Lore for Gardeners


tending day 24 sept 2010

Last Friday was a big day for me at Tending. It had lots of parts to it. The Boss was still down in Bundanon surrounded by all the nettles he could brew up into his special soup, so I was left to my own devices at the urban college cloister garden.

But what good fortune to be visited by such great folks!

Here above is Vanessa, who arrived with her special book “Old Wives Lore for Gardeners”. She was particularly impressed with one particular piece of advice:

tending day 24 sept 2010

We haven’t gotten nude yet at Tending – but it is warming up! – to the point where I spent all day on Friday in bare feet. The ancient tough scratchy grass feels wonderful on the foot-skin, and even some of the squishy bits in the compost didn’t bother me, it was all so balmy and comfortable.

Speaking of compost, when we were turning it this week, we discovered some wondrous little fungus growing towards the bottom of the heap:

tending day 24 sept 2010

Back to Vanessa: she brought a plant to add to the “rockery” plot – a wormwood! She said, “I thought the art students could do some research and work out how to make it into Absinthe!”

Here she is, having just installed the newest member of our herbal family:

tending day 24 sept 2010

Friday also involved a visit from guest-gardener Mikey, one of the world’s foremost artichoke enthusiasts. He keeps this blog on the subject.

I’ve been hoping that Mikey would visit for some time, to establish a dedicated artichoke patch at Tending. Artichokes take a few years to bear fruit, but we must think long term!

As it turns out, artichoke seeds are a bit hard to find in Sydney – but Mikey had smuggled some back from Italy. He had them wrapped up in this bandage and sticky tape package:

tending day 24 sept 2010

In the end, Mikey decided to take his seeds away and plant them at his father’s house. One of the problems we’ve been having with Tending of late is that our seedlings suffer from a lack of daily attention (as we are only on-site once a week). Once Mikey’s seedlings establish themselves, we can bring them back and put some into our garden.

We also had a visit from Alana and Ingrid – who had already set themselves up for luncheon on the grass when Mikey and I arrived. Ingrid is just finishing her Masters here at SCA, and Alana finished studying here a few years ago.

I love the idea that the garden begins to attract lunchers and loungers – but in order to faciliate this, we need to sort out a better access system – at the moment to get into the garden depends on summoning the (friendly) security staff – something of a barrier to participation…

So we joined the ladies on the lawn – at the right is Mikey, and behind him, hiding from the lens, is Heather:

tending day 24 sept 2010

…and we ourselves lunched on bread and cheese, and from the garden: freshly picked lettuce and wasabi greens!

tending day 24 sept 2010

Lisa brought more sugarcane from her own patch at home. Our existing cane, courtesy of Betty, has been struggling somewhat – we’re not sure why… We’re just watching it, watering it, hoping it comes good…

tending day 24 sept 2010

And Lisa also brought some more arcane knowledge: seed dowsing. Here she is, practising this dark art:

tending day 24 sept 2010

Apparently, when you hold the shell on the thread over the seed, it rotates in a particular direction depending on whether the seed has ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ energy – which helps identify its potential for germination.

I’m hoping Lisa might chime in here to remind me exactly which direction is “good”…

The final news in this week’s episode is that the potatoes (all three systems) are growing at an alarmingly rapid rate. It’s all we can do to keep up with them, heaping more mulch and soil on top to suppress the leaves and encourage the tubers:

tending day 24 sept 2010
Here are the taties in the chickenwire-mulch system.

tending day 24 sept 2010
Here they are, thriving in the (possibly filled with poisonous heavy-metals) car-tyre system…

tending day 24 sept 2010
And – a bit slower than the rest, because planted later – here are the gourmet small potatoes which we put directly into the rather poor SCA soil…

4 thoughts on “Lore for Gardeners

  1. ok – seed dowsing.

    I read about it in Esther Deans ‘No Dig Gardening & Leaves of Life’ and as I remember it circling CLOCKWISE indicates POSITIVE (or female) seed energy, swinging SIDE TO SIDE indicates NEGATIVE (or male) see energy, and staying STILL indicates NEUTRAL. It really is a curious thing…

    Esther Deans only planted positive seeds in her pioneer no-dig garden (on Sydney’s north shore!) with turbo charged, record breaking results.

  2. thanks lisa.

    i have to admit i didn’t really pay much heed (or credence) when you were describing the dowsing last week.

    but now i realise it’d be a good thing to try out.

    why don’t we do a pseudo scientific experiment and dowse 20 seeds (something large like zucchini?) and then separate the positive from the negative (why such a gendered judgement?), and then plant them all (properly labelled of course) and see which ones grow better?

  3. update!

    – the following just came through from ingrid, who we met last week having luncheon on the lawn:

    hi there

    it’s ingrid here…. i met lucas last friday with alana at the garden. i just wanted to let you know i’ve been watering the garden (hope this is fine)… i watered monday and will do again friday. happy to do more often if needed


    what great initiative! now we’re rolling!

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