‘Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.’ ~Lindley Karstens
“One must ask the children and the birds how cherries and strawberries taste.” ~ Goethe
I have quite a few free-range strawberries growing in the garden. Unfortunately for me, I don’t eat that many. If the ants, slaters of slugs don’t get them first, my own spawn usually gobble them up at first sight.
But, as I was browsing through the June issue of Australian House and Garden, I discovered an elegant solution. The magazine had done a feature on the Melbourne Garden Show. One of the Gold medal winning landscapes was the work of Jason Guthrie and Stuart Hodges from Green Art Gardens. While not a veggie patch, his garden caught my eye.
Titled “Spare Change” it was great to see how much of the garden had incorporated recycled and upcycled materials. I especially loved the birdcages hanging in a cluster with plants inside! I was determined to make some for myself.
Luckily for me, a quick search of the classifieds found a collection of 5 birdcages, all for the princely sum of $35.00. As you can see, they looked pretty rusty, ratty and broken, but it didn’t matter. They were perfect for me.
One domestic disagreement and 8 cans of spray paint later, my lovely, obliging Husband had eventually painted them all matt black.
When dry, I lined each cage with hessian, filled with potting mix and potted “Temptation” strawberries inside and surrounded them with a good layer of sugarcane mulch. As they grow, the plants will likely spread outside the cage and the fruit can drip down the sides.
Since the cages themselves were not designed to hold the weight of more than a few budgies, I wired the bases to the cages with black coated wire and a made a few extra reinforcements where required.
And here you have them,
I have hung them in the safety of the greenhouse where they can have a bit of shelter allowing them to establish. Also, as a precautionary measure, if they went crashing to the ground, they wouldn’t hurt anyone and make a mess in there! But so far, so good. As the weather warms, I will bring them under the pergola on the deck. Grouped together, they remind me of pictures I have seen of the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden in Hong Kong, where the locals gather to show off their prized songbirds.
So as you can see, the birds, children, ants, slugs or slaters will not be able to access my special caged strawberry stash. I can pick them via access of the little doors and windows built into the cage.
They’re going to be all mine! Mu hahahaha!!!
“If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?” Steve Wright.
I was in the kitchen whizzing up a batch of worm breakfast when I heard the news.
“…and those in Perth are up for a new summer record! 7 days of over 38 degrees. It’s going to be the hottest week since 1965. Stay cool sandgropers!”
That is not cool. Literally.
That kind of heat means there is little I can do for my plants. I have already mulched and mixed water retaining compounds into my soil. I cant just keep the sprinkler on all day either without risking a fine for breaching restrictions. Our water is so scarce, it wouldn’t feel right anyway. The best I can do is water them with the hand held hose each morning, give them a good drenching. In the evening, they can get an extra drink with the water recycled from the kids wading pool.
So now I have a dilemma.
What should get watered? Who can be “let go”?
The melons have fruit ripening, water.
The sweet potato appears indestructable, water.
The pumpkins are really struggling as it is, with no fruit on them at all. Go.
The tomatoes didn’t really thrive and will not probably survive the heat stress. Go.
So here is the final list.
The Hit List;
- sweet potatoes
- basil in raised bed.
So after 7 days of baking heat without water, the “go” plants will be removed and are destined for the compost bin.
I don’t have any compost ready at the moment, so I am going to prepare the empty beds with some purchased mushroom compost, plus a good mix of sugarcane mulch. I am the planning to cover the empty beds with weedmat or hessian to let the beds settle ready for the autumn planting season. I have been disappointed with the vegie patch yields so far, but clearly, the better the soil, the better the yield. It’s worth making a bigger investment of my time and efforts to get the soil improved.
In the meantime, should we get a cool day or two in the coming months, I have some big plans for another neglected corner of the garden, a space for a vegie patch workshop/greenhouse!
I am going to plan to have no plants to harvest in Janauary or February next year. Its just too risky. Or, I will have to find some pretty cast-iron-strength specimens that can handle the heat. Any suggestions?
What do you do when the heat is on?
“When one of my plants dies, I die a little inside, too.” ~Linda Solegato
A few months ago, the kids and I spent a lovely afternoon making origami newspaper pots for our strawberry seedlings. The idea is, when using newspaper, we can plant the seedlings directly into the soil without disturbing the roots and the pot will decompose naturally into the soil.
We filled the pots with a mix of fine worm castings and a premium packaged seed raising mix.
We placed the pots in supporting recycled milk containers, planted three packets off teeny-tiny, Jamie Durie* brand “fresca” strawberry seeds.
With only 25 seeds a packet, (and teeny tiny they are too) it occurred to me that I paid almost $10 for three packets of seeds that amounted to the seed yield of maybe one or two strawberries.
Ouch! Must research how to gather my own seeds.
Anyway, we watered the pricey little specimens in well using the mist setting on the hose and carefully placed them in the best spot in the greenhouse. We have been watering them faithfully these past 2 weeks and…… behold the result.
Nothing has grown!!!! We will persist in hope, but I’m not very optimistic. Twice I have been tempted to just toss the lot into the worm farm.
But then I remember the $10. A bit of a pricey meal for that lot.
Thankfully, last week at our local supermarket, somewhat wilted, but advanced strawberries were marked down and selling for a bargain $2 a pot. I bought 15. A little bit of worm wee has restored their pluck and they are now thriving nicely in my “berry lane” bed.
What have you tried to grow with no avail?
*Just for those of you who don’t live on our planet, Jamie Durie is a horticulturalist with some extra special talents. (google “manpower + Jamie Durie”) Apparently he was born in Manly, but I had read he also spent some time growing up in Tom Price, which is a mining town about 300km east of where I used to live in Karratha. See? We were practically neighbours.
Not surprisingly perhaps, the frescas ended up in the worm farm, where they gobbled up both the soil and newspaper.
Then, while weeding my path, I noticed it.
A lone strawberry plant, growing in probably the least hospitable part of my garden, between hot, trampled brick pavers.
It’s a little hard not to take it personally. Now it feels like they just refused to grow despite our best efforts.
Meanwhile my cheap rescued strawberries are throwing out fruit lots of fruit, thriving and beginning to shoot out runners. A happy strawberry ending after all!
I have since managed to grow strawberries from seed. I have grown a different alpine variety that requires cooler sowing period and over half of the seeds have germinated nicely. Faith restored!