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The March Garden

There is still so much more to come on stream, we enjoyed the first of the corn today and they were juicy and sweet; garden to plate in 15 minutes - it surely doesn't get better than that. Yams and parsnips will wait for the frost to sweeten them up, our first frost is usually at the beginning of May. Pumpkins are HUGE and plentiful. The leafy greens are still being planted (with the moon guide), they should see us well-fed over winter. With the cost of vegetables increasing I am so pleased to be growing our own.

Yes, there is a time commitment involved but as we live out of town I equate travel time with gardening time and it works out quite in favour of growing my own. Not to mention the possible supply issues that might occur after Cyclone Gabrielle. Feeling very blessed. The flower garden experiment was very interesting, I watered the flowers when they were young and then a few times during the very long breaks between rain (only 1.5mm of rain in the whole month of January). They showed strength and resilience and flowered very well, not as well as my Flower Farm friend just down the road, but she has a fabulous watering system in place.

The grand old trees coped admirably with the drought conditions, I firmly believe living on the side of Mt Maude has great benefits with probable underground streams. The grass on the other hand, well, with short roots and being very compacted from many years of footfall and mowing with no de-thatching, dried out very early in January. I am reluctant to use precious water on grass, therefore, we are planning a reduction in grassed areas in the future. I did indulge the roses, they had regular deep watering and thrived, giving us many hours of pleasure from their colour and fragrance.

It's been another lovely year at Crosshill, with lots of very lovely visitors and great workshops. Summer 2023 As I write, it's very hot. Quite normal for this time of the year. Fortunately, we had a huge downpour a few weeks ago and the trees are in great shape, however, the grass has dried off (I don't water grass). The vegetable and Sunset gardens are on a creek-fed watering system, which normally works very well but today, after 34deg yesterday, decided to stop working. We've spent the whole morning fixing the problem in very high temperatures! Such is life off the town water supply.

Issues aside, the garden is looking lovely, and the Food Forest/Orchard is full of promise with plenty of apples, pears, peaches, quince, and feijoa growing well. I am feeling very satisfied with the development of the food forest, the guild system combined with lots of soil amendment is reaping the rewards. We are looking forward to a wonderful harvest. We did lose the apricots this year due to a late frost just as the trees were in bloom. The wisteria in the cottage garden flowered for the first time this year and at only three years old it was a lovely surprise. I've planted a red table grape over the outside dining area to give us natural shade in a few years' time. A single bunch of grapes is being lovingly cared for.

Our Tea garden is still in the very early stages, we have a few plants in situ but the soil amendment is in full operation. I have harvested and dried mint, calendula, and lemon balm already. We are on a wonderful gardening journey and we love to share the garden with visitors. we look forward to hosting you. Fruit Tree guild system - October 2022 Take a fruit tree, underplant it with highly useful plants that grow well together, and reap the rewards of a beneficial guild system that provides a diverse yield throughout the year. Guild systems are still being explored as a concept and you will find many suggestions as you google this method.

When we bought Crosshill we were told by the previous owners that the orchard was not really productive and we might consider pulling out the fruit trees. My feeling was to give them a chance, the trees were only 6-7 years old and they could yet show promise. However, I did notice the trees have been ‘Round Up’d’ around the trunk and up to the drip line. Knowing that fruit trees are more shallow feeders I felt they were being starved of nutrients. So we covered the area with layers of brown cardboard, topped with 30cm ‘biscuits’ of pea straw and grass cuttings/leaf collection, watered, and waited. Over the year the pea straw and card broke down leaving lovely soil full of worms. Next step, researching complementary plants. I wanted to ensure a good selection of plants that would repel pests Attract beneficial insects fertilize naturally create mulch suppress weeds and grass provide a diverse range of edibles.

We are a long way from a complex food forest, which is our goal. However, slowly but surely we are taking cuttings and propagating them from around the garden. Comfrey, Mint, Rhubarb, Chives, Garlic, Cardoon, Dandelion. A variety of seedlings are nearly ready to be transplanted. Peas are just shooting. There’s also a grape, winding its way up a stone fruit tree that gets frosted every year and only produces a handful of fruit. This year I will be filling the area with Yarrow, Bee balm, Fennel, Calendula, and Borage that I’m growing from seed to keep costs down. When the time is right I will plant daffodils, the rabbits hate them! and they’ll look lovely in spring before comfrey, the first to grow, pokes its head out of the soil. So there you have it, a mini permaculture ecosystem.

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