Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Growing faster than the children

When we arrived less than two years ago and I started to turn over the soil in the garden I couldn’t believe what I was dealing with. At best the soil was heavy loam full of rocks at worst solid clay. My neighbour was so disgusted with his soil he went down to the local garden centre and bought soil to replace the rubbish that he had to deal with. In his opinion nothing would grow successfully in the soil we had been given so the only sensible course of action was to replace it. I told myself if the locals could grow produce in this soil then so could I.

In England I would have rough dug the soil, limed it and let the winter frosts break it up. Without a winter frost that wasn’t going to work. So the best I could do was break it up by hoeing and raking and hope for the best. The soil is still poor in patches but is a lot better than it was. In any case the good thing about heavy soil is that it needs less watering and any fertilizer I apply doesn’t get leached away.

There are still areas of solid clay where nothing will grow well but as you can see in less than two years the plants have done well. These two pictures were taken just about a year apart. Some plants have done too well and I now have to cut them back to stop them smothering the rest of the garden.

The most gratifying plants are the ones that looked as though they were dead or dying like the cycad and he phoenix palm which both have new leaves in abundance. Even the hibiscus which looked as though it was just a bunch of twigs at the start of the year has flowered for months.

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