Friday, September 12, 2008

Spring things


At last, the phony spring is over and the warm, lovely, real deal is here. People often like to argue about when spring starts, but September 1 isn't a bad official start date for me here in Sydney. Until this morning, the chills of winter have hung around to make me feel old and cold every time I stand in the shadows. The forecast max today is about 24°C, which is almost perfect. Tomorrow they're talking about 27 and maybe an afternoon thunderstorm. That's more like it. So I decided to wander around this morning for half an hour, just randomly snapping pix of what's happening on this first 'proper' day of spring.

This is my orchid 'B team' in action. They're only the B team because they flower second every year, in spring. The A team, which are smaller-flowered and browny-orange in colour, flower earlier, in June. Usually the B team gets chomped by orchid beetles, but this year they've put on their best show ever. A few big sprays are in the living room – it's hard to beat orchids for spectacular cut flowers in a vase, and they last for ages.

I posted a while back (on July 12) about the 'fields of poppies', and these wonderful cut flowers just keep powering on. Pam's regular cutting of them for vases here and there has probably extended their flowering season nicely, but they're showing no signs of slowing down after two months. I'll be planting poppies again next autumn, that's for sure.

I've always liked white and green in gardens. This is just a couple of little tubs of white alyssum that I've put in front of succulent city, to hide the ugly little wire-covered frame which I built to improve drainage for the succulents.

OK, so I loaded the photos in the wrong order! Back to the poppies, they really are the first thing you notice when you step out the back door. Bees galore right now flitting from poppy to poppy in seemingly random order.

The spring/summer vegie garden is under way. This is one of the 'Black Beauty' zucchini (ie, courgette) seeds popping up to soak in the warmth. All I need is three plants, and all seven seeds I've sown have sprouted. I had so much fun last year harvesting the zucchini flowers and cooking them (with various stuffings) that I'm back for more this year.

This is about the second-last crop of broad beans that I'll enjoy. I'm a bit sceptical about all those claims that home-grown vegies have a special flavour. I reckon home-grown carrots taste just like carrots, and the strawberries aren't exceptionally better than nice quality shop-bought ones, but I do definitely agree about home-grown tomato flavour and home-grown broad beans as well. These are just so tender and delicious even when raw, and I'll definitely be growing more of these, my favourite green vegie, next year.

The broccoli is proceeding well, so I thought I'd toss in a photo of the progress so far. It's hardly a crop to get excited about, and until recently progress has been slow, but in the last three weeks the heads have formed and grown quite rapidly, so I look forward to the harvest and taste test.

These are my beautiful duds. Edible crops? Zero! Talking to friends who know more about vegies than I do, and the consensus is that they're healthy, beautiful, plants, but it's just too warm here in Sydney for Brussels sprouts. Not sure if that's true, as this winter has been cold by Sydney standards, but the sprouts either haven't formed on some plants, and on others they have formed but 'blew out', instead of forming tight heads. Oh well. I'm tempted to have another go at growing them next year just because I like the look of the plants.

Herbs are bouncing back. On the left are the chives, which I repotted only two weeks ago. They always form a dense mass of roots, so I use a sharp big knife to cut off the bottom four-fifths of the root ball, and then give the chives above-ground a crew cut to reduce them to stumps. Back into fresh potting mix and two weeks later they're back in action. On the right is the French tarragon. It dies down completely in winter, and while I was reviving the chives two weeks ago I cut back all the runners and dead foliage from the tarragon, to reveal next season's leaves forming. For both the chives and the tarragon, I give them an application of liquid Seasol, which is a seaweed-based organic product that isn't a fertiliser, but is classed as a soil conditioner and root-growth promoter. It's a bit a of a miracle tonic for all sorts of plants, from herbs needing a kick-start through to enormous stressed trees.

And the potatoes I planted a while back took ages to get going, but now their heads are above ground they're powering along. I was just too impatient with the potatoes and planted them too early, so next year I won't put them in the ground until August, if I bother to grow them again. It'll all depend on the taste test. Will my home-grown spuds taste better than the shop-bought items? Not sure of the answer, but I do know that I'll enjoy being the taste tester!

And so that's my first warm morning of spring. I'm looking forward to a summer of tomatoes – the seeds have just started sprouting (three types, big Grosse Lisse, medium Romas, and cherry Tiny Tims), and when the poppies fade, which won't be soon, that's where I'm planning a little potager of flowers, herbs and vegies all mixed together. It might be a small space, but there's always plenty to do.





1 comment:

Ton said...

Your garden is so magnificent to say the least...especially the poppies, my favorite flower!