Perhaps blog followers have given up hope that a new blog post with garden details might be published. Sadly I have been stricken by a bad cold so have not volunteered in the Food Garden of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) for seemingly yonks. But I returned last Thursday and only put in a tiny three hours work – not yet strong enough to do a day’s work! Nevertheless I was super excited to see the growth of plants, look for missing plants, and to catch up with fellow volunteers.
In earlier blog posts I have mentioned and photographed the pine trees I pass on route from the bus stop to the RTBG. Last Thursday the remnants of Black Cockatoo chewed pine cones littered the pathway.
Was the day a sunny one? Well not at first. As I walked from the bus stop to the RTBG entrance, I observed the air and water of the Derwent River were decidedly and delightfully silver. Not a golden day I thought and then mused as to whether silver was second best.
After reviewing my photos for the day I am surprised not to have images showing the sun came out and that the day turned out gorgeously. I very much needed my gardening sun hat.
Naturally, as I walked into the Food Garden, I spotted weeds trying to hide beneath plants. I made a mental note to extract those before my day ended. Of course the further I walked the more I saw – there is no end to weed growth but each pull or dig removes one allowing the goodness in the soil to be taken up by the vegetables and fruits that need it.
The jump-over apple trees were looking healthy and bearing fruit; the tree has been trained to be virtually at ground level but new growth spurting vertically is diverting any would be jumpers.
The garlic bed stays resting and empty of all but the self-sown tomatoes which I didn’t pull out every time I weeded around the garlic plants.
The pumpkin plants were spreading across the bottom slope.
Up closer to the tool shed, another pumpkin plant was stamping its authority. Two pumpkins remain in order for the plant to direct its energy into them and not into a myriad of small ones. The pumpkin in the second photo is already almost too large for me to be able to lift.
I was curious to see how the lawn was growing in the new area where the gabion wall has been built. I noted the temporary fences had been removed so I realised the public now had access. I walked along past the capsicums and violas and pansies and more – and saw a quick brown movement. It was ‘our’ bandicoot I decided. Last year we enjoyed watching a bandicoot a couple of times in the mature fruit tree area of the garden. I guessed this was the same animal (later others told me they thought this was a smaller animal than that in the fruit tree garden). Glossy and brown. In and out speedily under the foliage. Not particularly concerned about me. Brings a smile to my face even now. Makes me glow with the pleasure of the memory. S/he is beautifully camouflaged in the shade of the leaves – I doubt you can spot the bandicoot in the following photo near the top centre.
The new space looks terrific. In a few years when bushes and trees are established, this shady resting place for visitors and volunteers alike should become a mecca.
Months and months ago I cleaned up the passionfruit vine area and removed nutrition grabbing weeds. The process has helped these vines bear masses of fruit.
Time for work. It was suggested I weed the corn patches. One held well established corn plants and newbies, and the other only had relatively new plants. Apparently these small plants were the third lot of replacements for others that had been eaten overnight by wandering native critters. So I weeded then wafted circles of blood and bone dust around them to give each plant a boost.
Produce collected for the day, for distribution to charities, included the following:
I learnt that tomatoes are best if picked when they just begin to turn colour, then you should bring them inside but don’t refrigerate them. Instead leave them out on your bench to finalise their redness.
Once my corn patch work was finished I joined L and A in the fruit orchard.
They were tackling the vexing problem of the weed vetch. I decided to lift the easier to remove plants from the dandelion type family that had begun to edge the pathways in that area ad send up their stalks with the typical yellow ‘daisy’ on top. The three of us were working in a triangle around a couple of fruit trees and ground covered in knee high marjoram laced with vetch. Suddenly a surprise. Out bounded a small wallaby who had, quite sensibly, seen this as a safe cool place to spend the day. S/he bounded towards the convict wall then without shelter headed in an alternate direction. I don’t know what the frightened animal found but they are clever and I have no doubt sleep was back on the agenda soon after. We were sorry to have dislodged this native animal but also excited to have seen one in the garden – our first. I did wonder if the young corn plants of the past had been nibbled by this wallaby.
Before lunch I meandered over to the weeds that I had noticed first thing that morning. Lovely weeds. Their long tap roots came out so completely and so easily. Very impressed. Once I had a bin load I dropped these into the hot composting bins.
Then it was lunch time. We gathered on the boarded area below the tool shed.
While chattering amiably, a visitor arrived. Our visitor stopped our talk except in hallowed whispers and we didn’t move an inch. Onto the boards came our bandicoot. S/he hurried onto the boards, ran around, looked at us, looked for insects etc (which we kindly suggested weren’t to be found just there) then darted back off to the nearby garden. Jumped around happily, whizzed back a few times to say hello then eventually gave us up as a bad lot in terms of us helping him/her to forage, then disappeared in the direction of the golden marjoram and back to the capsicum and pansy garden. Or so we thought.
Not long later N came looking for his camera. ‘The bandicoot is on the lawn feeding’. I grabbed my phone and zipped along to have a look. There s/he was seemingly nosing down into the grass. ‘What is he feeding on?’, I asked. N noted the ants running up and down the blades of grass. What a feast.
I was so close. He was so unafraid. Delightful par excellence! What treasures the RTBG throw up each week! How fortunate I am to be able to volunteer in this remarkable place alongside people who have similar loves.
I left the RTBG in high spirits as usual. On route to the bus stop I noted a parked car with the message ‘Getoutsidetas’ – and that is what I had been doing; Getting outside in Tasmania.