Yes, another weekend has come and gone in a haze of hard work, sweat, lots achieved and exhaustion. I am so exhausted I think my hair is aching!
Today we FINALLY got the hugels in! Yep, after discussing it and planning for it for nigh on a year and working hard to get there for the last month or so, finally today was the day. 😀
Yesterday was meant to be Martin chucking logs and me building the sandpit but once again I overestimated my own abilities. The sleepers were just too big for me to manage and I needed Martin’s help to dig out underneath the platform. I worked out I can plod away at tasks and take ages to get them done but I can’t expend large bursts of energy for things like chopping wood or using the mattock or throwing the logs. I can however, stand and dig out the pergola base, spade by spadeful or pull apart 5 large rolls of hay using the rake or garden fork. Hence, Martin had to help with the sandpit. We cut the sleepers to length then attached them to the uprights. We laid weedmat underneath (yes I know I swore black and blue I hated the stuff but in this case it was appropriate 😦 ) then I started shovelling in the 1/2 cubic metre of washed brickies sand whilst Martin sawed the triangle of timber needed to fill the gaps underneath (we planned it this way). Sand and children in the sandpit and success was met. 🙂
I also had the opportunity to get another garden bed in place in the veggie bed. I’m in the process of a remodel, removing the raised beds, laying roof tiles for paths and beds in between. As much as my back dislikes bending down to ground level beds, I want the extra growing space. 🙂 Jas helped me lug some tiles to the garden and lay some cardboard down (we get our cardboard from the local supermarket) and then I hauled the straw bale out of the greenhouse where it had been composting down and providing heat over the winter. Sadly the straw bale and water butts weren’t enough to keep it warm enough in there for tropical plants but it did help keep the soil moist at least. 🙂 I hauled the bale into the wheelbarrow then took it to the garden where I spread it and a half a bag of blood n bone over the cardboard. That bed was earmarked for tomatoes but I think spuds might do better in there and the spud bed which was built in the same way but with rotted hay and goat manure might be better for the tomatoes being richer in nitrogen. Both beds need a top up of soil or compost and will be planted out in a couple of weeks. 🙂
The greenhouse also scored a major clean up. When the frosts toasted my tomatoes I’d given up going in there much aside from to aim the hose vaguely in the direction of the mandarin tree under the tomatoes and the lemon and the rest of the greenhouse was left to fend for itself. Well, after a few hours of the kids stacking pots and bringing them in and me hauling out tomato vines dried to a crisp and emptying out pots of desiccated soil we were ready to give it all a water and dig through some manure. We moved the pots of spuds to surround the lemon tree (you can’t under-plant citrus as they have shallow roots that dislike competition but you can under-plant it with potted plants as they won’t compete – just make sure the pots don’t become pot bound or start to grow out the bottom of the pot) and topped them up again to maximise spud growing space, then I decided to give peanuts a go in the greenhouse. Yep, another non-cold climate plant. 🙂 Why not? I had some organic peanuts so I shelled them and found the best looking ones and popped them in the ground before giving the garden a thorough watering. Peanuts like water but well draining soil so the raised beds should do the trick nicely. 🙂
This morning saw us all up early for some reason. I’d collapsed into bed even before the kids went to sleep, around 7:45pm (I was zonked!) so I was awake and had breakfast warm and ready to eat by about 6:45. I popped it in the Thermoserver (an insulated Thermomix dish that keeps food warm for an hour or so) and then, armed with coffee I started on getting the washing done. Family fed and ready to go, we hit the garden just before 8am (a miracle, nothing less!). The kids hit up the sandpit whilst I started to pull apart the hay bales. Martin started the log tossing and kept popping back to set up the newest entertainment for the kids (logs with planks atop for balancing on, a handle over the sand on which to swing). Around 11am I decided to head up to the hardware store to see if I could purchase a pitchfork. I’ve decided to spend my birthday money on buying one as you can’t be a proper farmer without a pitchfork. 😉 No luck on the pitchfork but I did get up close and personal with a hot coffee, a ginger beer and piece of lemon slice. Not to mention a sliver of time to myself. 😉
A short break is as good as a holiday and once back home I got stuck into it with a vengeance. I had 8 trees to plant out; 6 apples, 2 pears and a plum tree. First things first I moved them all around the back and lined them up where I wanted them to go. Next I started to haul the logs over to line up for the hugel beds. I worked along each hugel, moving the logs into place, tipping the apple from its pot and then bedding it in with some rotted manure, lakeweed, leaves and straw. This was from the compost cages I built back when I raked up the park with friends. My mate S from Ballarat often brings me down a trailer or ute-load of manure and/or lakeweed from the saleyards and the area where the lake dredgings are dumped. He’d loaded my compost baskets up with manure on top of the hay, wood ash from the fire and leaves. Sadly I hadn’t turned the mix and it hadn’t composted or rotted down much but it was FULL of the fattest flat tail worms (either this species of worm or more likely this one) I have EVER seen! I kept exclaiming “I swear that was a baby snake!” which scared the pants off Martin the first few times (it was hot enough for the Joe Blakes to be out today I reckon) until he worked out what I meant. 😉 They were big and fat and juicy and clearly as happy as worms in poop! 😉
The fruit trees all got a healthy drink of tank water. By this stage I could have sworn it would be bedtime (it wasn’t even 3:30pm!) so the watering was done via tap on, hose in place and me with butt on chair, moving when I had to and not before. The moving part was rather hard actually with joints that stiffened up the minute I stopped. 😦
I could hear my neighbour hard at work mowing his lawn though and I had to move as I wanted to ask him if I could have his clippings. Hugelkultur beds are often low in nitrogen their first year or 2 as the logs are full of carbon (hugels are another way to sequester carbon in the soil) and draw whatever nitrogen they can find to start rotting down. Growing crops that don’t need a lot of nitrogen is a good bet the first few years. I figured though that dumping those clippings onto the logs along with lots of lake weed or manure is a good start to building hugel beds. In the meantime, there are lots of logs and patches around the trees of lakeweed, manure and rotting leaves. The good stuff is where it is needed most. When S visits I’ll beg for lots more stinky gifts. 🙂
Somehow, after a break and something to eat, I found the energy to start whipper snippering the driveway. The grass was heading on towards 2 feet tall or more in some places so I worked my way up from the gate, reaching the top of the drive before I swapped duties with Martin. He is, as I type this, finishing off the last of the whipper snippering after having found the energy to finish not only the driveway but the front garden too! Angel!
With the hugels coming together (there are more hugels to build and more fruit trees to plant although they will be my seed grown ones), the pergola ready for its next stage and the cubby platform merely awaiting its top layer of the cubby itself, I really feel like we are achieving things. The dream is all slotting into place and unfolding before my very tired eyes. I can scarcely believe we are truly getting there. 😀
Thankfully, the forecast tomorrow is 10°C and rain which will not only fill the tank up and water in the trees further but give me an enforced break too. 🙂
What did you get up to this weekend? Was the weather as lovely where you are?