Garden Visit: Parkesbourne Produce
(28 August 2014)
Julie and her husband David moved to this glorious property four and a half years ago. It is located in the historic Parkesbourne district near Goulburn NSW. The couple both have rural backgrounds, which has put them in good stead for creating and maintaining a thriving market garden and several fruit orchards. In saying this though, Julie’s plant expertise is far from limited to productive horticulture and it shows; Julie is a lover of all plants whether exotic, native, edible or ornamental – there is not a plant group which isn’t grown on this busy yet equally serene farm. In fact, there is something to excite and impress every gardener’s palate, including mine (another surreal and often magical gardening adventure to recall with fondness and get all warm and fuzzy about). She even has a seed-grown avocado growing in one of her glasshouses that was a gift from her son - he grew it especially for her and she as yet hasn’t had the heart to tell him that the chances of it fruiting are negligible.
The couple grow seasonal veggies and fruit for market and personal use including lots of heirloom and heritage varieties. There are loads of Alpine Strawberries too, which Julie propagates by seed as they don’t produce runners as most other strawberries do. Julie cooks, preserves and devours all surplus fruit and veggies on site throughout the year and says the only fruit she and her husband purchase externally are bananas, the rest they grow themselves. Julie is currently germinating her warm-season veggie and herb seeds trialing moon planting methodologies. They are growing in mini propagating trays, in what I can only describe as Taj Mahal-like conditions - on a warm bed, complete with a luxurious mink blanket, a northerly view to the rambling countryside, and rustic bedroom décor to match.
Julie is especially passionate about preserving and promoting heritage fruit trees. There are several remnant specimens on the property which initially sparked her interest and now have her collecting and grafting material from neighbouring properties and the community at large. For instance, she has just finished planting an orchard with thirty species of heritage plum trees, 70 plants in total. It was a project which arose from tasting homegrown blood plums given to her from a neighbour last summer (she really is my kind of gardening aficionado/nut).
On the animal front, the property boasts a large flock of White Mallard and Buff Orpington ducks, both breeds’ being popular all-rounders. Julie describes duck eggs as having strong white shells, silky whites, and rich, but not gamey, yolks. They are perfect for baking and general consumption, although you may want to don a healthy appetite before doing so, as they are simply huge. The beauty of keeping ducks is that they lay over the winter months when our other feathered friends – the humble chicken, are generally enjoying a much deserved rest.
And whilst on the subject of animals, food and the great outdoors, I would like to share with you the fact that my family and I were very nearly supplied with fresh meat for a stew; my mum’s Jack Russell was hot on the trail of a wild rabbit but alas, her portly frame slowed her down and consequently, all hopes of savouring this tasty dish were dashed (I have since had strict words to the hand that feeds her).
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