Friday, June 4, 2010

A visit to Davids' house - April

I arrived at Davids' house and parked under a large oak tree in the back streets of Olinda on Mt Dandenong.  I was to meet David and Margaret Angus - two people whom i had never set eyes on before. I had been corresponding with Margaret from Southern Cross seed savers and she kindly agreed to organise a few gardens for a stick beak. I was very interested in Davids' garden as it was on the same soil and a very similar altitude to our place, so what i saw at his place would be almost directly applicable to my place.

I was not disappointed. The first plant of note on our wander around the garden was a Chilean guava which were offered to help ourselves to. The fruit were just ripe and delicious - quite guava like but no noticeable seeds.

Another plant which i head read about was the Yacon which is sort of a bit like a Dahlia with an edible starchy root. I did not however expect it to grow as tall as me. I think David had eaten them but they were by no means about to replace potatoes on his menu.

That was not the last of the supersized vegetables in his garden. I wanted to keep lingering and marvelling at things such as the hip high Rhubarb plants with  with 50cm wide leaves and gigantic stems to match. However David was onto the next thing down the garden path.

What a feast! One thing after another i saw and wanted to have one growing myself. The Oxalis tuberosus or Oca is a small tuber that is popular in New Zealand but relatively unheard of in this country. I have never tried them but i'm wondering if they might be a good stand by crop to have in the ground when other things fail.

David had a number of very admirable bean trellises holding up several varieties of heirloom beans which he was growing out for the local seedsavers group and making available to its members.  Most of his beans he need to pick and bring them inside to dry as the wetaher doesn't allow them to dry very well on the vine.

Ukranian noodle bean below.

I was just generally full or admiration for Davids methodical work on his garden beds, productive plantings and local knowledge. The hot house too was full of plants in different stages of growth. A special variety of Peas had gone in (Delta louise - specially bred by David Murray) as well as tomatoes still hanging on from the summer, bountiful capsicums and also chilies and Basil. David recommeded a book called "The four season harvest" by Eloit Coleman i think and i will get onto it when the time comes.

Other trees of note were two types of Persimmon, Tamarillo a variety of semi wild quince which aparrrently was growing very fast - and also had some big thorns. David had a thriving lime tree and a japanese mardarin which was also doing beautifully. He did have a Fejoia which had never done well for him.

After our walk we retired to the kitchen to talk seeds and have a cuppa and also showed the children where the rasberry patch was to be found, which kept them busy for a little while.

To top this all off David also supplies vegetables, fruit and eggs to the "hills organic box scheme" HOBS. Everyone was all pretty happy with this arrangement besides his daughter  who had to battle for her once safe supply of eggs and organic produce. Though there must have been a few eggs left for the lovely baked things we were offered.

Now that i have seen Davids' garden i vow to return to get cuttings and bulbs when the time comes to plant our place out. As i told Margaret there's nothing more than i love to do on my holidays than look at gardens and this one is high on the list of the most interesting food gardens i have seen.