I don’t ‘do’ New Year resolutions. It’s too easy to let them go. But one I have made is to try and do a regular monthly update to this blog, with at least a few smaller posts in between. The small ones will probably be of not much consequence, as I’ll probably just be desperate to write something, but I hope some readers will get some information of value from them.
So here we go with the first for 2016.
I staggered out of bed on New Year’s Day after a hot night of non-sleep to let the chooks out and see what had suffered due to the heat the previous day. The temperature had reached 39 Celsius in Melbourne.
Luckily I went down the back past the bath full of water in which I grow azolla fern for the chooks. A little sugar glider was flailing about in the water. I don’t know how long she’d* been there but she was wet and exhausted. I lifted her out and took her inside. She was still pretty feisty—yelling loudly in protest—so I dried her off as best as I could, trying to avoid the sharp little teeth—I’ve been nipped by one previously—and found a pillow case to put her in. Sorry, it’s not a very good photo. Look at those tiny feet. She gripped my hands really hard with them, maybe thankful to have something solid to hang on to at last :
I’m fortunate there’s a very good wildlife carer not far from me. It was 6.30 am, but I hoped she’d be up and she was. So there I was, at (almost) the crack of dawn, driving the 10 minutes to her home. I didn’t see another car on the roads.
The glider will be in good hands. The carer will keep her there, giving her nourishing feeds with an eye dropper until she’s ready to come home and then she’ll ring me and I’ll go and pick her up. Probably around dusk when her nest mates will come out of their tree hollow for the night’s feeding routine. I know which tree they’re in so will put her on the trunk and let her be off to join them. An interesting start to the New Year!
(*note: I don’t really know what sex she/he was but I can’t refer to something so tiny and beautiful as ‘it’, so I’m assuming the most important sex).
I picked my first tomato a couple of days before the end of December. Cheating really, because it’s a very early variety anyway—Silvery Fir Tree, with pretty divided foliage :
Since I never buy the tasteless cricket balls that pass for supermarket tomatoes, I’m going to relish eating this, the first home-grown tomato I’ve had since last autumn.
The lettuces in the milk bottle planters had reached their use-by date so I removed them and replaced them with Purple King climbing beans :
The planters are on the side of the deck and I’ve attached strings so that the beans can climb up and onto the deck railings :
I’ve added more planters since I wrote about them previously, so it’s looking like a feature wall of sorts :
I’m growing endive now, instead of lettuce. I find it easier to grow; it doesn’t run to seed in hot weather like lettuce and the chooks prefer it to lettuce. It doesn’t have the sweeter flavour of lettuce, but put it in a mixed salad with a decent dressing and you wouldn’t know the difference :
There’s more here, in a wicking box with capsicums :
And in another wicking box with basil :
You can see from the photos that with small plants like these, I can get six to a wicking box. The boxes are 60 cm long x 40 cm wide x 25 cm deep. Sometimes a bit of thought is necessary to decide what plants will go together. The basil and capsicums will grow taller than the endive, which grows flatter, and they’ll shade it from the sun. That will keep the leaves soft and lush and tastier.
The thornless blackberries are colouring up :
I can’t wait to try these. Meanwhile their little apple pouches will stay on until they’re fully ripe :
This Naranka Gold pumpkin is doing well in an old recycling crate (not a wicking box—it has drainage at the bottom—but about the same size). I wrote about this variety here. This season I made sure I planted seed early so it would have time to flower and hopefully set fruit. It’s starting to trail and since the crate is beside the wood heap, I’m going to train it over the top :
The passionfruit climbing over the chook run has finally flowered and is setting fruit. It’s been there long enough; maybe it can read my mind—I was thinking of removing it :
Funnily enough, a lot of food plants that haven’t flowered well previously, did so this season. Does the (changing) climate have something to do with it? Do they know something I don’t? As long as I get more food from the garden, I’m happy.