Podcast Notes – Introduction

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Hello everyone, and welcome to inthe Kitchen Garden with Mickey… the podcast

As I’ve verbally explained in the audio, I thought I would begin by explaining the layout, so that, especially if you’re yet to make a visit to Glenmore, and so that future episodes make sense.  So above is a section, taken from the watercolour illustration mapped and painted for us by Catherine O’Neill (a 25th wedding anniversary present to ourselves some years back). I’ve had a passion for aerial garden views for as long as I can remember…in fact I blame some placemats my mother had when I was a child, when I could never eat my dinner fast enough to get rid of the plate, so I could trace the paths and steps, the gates and gaps in the hedges with my finger!

So look into the illustration above and you’ll clearly see the apple arch at its centre, dividing the four ‘traditional’ beds on the right, from the three ‘guild’ beds and the raspberry cage on the left; the espaliered fruit trees across the back and the narrow companion beds around the edge.  In the foreground at the right, is the citrus bed which doubles as a chicken run, and the whole is balanced by the ‘Dairy’ – on the footprint of the original.  It’s the building where I run all our workshops and events, and has the most delightful view over the kitchen garden.




The apple arch




The rocket path

The rocket path is the one on the right and if you go down that path, the steps, and through the gate in the hedge, it will take you to the ‘new’ potting shed, where I sow my seed, pot on seedlings and the like. In its previous life, this building was the horse stable we built when Clemmie went through her riding phase, then it got repurposed when she flew the coop and eventually poor old Elvie left this realm…I do still miss hearing the thud of his hooves and seeing the swish of his tail out the corner of my eye – they were such an integral part of my early kitchen gardening years – whether he was coming in from the paddocks at a gallop or just lolloping about by the fence. This is where the floating beds are now, the area I call the ‘pumpkin paddock’, to the right (but not visible) on the section of illustration above.  Horse aside though, it’s the girls themselves I miss most….the endless hours they spent with me in the garden when they were little….but that’s another story – children and gardens….that I’ll weave in down the track. (Because gardens and children just go together...there are so many tasks that are not exactly ‘gardening’ that children can participate in, lovely games that can be made up along the way…so…down the track!)




The pumpkin paddock….but this lovely simple enclosure I’ve been re-building each year with whoever I could persuade to help me was not practical, so much as I love the wonkiness of this, we’re in the process of making something slightly more permanent this year!

If you follow the path on the extreme left though (of the illustration), it will take you through the gap in the hedge to the ‘drying green’ and the ‘old’ potting shed, where the washing line is and where much of my overflow produce grows. Old, because it was the first potting shed we built, of re-purposed ironbark timber and the windows from the original slab dwelling here. The entire area was ‘cut out of the paddock’….there were no hedges, fences, gates or paths, garden or buildings below the Dairy.




Through the gate in the hedge to the potting shed and drying green….




The drying green….I know some of you are washing line tragics like me!  There’s nothing like linen snapping in a stiff breeze, baking on the line in the sun….oh the sight and scent of it!  

Then behind this area, are the compost bays.  While the aerobins and the worm farm are where you see the ‘tank’ indicated on the illustration (behind the tractor shed).  There will be more about those soon.




A compost heap in progress

In fact I’ll discuss compost in detail in upcoming episodes….I’m thinking Episode Two will be a good place to start, as the timing will be just right for beginning a new heap then.  We’ll also discuss successional sowing and collecting seed, amongst the myriad other related topics I’m bound to get swept up in! Like building structures:




Structures for a summer garden

Seeing such a clean sweep as here is, in fact, a rare sight, as structures are built at the time of crop rotation, and there’s always some crop I’m loathe to pull out that’s still in full productive flight. But the particular year I snapped this, I bit the bullet and ripped out everything, because we were photographing for The House and Garden at Glenmore…..and I so badly wanted Daniel to get a good image of structures for the book!  Also that year, we were so lucky to have quite a lot of rainfall – do you think maybe if I upload enough ‘rainy day’ images here I might jinx the weather into giving us more?

But I digress….let’s get back to the main garden.  On the traditional side (to the right of the apple arch) veg are laid out in straight rows and divided into their four family groups: legumes, leafy greens, root veg and fruiting veg:




A fave old pic of the traditional side….when I used to use Mulberry from the garden for the stakes, but it’s too short-lived…..

While on the guild side (to the left of the apple arch) all the veg are mixed up and intermingled, in order to confuse the pests, but I’ve come to use these beds for a completely different ‘style’ of gardening, which will become apparent as we drift through the seasons together:




A late winter ‘guild’ bed from a few years ago….

Then there’s the companion planting, which goes through various seasonal phases.  It reaches peak ‘prettiness’ in late winter/early spring when the pinky-mauve poppies with their deep purple blotched throats are at their height, and often filled with up to three bees per cup…so encouraging drifts of them, along with borage, calendula, fennel and other companion plants under the blossoming fruit trees contributes to the likelihood of successful pollination, as well as looking dreamy and romantic.




A favourite image of companion planting here

One point that I realise I didn’t focus on when recording the introduction episode, is that as much as I plan the Kitchen Garden from an aesthetic, as well as a practical gardening point of view, I neglected to say just how much the Kitchen Garden is equally driven by what we want to see on our plates….naturally! Our appetite drives the kitchen garden just as much as my desire for a romantic vision, and I adhere to the gardening principles in order to get the best outcome for the visual feast the garden delivers as much as the actual daily feast on our plates!  There…..perhaps that sums it up!




Of fruit and veg, flowers and herbs….

By the way, all the images, unless otherwise credited, will be mine.  I really am inclined to be spontaneous in both gardening and writing….I’m bound to leap up and just snap an image of something I think you need to see to explain a point, so it will be impossible to have a photographer on hand to capture my sporadic thoughts!  

Already you may have gathered from just these few images and explanations here, that the way I do things has changed over the years….from the materials I use for structures and enclosures, to the mulch I use…let alone the oft-times haphazard, other times strictly regimented ways in which I plant – there are simply dozens and dozens of ‘experiments’ I’ve made over the years and as a result, hopefully I can save you some time and a lot of work by setting you on the right path in the first place!




Me picking something in the garden this winter when Practise Journal came to lunch

So during upcoming episodes, I plan to explain all of the above, as well as the season as it unfolds in real time. Let’s just hope the most glorious year of all lies in store….filled with a bounty of produce, temperatures that are not too extreme, a decent amount of rainfall and the least number of pests possible! I can’t wait and I hope you’ll be there with me, to share in the ups and downs, the joys and without question, the inevitable disasters along the way!   See you in Episode One…..