Identity problems in the garden

My gardens are full of excitement at the moment and it was a real joy to get out and muddy this morning. πŸ™‚ However, I’ve been having some identification problems. Continue reading

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The year that was – 2013

Much to my surprise 2013 has come to a close. And as is natural at this time of year I am reflecting over the year that was.

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Ooo I ache

It’s a magic moment when you sink onto the couch at the end of the day, having worked hard and then realising you ache so much that you can’t get up again. πŸ™‚ Yes, that’s right, magic moment! I LOVE that feeling. Ok, well maybe I don’t actually like being in pain but the satisfaction of having truly earned those aches and pains is awesome. πŸ˜€ Continue reading

I hate weedmat

I hate weed-mat. 😦
I detest weed-mat. 😦
I loathe, despise and abhor weed-mat. 😦
Just in case you are in any doubt, I cannot stand weed-mat! And when it’s covered in pebbles and a tonne of weeds are growing on top of the mat (yeah, highly effective isn’t it 😦 ) and it all needs to be moved in order to do what we want to in the garden, well it is wretched, frustrating and non-recyclable rubbish. And our front garden is riddled with the stuff!

This is just one pile of weed-mat. There are still 3-4 more piles of the stuff lying around not to mention the bin is loaded full too. Oh, and there is still an area that would be 50m2 to clear of sand and gravel before we can pull up what appears to be thin plastic weed-mat.

This is just one pile of used (and now useless) weed-mat. There are still 3-4 more piles of the stuff lying around not to mention the bin is loaded full too. Oh, and there is still an area that would be 7 metres by 7 metres to clear of pavers, sand stones, sundry rubbish, weeds and gravel before we can pull up what appears to be thin plastic weed-mat underneath. And it must come up if we are to plant there too.

Happy Father’s Day to all those Aussie Dads out there. We spent our Father’s Day making Dad earn his keep I’m afraid. πŸ˜‰ We have ripped, torn, pulled, tugged, lifted and dug up several different types of weed-mat today, installed 1 of the 2 cherry tree beds (the separation is to allow for a tap that runs through next to our old front steps) and started on the second one. We planted out our strawberries (I’ll pick up more of them on sale up at Diggers some time this week πŸ™‚ ) Β and I also planted out 8 raspberry canes. I bought the Diggers raspberry collection so I have 2 each of Autumn Bliss, Chilliwack, Sandford and Williamette. I also dug up and moved a handful of Erlicheer bulbs that I missed digging up last autumn and replanted them in a more appropriate position.

The blueberry bed is looking good and holding up well considering there are a few bolts that need fixing. I have 5 bushes, 4 varieties in there. There are 2 Brigitta bushes, one at either end, and one each of Denise, Northland and Blue Rose.

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Just one of 2 frogs we found whilst moving sleepers and weed-mat, both re-homed in the creek.

We also extracted the last of the stones (I hope) from the edge of what was the rose garden and is now the cherry bed and repositioned them along the top of the now drained pond. The old path has been mostly lifted up – terracotta pavers – and moved outside Martin’s shed which has been up until now a bit of a muddy mire. I also managed to get a top rail in place to cover where the old front steps were which is now much safer for anyone taller than 120cm at least. πŸ˜‰ The wire and hooks are ready to go once I exchange the crimps for some the right size.  😦

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The first cherry bed running alongside the front deck, lined with rotting lucerne and awaiting soil and cherry trees (I have a Stella to move and a few more to purchase).

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Moved pavers with the sand and blue plastic underneath. The sleepers are being reused to form the edges of the cherry beds.

Basically, we have worked our (not so) little hippy butts off today and I for one am utterly exhausted. Narf7, the motivation bug clearly sank its fangs into me early this morning as we have achieved all this despite me starting the day with a migraine. πŸ™‚ Thank goodness for paracetamol, ibruprofen and coffee (ok, not so natural but oh so necessary). The kids have enjoyed another day running around and have have helped with watering in the berries, moving lucerne biscuits (calling them biscuits was less effective this time round – “fool me once Mum” says Jasper) and of course playing and running and having a blast. πŸ™‚ The most help they gave us actually was to help us fill in our giant driveway puddle with gravel collected from various areas of our front garden. The puddle is no more. πŸ˜€ and the kids are happy and muddy. πŸ™‚

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8 little raspberry canes all in a row. The woodpile still remains. I MUST learn not to make such grand plans.

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And the strawberries and rock border along the pond edge.

This week I hope i get the chance to rip up the weed-mat underneath the stones to the east of the ex-path as I plan to build the asparagus bed there and I would dearly love to get that done although with Monday afternoon at gym and visitors on Tuesday and Wednesday I am not holding my breath. Next weekend though we simply MUST move those logs as the fruit trees really NEED to be in the soil now. Hmmm, maybe I should move logs this week instead. So much to do!

The bare rooted trees needing planting are 2 apples, a pear and a nashi pear although the nashi is in a small pot. I also hope to get 4 or 5 sultana grape vines to plant along the fence and I have a Purple Elder to plant out too. It’s a big ‘un though (6mx6m) so I need to do some thinking before making any commitments as to where to plant that one and I am hoping that some judicious pruning in its earlier years will see it reaching less lofty dimensions. The berries and flowers are fantastically medicinal though and the flowers will also do their bit for attracting pollinators to the garden. Oh, and I still have seeds to sow. Seriously, Spring is an insanely busy time for gardeners. Fun though. πŸ˜›

Well dinner has just pulled into the drive (Indian take away no less!) so I am off. πŸ™‚ Stay well hippies. I hope you enjoyed the first day of Spring as much as we did. πŸ˜€

Yes, it's still a mess and I cleaned up after the photo was taken but you can see where everything fits together here. Cherry beds against the deck. Blueberry bed beside the area we're leaving bare for wood deliveries and guest parking, the area where the pavers are will have another raised bed there for our asparagus and then beyond the existing hugelkultur beds will be this years straw bale beds and later on, more hugelkultur beds.

