My Garden: Year One Autumn and Winter Progress

I’m a few months into establishing my new garden design, and Ive been focussing largely on our back yard, as it is the much larger of our two garden areas, and is fairly bare, while the front garden is small and quite full. As you can see, it’s all a bit of a mess:

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I have a basic plan for the garden now, so Ive been focussing on setting up the main skeleton of the design, by preparing beds for the fruit trees and planting the trees, and setting up temporary vegetable beds (until I figure out what sort of vegie beds I want in the long-run).

Fruit Trees

I’m preparing the fruit tree beds by digging out cooch grass, and building up no-dig beds by layering loads and loads of bought compost, cow poo, pea straw and lucerne, and sometimes mushroom compost. I’d love to use my own compost but I just don’t have enough to get started let alone the metres and metres of garden beds I’m putting in. And our soil is pretty heavy clay so going down is not an option.

The plan has gone like this:

  1. Autumn: plant hardy evergreens (olives – Manzanillo, Kalamata and Verdale; feijoas – Duffy and Apollo; and loquat – Herds Mammoth).
  2. Winter: plant deciduous trees, vines, and berries (17 dwarf apples to espalier – see this post on establishing apples trained as cordons; one dwarf stella cherry;  two dwarf nectarines – Fantasia and Goldmine; and one dwarf peach – China Flat; three Fragola grape vines which I got from Karen Sutherland’s wonderful garden during an open garden session; and two Jostaberries bought on a whim.
  3. Spring: plant dwarf citrus trees (Tahitian lime, Japanese seedless mandarin, and two varieties of navel oranges). I’ll be babying these for quite a few years over the winters with frost protection structures until they are old enough to withstand the frost without damage. As for other spring evergreens, at this stage I’m planning on a strawberry guava or two.

Autumn Plantings

Here is a shot of my loquat and feijoas. I had to build the soil up quite high as this side of the garden is excavated and there are some rock solid places under the shallow top soil:

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Loquat with feijoas in background. Underplanted with artichoke, rhubarb and goji berries.

I’ve planted one olive in the ground (verdale) and one in a half-wine barrel (manzanillo). I’m curious to see how much, if any, fruit I can get out of the potted plant:

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Manzanillo. Seven holes drilled in the bottom, raised on bricks. The inside has a layer of mesh spread over drainage holes to prevent soil from clogging the holes, and the soil is a mixture of certified organic potting mix, coco peat (coir), and perlite.

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Verdale planted in mounded bed. Soil is a mixture of good quality compost, cow manure, and coarse builder’s sand. Underplanted with a couple of artichokes.

Winter Plantings

One of my main tasks over winter was to set up a trellis and plant 10 dwarf apples on m26 rootstock along the north-eastern fence. Seven of the trees are set up to be trained as oblique cordons, two will be trained in a fan shape, and one in a classic espalier/horizontal T shape to fit around our clothesline:

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Apples trained to form an oblique cordon.

I planted four stone fruit trees in a bed I prepared last summer and used for cucumbers and dill. I added loads more compost and manure and straw to build the soil level up so that the bed is slightly mounded to help with drainage and protect the roots from drowning in in winter. I’m underplanting with  herbs, artichokes and chilean guava so far. As stone fruit are deciduous I want there to be lots of evergreen shrubs in this bed to provide structure and lushness over winter:

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Stone fruit in mounded beds – from front to back: dwarf stella cherry, dwarf China Flat peach, dwarf Fantasia nectarine, dwarf Goldmine nectarine.

Spring Plantings

For my citrus (and olives) I’m preparing the beds by going up as high as I can above the clay soil using no-dig techniques, and adding a little sand to help drainage. I’ve got peas and broad beans in these beds, and as soon as those harvests finish in spring, I’ll just slash the greens, leave them in place for a few weeks (or longer? I need to read up on that) to compost and help add nitrogen to the soil, which the citrus should love when I pop them in:

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Broadbeans growing in spot where citrus and olive trees are to go.

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Peas and others growing in spot set aside for citrus once Spring is well underway.

Vegetable Beds

I know I want a lot of vegie beds, and I know where I want them, but I’m not quite sure yet what type I want, or in what layout. The most suitable part of our garden for vegies (with year round sun) was clogged up with a medium conifer, an arbour, deciduous  vines, trees, and  concrete and bluestone paths. So we’ve been busy removing these and next step will be to do a mounded no-dig bed for this growing season, giving me a bit of time to figure out what sort of beds I want in the long-run:

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Arbour, vines, tree and paths to be removed.

And I’ve got some temporary beds established and a few underway:

Potato crates for wicking beds. This area gets a bit of shade from the north in winter so the height of the beds should raise the vegies into the sun.

Potato crates waiting to be set up as  wicking beds. This area gets a bit of shade from the north in winter so the height of the beds should raise the vegies into the sun.

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No-dig beds using pea straw as the border, planted with garlic, kale and parsely.

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Rocket and parsley growing in bed in front of spot for apple espaliers.

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Kale, garlic, and self seeded parsley.

Immediate tasks now are planting of seven stepover apples when they arrive, building up a large new no-dig garden bed area where the arbour and paths were, and planting out spring and summer vegies.

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