Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Unearthing Garden Secrets

Melbourne must be the only city in the world that gets a public holiday for a horse race. We are sport mad in Australia and even sport madder in Melbourne. We have sport stadiums all over the place. If you don't follow the football people look at you like you must be loopy. And to be sure I am. But sport just bores me silly. Don't get me started on my sport rant.  Why can't Australians embrace the arts... Anyway, really don't get me started because I become very boring. In fact I have been known to make up facts just to sound more knowledgable when I'm on a rant. Recently at a family function certain nameless family members declared themselves to be climate change skeptics. Well you should have seen me turn purple and start up on a rant.

But I'll leave the blog-ranting to Hazel who does very thought-provoking Sunday rants on her blog. And I don't think she makes up any facts.

No, I'm not complaining that yesterday in Melbourne was a public holiday so the nation could stop and watch some horsies running about. Because I do love a holiday and because Cup Day is the day that marks for Melbourne gardeners tomato planting time. Unless they are me. I had planned to plant the tomatoes but I got stuck unearthing surprises in the ground.

On the weekend, I started to dig up some grass to plant flowers beside the shed when I discovered a brick. I kept digging and discovered more bricks. I soon realised that I was unearthing a path that hadn't seen the light of day for quite a few decades. And the fantastic thing is, this path is right where I was planning on making a path. Remember I consulted you and had decided to get rid of the grass and make mulch paths? Well someone (who has now likely gone to their grave) has done some of the work already for me. But in brick form which is much nicer and more practical.

The funny thing about unearthing a nice surprise like this is that I started to get a bit greedy. I found myself crossing my fingers in hope that the path would continue and pave under the plum tree for me. And I was a little disappointed when of course I found that it didn't.

I started fiddling about in the garden around noonish and just couldn't stop. I was interrupted at 5.45pm by my family. Still digging.

Unearthed Garden Secret No. 1 - The Path

We live near a railway track and in the very early hours of the morning last weekend I was woken by the crashing and banging of men replacing the railway sleepers. Monkey Man offered the workers half a dozen beers for half a dozen railway sleepers and they were happy to oblige. So we scored some garden edging. I dragged these to my backyard (with much huffing and puffing) and as I was unearthing the path I also managed to make some raised beds.

Oh, and I also dug up this old key. Which was rather exciting again as I imagined when it was last held and by whom and where was the door standing that the key unlocked. I fancied I could have been an archaeologist if I had my career to start over. But then I remembered those documentaries I've seen with archaeologists sitting about in the blazing sun for hours on end working with a teeny brush and I know that would be no life for me.

Unearthed Garden Secret No. 2 - The Key

So anyway, yesterday, on the day that was supposed to be dedicated to tomato planting, I didn't have time. Instead I chopped out the broad beans and made a smashed broad bean dip for lunch with friends. Delicious served with sourdough bread, slices of tomato and marinated feta cheese.

I've read that green manure crops and broad beans are good for the garden because they take nitrogen from the air and fix it to the roots to later be released into the soil. Yesterday, while I was chopping up the broad bean plants I accidentally unearthed the roots of one. And I saw with my own eyes what these little nitrogen nodules look like. Now that was exciting too. So I quickly took a photo for you and then dug it back into the soil.

Unearthed Garden Secret No. 2 - Nitrogen Nodules

I did plant my tomatoes in this same bed last year and would have liked to do a bit of crop rotation but for reasons which I will not bore you with, they will be going here again. But on another day. Because after all that path excavating and sleeper hauling and broad bean double peeling I am pooped.

Smashed Broad Bean Dip
• double peeled broad beans (as many as you can be bothered doing)
• 1 small onion finely chopped
• 3 cloves of garlic, minced
• olive oil
• salt & pepper

Double peel the broad beans. Slowly cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil. Smash the broad beans with a mortar and pestle. In a bowl, mix the beans, garlic, onion and oil together. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with sourdough bread, slices of tomato and feta cheese marinated in olive oil.


  1. What treats! We've unearthed lots of secrets as we have been renovating our garden. My favourites are the plants which have appeared from seemingly nowhere! Love the nitrogen nodules. Nature is so very clever.

  2. I would make fabulously witty comments about sports, your great finds and wonderful looking dip, but the yapping dog a few doors down is driving me nutty and I can't think. It's been yapping solidly during business hours since Monday, and although I am not a violent lass, I want to bop it on the head.


  3. Yum! I meant to try making a dip like that last broad bean season, but (despite having masses & masses of beans) never did... this year!

    Love the path... that is a treasure to uncover. I think the key was to a married woman's small chest, where she kept her valuables, including love letters from her childhood sweetheart that she wasn't allowed to marry! What??! I'm just a romantic at heart...

  4. I reckon this is one of your best posts! What an exciting and wonderful day you had. Thank you for bringing us along (and for the link and the compliment - I think it was a compliment). Maybe, we should all bury something for he next gardener to find. You may have started a trend!

  5. Yummy lunch,must try that one. So pleased you found your path. The same thing happened to us when we moved here. We ended up with a truck load of red bricks. They went to a good cause paving our daughters paths,as we had ordered pavers. Should have checked under the grass first. I bet you really enjoyed your day. Don't you just love days like that. That key is beautiful, maybe there is a secret garden somewhere (remember the book) Hope you have many more days like that. x

  6. What a great find. How wnderful that some one had planned (well) ahead and paved for you. What a great score with the sleepers. They are expensive to buy so a 6 pack was a great deal.

  7. Beer for sleepers - great trade!!!! I love that key, there's something romantic about rusty metal isn't there? All that potential history.

  8. What a fun way to spend the day, unearthing treasures! I tend to rant on nutrition, esp when I get with family/hubby's family. Gotta bite my tongue more :)

  9. The brick path is just fabulous. Does it make you wonder what else is hidden around your garden?

  10. Yes all it is great finding treasures. And the kids too have been speculating about what that key opens. Eldest Monkey Boy was hoping it opened a pirate's treasure. Ali, I'm sorry to hear about the yapping. Especially because (and this is a secret) I have a puppy on the way! More about him when he arrives. I am sure he will be well behaved and non yappy though. Have you tried ear plugs. They worked a treat for us when Eldest Monkey Boy was thumping his drums in the living room last month.

  11. I thought you were going to say that you had unearthed an ancient mosaic! (proving beyond doubt that the Romans DID colonise Australia!)

  12. what a lovely path you unearthed! Hang onto that key because when you do a little more excavating you might find the treasure chest it unlocks :)

  13. Love that you found such a stunning path! Brick paths are always so full of character! Also love the key! If you like 'discoveries' in the garden world, check out for the lost gardens of Heligan ..... amazing! lol x

  14. What incredibly exciting finds!!!! That path is like magic. And the key opens a secret garden door somewhere...

  15. I love you treasures you found in your garden,

  16. That brick path is an excellent find! What a satisfactory day!

  17. How exciting to unearth such treasures, and to nab yourself some railway sleepers!

  18. Oh I love a garden treasure! The beauty of an old garden. Might try that dip this weekend, looks delicious!

  19. Great post, and some very lovely photos indeed :)


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