The Garden in March, 2015. Hopefully the Summer heat and humidity is in the past and seedlings get a better start in life. Despite the wet Summer, the garden looks bedraggled and unsure of itself.It hasn't quite decided which plant will rule the soil or the air.
African Yams, chokoes, Russian cucumber and Sweet Potato have taken to the sky trails along jute trellises strung like spider webs this way and that. The Frangipanis have settled in, and while as yet not much use for shade, many of the trees are beginning to keenly flower. The pawpaws, after a lacklustre existence thus far, are fruiting forth.The Jerusalem Artichokes are flowering preliminary to die back...and last season's white potato leftovers (the spuds that missed my fossicking) have sprouted and broken through the earth's surface.
I've invested in an early planting of seed potatoes -- Nicola and Sebago -- with the plan to later add other varieties to the soil. This has been my best year for peppers but, like tomatoes, I get ready die off as ripening approaches. Sometimes the whole plant dies.So I have to pick early if I want fruits for the table.
I'm hesitant about planting out my next batch of seedlings because I have lost so many over Summer. Heat, relentless sun...the soil's incapacity to hang onto water: all these elements make the beds are brutal kindergarten.
For now, there's not much to harvest. The very last of the parsley, plenty of basil, lemon grass is thriving, the 'greens' are limited to exotics, the spring onions have all been pulled. My much yearned for cucumbers don't do so well. My many katuk bushes have been feeding me but they haven't bushed up as yet so when harvesting I have to be gentle.The kangkong -- water spinach -- has recovered from its desultory habit and infestations and is now harvestable.
Ready to amaze are more New Guinea Beans that I'll know what to do with. This time of year, its' well worth growing as a Zuchini substitute . But then Winged Beans have not done much at all, although I keep trying and Snake Beans are placement fickle.
The skytrails are the most exciting Summer invention. Jute twine strung above ground in patterns or on impulse has proven a great method of trellising that nonetheless holds up to stormy weather. When I cut back the vines, the whole lot -- string and all -- can be deployed as mulch. I haven't solved the upright challenge as yet, mainly because the bamboo canes I've been using are slippery perches. Even when they get pulled to the side by the twine, so that they rise up like leaning towers, they still 'work' and allow for fiddling and customising.
My best work was the shade lean-to I strung off the back veranda against the late afternoon sun. The native legume I used quickly embraced the trellis system. Unfortunately I'll be crying when I have to cut it back for the darker and cooler days of Winter.
The plan was to use choko but the choko vines have been desultory over Summer, only now taking off.
The Summer may have been wetter than expected, but the soil temp was still high.Mulch was harder to come by and my shade options have not, as yet, consolidated. I've now planted out with growing-more-of-my-own mulch in mind. More lemon grasses, Cannas, Vetiver....and I now deploy branch trimmings, cardboard and newspapers as carpeting for the garden paths.
Where the weedy grasses have taken off I lay down weed mat to starve them of sunshine. This works extremely well, and I plan to use the same mat option to cover fallow beds.So have weed mat/will travel. Very useful stuff.
It was a great season for weeds, and since I use very weedy grass clippings as mulch, they got away from me in places -- more so than previous years. So 'grasses' are mixed up with my pigface beds, despite the initially laying down of wet newspapers. I've learnt -- leastways I think I have -- to be patient, and this weedy infestation will spend itself so long as I keep a careful eye on management and sponsor other plants to overrule the infestation.
I don't normally weed. I think it's a mug's game to be out there pulling weeds every other week. I do it a couple of times each year because I have to, but I'm a keen supporter of autocratic suppression and even if my mulch is the source of the weediness, more mulch also serves to smother opportunistic growth. You can never have too much mulch. Layer upon layer until you reach a point where the beds are no longer weed prone.
In the offing -- hallelujah from on high! -- when my frangipanis are closer to heaven than they are now, I'll have more therapeutic shade to play with and manipulate. I can't wait for the Plumeria to grow UP more....
Got no choice. Gotta wait.