A weekend with a difference and lots more done.

This weekend started off a little differently to most in that Allegra and I were to attend a wedding. Martin left work early to allow us the time to catch the coach into the city (train replacements at the moment 😦 ) and meet up with Poppie (my dad) to catch a Metro then a lift home. Allegra was truly the little country girl in the city with eyes absolutely everywhere.

Leeks, a beetroot, purple sprouting broccoli, some red spring onions and mint to take to Nanny.

Leeks, a beetroot, purple sprouting broccoli, some red spring onions and mint to take to Nanny. All grown organically in my garden.

Nanny (my mum) was in fine form with spoiling Allegra. 2 new dolls, new nightie and dressing gown, socks and cardigan to wear to the wedding and lots of cuddles and kisses. She is the onlyΒ grand-daughter after all so I swallowed my anti-consumer words and smiled broadly. πŸ˜‰ It was fun to see Allegra putting on her cutesy-wootsy best and charming my aunt and mum to pieces. Poppie was equally smitten and I got to sit back and relax! πŸ˜€

The next day we were woken by Allegra’s excited prattle so we got up and ready for the wedding. Nanny is still in shock at how much food her delicate looking grand-daughter can put away for breakfast though. A good-sized bowl of porridge and 3 slices of Vegemite on toast later and Allegra was still willing and able to sit down and polish off ΒΎΒ of a packet of rice crackers! Handbags packed, gifts wrapped and make up on we headed off.

The wedding was beautiful, the bride beautiful, the groom smitten, the bridesmaids gorgeous, groomsmen smart and flower-girls and page-boys all appropriately cute and incredibly well-behaved. It was a lovely service. Allegra was kept happy by the discovery of pen and paper in her bag as well as 2 boxes of sultanas and a tub of nuts. Β Yes, food is the way to a preschoolers heart for sure. πŸ˜‰ A light lunch later and Allegra and I were dropped at the station to train it home as we weren’t stopping for the reception. Into the city, a stop for a little more spoiling that blew out our sugar-free policy a bit more and then a coach home sitting right next to our next-door neighbour. πŸ™‚

Mmmm choc mint ice-cream

Mmmm choc mint ice-cream

Cleaning off the spoon

Cleaning off the spoon

Did I get it all?

Did I get it all?

Nope! Just like her mother.

Nope! Just like her mother.

It was lovely to be home again, back to the fresh air of the country and away from the hustle and bustle of the city and those that live and work there. I found myself able to relax and I was in bed by 9, asleep soon after. It had been a long and draining, although enjoyable day.

Sunday however I couldn’t get mucky fast enough! As fun as getting all tartedΒ up is fun in its own right I much prefer mud on my boots, mucking out the chook pen πŸ˜‰ or digging in the garden. I dug up my recently planted grapes and built a raised garden bed in which to replant them. The area where they live is quite damp and I was concerned at their dislike of having wet feet. Raising the bed solves the drainage problem and it also looks far neater. πŸ™‚ A trip to Diggers and Blackwood Ridge Nursery saw me planting some ornamental ground covers under the grapes, an azalea that likes the shade in the garden closest to the front door and a couple of pretty lavender along the front fence line where the apples and pears are espaliered.

Helping my bigger (and heavier) brother to reach up and close the gate.

Helping my bigger (and heavier) brother to reach up and close the gate. (Moved woodpile in the background YAY!)

Another job that needed doing was digging up the Erlicheer bulbs from around the chook pen. I’ve a garden bed (to build) in which they will be wonderful and I’ve also scattered them along the front fence and in the grape bed too. They finish flowering just as the fruit trees come into bud so they make a good companion plant for the apples and pears along with the lavender. Pretty. πŸ™‚

Cheeky!

Cheeky!

