convent garden

Will we get macadamias this year?

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Our 4 year old macadamia tree, still small at 3m high.
Our 4 year old macadamia tree, still small at 3m high.

The one request from the nuns when I started the guerrilla gardening of the convent land was to plant a macadamia tree. Apparently at a convent they stayed at in the country they had a wide range of fruit trees, and fresh macadamias were a particular delight.

The tree I planted 4 years ago is still small, perhaps 3m high. It’s had a rough time, with kids splitting the trunk early in its growth, plus various periods of drought conditions.

The fruiting spikes, hanging within the canopy of the tree.
The fruiting spikes, hanging within the canopy of the tree.

Nonetheless, this year has produced a good number of fruiting spikes this year. So hopefully this year will be our first macadamia harvest!

(The good news is that the shell of the nuts is so hard that even the rats can’t gnaw their way in…)

Update on our food forest

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Apple tree growing happily in our food forest

About six months ago, I cleared a overgrown mass of privet in the convent’s land behind our house to create a new food forest. Apple trees were ordered and planted, along with a bunch of other fruit trees.

This quickly became the first round of a multi-year war against weeds. With the warm, wet weather, the privet was immediately replaced by half a dozen varieties of invasive weeds, which are now several metres high.

Starting at the near end, I’ve been countering this by laying down newspaper, and piles of mulch (kindly donated by a local tree trimming company). A variety of plants have been established as part of the ‘apple tree guild’:

  • comfrey
  • lavender
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • oregano

I’ve also been planting a number of dominant vegetables to act as ground cover:

  • multiple types of pumpkin (normal and heirloom varieties)
  • watermelons
  • rockmelons
  • cucumbers

It’s clear that this will take some time, years most likely. Still, it’s a good weekend project…

The big surprise has been the hundreds of cherry tomato plants that have come up amongst the weeds. We’re not sure whether these came from the neighbours chucking tomatoes over their back fence, or from seeds being dropped by birds.

We’re not complaining either way, as we’ve already harvested 2-3kg of cherry tomatoes for ‘free’, having done nothing but watch the plants grow. There’s probably 10-20kg of tomatoes yet to grow and ripen, if we can find the time to pick them…

PS. in the end, the food forest is likely to become a ‘convent garden’ rather than a community garden. I’ll be the ‘head convent gardener’, with a produce-sharing arrangement in place. A good win-win outcome! 🙂