It had been only a fortnight since I last visited the Food Garden of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, yet when I arrived last Thursday I could see significant and substantial changes had been made. Highly visible was the deepened garden bed; a scar in the landscape.
All the soil down at least 30 cm had been removed – my memory is hazy but I seem to remember Coordinator Adam mentioning 7 tonnes of soil was taken away – or was it twice that amount? Not for recycling. Not for composting. Off to landfill as ‘rubbish’ soil. All in an attempt to remove every bulb and plant of spreading onion weed. This weed has been gradually making itself comfortable in a number of garden beds. The soil removal here is an experiment to see if it can be removed by this manner. The area will sit idle for a couple of weeks to see whether this pesky weed is even more embedded than expected, with fresh shoots appearing. Will more digging be required and will more soil need to be removed? Once this process is deemed successful, then other smaller garden beds will receive the same treatment. It is drastic. However the invasion of onion weed has to be stopped – they proliferate underground and choke the soil reducing any chance of good crops of useful vegetables. Most plants are almost impossible to dig out manually because of their depth and their strong attraction to staying put. To tug the leaves is to leave the bulbs in the ground.
The plants of four giant pumpkin were installed in a mound of rich compost. If these are let be by visitors, we can expect monster sized pumpkins to enthrall us, once full size, next year. Unfortunately in past years, some visitors have thought it fun to see if they can lift them. In doing so, they have always managed to separate the stalk from the pumpkin so it dies and rots.
Long term blog post readers will know that Robyn and Andrew gave me the seeds for the La Rouge D’Etampes pumpkin which is commonly referred to as the Cinderella pumpkin because of its shape. Cut spaces for windows, add wheels and attach to a cluster of horses, call out for Cinderella, load her in and drive away! Their seeds germinated beautifully and gave me a large crop earlier this year. I still have one very large pumpkin to cut and share – and many people around Hobart have enjoyed a wedge through winter. Unbeknown to me, some seeds found their way into the Garden’s nursery and were germinated. These have been planted out and I am super pleased and excited to see how they fare – especially as they were given the best of compost and organic fertilisers. Robyn and Andrew are also chuffed.
To add to this story, they relocated to the north west of Tasmania and didn’t take any seeds. By chance I had a few Cinderella pumpkin plants pop up in my garden unexpectedly (as distinct from those I planted deliberately a few weeks ago) I dug the spares out and now these have been planted up north. The circles of sharing are complete!
Creating supports for climbing tomatoes and planting same, left a garden bed looking very organised. The string line from the apex of the structure is secured into the soil with a u shaped tent peg. The tomatoes will find their way towards the sky following this string.
Elsewhere a different support was fixed for more tomatoes.
The tea plantation is always a source of tiny flick weeds. Is that something we want in the Food Garden? No. It never is. Clearing around the tea bushes was a massive and fiddly job, but an essential task.
I continued to pod the soy beans. Often with only 1. 2 or 3 beans in the tiny pods, it was a slow process.
I walked away from the Food Garden while others remained hard at work. Uphill from the Food Garden, past the cacti and past the Sub-Antarctic Plant House, I headed for the Herb Garden. In all the years I have never visited this gem. Situated near the red brick convict built wall that surrounds the Gardens, I discovered a weed-free series of garden beds with a wide variety of healthy herbs.
This alone is well worth a visit for Hobartians and those who travel to Hobart from further afield. A place of calm allowing for a meditative state of mind.
Hi Helen, I had a garden bed riddled with onion weed. Over about 20 years, I gradually got rid of most of it by removing it when the soil was damp and of course persistence. A
Yes persistence is a great approach. Add another P – patience. And never let another P encroach – procrastination.