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Jobs

There is always something to do in the Garden. 

Here's what's happening in the garden through the six seasons. 

Wet Season Jobs – Dec/Jan/Feb

 

There's bright orange fungi growing on the dead branches and moss, like hundreds
of tiny pine trees, covering all the rocks along the paths. Everything smells of rich
compost.

  • Pollinate jap pumpkin flowers each morning before 10am and afterwards
    press the edges of the female flower together to stop them filling with water.

 

  • Grow trombchini, bitter melon and snake gourd over tee-pee trellises so their
    leaves can dry out between storms.

 

  • Wander around in the early morning or the late afternoon and gather all those lovely nitrogen rich weeds and chuck them in the compost.

 

  • Plant your aerial potatoes Dioscorea bulbifera. They don't have any trouble with fungus. Pick the potatoes when the vine dies in Feb / March.

 

  • Mow in every patch of sunlight. Spread the clippings in the compost pile and cover immediately and water the pile well, to stop the nitrogen escaping into the air.

 

  • Make up your next years veggie garden beds. Lay down a thick layer of newspaper, cover that with at least 30cm of rough mulch (tree mulch, palm fronds etc) cover that with about 10cm of manure, lime, 20cm of good lucerne hay. Keep making layers of high nitrogen and dry mulch until you’ve used up anything that isn’t moving. Then cover the lot with plenty of old manure mixed with compost and top soil and then mulch and plant the cover crop.

 

  • While it's raining don a raincoat and umbrella and run, splashing through the puddles with the kids and grandkids.

 

  • When the rain settles in for a week, make a cup of tea and plan next years garden. How many bags of dried tomatoes and bananas are still in the bottom of the fridge? What are you going to do with six bottles of pickled eggplants?

 

 

Knock-‘em Down Jobs – Feb/March/April


The native grasses are flowering fluffy, spiky tufts. Spear grass has incredible purple/pink flowers that dangle like delicate shoes from the tip of the seed shaft.

 

  • Time to plant the Dry season veggie seeds in the shade-house protected from the chewing insects.

 

  • Plant tomatoes, capsicum, eggplant, Chinese greens, okra and mustard greens, cabbage, broccoli, beetroot, parsley, dill, coriander and anything else you want to try.

 

  • When the seedlings emerge, fertilise them with very weak solutions of liquid fertiliser once a week.

 

  • Dig in the cover crops before they start to seed. It will take six weeks before the goodness they provide will be available to the plants.

 

  • Simply slip the fork into the soil, lift the soil and the cover crop up and turn it over trapping the wonderful greenery in the ground. Work backwards so you’re not walking over the already lifted soil. Once the bed is dug over, throw on a light sprinkling of compost or organic nitrogen rich fertiliser to give the composting beasties something to eat while their working. Then cover the bed with at least 20cm of mulch to protect the soil and the microbes from the heat.

 

  • If you don't like digging, you can simply slash the cover crop - a pair of shears is perfect for this. Use the tops in the compost and let the roots decompose naturally in the soil. Mulch at least 20cm thick.

 

  • Weed, weed and when you have some spare time weed again, because green weeds are the best free source of nitrogen for your compost heap and you want to get them out before they start to seed.

 

  • Plant coriander seeds in rich soil and replant every two weeks to ensure a continuous supply throughout the dry.


Burn off Jobs – April/May/June


When the grass is dry, go out in the evenings when there’s still humidity in the air,
and do patchy burns around forests and vine thickets to protect them from the hot
season fires.

 

  • Let the soil under the fruit trees dry out a bit so their roots dive down following the water, but don’t stress them too much or they’ll become termite tucker.

 

  • Time to check the irrigation. Turn up the pressure on the irrigation pipes and flush all the mould, ants, bits of silt and debris out. Pull the sprinklers apart and drop the tops into a little vinegar to clean out any lime residue.

 

  • Weed and mulch around the fruit trees so the sprinklers can spray without hindrance.

 

  • As soon as the chewing insect have gone, start sun-hardening the seedlings.

 

  • If the cold comes it will only last that six weeks, so plant snow peas straight into the soil now. Give them a tall trellis, at least two to three metres tall.

 

  • Plant rockmelons, watermelons, zucchini, cucumber etc straight into the garden beds now.

 

  • Plant a new block of corn every four weeks so you’ve always got cobs for the table.

 

  • Transplant seedlings in the evening so they have all night to settle in before they have to face a full day’s sun. Water morning and night for a few days.