Digging out the bulbs has left many empty beds. Some of the Tagasaste have done well, others have died (being pulled from the ground repeatedly by kids is not a good encouragement to survival :() and I also planted out a new Mulberry tree too. It will grow and overhang the chook pen allowing the chooks a feast in mulberry season (thanks for the idea Gav) with any fruit that falls. I moved the first mulberry I’d planted too which I believe died from either lack of or too much water (got to be tough to survive here) but in case it just needs to de-sog its roots it’s getting a second chance. If it lives we will be well situated for both black and white mulberries. πŸ™‚ YUM!

How many worms can you see? I think there are about 20 in there at least although not all visible. Worms is one of the things we have here in plague proportions that is actually GOOD!

How many worms can you see? I think there are about 20 in there at least although not all visible. Worms is one of the things we have here in plague proportions that is actually GOOD!

Today was back to work for Martin but back to it for the kids and I. A load of compost to finish off the grape bed, logs moved into position ready to have newspaper laid and then topped off with soil and mulch (our handyman did the hard yakka for me there) and I will have 1 more garden bed complete. I need to pick up more compost for the other finished triangle bed and then build one last bed before calling it quits on raised beds. I’ve had little luck sourcing local straw aside from our local animal feed store where it is (as expected) a little pricier than I wish to pay. As Martin has sawed down most of the poplars out the front (3 to go now) I have plenty more wood available for hugelkultur beds but I think I will simply lay the wood in position and leave it to dry out and begin its slow decomposition process. I haven’t the time energy nor money to finish them off this season but compost building over the next 6-9 months will go a long way to getting them ready for next year. If I remind myself that it’s a long-term process then I think I can wait. πŸ˜‰

Raised grape beds. Cost us nothing but the soil. Everything else we already had here.

Raised grape beds. Cost us nothing but the soil. Everything else we already had here.

Looks good! Will look better once the espalier wires are up between the posts.

Looks good! Will look better once the espalier wires are up between the posts.

Thornless blackberries along the fence

Thornless blackberries along the fence

So today our handyman all but finished fencing up across the creek. The fence that was there had been trampled and flattened by trees and traffic (some of it our own foot traffic I might add) and was no good for keeping anything in or out. Aside from apparently 15 minutes work tomorrow it is once again secure and able to contain anything or anyone over there. We hope to be able to let Miss Anna out to have a browse and munch over there which will help keep down the hawthorn and poplar suckers that keep popping up. It also provides her with extra tucker. πŸ™‚ Now we know we can safely take her over there and find her again later. πŸ˜‰ One more job finished!

This is the photo from the Diggers page but it truly is this colour. Pretty no?

I noticed today that we have strawberries out in flower, including one of my Tarpan strawberries. They are a truly pretty flower as the petals, instead of white or pale pink are actually cerise pink, nearly as vivid in colour as the fruit that will follow. πŸ™‚

The only other thing to report is that I have an unwanted guest in my greenhouse named MOUSE! The rotten thing has literally eaten the seeds from my soil blocks! Rotten creature. I think he’s had a go at the spuds too. I will need to give much thought as to how to remove it (cat in greenhouse will also involve poo in garden beds) and then how to prevent the return of it or its family. Mice also attract snakes, not something I want to contemplate coming into summer.  😦

The front garden beds, bed on the right with my new Persimmon tree awaiting a location to plant it in and the bed itself awaiting soil, The bed on the right has asparagus, nasturtium and sunflowers in it and the 2 beds along the deck are espaliered cherries with all sorts planted underneath on the left and currently empty, awaiting soil, honeysuckle and other ornamentals with lots of flowers that are shade tolerant.

The front garden beds, bed on the right with my new Persimmon tree awaiting a location to plant it in and the bed itself awaiting soil, The bed on the right has asparagus, nasturtium and sunflowers in it and the 2 beds along the deck are espaliered cherries with all sorts planted underneath on the left and currently empty, awaiting soil, honeysuckle and other ornamental flowers that are shade tolerant. The bulbs down to the bottom right of the photo will be planted in a small garden bed there and the sleepers to the right await construction into the final raised bed.

