The First Day Of Crematoria

Fraser Island Creeper, Tecomanthe hillii - 03
You know it’s early spring when the Queensland endemic vine Fraser Island creeper, Tecomanthe hillii, flowers in early spring.

The first koel of summer has called, the first mosquito has bitten and the first dust storm has sprinkled Brisbane red ochre. While I’m out there watering, counting every drop as it falls onto the crisped ground, thunderstorm clouds are full of promise yet lacking in rain. It’s the first day of crematoria, south east Queensland’s flexible new season, that bridges that rigid, neat European concept of spring and summer.

Tecomanthe dendrophylla - 17
When New Guinea creeper, Tecomanthe dendrophylla, flowers, you know spring is well underway.

Last year Crematoria started in late October after a long dry spell. At least this year we’ve had one good fall in our winter dry season, as well as the traditional brief, early spring showers. Now the gauntlet is down. It’s time to complete compost spreading and mulching, a time to finish lifting those winter crops, like my potatoes and daikon.

I transplanted my ‘Preston’s Prolific’ fig tree in August. I’ve just been away: speaking at Armadale’s ‘Sustainable Living Expo’, visiting Bundaberg Special School’s veggie garden, lecturing at a Hervey Bay ‘Transition Town’ event, and discussing low carbon gardening at the Landcare Conference in Monto. And my fig has now opened its buds. It’ll need regular watering as I had to remove some significant girdled roots during its relocation.

The mangelwurzels and kohl rabi ‘Purple Vienna’ are at their prime, so I’ll feed and water them regularly like my citrus, banana and other rapidly growing fruit trees.

To save some water for the street trees, which haven’t been bucket watered for many weeks, I’ll cease watering my winter crops selected for seed saving. I’ve already saved some huauzontle seed. The Ethiopian cabbage called ‘Old Women Meet and Gossip’ are heavy with seed and bowed low by killer winds while my ‘First Fleet’ lettuce are pointing tight flower buds at the sky. I should also cut and dry my lush Moroccan mint and that delicious and ferny-looking dill.

The lawn is green and growing, and it’s had it’s quarterly feed with poultry manure, applied when a storm approaches, just in case it gets watered in…

Jerry Coleby-Williams
26th September 2008


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