Friday, October 28, 2011

Looking back on the first gardening year

Our first year of gardening is coming to an end. We thought and talked about it during October 2010 and then got to work on the the first day of the new moon, 6 November 2010.

It has been a rewarding journey and I am pleased that I found the time to document this period of growing and learning in this blog for myself, my friend and for other budding gardeners who share this passion for growing our own food and being outdoors working with plants and the earth.

I have been on a steep learning curve and bought about five gardening books last year. I don't want to miss every step of the journey. We are here for the long haul and hope that we are able to grow more and more food that we put on our table each day.

It's spring. Still some rain arriving and the temperatures are usually below the mid twenties, although we already had two days beyond 30degrees.

I am not surprised how often I wrote about the weather and especially about how little rain has fallen. Looking back we probably had a good year with close to average rainfall. I'd like to thank the WA Water Corporation for taking such copious records but I am thinking about grecording the rainfall directly in the garden, although my rain gauge is a very simple one from the post office.

Both water tanks are full and my last town water bill was a pleasant surprise.We only used 42,000l of town water in the past six months with three people. That's only 230 litres for the whole family per day or 70 litres per person and day! That's certainly called water wise!
Compost and mulch were the other big issues in the past year. The sandy soils of Perth are one of the poorest in the world. I never took to the term sandgroper but I understand what that means a bit better after one year of gardening behind our house.
We have produced plenty of compost during the past twelve months and I have just ordered another big pile of free mulch. All compost has been used in preparing for the spring planting but I am happy that two new batches are close to being taken out. They live in a small rubbish bin until they are needed. This makes it wasy to cart the heavy earth around in the garden. Two compost tumblers are in good working order, the third one has gone back to my friend who has herself commenced a gardening adventure around her new house in Duncraig.

The raised garden beds are still not in full production. I am proud of the idea to cut them in half with an angle grinder. Filling them with mulch and with jarrah saw dust has not fired back yet. It was a cheap way to fill them up and where I planted something I made sure there was plenty of good compost around the roots of the plants to thrive.

Pest were a big issue in the past year. That's understandable, as these little critters have a very difficult time to find a place to live in these sandy Perth soils. I recently prepared the first patch for spring planting, creating four 1by1m garden beds. I made the mistake to cover the soil with straw. The watering and the retained moisture in the compost rich soil provided a phantastic environment for a slater nursery.

The other day, when planting squash and zucchinis I noticed the colonies of critters. The straw I used to cover the summer garden beds provided the ideal environment for them and numbers multiplied quickly.

But again, I decided against spraying and simply pick them off, chuck them into a bucket and fed them to the neighbour's chooks. The chooks were happy and the neighbour thanked me with a bucket of lemons so it ended up as a good deal, just not for the slaters.

The new gardening year is about to start and everything is ready for the continuation of the journey.

Gardening has made me a more balanced person. I enjoy the caring for plants and getting my hands dirty. I feel connected with my ancestors and at the same time am producing some healthy food for my family and friends. I have been grateful for every little bit that the garden produced in the past year and am looking forward to the next year.

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