Shy

Spring has sprung here but like always it’s not sure if it’s going to stay quite yet. Why is it that Spring has to be the shy season?

The weeds chicken food that I’ve actively grown over the winter 😉 is almost overwhelming to contemplate cleaning up feeding to the chickens but the sunshine these last 2 weekends has helped and I even managed a light sunburn. The vitamin D has helped to boost the motivation further yet, as has good company (thanks S and T).

Food for the chooks.

Food for the chooks.

2 beds partly cleared and also partly sown - carrots, snap peas and some very early pumpkin seeds.

2 beds partly cleared and also partly sown – carrots, snap peas and some very early pumpkin seeds.

The time has come to pour some energy (and money 😦 ) into tidying up our gardens. The veggie patch needs nothing more than some hard yakka to find the soil underneath the “green manure” (how many phrases can I come up with to disguise the fact my gardens are a weed fest I wonder 😉 ) then some time spent transplanting seedlings and sowing seeds, etc. That’s not so bad (as long as you only look at 1 garden bed at a time) but the front is more than a little overwhelming. With the help of some good friends, 8m² of eucalyptus mulch (so far), more hard yakka, several garden tools, 2 wheelbarrows and a few days of sunshine, the front garden is coming together too.

We’ve decided to surround the beds with hardwood sleepers. We’ve been over the pros and cons of hardwood vs treated pine, both CCA (Chromated Copper Arsenate) and ACQ (Alkaline Copper Quaternary) and decided that although “they” say it’s safe, neither of us are entirely comfortable, even with the beds more likely used for fruit trees and flowers. Still, the price difference stings. 😦

Sorry for the half shadow - bed cleared of weeds, allium seedlings replanted and 2 plum trees planted too. They'll shade the greenhouse in summer, just when it needs the shade most.

Sorry for the half shadow – bed cleared of weeds, allium seedlings replanted and 2 plum trees planted too. They’ll shade the greenhouse in summer, just when it needs the shade most. I’ve since added some scrap plastic garden bed edging I had lying around and it all looks much neater. 🙂

We’ve sourced a local supplier of greybox in Maryborough and hopefully the first lot of sleepers will arrive at the end of the week. Here’s hoping the preliminary forecast for fine weather arrives along with them.

In other garden news, the orchard is starting to burst into both flower and leaf with all bar 1 of the trees having made it through. The 1 tree that has no sign of greenery ran afoul of some small child breaking it in half (culprit unknown) but if the root stock lives, I hope to play at grafting. The seed grown apples are also coming along nicely. We spend Sunday out weeding the beds and paths, topping up garden beds where needed and feeding the chickens anything green from in there. Our poor chooks must be totally glutted I must say but if the egg the kids found is any indication, I’d say the greenery agrees with them. There is 1 poor hen walking funny tonight. 😉

Here’s hoping the weather lasts as these school holidays I would like to spend outside in the sun, weeding, sowing, planting and structuring, teaching and learning alongside my children. 🙂

It's Lizzie the Skink, found on the woodpile, released into the veggie patch.

It’s Lizzie the Skink, found on the woodpile, released into the veggie patch.

As an aside, my unbelievable daughter was in the garden with me the other day. She picked a leaf, brought it over and asked me what it was. It was a FOUR LEAF CLOVER! I could scarcely believe my eyes! 1st and only leaf she picked. Today, out in the garden with friends I was telling them of Allegra’s incredible find. She tells them how she did it, picks a leaf and brings it over to show us. Would you believe it? Yep, ANOTHER FOUR LEAF CLOVER! What are the odds?! Both of them are pressing between the pages of my Earth Garden magazine to be laminated for lucky charms. Not that she needs them if she can find them like that!

The first 4 leaf clover. It's 1 in 10,000 chance of finding one. What's the odds on picking 2 leaves over 2 days and those very first leaves are 4 leaf clovers?

The first 4 leaf clover. It’s 1 in 10,000 chance of finding one. What’s the odds on picking 2 leaves over 2 days and both of those leaves are 4 leaf clovers?

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. 😉 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 🙂 )  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.

IMG_6779

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. 😉 The wire and hooks are ready to go once I exchange the crimps for some the right size.  😦

IMG_6780

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).

IMG_6782

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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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. 😀 and the kids are happy and muddy. 🙂

IMG_6783

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

IMG_6787

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. 😛

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

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.