Gardening for your health and for your community

You labour in your garden with the palette that is life
In finite space you reach for balance keen
For through each act of favour in this labour of Your love
You dance as partner with Creation, for a Dream

Through each tree and through her placing
you have respite from the sun
Some choice of fruit and colour bold
And for those frogs upon the wall
in this, Their sanctuary
There is another story to be told

You have wrestled with your choices as for ever there is doubt
with time too short for in-betweens
As for every chance you favour there are many must miss-out
and for them there can be nothing but the dream
Yet still for some in a corner dry there’s welcome
For some small seed; another’s weed; new life
Brief chance for leaves in sky unfolded
To turn; with the turning of the sun

Two frogs on a rock by a pool.

Plants I’m currently growing in Trigg, Perth:

Yellow guava plant with unripe fruit.

1/ Yellow strawberry guava, Psidium cattleianum variety littorale: A now four-year-old plant, about 20 months in its present home, is shown. Propagation is generally best from the seed of productive plants. Seedling plants can be expected to begin fruiting in no more than 2 years. There is a continuation of flowering at the rear with more near-mature fruit in the foreground. Prolonged fruiting period is problematic for commercial fruit growers but for the home gardener the trait is useful. The fruit is very resistant to Mediterranean fruit fly until ripening occurs. Because the ripening on the bush occurs over about 2 days – provided the fruit is then picked promptly, the plant does not serve as a fruit fly host.

Spacer. Pawpaw tree.

2/ Pawpaw, Carica papaya: Pawpaw successfully fruits in Trigg usually only in late summer, where plants have the benefit of a northerly full sun aspect. Seedling plants must be established by early summer if they are to survive their first ‘damp cold of winter’. A crop can be expected in the summer of the second year.

Babaco, Carica pentagona is of long-established hybrid origin; more tolerant of cold winter conditions but similarly sensitive to over-wet soil condition and intolerant of intense sunlight in hot weather, between October and April.

Spacer. Small avocado tree.

3/ Avocado: Productive avocado tree cultivation can be a challenge for Perth gardeners for a variety of reasons. The trees are shallow rooted and are intolerant of poor quality impoverished soil or saline soil conditions. Regular soil mulching is imperative, particularly for young trees. Trees must be protected from strong winds; from too-intense sunlight when the ambient temperature is high and must be regularly but not over-watered. Grafted trees when carefully tended, can be expected to commence cropping after 3 to 4 years. However most varieties set and carry-to-maturity fruit, only once their flowers are effectively cross pollinated by a suitable ‘pollination variety’. Gardening “beginners” are wise if they look first to edible fig, citrus and other fruit trees; as they go about establishing their gardens. Once success is achieved with these, then potentially the challenge of avocado growing can be taken up.

John Stretch

Spacer.