On Sunday, members of the Hobart’s Eastern Shore Permaculture Tasmania group visited the fruit and vegetable garden of a couple of our members in the suburb of Lindisfarne. Situated on the other side of a hill from where I live, the destination was easily accessible and our hosts’ garden was off a main road and simple to find.
On arrival I noted many bags of sheep poo lined up along the fence line with a price tag of a more than reasonable $5 a bag – later I left with four fat heavy bags so my garden can expect much improvement when I disperse these. One of my hosts explained how he had personally collected these sheep droppings, and that they had not been collected from broad acre farms which had been seriously sprayed with fungicides and pesticides. Nor had they come from particularly weedy paddocks.
When I walked around the back of the house, an immense feeling of relaxation and joy came over me: I stood in a large open space shaded by spreading deciduous trees with a massive fireplace to one side situated so that sitting outside would be comfortable on cool nights. When another dozen or so people arrived, sanitised, checked in and stood the required social distance apart, our hosts were introduced.
The garden had been 19 years in the making and, as I wandered around, clearly many fruit trees and vines were well established. Interspersed were garden beds with current vegetables. A beehive (the bees are capable of face recognition and are angered by people wearing perfumes) and a chook shed with happy cluckers were integrated within this garden.
Nothing is ever wasted and resources are always kept for future use, such as the rising pile of scrap wood.
One expensively purchased lavender bush has been turned into a small hedge simply by striking pieces of lavender and when roots have grown, planted.
The grapevines have been having an off time and it seems some are for the chop in the future. With no fruit, netting wasn’t needed. Meanwhile the vines lie attractively along a fence line.
An espaliered apple tree was maturing.
Peaches and lemons (“we eat a lot of lemons”) and apples were everywhere.
Tomatoes have been one of my hosts pride and joys for years. Over time the seeds of hundreds of varieties have been collected with a passion. Then each season a selection is made, germinated and then the seedling are planted out. However they were, like most of us, having a bad year with these plants. Some of it surely was to be explained by the irregularity of the weather brought on by climate change – bringing new fungi and pests to the fore, or at least stirring up dormant beasts. Notwithstanding the fact that some of the tomato plants didn’t look 100% they were climbing and fruiting, and the varying structures on which they were growing were instructive. From my dozens of photos here are a selection:
Of course tomatoes without basil is unthinkable.
The plant which intrigued me and most others who were in attendance, was a purple podded climbing bean; with fresh lilac/purple flowers and a purplish tinge to the dark green leaves. Super attractive. Our hosts generously donate the pods and seeds to a migrant group for their cooking lessons.
Splashes of the happy faces of sunflowers were dotted around the garden.
I found it exhilarating to walk around this large suburban block and to see the diversity of plants. For example, flourishing pumpkins spread over all sorts of places. Elsewhere beans scrambled for the sky, stalks of corn were beginning to show silks, berry fruits were huddling in a covered tunnel, and leafy greens were freshly healthy.
In a seemingly empty tub, red skinned potatoes were multiplying; rich yellow flesh
New plantings were getting established.
The information packed morning concluded with a cup of tea and a demonstration of seed saving for tomatoes. One was a method of which I had not been aware. The process involved removing the seeds from a selected tomato and place in a clear jar. Add water. Close lid and shake for a minute or so then let rest.
The potentially viable seeds drop to the bottom and the useless ones float to the top. Drain the water and then dot each seed out onto towelling paper (see my seed collection process last year which is much the same, on this blog post here).
A separate table was laden with plants, vegetable produce and seeds from members who were giving these away. I brought home the seeds for a plant described as an Ethiopian Kale Cabbage.
Apparently the seeds can be used as a substitute for mustard seeds and the leaves can be used like spinach. In time I will germinate the seeds and grow a plant or two– and record that experiment for a future blog post.
While it can be instructive to look at photos, most of the learnings come from listening to the experiences and knowledge of the others who are present. Always inspirational. Thanks to my hosts and to Permaculture Tasmania garden visit organisers. Much appreciated.