Thursday, 22 September 2016

Dreams Delayed

"Learn to labor and to wait" ~Longfellow

 One of my favourite authors has written that our dreams always take longer to achieve than we ever expect them to when we start out on our journey toward achieving them.  As a future orientated person I spend time planning and stepping out my future goals and dreams. I am always generous with the amount of time I allow to achieve objectives, but because life is so full, it often takes months longer to achieve goals than I had anticipated. Does this effect my serenity? Oh yes indeed. I work on releasing the frustration so that I feel better in the present, but I often wonder why does it take us so long to achieve my dreams?

Sometimes I worry that my dreams will never fully manifest. Such doubt is really quite dangerous. Not only can it make me feel despondent it puts me at risk of giving up. I stop to remind myself that many people lose what they don't have; those things they are aiming for and dreaming about; because they have not learned to grab hold of those thoughts of doubt and wrestle them to the ground.  In short they give up.

Then there are the other background mind noises. The "if only" thoughts, that can easily replace serenity with mild melancholia.  If only I had walked away earlier on from those relationships and situations that were hindering me.  If only I had met my husband sooner. And so on. But spending time in the land of regret will not help me be present with all today's wonderful possibilities.

My ego sits like a child in the back seat of the car, asking: 'Are we there yet?' No. "Are we there yet?" No. "How long until we are there?" We will be there when we arrive. "Are we theeerrreee yyyyeeet?." Sheesh that takes a lot of emotional energy to deal with.

Waiting upon our dreams is one of life's universal themes. I am not the only person to have struggled with holding fast my purpose whilst waiting for my delayed dreams to arrive. I won't let delayed dreams steal my energy, I hope  you don't let them steal yours either.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

In My Garden - September 2016

The year's at the spring 
And day's at the morn; 
Morning's at seven; 
The hillside's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven-
All's right with the world!
~Robert Browning

(Well, oops! I wrote this post at the beginning of September and then promptly forgot to add photos and publish. Better late than never I guess.)

Spring is here and the weather is perfect! All is right with the world especially at seven in the morning in the garden. Our young tropical apple trees are in flower and our choko vine is growing rambunctiously.

This month I am want to plant-
Vegetables: Pumpkin and beans the seeds of both are sown directly into the garden bed. I would also like to plant potato's but I have been a bit late this year obtaining some tubers.

Pumpkins need fertile, well-drained, well-composted soil and full sun to grow and fruit well. Mostly pumpkins are grown on the ground, somewhere where there is the space for them to spread. Sometimes the smaller varieties of  pumpkins are grown up a strong trellis. I will be planting my seeds into mounds of good compost. As pumpkin vines are shallow rooted I will need to make sure they are kept watered in hot, dry or windy weather. Problems to watch out for are the larvae and adults of the 28 spotted ladybird, and mildew. These problems can be dealt with by picking off the Ladybirds and their larvae and spraying the mildew with  a solution of one part milk to 10 parts water and spraying this fortnightly.

The Bird of Paradise have come back into flower.

 The beans I am planting are climbing beans so I will need to plant them next to a fence or trellis, or make myself some tripods from some garden stakes.  The beans I am planting will grow to about 2 metres and I will be planting them about 10 to 15 centimetres apart. They take about 3 months from planting until they are ready for harvesting. Beans like well-drained soil in full sun.  I will plant them into damp, well composted soil and add a bit of blood and bone on top of the soil after planting. After that I won't be adding fertiliser as beans fix their own nitrogen, but I will water them with a seaweed solution once they have flowered.

Herbs: I would like to plant some Rosemary seeds. I will need to sow them in punnets and then transplant them when the time is right. Each plant will grow to about 1.5 metres and spread about 1 metre, and I will be planting mine about 50 cm apart.  According to some gardeners, Rosemary is a good companion plant to broccoli, beans and cabbage. It has a reputation of repelling bean beetle, cabbage moth and cabbage fly.   However it is best not to plant Rosemary with carrots, potatoes, or pumpkins.    I love to use Rosemary when roasting lamb. How do you use Rosemary?

Ornamentals: For colour and for attracting bees I want to sow two of my favourite flowers cosmos and blue cornflower. Cornflowers are a native of the United Kingdom, they look really pretty when sown along with poppies. Which now come to think of it I just may do.  Normally I would wait until autumn to sow my cornflower seeds but the seeds I have are getting toward their best before date so I need to plant them now. I am not sure, but I think they may not flower until next spring, but I will have to just wait and see.  I will be planting the cornflower seeds about 1.5 cm deep in a sunny spot in well-drained soil. When they come up I will I will thin them out (the part I hate!) as each plant needs about 35cms space around them.  Did you know that cornflowers are used in certain tea blends, one is Twinings Lady Grey? Cornflowers are also used as a companion plant to cereal crops such as wheat, oats and barley. This is such an interesting plant I may do a full plant profile for cornflowers at some stage.

