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Weeds for butterflies

This is my latest project to encourage butterflies. Helen Quince and her son Bernard are propagating special plants to encourage butterflies. So many butterflies need plants that are disappearing because gardeners and farmers consider them to be weeds. Butterflies need special weeds to lay their eggs on, like nettle and Swan Bush.

I got a little Swan Bush and this caterpillar from Helen. The bush is being eaten but the caterpillar is getting bigger! I just hope the birds don’t get it. I put it in the shrubs near the Buddleias – Butterfly Bushes!

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Early Autumn sowing

Jerusalem Artichokes now taller than the garage March 2019

This week I sowed a winter Turnip, a local heirloom that was developed by Dick Smithson of Beaufort. It’s a Swede or Rutabaga, with a sweet, mild flavour and very easy to grow over winter.

Florence Fennel was also sown because it seems to do better started now and grown in the cooler months, although most books tell you to start it in the spring. Our summers are too hot for it and it will tend to grow tough and stringy bulbs in hot weather.

I started  an old variety of Beetroot, called Egyptian. It’s very reliable and the leaves can be used like spinach too.  In ancient times beets were cultivated in Egypt, as were Broad beans, or Faba Beans, which were a staple part of the diet. They can be sown now . I have Red Seeded Peruvian broad beans which are a compact bushy plant , less susceptible to wind damage. The pods and seeds are smaller than the common varieties, but this means less tough skins on the seeds and a sweeter flavour. 

This is the time to start onions, and garlic of all varieties as they do well over winter and can be harvested in spring. I grow easy varieties, such as the Russian Garlic, which is really a Leek which makes giant cloves and tall stems with big purple flowers which are very ornamental. and the very old Walking Onions which go by many names, and develop into a clump of bunching onions like French Shallots.

Many flowers for spring can be sown now; Peony and Flanders Poppies, Honesty, Hollyhocks and Calendulas. Away from the humidity of the coast, they are free of rust and mildew. Californian Poppies which also come from an arid climate, do very well, and like the Calendulas, will naturalise. Similarly, the Australian Paper Daisies, Helichrysums, can be sown now for a late winter flowering.

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Lucky ducks

Yesterday I went to the nursery in Dimboola and bought a small tree and some ground cover plants. Amazingly, it rained in the afternoon about 5mm, and now it is misty rain this morning. I don’t think the rain was forecast but very welcome all the same.

I have 15 birds now and a few too many. My friend Trenton who lives over in Maldon also raises ducks. From time to time we replenish each other’s stock, so I’ll have to take some over to him in the next couple of months.

Sir Francis has his matrimonial feathers now. It is sad that duck hunting season starts again here soon. At least it is banned in other states.