Well, it’s now nextΒ Saturday as I’ve been so slack posting this so about to write the next post now too. πŸ˜‰

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16 thoughts on “A weekend with a difference and lots more done.

  1. Nicole says:

    Hey Jess, we struggle to find affordable straw too, so we have been trimming the wattle trees to use as mulch πŸ™‚ Also, we grow out oat grass and then pull it up and dry it on the fences – doubles as a green manure crop, then mulch πŸ™‚ Love seeing your progress!!!

    • Nice idea Nicole. I have a heap of oat grains that Anna, fussy lady that she is, doesn’t eat so it could be a goer if I could find the room to grow it at the moment. πŸ™‚
      Your goat will love your wattle branches too, see if she doesn’t. πŸ™‚ As far as I know she can eat them too. πŸ˜€ Nothing like free fodder hey. We’ve been chopping out our poplar trees but the best bit is that Anna does eat the leaves from them so I am glad we are planning to let them resprout for her to snack on. She also eats Hawthorn so that’s another food for Anna as we have it growing like topsy here too. πŸ™‚

  2. Nicole says:

    They sure do love the wattle but we have so much of it we can afford to share;) Love free fodder. We have planted out tagasaste as well and we have a peppercorn that she loves too. Also just planted desmanthes. Going with the permie principles of everything must have at least two uses!! We don’t have hawthorn here but have a heap of diiferent acacia varieties so we just use that.

    • Don’t plant hawthorn! As lovely as the haws (berries) are in hawthorn jelly the trees themselves are a bitch as they have some seriously nasty thorns (read inch long and longer with poison tips that break off under your skin to fester and burn). There are more than likely some around somewhere if the English settlers, missing their homeland, planted any out. πŸ™‚
      And yep, we try to do that too. I’ve just bunged in several dozen strawberries (posting about that soon) and they will a) provide fruit, b) help stabilise the soil on the hugelkultur beds c) provide living mulch for the soil on the hugelkultur beds and d) look pretty. Everything must have at least 2, preferably more uses for sure. πŸ˜€

      • Nicole says:

        I wonder how goats would go with fig trees? I’m thinking of planting something more tree-like in their pen and protecting it until it’s much bigger. I’m going to plant a fig in the chook pen – they will eat the fallen fruit and it will give them more shade in summer. I like that ‘look pretty’ is on your list of uses! I’ve started to be a lot more ‘lenient’ with what I plant nowadays – before it was functionality only but now it’s enough if it attracts bees and looks pretty!

        • You’d better protect it with full on reinforcement mesh then! I’m still stunned at the lengths a goat will go to for access to a food they like. Watching Miss Anna pushing lips and tongue through the chook wire to get to the chook food when I refill their feeders is more than a little amusing and rather amazing too.
          Fig trees are a great chook pen tree and I reckon I’ll give it a go growing it even though they like a longer season than we get. I hate figs too (I do try them on occasion but bleuch) but I’m sure the kids will love them. πŸ™‚
          Yes, I’m starting to introduce florals too. Honeysuckle is on my list as it’s a huge bee attracting plant. that and the shade and beauty it will provide means it has earned a trial in my garden. πŸ™‚
          And if the garden looks ugly then no-one will want to be in it. If it’s pretty it will be less likely to frustrate our neighbours too as our food gardens are predominantly out the front now. πŸ™‚

  3. LyndaD says:

    Gosh the front yard has changed, i almost didnt recognise it. Yep, time for a visit. Do you map out all your plantings on paper. You have so much going on i think it would be hard to remember where everything is.

