Last Thursday’s weather forecast offered a range of experiences but, for us who volunteered in the Food Garden of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Garden, we found the shedding of garments was the best for most of us – especially those working in the bright sun. Over lunch my face even got a touch of sunburn and here we are mid-Autumn when, without climate change, we could never normally have expected such radiance. All in all that was a glorious day which made our productivity all the more satisfying.
The main job, which all of us tackled at various times, was the removal of depths of spent leaves blown from the elms and oaks and many more huge deciduous trees elsewhere in the Botanical Gardens. These swathes matted themselves around young leafy plants and, with varying success, we removed and despatched these in buggy loads to the main compost pile at the far end of the Gardens.
Significant weeding and slight hoeing cleared a large lower garden bed in readiness for planting garlic.
The highlight for the day was the removal of the trailing and intertwined threads of leafy growth from the giant pumpkins, then clearing that garden bed.
At the end of the clearing, four small giant pumpkins remained. Mould was visible on the base of two but neither was light enough to lift. With the blade of a spade we slashed through these rotting pumpkins, collected seed for next year’s crop, and disposed of the sodding sometimes liquefied (pure putrification in parts) internal flesh onto the buggy for a trip to the compost pile.
Two pumpkins were light enough for a strong man to roll and these now sit temporarily on cleared soil for the sake of visitor interest – until it’s time to plant that garden bed.
Why were these pumpkins rotting or suffering from stopped growth? When garden visitors have been sitting on them and playing around, the connections of the giant body to the vine were broken or damaged and they couldn’t continue to grow to their full potential. Our massive clearance activity was watched with interest by passing visitors who included a mother who told me her kids played on these pumpkins impressed by their dramatic scale. Try as I might to explain in the nicest of ways that such playing had caused damage, I felt sure she simply couldn’t understand it and that next year her children will be back again. Alas. I am sure I am not the only one who is curious to see how big a giant pumpkin could grow if left undisturbed.
The harvest for the day included silver beet, feijoas and purple congo potatoes (almost black skin with deep purple flesh) and other potatoes.
Seeding basil herb plants were stripped from the ground and I collected a stalk of spent flower heads with tiny black seeds for home propagation, before the remainder went to the compost pile.
It was a day of setting up garden beds for future planting, lifting weeds wherever seen, and clearing pathways and garden beds by gathering autumn leaves.