Thursday, December 3, 2009

Avanavocado - in your back yard

Avocado Stake Out

Look, I'll admit, Hannu, that when you arrived in my garden with something I first eyeballed as an avocado tree I was hoping it was some other rare nut tree that just looked strikingly like an avocado. When I realised it was, I was somewhat mildly horrified.

I love avocados and have always loved the thought of some tasty specimens dangling from my very own tree - until I realised that avocados are a semi-tropical plant that appreciate humidity, warm nights, high rain fall and sandy soil. So I live in the driest part of Australia (humidity speaking), I have clay soil, and have high rain fall in winter (accompanied by heavy frost), but our summers have similarities to the Sahara Desert. The expression 'pushing shit uphill' comes to mind.

I am aware that people do grow avocados successfully in Adelaide, however, they just need a LOT of lovin' to keep them happy. So it wasn't an avocado tree I sighted, but hard-labour-in-a-pot. And a scary thought that this kindly gifted tree would be dead before Christmas (three weeks away). So I've grabbed the instructions for planting from Perry's Nursery and have done absolutely everything they recommended.

To Plant Avocado Tree:

1 x Tree
1 x Shovel
1 x Pick
1 x Wheel Barrow
1 x Barrow full of mushroom compost
2 x Barrow mulch
4 x Long Star-Droppers
7m Dog Fencing
7m 50% Blockout shade cloth
6 x Free Hours
4L Water

Remove sod in 1 sq metre. Attend to child wanting to pick oranges from tree. Dig topsoil and shovel onto pile, continue until down to clay. Dig clay around a little. Drive child to compost pile on ride-on lawnmower, shovel, drive back. Layer topsoil back in with mushroom compost and sandy loam until ... grab child from suspicious looking long grass... until heaped into a mound. Make lunch for grumpy toddler. Put toddler into bed. Dig hole in the middle, plant tree, water tree. Shovel bark mulch all around top. Bang in 4 x star droppers. Take toddler to Mitre 10 to get shade cloth, chase around store. Install fencing wire around star droppers (AKA new cubby house). Broom child around orchard on spare piece of fencing. Use spare piece for a lid to the new cage. Water tree again. Pray to Jesus, Mohammed and the Buddha...

It's nearly complete, but I've run out of time to fit the shade cloth. I just hope we're not in for a windy night and I awake to find it horizontal.

Apparently in creating its own mini shade house it helps to keep off the nasty ozone-hole Adelaide sun, creates a little bit of humidity and will protect it from frost in the Winter. If I can successfully grow a tree anyone can!

Well I always say that the best gifts are those that you wouldn't go buy yourself. And lest I sound ungrateful, now that the labour is out of the way, I'm very excited about my new addition to the orchard. I never would have got off my laurels to do it otherwise! So thank you.

Monday, November 23, 2009


The heat-wave veil has lifted and the placid spring sun mixed with spots of gentle rain have soothed the garden. Plants have quickly sprouted leaves, some doubling in size in just two days. The celeriac that Lisa planted only yesterday already has three new leaves each.

I'm feeling excited and confident that the things that I originally set out to achieve will mostly get done. I can also see that as much as what I have created was all that I could realistically manage, a lot more work will need to be done to achieve my goal.

Small steps...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Trials of the Community Garden

Well I didn't think it would be easy, but I'm not the giving up type, so I'll take everything that has happened as an interesting learning curve and get back on my bike next year.

Okay, so '09 in Adelaide wasn't really the best time, as it turns out, to double a vegetable patch. I was rather reliant on spring coming along, but since the extended Winter turned instantly into serious Summer there hasn't been much enthusiasm from me, or other parties to get things happening in time.

My goal is to feed 10 families with plenty of seasonal vegetables, not just a few here and there. I thought maybe 5 families this year and perhaps add another 5 next year. But because I haven't had the help to set it up, I can't plant enough to sustain many people at all. I have planted some things, but also have many seedlings still not planted because I have no prepared garden beds. I'll keep working away at the garden beds in preparation to plant a winter crop in them. So all's not lost. Making compost and good soil is just as important.

The best lesson for me in this is that telling people that they can come along whenever they feel like it and till around in the garden wasn't ideal. People enjoy a sense of community and the idea of working alone isn't particularly enticing. So I'm going to shift tact and invite people to working bee days and provide lunch. To me this appears more interesting because they get to chat with like-minded garden enthusiasts, enjoy a nice meal, and have the opportunity to come back at any time and pick from the garden.

The summer garden is still quite plentiful though, and I will still have excesses to share around. There will still be corn, tomatoes, capsicum, chilli, zuchini, squash, beans, red cabbage, fruit, herbs and more. It just isn't as much or as varied as I'd originally hoped.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Birthing a Community Garden

I'd never seen a community garden before, until I visited Fullarton Fern Ave Garden. It was wonderful, so well organised and just a peaceful place to be. But I kept looking around wondering why there were so many broad beans. I had no idea that 'community gardening' usually meant hiring your own plot (yes, I've been living under a rock). I understand now that there are many kinds of community gardens, and the type that appealed to me the most is a communal garden where everyone looks after all of the vegetables and takes their share. This way offers good use of the land and a wide, organised array of available produce. This probably wouldn't work so well with common land, but on private property where one person can oversee it... the cogs started ticking...

But what nerve do I have creating a community garden? I'm only 31, have been gardening for a whole 3 years and in the grand scheme of things don't know that much about gardening (although my ego would vehemently like to contend that). AND I don't have much of a garden yet.

Well I could sit around for a few years waiting for knowledge to seep into my brain from books, people and trial and error, and slowly build up my garden until it's perfect and then market it. But I realised that's not really the point. Why not involve the community in the evolving process so they can develop what they want. Besides, if I do all the work, then there will be nothing left to do and kinda defeat the purpose.

I have a bit of an irrational fervent desire to involve the community in sustainable living. I live on 21 acres of land and have plenty of water. If I can't sustain myself who can? And what a waste on one family. If I could feed say 10 families, what a fantastic way to support the environment. Problem is I just can't do it on my own, and very rarely will a person accept something for nothing, so I've asked for help, in exchange for vegetables - hence Aramor Farm Share Garden.

I've done a little bit of advertising and had a little bit of interest. There is probably room left for a couple more people if anyone local wants in.

So keep an eye on this spot. I'll be blogging the trials and tribulations of the garden. Hopefully the last blog won't involve 'hard and basket' in the same line!

And in the mean time, if anyone reading this would like to share any helpful information with me, or share their experience with community gardening I'd LOVE to hear it!


I had no idea how many times I'd have to repeat the spelling of this name a year down the track, and how many furrowed eyebrows it would produce. It's still worth it, however, because it's meaningful to me.

The sign on the gate when we purchased the property in '06 was 'Oak Drive'. Hmm, original, I thought. Well, it does have lovely Red Oaks lining the driveway, but a place so enchanting needed something more. Aramor was a bit of a play on Amore (of course) plus had many letters from my own name, and also sounded a little bit like a character from Lord of The Rings. Okay, and I like made-up words that don't mean anything!

A friend of mine jokes about my 'hobbit-land' as though it's a place that I can retreat away from the cares of the world. Very fitting, until I decided to invite the world in...