the tree is very small at the moment. Optimistically, we are looking forward to it casting a lovely dappled shade over the back lawn in years to come, and we are already planning to "guide" the branches into the right place for us to be able to hang a hammock in years to come. The children like this little tree because it folds its leaves up at night and goes to sleep.
So there is our update on the last three months in our garden. Looking forward, I am really hoping that I sowed the winter sprouting broccoli in time for it to grow to size before the colder weather hits - it would be great to be harvesting the sprouts through the winter. These plants grow to a large size, so I have spaced them out well in both the front and back gardens and will keep you posted.
We will undoubtedly get up to more action over the next few months. We have planned for a glasshouse, some new garden beds, and are currently trying to figure out where we can site a pond ... watch this space!