Thursday 28th October 2021 at RTBG

Glorious Thursdays have returned! In 2019 every Thursday was a sunny day regardless of season. Then last year and for many Thursdays of 2021, wet weather has hampered my spirits on volunteering Thursdays. But yesterday, working in the Food Garden of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) was a sparkling delight. It was also a productive working day.

On my arrival, Neil was hard at work clearing a garden bed of spent brassicas and loading the buggy with the detritus ready to be relocated to the RTBG’s large composting bins. Later he dug over the bed, strew blood and bone liberally, and then sprinkled pellet fertiliser. Ready for planting. Time for the tomatoes. KY1 variety in fact- great choice because they do not need staking. We placed each pot, dug a hole, planted each, labelled the plot, and watered. The planting process was incredibly fast – preparation of garden beds is where extensive useful time must be spent.

Elsewhere another volunteer was clearing weeds from the orchard.

During the morning, a team of us picked tea leaves from the camellia sinensis bushes; the tiny tips of new growth. This has the advantage of pruning the bushes and encouraging new growth.  Of course the tips will not be wasted; rather they will be smushed (our term in the absence of another – search for one of my earlier blog posts for details of the process), prepared and dried for us to drink at morning tea time in the future. While all other produce from the Food Garden is given to charity for distribution to those who need food, our tea leaf collection is so tiny (we are such slow pickers and the number of bushes so few), and the preparation so foreign to those who have no experience with it, that it would be wasted if given to charity.

Meanwhile Tony harvested other produce for charity.  Wonderful fresh healthy greens!

I discovered Lesley carefully removing an assortment of weeds in a garden area which, last year, had been planted out with an assortment of tomato plants.  Since these should not be planted in the same bed two years in a row, planting of other vegetables here was required.  I assisted with the weeding, removing self-seeded borage plants and encroaching growth from nasturtiums to make way for varieties of capsicums and chilli plants. 

The RTBG nursery had germinated and carefully nurtured the growth of these healthy capsicum and chilli plants.  Quality plants kept appropriately moist gives them a perfect start.

The pots were randomly placed across the area approximately 500mm or more apart, then three of us dug the holes and planted each. It was true that ‘Many hands make light work’; our job was completed quickly.

I didn’t have time to walk around the entire Food Garden, however I did notice the garlic beds looked great with healthy growth.

With a combination day of garden bed preparation, weeding and planting, each of us left feeling a great deal of satisfaction. The warm spring sun certainly helped.

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