Christmas in Charlie’s Garden

Posted on: January 13, 2009

This year we spent Christmas Day at ASA’s Uncle Charlie and Auntie Lesley’s house in Gawler, about an hour out of Adelaide.

This trip back it really struck me how DRY Adelaide is. It wasn’t even that hot. I swear the light even looks different there – sharper, brighter.

Charlie, who is in his 70s, grew up in a small village in Calabria, Italy. He was from a big family and his father didn’t work, but ran a farm that provided the food for his family. And I guess that’s where he learnt his skills.

Charlie and Lesley bought a block of land in Gawler, built a house and have plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit trees, a small olive grove, chickens and pigeons. They used to keep sheep and quail too.

They have plenty of fruit trees:

Small olive grove. Charlie picks all the olives which he grows for oil, and sends them off to be pressed. Home grown olive oil!

Miniature field of corn. This has motivated me to put some Diggers Sweet Corn Golden Bantam in the ground. I loved eating home grown corn last year, so sweet!
Look how tall they are!
Tomatoes in the greenhouse. Notice that Charlie hasn’t used stakes. Instead he uses twine – one long one along the top and from each hangs a length of twine and he trains the tomatoes to climb up them. He said in the greenhouse when it gets humid the twine can break down a bit quicker and needs replacing but I thought it was a great idea!
The huge tomato at the top of this post was an Italian variety. He showed us a photo of one about 3 times the size of the one I pictured above, believe it of not. A cross section of it was the same size as a slice of bread! But Charlie said he won’t grow that variety any more, because the plant only produces one big tomato per plant and he prefers one that will give more produce for the effort put in to grow it. He raved about the Grosse Lisse which I remember used to always be in the supermarkets when I was younger, but doesn’t seem to be around as much any more. He sent us home with some and the taste was incredible, and not very many seeds. Must try that variety next year. So tasty!

Some more tomatoes, these grown outside the greenhouse and staked. And eggplants on the left. Ah, I can’t remember what that is down the back there – perhaps broccoli? Does broccoli get that big? Notice how red the soil is!

There were plenty of other tips and tricks we learnt on the day.
Charlie had a great big water tank near the tomatoes and told us his neighbour runs some kind of business that involves in moving around chicken. The neighbour cleans out the back of the truck with water and Charlie pumps the water to his water tank, with chicken manure in it ready to go!
The chickens produced the most delicious eggs – the yolks were such a rich yellow and had so much flavour!
We talked a bit about growing bush beans, and I’ve just put some in some toilet rolls to grow, a tip I picked up from The Magic Square. Even had some simple recipe tips, storage tips – so much.
I just love talking to other gardeners and picking up tips. I seriously could talk about it all day. Once upon a time all I ever did was talk about music and now I think I talk more about gardening – even with my music friends, we’re all gardening, comparing how our tomatoes are going, how we went with the eggplants last year. So funny. Who’d have thunk it eh? Hardly the rock’n’roll lifestyle!

1 Response to "Christmas in Charlie’s Garden"

Wow! So much to see and learn. The older generation Italians can certainly teach us in this generation a thing or two about gardening!

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