RTBG Thursday 6th May 2021

Weeks have passed since my last posting to this blog, partly because arthritis has struck my hands and wrists from ‘too much weeding’!!!!! Alas. Incredibly disappointing, frustrating, and inconvenient. Thanks to all my readers who made contact to check I was okay – yes I was, but…

Yesterday, I decided the hands and wrists had settled somewhat, and being eager volunteer in the Food Garden of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) again, off I went. I determined to start slowly and not to overdo things – for a great deal of the time, I took photos hoping that would help. Despite the care, today my hands are telling me they did some work. I won’t be deterred. I want to show you the activity and the achievements of that wonderful Food Garden.

The sky was blue with barely a cloud to be seen, the air was clean, and the vegetation sparkled in the autumn sun. Spectacular.

On arrival, already two volunteers were hard at work separating garlic heads into cloves in readiness for us all to plant. Two varieties were made ready: Dunganski and Lokalen.

Waiting for dispersal to the needy were two crates of freshly picked Feijoa fruits. For morning tea, I found a soft one, peeled it, and sunk my teeth into the juicy flesh with its flavour hints of kiwi fruit and, as another person suggested, musk stick lollies. The tree still has Feijoa fruit ready for picking – a bumper crop!

So much time had passed since my last visit, so I walked around the garden beds to investigate the changes, and found the gardens were flourishing with many new vegetables. Two or three week old Kale was standing tall.

The delicate fronds of purple leafed Mizuna were almost camouflaged in the early morning shade.

The evidence of a couple of rows of radishes was in the small green leaves just popping out from the soil.

Medlar fruit continue to age on their tree.

I admired the cropped hedge of Chilean Guava, and the rich autumn colours on the persimmon tree.

While I have been away, many fruit trees have been pruned. I had looked forward to learning more about their pruning but I missed out … there is always next year! I grow a greengage plum in my own back garden so when I saw the results of, what I would describe as a ‘savage’ prune given in the Food Garden, I realised that I need not be so delicate when pruning my greengage – and it is now much needed having sprung up high over the past 6 or more months.

Then it was time for me to get involved and start doing some work. Two large garden beds at the bottom of the garden slope were ‘designed’. After lines were marked across the patches, walking tracks were shovelled from the dirt creating raised beds either side.

Then each garlic clove was pushed into the soil about knuckle deep with each planted bout 15 cm apart. Later the beds were softly raked to ‘fill’ those depressions.

In the first bed, we planted Dunganski and in the second we planted Lokelan garlic.

Elsewhere Neil was planting left over garlic cloves in other smaller garden beds.

Again I wandered; the Food Garden is a large space with seemingly endless beds and plants. A few spring onions, sprightly shallots, a healthy crop of purslane, chard with their colourful stalks, and purple mustard were some of the sights.

The leaves of the tall hop bush were changing to show end-of-life autumn colours.

One job for the day was the removal of the eggplants which could no longer contribute – except to the compost pile.

The blackberries and other cane fruits had been beautifully pruned.

While strips of the bottom garden beds were planted with garlic, the large spaces were filled with other vegetables during the afternoon – maybe brassicas? I must wait until next week to see.

What a glorious experience it was volunteering in the Food Garden yesterday, as always. As usual it was an enormous privilege to be there. Those spirit lifting moments had been missing from my life.

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