isabel on our new land

isabel on our new land
Isabel under the Kurrajong on our new land

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Finally a New Blog!

It's amazing how complicated life can become in the attempt to simplify it.  Among the many lessons I have learned via trial and error in my garden is one that garden designers are always trying to tell us - Plan BEFORE you plant.  In my small suburban plot I now have trees that shade precious vegetable beds, bushes that have suckers springing up everywhere and plants that thrived now suffering from deprivation of light and nutrients from other plants being planted too close.  So in my efforts not to repeat the mistakes of the past I enrolled in TAFE's "Sustainable Horticulture" course aka Permaculture design.  This was a fantastic course that not only covered Bill Mollison's basics of permaculture ie. zones, planning for your climate, water harvesting, soil protection etc but also biodynamics, animals, and community resources. However, the most beneficial part of the course for me turned out to be the individual plant presentations that each student had to complete.  This assessment was designed to broaden the minds of us anglosaxon students as the plant choices were all ones that grow easily in subtropical climates (not English ones).  Needless to say that the students from Asian backgrounds were a fantastic source of information and experience with many of these plants which included
Lotus Root
Egyptian Spinach
Candle nuts
Kang Kong
I had heard, if not seen or tasted, most of these.  Needless to say that the one I picked out of the hat was one I hadn't - Jicama!
These are my Jicama plants grown from seed - it grows into a long vine which needs to be kept pruned to around 1.5m to encourage good tuber development.  The tubers are generally eaten raw and taste something like a blend of apple and water chestnut.

In my not so youthful exuberance, and not having commenced any of the assessemnt yet for the first course, I also enrolled in a pruning course in order to arm myself against Stefano's history of poor pruning (namely cutting ALL the buds from my wisteria BEFORE it flowered.

So I ended up studying two nights per week, working (reduced) to 1 day per week in the clinic, coordinating the adult education classes at the kids primary school (
on top of the usual logistics of my own children's activities.  This was all manageable until my father decided on a prolonged stay in hospital with a broken hip which led to further health complications.  Thankfully he is home now and mending well but it reinforced for me the need to have quantity time not just quality when you are juggling both young children and ageing parents.

So I have wound up my clinic for the time being and am prepared (?) for Christmas so hopefully in January I'll have more time to apply my new found knowledge to actually designing the garden on our new plot.  Or do I hear more horticulture courses calling?