The Gardens of Chiconia 30: Super Size!

It’s not the gardens I’m talking about, although at 3/4 acre (3,000m²) they’re large enough. 

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 5.24.06 pmNo, it’s the bugs.  I’ve complained before about monster grass-hoppers and Very Hungry Caterpillars. Lookee here. That’s a standard trowel… and that, my friends, is a Lawn Grub. The out-sized offspring of a beetle, whose natural habitat is, you guessed it, lawns. What two of them were doing in the bottom of my capsicum planter is anyone’s guess. I left them on the bird feeder for the magpies to enjoy…

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Malabar spinach

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Brazilian spinach

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Today’s planting.

More fun in the backyard today. I planted three varieties of tomato, four different herbs, English, Brazilian and Malabar spinach, bok choi, zucchini, two different kinds of capsicum, two different kinds of strawberry and a Norfolk Island black passionfruit vine on the side fence.

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11 years of faithful service, and now it’s time for a new handle!

There’s still space in the raised beds for a bit more, and I have some work to do preparing the potato bed, but it’s beginning to take shape. One tool I won’t be using is my poor border spade, which gave up the ghost today and will need a new handle before it can be used again.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 5.24.22 pmWe’ve given the starfruit a big boy’s haircut, and all the deadwood is now gone. The Husband offered himself up to the green ants, and went in with the chainsaw. Many bites later, the job is done, and the tree is now a third of its original size, but looks much happier. It’s had a top dressing of pelletised chicken manure and blood and bone around the new dripline, so hopefully that’ll give it a boost. My Garden Tea is still bubbling away and isn’t ready for dosing out yet. Take a look – that’s alpaca poo floating on the top, mixed with comfrey. I’ll post about Garden Tea when it’s ready to go.

Another trip to the dump got rid of the last trailer load of prunings. The jungle is now tamed, and ready for its chooky inhabitants. The Husband has been patiently chipping away at the rock hard ground where the base of the chook house will go, so fairly soon we’ll be able to put in the edging and get a load of crusher dust to lay.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 5.24.56 pm Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 5.25.08 pmI’ve been getting a couple of small limes a day from my little tree, so there has been a surge of Lime Zucchini cake eating. Using our own limes just gives us all the excuse we need to stuff our faces with what is now a firm family favourite.

And here is our reward for a day spent mostly doing yard work!

Tomorrow, I’m picking up my needle again.


39 thoughts on “The Gardens of Chiconia 30: Super Size!

  1. claire93 says:

    a very tasty grub for the magpies ^^
    and wow it does look like you’ve both been very busy. Ouch for the ant bites :s
    My husband is looking forward to the recipe for your Garden Tea. Not that we could get our hands on any alpaca poop but he’s always interested to learn about different fertlizer concoctions.

    • katechiconi says:

      It doesn’t have to be alpaca, just ruminant: cow, goat, sheep, that sort of thing. It’s to do with the rumen bacteria and the proportions of carbon/nitrogen/potassium. Soon, I promise!

  2. Carole says:

    You have been busy! I’m planning to grow some of the same things as you, but I suspect you’re going to have rather more success 😉

    • katechiconi says:

      I wouldn’t be too sure: you’ve seen the bugs I have to battle, and they’re all outsize and super hungry! As I don’t spray or use insecticides at all, I have to take whatever they leave. I’ve had crops decimated overnight!

  3. I love the gardener’s revenge on the lawn bugs! My spade was inherited from my father, so it’s about 100 years old. It’s had 6 new blades and 10 new handles (slight exaggeration, but you get the drift!)

    I hope you’ve left masses of room for your zucchini, and only planted a couple of plants. One year ours took over the entire veggie plot and surrounding paths, so I couldn’t get near the rotary clothes line!

    The hint of comfrey gave me a big clue as to the composition of your garden tea – comfrey steeped for three or four weeks produces the most wonderful liquid fertiliser. Its only drawback is the smell!. I also used to use comfrey leaves in layers on the compost heaps, as they speeded up the rotting process. It is abundant hereabouts, so every walk up to the village would produce copious gleanings.

    • katechiconi says:

      I had to leave all my gardening tools behind when I emigrated, so this one has only been in use since I arrived. It’s getting a new handle soon! I’ve put in several zucchini plants, well spaced, since they are very susceptible to mildew here in the humid climate. I’ll pull out any which don’t do well, and will tip prune the others brutally, which normally does the trick. I keep a comfrey plant in a pot at the moment, but it will get planted on the fenceline at the back of the block where it can’t take over. I agree the smell is bad, but the whole lot smells appalling so it’s hard to pick out one nasty from the symphony of aromas! I’ll be giving the recipe soon…

  4. PS in our case, for alpaca read donkey, as we have several donkey-keeping friends.

  5. tialys says:

    One of my dogs was running around with something similar to this in her mouth the other day. I’m talking grub not cake here!

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s the larva of quite a small bronze beetle which makes lacework of lush leaves. It’s grim, isn’t it? I hope the dog enjoyed her fairly substantial snack!

  6. lucyannluna says:

    I’m so glad we don’t really have scary looking bugs in England. Your garden is starting to look fantastic

  7. Grannymar says:

    Your plants look so luscious, and the bugs well fed!

  8. Oh my, Oh my, oh my… That is a big critter! Glad to know tht the critters here are much more civilized in size…. 😜 glad to read that the hard work in the garden is moslty done! Looking forward to seeing what you will plant!

  9. […] Source: The Gardens of Chiconia 30: Super Size! | talltalesfromchiconia […]

  10. Jen Gardener says:

    What a lucky starfruit! Mmm, a lime a day sounds lovely. Love limes! Especially when they’re made into such good looking cake!

  11. Kirsten says:

    Arrgghh, look at the size of that creepy crawly!! I would definitely need a large slice of cake to get over the shock of finding such a thing!

  12. Lynda says:

    It’s all so lovely, Kate, even the grub when you think of it in terms of Magpie food. Your cake makes me want to try it! Can you point me in the right direction for the recipe? Also, I really love your *termite proof raised beds! Are they metal or something else?

    *Termites are a really big issue here. One year I even found them inside the main stem of my peppers and tomatillos (aka: husk tomatoes)!!!

    • katechiconi says:

      Sure can:
      Substitute zest from a couple of limes instead of the lemon, add a tablespoon of lime juice in the batter, and make about 3 times the amount of frosting with lime juice instead of lemon and splodge it all over the top instead of being pretty and delicate like Kirsten has…
      The raised beds are corrugated powder coated steel with plastic corner channels and caps. We also have termites/white ants in a big way, but for us green ants are more of a problem, as they make huge nests in all our trees and bite like crazy if you happen to cross their path… Want to try tomatillos too, just haven’t found a local seed source yet.

  13. Lime zucchini cake? We make plain zucchini cake often in my family (often, that is, for people who rarely bake) and I am intrigued by the idea of adding lime.

  14. EllaDee says:

    Lawn Grubs… I’ve never seen one (looks a bit like a witchety grub) but if I do I’ll take great delight in feeding it to a magpie!
    I’m taking note of the vertical spinach, as this is what I’ll be looking for.

  15. pattisj says:

    I love leaving out some of the creepy crawlies I find for the birds, too. The birdbaths on the ground usually have some nice juicy earthworms under there. I move the baths off their usual spot when the robins are looking for food for their babies. There are always so many things that come between us and our creative endeavors.

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