Getting well in Eden

…Perhaps Eden is a slight exaggeration. I’m pretty sure there was no chicken poo in Eden.

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“If it moves again, I’m going to eat it!”

Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 5.02.38 PM Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 5.03.09 PM Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 5.04.00 PM Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 5.04.25 PM Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 5.04.50 PM Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 5.05.17 PM Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 5.05.47 PMIt’s time to bid farewell once again to Dorrigo. I’m glad to be well enough to move on but I’ll be sorry to leave. My sister’s back yard is a very healing place. It’s filled with fruit and flowering trees, birds great and small, and an endless array of rampantly, gloriously happy vegetables and flowers. I get inspiration for my own very different garden every time I visit, and rarely leave without some garden ‘loot’.

The creatures are inspiring too. The Girls stroll around in a stately fashion, patrolling for insect pests, seeds, worms and tiny invisible delicacies. The only time one sees them agitated is at supper time, when they hoik up their fluffy black skirts and flat out run into their chookyard to demolish the grain, vegies, weeds and occasional doses of comfrey they’ve been served. In return, they give us warm, light brown fresh eggs, with dense whites and brilliantly orange yolks. The taste is something so completely different from what you buy in the shops that you’re spoiled for the bought thing forever after.

They’re like elegant and dignified bourgeois French widows, clad in shimmering black satin, with black fishnet hose and distinctly Parisian black froufrou undies. Perched on their heads are brilliantly coral red combs, like chic little hats. I love the Girls…. I’ve been promised my own very, very soon.

It’s spring here in northern NSW. Along the road from the coast up the mountain, there are jacarandas, crepe myrtles, tibouchinas and flame trees in bloom. Despite very little rain, things are still green and lush. and the vegetables and fruit are vibrantly colourful.

I’m woken in the morning by the cheerful giggling of currawongs, the loud gabbling of rosellas and galahs invading the chook run to steal grain and bits of fruit, and territorial announcements from the magpies. Everywhere my eye turns there’s some magic going on.

I’m sure I’m getting better much faster because my eye is at rest on all this beauty, and my mind is at peace. 

The Gardens of Chiconia 15


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 It’s not too late in the year, and I’m almost ready to go!

Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.40.42 PMThree raised beds of a square metre each… Let’s see: tomatoes, capsicums, bush beans, rocket, spinach, bok choy, silverbeet, zucchini. Outside the beds: a bale of hay with a hole dug in the top, filled with compost and planted with pumpkin, a potato tower made of chicken wire, another for sweet potato and a large tub with rhubarb. I already have a huge basil bush, lemon balm, oregano, sage, rosemary and curry bush. I don’t have space for brassicas, onions, leeks, beetroot or carrots, all of which take a while to grow and more space than I can afford right now.  Maybe in the future.

Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.41.33 PMI’ve had to review my fish tank plan.  I was considering raising tilapia, which require little space and water which is only moderately moving.  However, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has decided that tilapia are noxious animals and may not be kept privately or farmed in Australia. So I shall do my homework more carefully, and maybe keep something a bit more native – perhaps golden perch. And it’s not going to happen very soon, I suspect.

Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.42.30 PMIn the meantime, I could get some water vegetables going in there, like water chestnuts, kang kong, etc. Or maybe a pretty or two: lotus, water lily, papyrus, yellow flag. Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.42.03 PM

Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.42.44 PMInitially the idea was to attract frogs and dragonflies to keep the insects down, and I may yet revert to that. And I could, of course, have a few koi or goldfish to keep the mosquito larvae down – we have dengue fever here, which is mosquito-borne and it’s important to remove their sources of breeding water.

Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.43.13 PMWe’ve shifted half our load of rock. Half to go – and I’m strongly tempted to just tip it off the trailer and deal with it later. We need the trailer for the rest of the planting supplies.

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