Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The week that was....

What a fantastic week we have had with our new helpx friends, Sinnead and Mark!  They arrived from Ireland and settled into our family life with such ease.  We felt such a kindred spirit with them.  Inquiring minds and open hearts!  And Trojan workers!  I had a list of things to do over the week and arrived home the first day to discover they had completed them all!  By their own account, it was an intense week.  When we open our doors to strangers, and are willing to share our lives without playing a part on stage, barriers are quickly dispensed with and we discover the people at the core.  Their  true essence.  Discovering that we are the Same.  Fascinating.  Wonderful.  The World of Helpxchange.  A great way to meet friends and get help around the home and garden.  

2 spent, overgrown strawberry beds were uprooted, sheep poos applied, ground leveled and replanted. Voila!  A job that needed to be urgently done and one which I had been avoiding like the plague!  Not sure why, but then I don't need to worry about it any more, and we can look forward to another bumper crop of strawberries next spring.  Our friends cooked, they cleaned, they weeded, they composted, they moved furniture, they washed dishes, they baked, they chatted, they chopped wood..... and then some!

We realised we knew so little of their country and have done some online research since they left, to bring us up to speed on all-things-Irish (okay, just some, not all).

Our new Irish friends outside our guest cottage

Strawberry beds now ordered and prepped for
succulent spring rewards.  The stakes and upturned
pots are what we use as a frame to drape the bird
netting over for protection.
I planted an asparagus bed 4 years ago - just 12 crowns.  These beds need to be well thought out as they can crop for 15 -20 years, so planning is essential.  Ours is relegated to the East of the house, just alongside the compost bin.  The first year I patiently watched the little asparagus heads, salivated and held back from cutting them (good gardeners don't kill their plants in the first year by harvesting, so that they can establish themselves).  The second year, I harvested over a 5 week window and again held back from continual cutting (the asparagus heads are allowed to grow to fern-like stage, so that they can make food for the underground crowns and strengthen them for the next season).  Gradually you can incrementally extend your cutting season by a few weeks every year after.  Hot butter-cooked pan-seared asparagus on toast - mmmmn!  Mouth-watering!  This weekend I have planted 6 new little plants (which I had grown from seed) to extend the bed - but they will be a long time off harvesting.  Should be interesting as they are purple spears!!
I also managed to prune my bay tree so that one can approach it without having to resort to dwarf stature.  I laid a new sawdust path down the back of our orchard, and Mike helped plant up the leftover strawberry plants as a weed cover along the sides.  Perhaps they will fruit - but they will be exclusively bird fodder as we have plenty in our 2 strawberry-only beds.
I dug up on of our rhubarb plants, divided it and replanted the two plants in sunny spots, hoping for a bumper rhubarb crop next growing season.   Gave them plenty sheep poos too, to boost growth as the nutrients become available.  I usually freeze my rhubarb stalks after cooking with sugar and little water.  Then I make rhubarb slice.  I defy any kid to turn up their noses at that!

The asparagus bed prepped for Spring

Bay branches awaiting plucking before being chipped

A weed-infested path has been cleared with help from our friends.
I discovered that a palm tree we pulled out about a year ago.  It was so fibrous, that we left it to rot down near the banana plantation.  It had all but rotted away to a shell of matted fibre.  I managed to pull them clear of the trunk, coming away in sheets of woven fabric-like sheets.  Amazing!  I put them to good use, mulching the peach tree and two strelitzias, thereby hopefully adding a weed suppressing natural fibrous mat!  I shall see how successful and durable this proves to be next summer.

Home-grown weed matting

The fibrous matting up close
Images from the garden this last week:

These fuscias remind me of a ballerina on points

Over-loaded young easy-peel mandarin tree

New rhubarb mound

Daffy bulbs emerge from their long sleep.  Some are already flowering elsewhere
 in the garden.  I swear our daffodils flower a month or two earlier here than elsewhere.
 Daffies usually herald the coming spring!  We are headed straight for winter!
What's happening??

New sawdust pathway with strawberry plants planted
alongside for a novel ground cover/ weed mat

Tamarilloes ripen under their frost cloth.  A miracle they have
already survived two heavy autumn frosts!

Root harvests
And to end off, I want to share the Recycling Genius of a Creative Lady I know.  She crafted these fingerless gloves from the top of old socks!!  Embellishments make them simply gorgeous!  Who would ever guess that they were socks in a past life??  Great Gloves Michelle!  To quote Dr Seuss,  "Oh, the places you will go......."