Not Even an Eschalot: starting my garden from scratch

“I did not cultivate any of this land, it would not grow an eschalot”, a quote by Patrick Devin lamenting the poorness of Mount Crosby soil in 1889….um, yeah, in all the research and excitement surrounding our rural move, I kinda forgot to check about the soil in the area….. It is TERRIBLE: hard, rocky, harsh and unfriendly soil. Cultivating this land is going to be a challenge.  The Devins finally managed it, growing cotton and cabbages on the banks of the Brisbane River, as well as a citrus orchard.

Kate Devin at her family’s orchard c.1925 – photograph by Maggie McDougall

I enlisted the help of my childhood neighbour, Elizabeth who has the most amazing little farmlet on Mount Tamborine, growing fruit, veggies, lush flowers and running a colourful menagerie of hens. She made the journey from her mountain to mine to issue advice to this novice farmer about preparing the soil and the layout of the garden. Looks like a thick layer of topsoil, an even thicker layer of mulch, and a good dose of patience and resolve are in order! Before she returned home, she presented me with the most precious gift, an array of heirloom seeds from her own plants – what a treasure. So watch this space for garden updates (and hopefully some future eschalots!)

My selection as it stands today…ready for action!
Gathering the right tools on my potting table
The beginnings of my potting table


Little treasures: heirloom seeds from Elizabeth's garden
Little treasures: heirloom seeds from Elizabeth’s garden


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