If you’re a gardener, and if you want to grow a food forest, and if you are so inclined to partner up, can I recommend you seek out a person that can build stuff? Gardening requires a surprising amount of building and engineering, if you have a largish sized plot. Unfortunately, I am not an engineer. I know what I need, where I want it, and how it should look, but not how to build it. My husband, on the other hand, enjoys being outside and the results of gardening (i.e. the eating) but is not really into the digging, composting and planting. However, he is pretty great at figuring out how to build the things I need.
He recently finished the retaining wall, and has started to re-pave the backyard with recycled pavers (we want to build a backyard in-ground firepit for next Winter). But before he can continue that task, we are building trellises for all the backyard fruit trees and canes. This is a task that has been on my mind for about two years. I built short-term trellises to espalier our dwarf apple trees, but they look, well, craptacular.
The problems are many: star pickets look ugly, the wires were not strong enough and have started to sag, the trellis was quickly outgrown by the apple trees etc etc. It had to go. The trellis for the berry canes in Pie Corner was similarly horrible and the berries are just free-forming it all over the place (as you can see in the above photo). I have also recently planted several passionfruit plants that are going to outgrow the temporary trellises, and I have also recently planted dwarf plums that I wanted to espalier properly. Hence, I need a builder.
I did look for professional landscapers but they are booked out everywhere, and honestly my job is not large enough for most tradies to be interested in. Plus, my husband and I thought we could tackle it ourselves.
I watched several YouTube videos about building a trellis to espalier trees, and visited the Botanic Gardens to look at the way their very professional gardeners had done it. I still couldn’t figure it out. My husband watched the same YouTube video, and off we went to the Big Green Shed and in an hour we were back home with all the stuff we needed to build a trellis. Bloody hell. I mean, I love him.
I left him to it, and did the following:
- Dug out enough compost from the two bins to add to an entire section of garden, which I lightly dug through and have left to settle.
- Planted three varieties of climbing beans (Kentucky Wonder, Purple King, and Blue Lake) and one of dwarf beans (Yellow Wax).
- Picked a whole heap of veggies for dinner, including carrots, broccoli, spinach, onions, and asparagus. I made an Ottolenghi spinach and feta pie for dinner, and it was amazeballs.
- Planted beetroot, sunflower, carrots, and lettuce seeds, and pulled out some old spinach and coriander plants and fed them to the chooks.
- Planted up a lovely pink calibrachoa for the front stoop, and watered all the balcony plants.
- Fed the passionfruit with some fish emulsion and seaweed fertiliser, and cursed a bit when I saw some little critter has been having a nibble on them. Couldn’t find anything so I think it has gone away now.
- Waved to all the bees, including at least a couple of native bees hovering among the flowers.
- Admired the bronze iris that finally flowered after I thought all hope was lost.
An update in the trellis and espalier efforts next time.