In the garden

While living in Sweden, all I had to offer plants was a balcony and windowsills, not the best environment for growing. Something that I was looking forward to when we returned to Australia was the ground that would be free for me to use for whatever greenery I wanted. Images of cascading nasturtiums, tomato plants weighed down by fruit, natives adding colour and food for bees. 

Now, about 2 months after being back, these plans are underway. An aspect of gardening that I hadn’t considered properly was patience. A watched seed doesn’t sprout. 
I expected the sun and earthy vibrancy of Austalia to launch the little seedlings into life, growing obediently up trellises and across rocks. 

Plants need time, and at least in the case of snap peas, someone willing to encourage them daily to grow up the trellises I carefully made for them. 


The little reaching trendrils twist in the air, around themselves into tiny fists, and sometimes around the poles and other tendrils, going sideways and upwards. Every day a branch extends out into midair, and is poked back, tendrils twisted around the trellises with the hope that this time it’ll cling on. 

In the shade of the peas the thyme seedlings slowly grow. Getting less and less light as the peas grow, I’ll have to move them soon, before they’re completely covered.
Behind the pea trellises dwarf beans are shooting out of the soil, encouraged by the sun and rain this week, growing at about a cm a day. At this rate they’ll be climbing the back fence in a couple of weeks, and maybe even giving me some return for dinner and snacks.

Rocket plants taken from my mum’s garden have also been heading upwards fast, and are now collapsing under their own weight, hopefully ready to seed and start again. A salad for the warmer week ahead is waiting in their thick leaves.

Elsewhere zinnias and lavender grow, providing for the bees and birds that hover around. Nasturtium shrubs, planted many weeks ago, are clinging on in the rocky, sandy soil, new leaves showing that they haven’t given up yet, though it’ll be sometime before they spread uncontrolled over the rockery, bright flowers blooming.

By the protection of the house, geraldton wax and red leschenaultia slowly thrive, their hardy and vibrant flowers very typical of the dry, harsh but giving conditions of the south west. A boronia bush waits to spread, strawberry seedlings hold in their fruit and a native berry bush grows up towards the light.

There is greenery, colour and in the future fruit, but like settling in to your old home and life, it takes time.

Blooms and brews

It’s sunny and warm and unseen birds are chirping. Time seems to pass slowly, perhaps because of the long summer days that last through midnight. I usually write the first draft of a post in a notebook, finding a cozy place to sit and wait for the ideas to come. As I write this draft, I can smell the earthy, sour scent of tomato leaves and warm soil. Along the window sill sits a line of pots of all sizes, containing plants of various shades of green sprouting or lolling about. Though I’ve recently been to a night of obscure and worldly music, a speech about cultural appropriation, seen Sweden open up in the summer sun and learnt more about teaching, I’d like this latest post to be closer to home.

Young tomatoes in the sun

Young tomatoes in the sun

Many of the plants to my right are looking less than healthy, the lower leaves stained and wilted beneath newer, greener leaves. These are all tomato plants that I grew from seeds, carefully watering and weathering until I thought them tough enough to brave the outside weather. Unfortunately, they weren’t all quite ready and all but one are now inside again. Little yellow blossoms tell me that this was the right move, though whether I get food out of them is another thing. According to google all I need to do to help with pollination is give them a little shake every day, which for some obscure reason is a bit of a relief.

Tomato flowers

Tomato flowers

In between the tomato plants are covered plastic growing boxes with seeds that I planted two weeks ago. The cress has been growing like a weed, leaning purposefully towards the sun and already tasting sharply peppery. Behind them are the nasturtium sprouts, which are popping up more ponderously and then quickly unfurling. Every day adds about a cm to each sprout, especially when there are blue skies and the sun is pouring in through the window.

New sprouts

New sprouts

Next to this container is a smaller one with only one sprout. They were planted at the same time as the tomatoes but seem somehow reticent. I’m tempted to poke about to see if they’re even trying. The one survivor is growing quickly though, and hopefully will pop out with a flower or two soon, and perhaps even some little, pinky-sized smultrons (wild strawberries).

At the same time, other living forces are underway in the spare room, getting on with a process as old as civilization. Brewing.
Two weeks ago my fella started creating what I’ll call generic beer, with the help of a friend who is much more knowledgeable than me about beer. Which isn’t all that difficult to achieve really. There was mixing, boiling, cooling, stirring, the adding of yeast and pouring, accompanied by the drinking of beer (to collect bottles for the brew) and much serious staring at the malty, hoppy mass. Some of the malt mash was used to make two excellent loaves of bread, thick crusty loaves that go down well with butter. The pre-beer is now bubbling away happily, along with the newest addition to the brew room.

Freshly baked beer bread

Freshly baked beer bread

This last weekend we spent a fair amount of time purchasing a juicer and 10 kilos of apples, and then lugging them home. Sadly I was able to eat none of the apples, as they were all put through the juicer to serve a higher purpose. Their juice is now frothing away, fermenting merrily into what I hope will become cider.

Frothy fermentation

Frothy fermentation

The next step is unclear, but mead, stout, lambic beer, wine and apple beer have been suggested. All I hope for is that when they’re done to our satisfaction we can have a sunny day to enjoy them, perhaps by the lake. If I’m very lucky there may even be a handful of cress, a couple of juicy tomatoes and nasturtium petals to mix into a salad. Or even a tiny, extremely sweet wild strawberry to savour as I sip our homemade cider in the fading summer light.