Yes, it’s still a mess and I cleaned up after the photo was taken but you can see where everything fits together here. Cherry beds against the deck. Blueberry bed beside the area we’re leaving bare for wood deliveries and guest parking, the area where the pavers are will have another raised bed there for our asparagus and then beyond the existing hugelkultur beds will be this years straw bale beds and later on, more hugelkultur beds.

 

More kultur than yoghurt

Hugelkultur that is. πŸ˜€

I finally found motivation and got my backside out into the garden to a) tidy up a little (not enough), b) build some hugelkultur beds and c) finish off some more of the pond.

We spent the morning heading out to Newlyn where there is a lovely antiques store and heritage fruit nursery and also a water gardens nursery which was sadly closed (I will be back!) before heading home to a cold rainy and windy afternoon. Why is it that when I have motivation the weather decides to do her best to thwart me? So, armed with snow jacket, gloves and a hat I got stuck in.

The over hang of the plastic is held in place with stones and poplar logs

The over hang of the plastic is held in place with stones and poplar logs.

The logs will decay over time, absorbing water and attracting wonderful mycorrhizae to the soil

The logs will decay over time, absorbing water and attracting wonderful mycorrhizae to the soil.

At first these garden beds will be lower in nitrogen as the nitrogen is used to assist in breaking down the wood, making these ideal for plants that are not nitrogen lovers.

At first these garden beds will be lower in nitrogen as the nitrogen is used to assist in breaking down the wood, making these ideal for plants that are not nitrogen lovers.

These will make wonderful beds for corn, pumpkins, zucchini, watermelons,  even potatoes.

These will make wonderful beds for corn, pumpkins, zucchini, watermelons, even potatoes.

I plan to grow strawberries here as a permanent crop although I think they might be a year or two off being planted here. I need the soil structure to be improved first.

I plan to grow strawberries here as a permanent crop although I think they might be a year or two off being planted here. I need the soil structure to be improved first.

In soggy fashion (but without melting) I moved a peach tree we’d planted last year, built up the pond side hugelkultur bed and the next one too, laying down poplar branches and logs, lucerne mulch and then finally some blood and bone to help it all break down. It’s been a good afternoon. Jasper came out to help me and was a champ at breaking up the lucerne (he loved that the bales break down into the smaller biscuits of lucerne – Mummy NEVER gives him 20 biscuits ever! πŸ˜‰ ) and also helping bring over branches. We got both beds finished too which is amazing and the rain will be washing the blood and bone down into the mulch and timber (hopefully not washing it away though), soaking into it all and getting it nice and ready for soil on top which I hope to be able to organise in the next few days.

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The miniature peach is on the very edge of a hugelkultur bed which means it will benefit from the nutrients and soil life in the bed but it will not be affected as the beds rot down and shrink.

The peach is just in the bottom left hand corner here. The cardboard area in the middle is large enough for a small seat which will be pleasant as the peach grows a little taller.

The peach is just in the bottom left hand corner here. The cardboard area in the middle is large enough for a small seat which will be pleasant as the peach grows a little taller and provides some shade.

My little helper attacking the biscuits.

My little helper attacking the biscuits.

He probably moved nearly 1/2 of the lucerne mulch! A highly efficient worker.

Jasper probably moved nearly 1/2 of the lucerne mulch by himself! A highly efficient worker who had a blast helping Mummy out in the rain.

Next step is to organise some mulch to spread out for the pathways which are currently just cardboard and then to lay out more cardboard over the next section of lawn weedy grass and get the next bed or two in place. I’m considering putting my name down on this free mulch site I came across as well as checking out local transfer stations (tips) once we get a tow ball for our new car (Mitsubishi Delica turbo diesel 4×4 known as Samson). Β There are still plenty of poplar trees standing that need chopping down and they will not go to waste. We are hoping that by chopping down the large trunks they will send out local side shoots (hopefully not widespread) which will allow us to harvest the leaves at a manageable height and feed them to our goat(s). It’s all helping to close the loop and keep everything on our property – little in, little out. Closing the loop brings us more in line with permaculture principles. πŸ™‚

As for remaining work to be done in the next few months or sooner, there is the huge pile of firewood logs that need moving and chopping up (which you can see in the background in some of the photos) before storing somewhere to continue to cure, about 3 or 4 cubic metres of red gum logs that need to be shifted from their current location in the middle of the driveway to our front deck (also in the photos, behind the bath tub) so they can continue to season as well as be easily accessible for the fireΒ , the espalier posts and wires to be sunk and fitted where the firewood logs currently reside, the cherry garden bed to be built along the front deck, and then the blueberry and (hopefully) cranberry garden bed to be built too. Not much really. πŸ˜‰ The list seems endless but the advantage of a last frost date of November means we get a little more leeway for planting out some of our veggies (I hope). Still, we are into their last month or two in which I can realistically plant our fruit trees and shrubs so I need to swing into action with a little more frequency. Fortunately most of what needs doing is just heavy lifting and we don’t need to budget the finances for hard slog. Here’s hoping the next few weekends bring motivation and finer weather than we’ve had here today. πŸ™‚

It's hard to tell in an iPhone photo but the rain is coming down pretty heavily. I only wish we had a water tank hooked up.

It’s hard to tell in an iPhone photo but the rain is coming down pretty heavily. I only wish we had a water tank hooked up.