Dry Jobs – June/July/Aug


The world is a mass of colour. Bougainvillea, roses, all the little annuals. Take a walk in the drying swampland. It is blooming with, wildflowers, lilies, sundews and Bladderworts.

 

  • There's not much to do in the garden now except stroll around trimming dead leaves from the bananas, turning the sweet potato, melon and pumpkin vines back into their designated spaces.

  • Well you do have to harvest tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber and a plethora of greens but that’s not really a job.

  • And the veggie garden must be kept fertile with a good soaking of liquid fertiliser every couple of weeks.

  • Every now and then there might even be a pest invasion you have to deal with - chewy little Heliothis grubs or over excited grasshoppers.

  • But the garden is totally mozzie, so you must take your most comfortable chair out under a tree and sit and enjoy the soft light and the birds.

  • Oh, and plant cherry tomatoes so they are ready to take over when it gets too hot for the larger varieties to set fruit.

  • And harvest yam bean and cassava before they get too big and tough.

  • Also, TLC is really important especially for broccoli and cabbage, they will take any excuse to fail, so liquid fertiliser regularly and lots of inspirational pep talks.


Build up Jobs - Aug/Sept/Oct


It’s our Autumn. Gum leaves fall salmon pink and deep purple. Billy Goat plum and Kurrajong float spotted with orange and red. And after a fire the cycads fronds are iridescent orange against the black earth.

 

  • High fires season time. Clean the leaves out of your gutters.

 

  • Rake up the leaves and use them as mulch in watered areas or keep them to mulch your wet season veggie garden.

 

  • Check the irrigation regularly. At this driest time of year, even a day without watering will send the more sensitive plants into heart failure.

 

  • It's starting to warm up so give the tomatoes and other fruiting plants a good soaking of liquid fertiliser each week.

 

  • Check for Heliothis grub damage, hunt them down and kill them.

 

  • Mulch the veggie garden so the soil doesn’t dry out. Throw some blood and bone down firs to keep the soil fertile.

 

  • Move shade shelter over the tomato and more sensitive plants.

  • Soon the wind will turn and bring back the humidity and a million beetles and grasshoppers will hatch and climb out hungry from their eggs. Don't panic! Put out water for the birds and reptiles and they will gobble the grasshoppers before they do too much damage.

Troppo Jobs – Oct/Nov/Dec


The ground is too hot to walk on. Willy willies spin across the dry land tossing dust
and leaves into the air. It's too hot for jobs!

 

  • But, chewing insects are on the rampage so get out early in the morning and late in the evening when they are sluggish and deal with them.

 

  • The wind is hot and dry. Mulch all the gardens. Water at night when the evaporation is minimal.

 

  • Water is such a luxury now. When you move the sprinkler, walk slowly under it, relishing the cool drops of water on your thirsty skin - it's heaven.

 

  • The temperate climate veggies are on their last legs so put them out of their misery, even if they didn’t produce anything.

  • In the vacant spaces in the veggie garden, plant snake beans, mung beans, Celon spinach, rosella and lots of basil.

 

  • It's very windy and fallen leaves are rushing about the place. Collect them and cover them with a tarp to stop them blowing away. I know it's hot but you're going to need plenty of mulch for the Wet season garden so you just have to make the effort.

 

  • Cherry tomatoes, mustard spinach, rocket and kale will keep producing till they drown in the Wet season storms, if you keep them well fertilised and give them a little shade.

 

  • Evaporation is so high you'll need to top your water features in the garden every week. Scoop the leaves off the water's surface regularly or it will get foul.

We've just had one of those huge storms that leave you stunned. The air is light and clear, filled with suspended particles and silver drops sit like mercury, on the banana leaves. 

In the deep water on the flood plains, among the beds of wild rice, Magpie geese are raising their fluffy chicks. Dragonflies scoot across the water chasing insects.

A cool breeze tickles the side of your face one morning and the rain is gone.

The spear grass seeds fall and work their way into the soil. 

Ahhh. The grass and weeds have slowed down, the chewing insects have disappeared and all those plants you've had to mollycoddle through the Wet will now thrive.

The wind is hot and dry, crinkling up your skin and setting your hair on end. As the billabongs shrink into small pools, the water birds come in thousands to feast.

The air is so filled with humidity it is so hard to walk through, but I’m eating a ripe pineapple with lashings of freshly picked mango each morning for breakfast.