Being without a home doesn’t mean you have to be without a garden. How many people do you know who have garden beds that are under-utilised? Use ’em!
It’s been 9 weeks since Richie and I returned from abroad, and while we don’t yet have a home of our own (or a garden for that matter), we’re by no means home-or-garden-less. Thanks to the generosity of friends, family and friends-of-friends-and-family, since arriving back in south-east Queensland we’ve had the courtesy of seven different beds and a range of experiences getting our hands in the soil.
In the middle of August we took the plunge and planted over 100 modules of assorted vegetable and herb seeds gleaned from 18 months of travel in 21 countries. Each morning it’s a race to see who’s first out of bed, down on hands and knees, calibrating the success of one full night’s growth.
First it was the giant mustard greens, then the lettuce, closely followed by the tomatoes, coriander, and now the pickling cucumbers. It’s anyone’s bet when the eggplant and okra will raise their heads…
When all the seedlings are through, there will be more baby plants than we’ll know what to do with, at which point, we’ll do the rounds of friends’ and families’ gardens, planting them out and hoping, in time, to reap the rewards in the way of more seeds to grow on – locally adapted, and kept viable through precious grow-time in the earth.
So far we’ve trialled a range of watering methods for our seedlings. During germination seeds benefit from a fairly constant rate of temperature and humidity, but given our rather ad-hoc living situation we’ve been forced to experiment with all manner of irrigation (and household) devises for watering: hoses with no nozzles, plastic milk bottles with pin-pricks in the base, spray guns, and bonsai watering cans. We even considered using an eye-dropper for minimal splash-back and earth displacement… What do you use to water your fragile seedlings?
For my birthday this year Richie presented me with a timber box bursting with assorted flower, veg and herb seeds from Eden and Green Harvest; amongst them, heirlooms such as ‘Turkish Orange’ eggplant, and ‘Greek mini’ basil. There are flowers too! Borage. My favourite bee-plant.
While we don’t want to count our tomatoes until they’re ripe, 9 out of the precious 12 tomato seeds given to us by our friends in Athens have germinated! These tomatoes, along with the pickling cucumbers from the Balkan Ecology Project in Bulgaria are among the rarest in our collection.
True to the spirit of abundance we’re eager to share our pool of biodiversity with people who, like us, take pleasure in propagating and harvesting unusual varieties of open-pollinated heirloom organic fruit and veg. On a visit to Stanthorpe in two weeks my parents will be delivering miniature pear and nashi pear seeds (from Greece and China respectively) to friends who have a diverse and abundant backyard garden. Planting seed across a variety if climatic and micro-climatic zones ensures a chance that at least some will survive, flourish, provide a yield, and begin the cycle all over again.
Happy planting !