Giving more things a go in the garden

Graham Mantle

Graham Mantle

I have never been much good at gardening but I am often ready to have another go.

An otherwise busy life made forgetting to water a frequent problem. This is the one thing that most plants cannot forgive.

Now I have more time but less energy. Everything I do takes so much longer. Bending and crouching at 86 is painful both during and after. So much for the excuses. Last year, I bought a tomato plant from an op shop and it has only just finished producing.

Sometimes it really looked like it was going to die but it kept on growing tomatoes. They were not good shaped but they tasted nice and my wife made pickles from the last small green ones when we pulled the plant out.

I am now trying to see what will grow in my three-metre square patch overshadowed by large old fruit trees.

Weeds do well there so vegetables are worth a try. I thought I would try to crowd out future weeds - one row each of dwarf beans, snow peas, runner beans, broad beans, leeks, silver beet and spinach, along with a few beetroot and cauliflower seeds.

Some netting over it gave me an early advantage over the birds and all seem to be doing well so far.

I am also trying a Styrofoam box, which should help keep soil from getting too cold. I filled it with potting mix and three rows of carrots and one of parsnips. The carrots are a couple of centimetres high but no sign of the parsnips yet. I am supposed to thin them when they get a bit bigger but I am not sure if I will do that.

I tried some other things too. Cuttings off various ground covers, some of which are doing well. Orange and apple seeds, avocado, London plane trees and Norfolk Island pines. Not sure which way is up so half will be right and the others - well you can't win them all.

Trying to bonsai them might be an interesting hobby. I think I have a book which is sometimes a good start.