The Garden Notes faded during August and September while winter winds and heavy rains prevailed. Now mid-way through October we are encouraged to resume the Notes with the fresh wealth of new growth and Spring promise, although winter temperatures have lingered and surprised with snow on the mountains some mornings.
The rains have been generous, more so than in recent years. All ponds and drainage ditches have filled. The Garden has asserted itself as a seasonal wetland, with many areas holding surface water, including beds in the vegetable garden. A number of trees and shrubs have succumbed to the wet and their roots drowned. Certain varieties, which appeared to have established themselves in recent years, failed in these conditions – in particular, buddleia saligna (almost all), buddleia salvifolia (some), coleonema, and (surprisingly) polygamas. Salix mucronata (the indigenous willow wilgerbaum), ofcourse, is in its element. Many cuttings (or batons) have been taken and planted to fill vacant wet spaces. The showing of spring bulbs, so exuberant last year, was hurried and caught too frequently by squally weather. But some day-lilies have recently emerged in unlikely locations and exclaimed their presence.
The green manure (mixture of lupins and oats) which adorned most of the vegetable beds in early winter, was finally cut into the top soil by September. So far, none of these beds have been dug. Rather, seedlings from the nursery have been planted straight into the surface mulch and are benefitting directly from the enhanced soil structure and imbedded nitrogen. In the dug beds we are sowing our standard quotas of carrots and beetroot, planting leeks and spring onions, and filling any remaining beds with potatoes. A number have been reserved for sweet potatoes, the runners for which we await with some uncertainty. Last year they arrived late and were caught by the wet before maturing, and ended up vrot. We hope to plant the pink-skinned variety which are small, sweet and delicious. That leaves the ever-faithful spinach (or more correctly Swiss Chard) which has kept going and is now re-flourishing in deep green. The magic additionality is Eric’s cow manure administered as a tea, concocted with care by Kiepie. Our great winter success was fennel, now almost exhausted by the kitchen, and turnips in abundance.
Spring and early summer plantings are now in process. Bush beans are up-and-running. Runner beans are being staked. Rows (aisles) of miellies and sun-flowers (Kiepie’s signature) will once again grace the beds. Tomatoes, peppers, chillies, squashes, aubergines will soon be planted out. A refurbished herb-garden (the wagon-wheel) is being planted by Luke along with Unathi, and will clearly benefit from dedicated care-takers. It is hoped to incorporate medicinal herbs (and may – who knows? - reduce the Lynedoch community’s medical bills). Households in the Village have begun to reclaim their vegetable beds and look forward to harvesting their own produce.