Pam Jenkins, from Diamond Creek, talks about both her orchard and her annual edible garden in Winter time.
This video was filmed in Winter 2020. Winter is the ideal time to see the bare bones of the deciduous trees in the orchard area.
In permaculture terms, an orchard would be classed as zone 3 or 4. As this area doesn’t need year round daily or even weekly visits for maintenance or pest control, it is situated further away from the house than the annual and perennial gardens that are in zones one and two.
General care starts in August when I clear the weeds so that I can see the new season asparagus as it emerges. I also throw around some manure and/or compost then mulch the area to give the trees some slow release food for their spring growth and summer to autumn harvest. This also helps to smother some of the annual weeds.
I generally have some ground cover such as nasturtiums under the apple trees as weed suppressors and am also growing perennial leeks to try to deter rabbits. There is a lonely narcissus, which is also there as a rabbit deterrent.
Under the pears, I planted some day lilies which have attractive sweet tasting edible flowers in summer as well as edible roots and young shoots in winter and early spring. The day lily leaves have a taste reminiscent of green peas but have to be eaten when they are young and tender as they get very stringy quite quickly. Those, along with some parsley that I will allow to flower and some garlic plants, form a beneficial plant guild. The hope is that this under-planting will attract beneficial insects and repel or confuse pest species.
This year the area enclosed by the pear and plum trees is overgrown with warragul greens, flat leaf parsley and stinging nettles (which are useful plant) and a crop of oxalis (which is the bane of my life).
The citrus area, just up the hill a little, has quite young trees. The trees are settling in, except for one, and I am hoping for fruit from all of them next season. I don’t need to get into the area much at the moment and have therefore allowed the warragul greens to roam across the path way as weed suppressants. I will harvest them to use as a spinach substitute when I pull them back from the trunks of the young trees.
Annual edible garden
This video was filmed in early Winter 2020.
My annual garden is situated along the path to the chook shed. In permaculture terms, it is Zone 1, an area that I go to every day so that I can harvest my daily needs and check on the tender plants on the way to check for eggs.
I make use of many found, free and re-purposed articles. I allow plants to go to seed and either use them as ground cover until I need the space or have a more appropriate space to grow them. If I don’t need them I give them away, chop them down for green manure or compost them, possibly via the digestive system of the chooks. I leave plants in the ground well past their use-by date so my garden is rarely neat and tidy but there is usually plenty to eat if I just look around a bit.
I have a little garden around the chook pen to hide the moonscape that the chooks create with their scratching and dust bathing habits. In that area, I grow some flowers for colour and for beneficial insects, but the area mainly comprises medicinal herbs (lavender and wormwood) and fodder for the chooks (kale, Warragul greens and parsley). The chooks peck through the wire to eat all the kale that they can reach and eat a little lavender and wormwood from time to time.
My annual garden is grown in wicking beds made from cut down re-purposed 200 litre drums,1000 litre containers, baths and old concrete wash troughs. Check out the Gardening Australia website to see how Sophie made hers from 1000 litre tanks a couple of years ago.
The baths and wash troughs simply have a pipe glued over the plug hole up to the level appropriate for the water reservoir where any excess water can then overflow. In this design, it is important to have well draining soil so that the outlet doesn’t clog and you end up with a muddy pond full of very unhappy plants.
Items of interest include:
- Egyptian walking onions, Allium proliferum, which I can use as spring onions over winter or leave to produce a bunch of shallot-like bulbs to eat, and bulbils instead of flowers and seeds in summer. Over time, the bulbils get heavy and droop to the ground where they can take root and produce next year’s crop of onions. Left to their own devices, they will walk across a garden bed and you will end up with masses of shallots.
- Carrots, radishes and beetroot: I find growing carrots easiest if I plant them very close to radishes. The radishes germinate and mature quickly and they shade the ground which retains water thereby allowing the slower germinating carrots to get established. I also grow beetroot quite close by as well. Carrots grow long tap roots so feed deeper into the ground, whilst beetroot grows a bulb which is only semi-buried and its roots are nearer to the surface, so they don’t compete with each other for soil nutrients. In permaculture terms, this would be classed as a guild – plants that grow together in a non competitive or beneficial way. It’s a great way to grow a variety of vegetable in a small space without compromising their outcomes.
This year I am using the ‘square foot gardening’ method to grow most of my annual veggies. It’s an idea that is great for using up the space in raised garden beds where you don’t have a requirement for paths to access the plants. Weeding can be done by hand or using small implements (that is, if there is any room for weeds to grow). Take a look at this site, which explains the concept behind square foot gardening and has a useful spacing guide for commonly grown plants.