The Jungle House in Review 2018

It is always good to reflect. However, it always seems to be that negative events, outway the positive. Like we give them a multiplier blowing them out of proportion.

The garden has definitely had it’s year of challenges. So in thinking about our year in review, I could think about the tortoises destruction of the front garden, or my dog that insists on sleeping in my raised beds.

So rather than focus on the cutworms, that insist on eating my cucumbers let us look at a few of the wins, this year, and hopefully get some inspiration to move into the new year.

My ‘Babeco’ Apricots are some of the first trees that were planted, a gift from dear friends, and thus one of the first to fruit. We have just finished our third season and each one brought some element of failure. First year we had amazing flowers with two fruit set. Learning, hand polinate. Second year saw 36 fruit to term, all full of worms. We managed to salvage two jars of jam. Learning, worms need to be dealt with. So for the third year we hand polinated, got more than 50 fruit set, and bagged them to keep the worms off. We are not pesticide people. We only got 5 delicious fruit, with no worms, serious fruit drop. Learning, well not really sure. Either the bagging forces the fruit to fall off, maybe combined with the wind? Possibly the 10 day, 35 plus degree heatwave? We are going to have to see what happens next year, hopefully the lack of a heat wave, will assist in identifying this year’s problem. Each year of failure, brought valuable learning. Failure brings learning, if you embrace it, and look for the value in the experience.

Purple and Yellow Spider Daylily

This year we ate daylilies from October and will finish up later this month in January. At times there were enough to replace the lettuce for family dinners. It has been three years in the making. Dutifully applying compost, watering through the very hot and dry summer. They have been showing progress, thickening up, producing more plants. This year has given us a window of promise, that in the next year or two, we will actually have more flowers than we can eat. We have also harvested our first plum, and look forward to apples and figs later in the season. All of these, have been years in the making, planning, procuring, planting, pruning, and caring for the plants. Patience yields reward.

One of my first learnings through failure, was the need to really water one’s plants. While a fair number of plants will survive with limited water, they really need excellent watering to truly thrive. In Cape Town, trying to grow in the summer, is like trying to grow in a desert. I do a fair bit of research and so in looking at a means to improve watering, came across hydroponics, which led to an exploration of aquaponics through which I stumbled upon wicking beds. This year we have completed two wicking beds, raised beds with a water reservoir below, with water wicking from beneath, rather than watering above. I have made my own design changes due to observations and the journey I have taken, which will help others in theirs, to grow their own food. Wicking beds have revolutionised my annual gardening practices, and it all started in a search. Exploration begins with journeys.

So as we enter into the new year, start your own journey. Embrace the learning that comes with failure, and look forward to the rewards that comes with patience. However, none of this works, unless you plant something. You have to start on that journey. Happy planting