Normality in the Food Garden

Think Thursday. Think volunteers. Think plants. Think harvests. Think weeding. Think Food Garden of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. Nothing could be more normal than our wonderfully committed voluntary team who plunge their hands into the soil, dig holes, nestle plants into new homes, nip a few branches off bushes and trees, and then enjoy cups of tea and chatty lunches. Idyllic. Reinvigorating for the people as well as for the garden.

Tony had a great deal of harvesting to undertake in order to give healthy fresh produce to charity. Shallots and leeks were pulled by the dozen.

If you are like me and have never grown shallots, you may be surprised. One bulb goes into the ground at planting time and then, over 6-8 months, that multiplies so 6 or more will be ready at harvest time.

Meanwhile others were tackling the bane of all gardens – green oxalis that had probably come in with mulching bales of straw or hay. In the two weeks over the Christmas break, infestations were visible in most garden beds.

By the end of the day the majority had been lifted, along with good soil that harboured the hidden and pesty bulbettes, and been removed for destruction – none would be used in composting bins. Later in the day a Fig tree was planted.

Elsewhere the Kiwi fruit vines were being shorn. These were sprouting long tendrils that waved madly heading upwards towards the sun and outwards to twine with slowly walking visitors. The technique was to take a waving strand, count at least two leaves up from the central stem and cut just above those nodes. This allows new growth to shoot from the remaining couple of nodes and it is on these that a crop of fruit will develop next season.

The leafy tops of two potted Bay trees were roughly halved in size and, what remained was, shaped as a ball on a stick. This process will encourage new growth.

Elsewhere around the Food Garden, exciting growth was visible. The KY1 tomatoes were a picture of health and later in the day were given surrounds of straw to provide a bed for the tomatoes that often stay close to the ground. The first photo shows these tomatoes which had been planted on 3rd November.

The fruits of blueberries were clearly visible although not yet ripe.

Soy bean seeds had been planted and were freshly germinated.

Zuchinnis were flourishing

Healthy potted strawberries will be a tempting sight for visitors once the fruit is ripe; sadly I doubt whether any will remain for charity.

Aa numbers of plants of the Cinderella pumpkin (La Rouge d’Etampes) were spreading, having been germinated from the seeds of those that grew in my garden – with the seed originally from former Food Garden vols, Robyn and Andrew.

Proud sunflowers always attract the visitors and I always admire their grandness.

There is much more to see in the Food Garden so, for the lucky people who live in Hobart I recommend you pop in, have a wander, and go away with clean air in your lungs from the wonderful outgassing of these healthy plants.

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