A walk through the winter garden

With the arrival of grey skies and the onset of the gentle winter rains here on the Adelaide Plains, one might easily forget the vast arid desert on our doorstep to the north, a desert twice the size of Germany in South Australia alone. Not for nothing are we known as the driest state in the driest continent. Yet despite almost thirty years living with the Aussie gardener, the German cook has seen almost nothing of this vast hinterland. So with the rains sustaining the garden, there was just time for a one week dash north into the sunshine, and a memorable helicopter flight over Lake Eyre and Cooper Creek where it crosses the Birdsville Track.

Lunch in a creek bed south of the coal mining town of Leigh Creek in northern South Australia

Helicopter flight from Marree South Australia over Lake Eyre

Rock formation near Arkaroola in South Australia






Brocolli, parsnip and chinese cabbage seedlings just planted into fibre pots in mid-winterBack home again, and the garden has survived, although everything has slowed down as the temperatures have dropped. Nevertheless, planting still goes on in a never-ending cycle of germination, growth, harvest and going-to-seed.

While we relish all the usual soft summer fruits such as figs, peaches, apricots, grapes and nectarines, plums and berries, winter time on the Adelaide Plains is citrus time; oranges, lemons, limes, mandarins and grapefruit flourish and provide plenty of Vitamin C just as the rest of the population starts to catch colds and flu.

Washinton Navel eating oranges bearing in mid-winter on the Adelaide Plains in South Australia

Grapefruit on the world's most reliable tree; it bears abundant fruit year after year with almost no inputs.

Plenty of green things are doing well – broccoli, silver beet, beetroot, fennel, nettles, peas and potatoes.

Silverbeet for the chooks, and brocolli for the humans...

Garlic, leeks and onions are also underway; their biggest competition in this rich black soil comes from self-seeding nettles which will swamp them unless hoed out.

Young garlic, leek and onion seedlings getting underway in the winter garden. These will not be ready for harvest until mid-summer.

'Aquadulce' broad beans being grown for seedBroad beans are one of the few seeds that germinate readily under these cold conditions; these ‘Aquadulce’ broad beans are part of my rare seed collection being grown on for seed rather than food.

Down in the asparagus beds, the ferns have died off and will soon be cut back with hedge shears to allow the asparagus spears room to poke through in spring. Once trimmed off, compost made over several years in a Gedye Bin from household scraps will be added to the bed to keep the fertility up.

Asparagus bed in mid-winter before the ferns are cut back to ground level A Gedye Bin (left) produces rich fertile soil (right) from household scraps. The bin sits upon a brick base that prevents mice from tunneling up inside it looking for a free feed and a warm home.


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