Blueberry Blues

photo 2

I have two blueberry plants. One is an evergreen Sunshine Blue, which is currently very healthy and happy in a pot. The other is a deciduous Denise, that I ordered recently from the Diggers Club. It being winter, it’s really just a stick, and I’m struggling to believe it will ever sprout leaves, let alone berries.

I’ve read that you’re supposed to remove the flowers from blueberries in the first year, to promote strong growth and to increase future harvests. Today I found a beautiful cluster of sweet flowers on the Sunshine Blue.

Could I really do it?

Pinch off those flowers?

Deny myself a summer with blueberries?

No blueberries. Not one. Until next summer.

NEXT summer! That felt impossibly far away.

But I did it. I pinched them off, with a heavy heart.

RIP, potential blueberries. Know that your lives were not sacrificed for naught.

photo 1

Eating local

madewithover

Until our own veggie garden is up and running, we get our fruit and veg via the Ceres Fair Food veggie box program. All the food in our veggie boxes is local, in season and organic. You can pick up your box from a nearby Fair Food Host, or pay a little extra to have it delivered to your door. I love the challenge of coming across something I don’t normally cook with (this winter it’s been parsnips and fennel), and the produce always tastes amazing.

Yesterday when we were walking Dame Maggie, we came across this market garden along the Merri Creek, just a 15 minute walk from our house (and less than 10km from the city). It’s the Harding St Market Garden, and it’s been there since the 1840s. It has a massive 100,000L water tank under the whole plot, that collects water from the rooftops from surrounding townhouses and stores it underground. Sort of like a giant version of a wicking worm bed!

I googled the Harding Street Garden when I got home, and was delighted to discover it’s now managed by Ceres, and is one of the sources of veggies for our veggie box. You can’t get much more local than that.

photo

Waiting and wicking

We’ve been through about three new backyard studio plans this week, as Yarra Valley Water keeps finding new and exciting things to prevent us from building where we want to (currently it’s a manhole on someone else’s property… grr). But I’m keeping my spirits up by planning my eventual veggie garden.

I’ve been reading about wicking worm beds. With our increasingly hot and dry summers, water is going to become one of the most expensive aspects of gardening. A wicking worm bed requires MUCH less water, because there’s almost no evaporation and the drained water is wicked back up into the bed. Some bloggers have reported only needing to fill the reservoir once a fortnight in summer!

It looks like this (with lots of variations depending on your own opinions/preferences):

The ‘pool area’ is filled with a layer of gravel, a layer of shadecloth or some other mesh, then a layer of sand, which helps the water wick back up into the soil.

I love the idea of having the worm farms built in to the raised beds – saves space in our small garden, and time, because you don’t have to transport the castings around – the worms do it for you! It looks a bit more fiddly at the beginning, but I think will definitely pay off in the long term.

Back to the drawing board.

The planning process for our backyard studio has ground to a halt AGAIN. It turns out that as well as avoiding water/sewage assets on our property, we also have to avoid the ones on our neighbours’ property as well, even though there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to find out what/where they are, until you’ve gone to the trouble of having plans drawn up and had them rejected by the water people. Boo.

So the veggie garden plans are also on hold until we figure out a solution. I’ll just sadly flip through my Digger’s Annual and keep dreaming. But we’re still harvesting lettuce, lots of herbs, silverbeet and kaffir lime. So that’s something!

And there are still nice surprises in the garden, to lift our spirits. Like this anemone!

Image