    • I’ve got tags where most things are and I use the My Plant database to keep notes and details about where I’ve planted things. I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t write it down I do forget.
      You’re welcome to visit, any day except tomorrow. We’re out for the day. πŸ™‚

  4. narf77 says:

    It’s starting to really look like a garden now. Kudos on your energy and your vision. Love the cheeky kids in the garden and the worms, a wonderful combination πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Narf. It really feels like it’s coming together. Just been outside in the hail and rain planting my hazelnuts and persimmon. πŸ™‚

      • narf77 says:

        It just started raining here and I am off to shop for the day (I feel a migraine coming on 😦 ) but I went wading in the jungle and the dense undergrowth with Bezial yesterday and got highly excited about the possibilities. Am going to start cutting the overgrown garden back so we can get through the pathways (that haven’t been used in over 20 years!) and am going to get my bloody garden back! “Blackberry’s… your ass is MINE!” I also found that my Jerusalem artichokes have decided to grow! WOOT! My yacon are both happy in the shed at the moment till I can pick up some good soil and pot them up. Too cold to plant them anywhere at the moment in the ground but they can at least vacation in the glasshouse in style.

        • You need to beg borrow steal a goat! They will demolish those blackberries in fine style (although Earl might be less than impressed at someone else encroaching on his territory). Seriously, if you have a friend with a goat I would ask to loan and if they are happy with tethering then your garden will be selectively and effectively de-blackberried! πŸ˜€ The friend might be grateful for the free housing and feeding of their animal too. πŸ™‚ AND you will end up with a nicely fertilised garden to boot! Win-win-win there! πŸ˜‰
          Sounds lie you will need some heavy duty psyching up to get in and attack it all though.
          My yacon are inside too. I need to get my mulcher chewing out some mulch first to layer the bottom of the garden bed that still needs to be constructed and then some blood and bone on top before a good topping of compost. Martin is sharpening up the mulcher blades and then we should be well in business. πŸ˜€ I am so looking forward to sampling my Peruvian ground apple! Home grown sugar that the body doesn’t process (diabetic safe) and all sorts of wonders. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

          • narf77 says:

            I read about the mulcher…kudos on the find and a great birthday gift to boot :). A goat is a good idea but for some reason they are very expensive here and you only ever see billy goats. Saw our pet food lady today when shopping and she told me that she should have some guinea fowl and turkeys for us soon! Excellent…the guinea fowl should keep the snakes away and the turkeys can sleep in the trees and eat the pests (if they don’t move to Frank’s that is πŸ˜‰ ). Can’t wait to get the yucon out in the ground but it’s back to frost again for the near future. Been cold all day today and wore a jacket, scarf and gauntlets to town. Only got back after 4pm so I am a bit knackered πŸ™‚

  5. Barbara Good says:

    Wow, so productive. It’s so enticing to just get in and do everything all at once isn’t it, and not think about the expense. I have the same problem and need to remind myself that it’s okay if I leave some of the projects until next year. Having said that, I have lots of beautiful ready to plant out raised beds that Mr Good built for me, yet instead of focusing on them tonight I go Mr Good to chop down a cotoneaster (spelling?) in the bed I have ear marked for fruit trees. There are still several other trees/shrubs to get rid of and then lots and lots of landscaping stones to dig out of the bed before it’s ready to do anything with, but it’s a start.

    • I think Freddie Mercury sums it up beautifully. “I want it all, I want it all, I want it all and I want it NOW!” πŸ˜€
      It sounds like we might have a very similar problem. Cotoneasters are close relatives or a different name for the same tree for poplars. We have a garden full of silver poplars. Thank goodness Anna eats the leaves and loves them. πŸ™‚ Grubbing out the roots and eradicating them short of glyphosate or other more toxic nasties is nigh on impossible too from what I understand and although I have the glyphosate (purchased before I realised how evil that crap is) I am extremely reluctant to use it. So we are planning to try and chop out/mow down any runner sprout ups and just to coppice the branches for easy to reach fodder for Miss Anna. πŸ™‚ Still, chopping down the remaining 20-30 trees is on the needs to be done but when we get there list. 😦
      As for your landscaping stones, everyone who has stones wants them gone and yet we want them and have nowhere near enough. πŸ˜‰

  6. […] blogged before (here,Β here, here, here, here, here, andΒ here) about our ongoing hugelkultur experiments. Hugelkultur literally means “hill culture” […]

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