Starting our first garden in Oz

by Alissa

After taking a month off from the idea of gardening, I’ve decided to begin. This corner of New South Wales is a gardening procrastinator’s paradise. There is no frost. There are no deadlines. Previous tenants have used the same plot for growing food, so we might have a chance.

I have no idea what I’m dealing with yet, but while I slowly i.d. the things that grow here, it seemed best to simply get started. Some of seed packets at least have familiar words: German pickling cucumber. Russian sunflower.

On to the tour:

The neighbor’s gum tree, which appears to drop several dozen compost-resistant leaves a day and may or may not create too much shade for the lettuce.

Potentially edible/potentially toxic shrub adjacent to the non-olive. The berries are turning from green to purple.

The non-olive has been covered with fragrant white blossoms for the last month.

Instead of going to the beach last week, we kept going down to the garden to reclaim more dirt from the weed-blocking layer of wood chips. Note the weird iron vent thing in the back left corner. What you can’t see are the two small dogs who start yapping whenever I dump anther bucket of chips. Two weeks in, and they are still surprised every time.

Sand tool turned garden implement. This one came from the recycling bins outside our place in Canada. With this rake and a good-sized gum stick, I cleared the garden space. My shovel is coming in the last box from Waterloo and I refuse to buy another. Ditto the Christmas tree stand. I hope it comes someday.

Imagine my surprise when I struck not soil, but a sidewalk to nowhere under the wood chips. Tomatoes and herbs are getting started in the small bed on the right, thanks to seedlings and cuttings from T. Note the jasmine vine sneaking over the top of the fence.

The first thing I planted in Australia: Mint from T from the day of my first drive. I scratched a hole in the wood chips, inserted the shoots, watered thoroughly for a few days, and then watched them wither back to nothing when we had a few really hot days. I half-heartedly watered the minty-smelling place in the wood chips a few more times and then neglected to do anything with the garden at all for about a month. They are coming back! It’s a good thing mint is so hard to kill.

Next-door foliage. Norfolk pine in the back, gum tree upper left, mystery tree up front, with what appears to be giant morning glory vine. Update: an alert reader has identified the mystery tree as frangipani. Thanks, Luke!

The view from the sidewalk to nowhere. My garden helper, sprinkling the plots: cucumber, melon, butternut squash, lettuce, sun flowers. Watch this space!