Hovea in flower

Cosmos are native to Mexico and also like  a sunny spot. I will be planting the seeds in moist, well-drained soil in another part of the garden. It is a good idea not to over fertilise cosmos as it can encourage them to be top heavy, but I may need to stake them anyway. Some gardeners recommend growing cosmos in hot, dry conditions and in poor to average soil. Perhaps this is close to their native growing conditions? Some gardeners also find that cosmos make good companion plants as they repel pest insects and attract ladybugs and other beneficial insects to prey on them. They grow to about 120cms.

What are you planting this month?

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Free Plants

Exotic bloom may fill the vase, or grace the high-born maid;But sweeter far to me than all, are blue-bells in the shade. ~  Eliza Cook

Nature is bountiful. There are so many ways we can benefit from this bounty. One way is through free plants. I thought I would share some photos of some of the free plants growing in my gardens. 

I love to see free plants pop up in the garden. Below is a photo of my keyhole garden. Last season I grew cherry tomatoes in addition to other food plants. I have many tomato plants appearing in that garden as a result of fruit dropping. I have been pulling the seedlings out and adding them to my compost. A self-sewn cherry tomato decided to establish itself in the keyhole part of the garden, and I have allowed this one to grow. I have pruned it a bit and tied it back also since this photo was taken. It is now  just starting to fruit and is covered in yellow flowers and tiny green tomatoes.

I have also been busy dividing plants. Below are a couple of Agapanthus that I divided from the parent plant. 

I have also done the same with some Gerberas. 

I have divided and planted out strawberry runners.

Gazania is another plant that is easy to divide. I usually just cut through any plants that have grown over the edge of the garden, using a spade. I then separate the cut off plant into a few smaller pieces with root attached and then re-plant these in the garden. Though it doesn't really show in the photo below the Gazania I have growing is the one with the silver foliage, (Gazania rigens).

In a future post I will share some photos of the local native plants that appear without any effort on my part. 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Integrate rather than Segregate

Many hands make light work

This is part eight in my discussion of the 12 principles of permaculture.

The relationship between elements in a permaculture system are as important as the elements themselves. A permaculture design is a group of interacting, interrelated, interdependent elements acting together as the one unit. Without integration of the different elements we cannot create a permaculture system. So what I am aiming for is as system of elements that support each other. Good placement of elements is extremely important, and to do this I need to understand the needs and outputs of each element. Then I can place supporting elements around the initial element so it can gain the benefit of what is around it.   Each element within the system should provide at least three functions. For example; the earthworm opens up the soil, provides worm castings to build up the soil and breaks down organic matter.

A Cosmos seedling putting forth flower buds. The flowers will attract
beneficial insects to the garden.

Elements are combined within the design so that the needs of one element are supplied by another element. For example Chris from Gully Grove gave me a great tip on planting casuarinas and blueberries in close proximity, as the litter from the casuarina is a great mulch for the blueberries, and if they are planted as neighbours or as a 'guild', then it saves me time carting mulch around. The outputs of one element, in this case the casuarina  support the needs of another ( the blueberry bush).  When there are many elements working together we can see the evidence of this principle, - the many hands making light work as it were - in action.

I apply mulch to plants to help retain soil moisture and which feeds the soil as it breaks down. The mulch also provides habitat for predatory insects as well as a food source from the decaying mulch. To attract and support additional predator insects I can also plant more nectar and pollen producing plants in particular plants in the daisy family – cosmos, aster and yarrow; the carrot family – cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley and wild carrot;  plants in the mustard family – alyssum. Other plants that support predator insects are – sunflower, morning glory and elderberry.

Another recently planted Cosmos seedling. The Cosmos seedlings are growing quite fast and this one also has flower buds on it. On the left of the seedling we have some bromeliads, which are a habitat plant for froglets.

In the future  we want to build a hen run on our property adjacent to the orchard so that the hens can free range during the day, eating pests and spreading manure. I want to grow fruit trees such as mulberries and fodder plants that are accessible to the chickens whilst they are in the hen yard. Thereby creating another self-supporting system.

Integration of house and garden can be achieved through thoughtful design. Deciduous trees can be planted to block hot summer sun but allow warming winter sun. Pergolas can allow residents to enjoy a cooler spot outside during summer and can be used to grow deciduous vines such as grapes so that the pergola is also inviting during winter. A trellis placed to the western side of a house can create a living green screen to help keep a house cooler. 

Two elderberry cuttings waiting to be planted out into the garden. Elderberry
is another plant that supports predator insects.

These are just a few examples of how we can integrate elements rather than segregate them.