Waranga News

Health and happiness from the garden


In these times of high anxiety and enforced social isolation, connecting with nature helps us both physically and emotionally. It may be walking in our local bushland, breathing the fresh fragrant air, seeking out or admiring the wild flowers, local fauna, and majestic Eucalypts and acacias. Admiring the beauty, the fresh greenery and colour and being inspired to “garden’ in one of its many forms. You may just be tidying up a neglected area, repotting plants on your verandah or indoor patio, taking some cuttings to share with friends, weeding and feeding our ‘lawns’ or growing vegetables, herbs and flowers. Also taking photos to journal, or share, and drawing or painting some outdoor inspiration. Being amongst ‘the greenery has mental health benefits.

My garden is far from a masterpiece but the rewards create a sanctuary from my sometimes stressful life. The vegetables are doing well with the beautiful rain, rich compost and the mild autumn. The broccoli are beginning to set their main ‘heads’ and the several varieties of cabbage are also thriving. I have these netted to prevent ‘the white cabbage moth’. Snow peas are halfway up their supports and the bush peas are flowering profusely. The onions, including spring onions and garlic, lettuces, silverbeet, kale, Asian greens, parsley, mints and chives will keep my kitchen humming as well as plenty to give family and friends. From a sheltered area, still picking small tomatoes as they begin to colour as well as red and green capsicums in a large pot next to our chimney in the afternoon sun.

Maintenance at present is a high priority. I still have to cut back more shrubs and take cuttings to pot up for friends and family. Next will be the roses. Using cleaned and sharpened tools these need to be pruned back to about two thirds, removing any dead wood and binning any mouldy leaves. Then to thoroughly spray these roses with lime sulphate.

As I move around my garden to empty the wheelbarrow or collect some more compost, I usually get distracted and stop and do small tasks, like cutting a small bunch of flowers or herbs for indoors. I become so immersed in this green space ‘hubby’ often has to call me in to start dinner. Thank goodness for the slow cooker!

Today I am setting up my new strawberry tiered garden. My good friend Less Williams made this for me at the Stanhope Men’s shed. This idea came from the “Gardening Australia’ program, so I drew up a ‘plan’ and its now ready to go. It’s made from recycled wood with hinged corners. The bottom is lined with geo fabric which prevents the weeds from entering through the bottom.

Now to assemble and fill the three tiers with soil enriched from homemade compost and worm castings. I am making an ‘Olla vessel using 2 terracotta post to place in the centre of the three tiers allow the top to be level with the top surface. (This large selfwatering pot which is porous, will continue to supply water to the strawberries. Water moves through the porous walls into the surrounding dry soil and is taken up by the plant as required through the roots. There is no water wasted, no evaporation, no run off, no over watering, not effort – just uncover the plugged hole and refill every ten days to two weeks).

Now to plant all the strawberry plants around each level which I have ready to go from runners I potted up.

A photo of this venture will be in a later issue.