The New Arrivals

6 Comments

On Thursday evening there was a card in our mailbox advising that there was a large parcel at the Post Office for us to collect.  We collected the box early on Friday morning before we went to work.  It was our fruit trees that we ordered online from Daley’s Nursery.  We ordered 12 blueberry bushes and a passionfruit vine.

New plants
Here is the box after I had slit one side open (as suggested in the attached instructions).  The plants were well-packed and in excellent condition.  Once again, we followed the directions and removed all of the wrapping and put them out in full sun.

Blueberry bushes
We watered them well and have placed them in the area where they will be planted  – hopefully tomorrow.  It may be a bit difficult to see in the photo but I had already placed rocks to mark where we are going to plant them so it will be a relatively simple matter of digging the holes.  The ground is quite soft as we have had some rain.  Blueberries thrive in a slightly acidic soil.  I have never actually tested the pH of our soil but the other indicator is that azaleas and camellias grow really well in our area and they like very similar conditions.

We have four other blueberry shrubs which are in the area which is now the chicken run.  You can read about them in this previous post.  We did not give them as much care as they probably needed but we still managed to harvest about 1.5kg of berries this summer.  That was predominantly from 2 shrubs.  We have now pruned them quite hard and mulched them thoroughly.

The other exciting news is that we have completely finished fencing the vegetable garden area.

Vegie garden and fencing

As well as the completed fencing you may also be able to see the black hoops over the garden bed in the distance.  This is some large poly pipe which I am planning to use as a frame for some exclusion netting to keep the white cabbage moth off the broccoli, kale, cabbages and cauliflower.  I am looking at buying the vege netting from Green Harvest.  We are fortunate that this business is located in Maleny so we are able to place our order online and then pick it up in person.

The chickens are rather unhappy that they are now permanently excluded from the garden area and all of the freshly dug soil and earthworms.

Weekend Work & Chicken Wings

5 Comments

It is Wednesday already and it is nearly a week since my last post.  I have been busy doing things instead of writing and unfortunately have not always had the camera handy.  However, here are a few photos of some of the things we did on the weekend.

Bluberries
The existing blueberry bushes have been pruned, enclosed with wire surrounds and mulched thoroughly.  These bushes have been in for several years but are now in the wrong place as they are located within the new chicken run.  I previously had the entire area enclosed to prevent the chickens from digging around them and exposing the roots but I decided that individual enclosures were a better idea.

New garden
The fencing around the perimeter of the vegetable gardens is almost complete.  I the meantime I have temporarily closed off the last bit to exclude the chickens.  This meant that I was able to prepare a new garden bed and be safe in the knowledge that it would not be dug up immediately by the marauding feathered army.  The rock edging is made from some of the hundreds of rocks that litter our property.  The bed is inside the fence nearest to the house so I plan to make this into a herb garden.

Chickens
Finally, I clipped the wings of the chickens in order to make sure that they could not fly over the 1200mm fence into the vegie garden.  I had wanted to do this for ages but never felt quite brave enough.  With some advice from an online forum, a Youtube video and The Duke to hold the chicken I was able to clip the flight feathers on one wing of each chicken.  The exercise seems to have been successful as there has been no more instances of flying over fences.

Finally – A Fence

Leave a comment

We have been living here for over 8 years now and when we moved in there were no vegetable gardens and only 3 fruit trees – avocado, orange and lemon in rather odd spots in the yard.  We built some vegetable gardens which have evolved over time and the chicken run has been moved and is now next to the vegetable gardens.  Since free-ranging chickens and vegetable gardens do not go terribly well together we decided to fence the entire area containing the garden beds.  This has been a very long-winded process but we can finally see the end in sight.

Today we actually did one run on fencing and here is the result.

Fencing
We hope to finish the fencing which will enclose the vegetable garden area next weekend.  It should mean an end to the various bits of wire contraptions that I create to keep the chickens away from the seedlings.

Seedlins
These are peas and pak choy seedlings that we bought at the Yandina markets on Saturday.  We also bought lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower which are in the other beds.

Beans and radishes
Here are the purple beans and radishes which have come up from seed I planted a couple of weeks ago.

What are you growing in your garden at the moment?

Making it Happen

4 Comments

Late on a Sunday afternoon The Duke and I can often be found strolling around the garden or sitting on the verandah.  The topic of discussion is invariably our plans for our patch of paradise.  Both of us working full-time means that our time is somewhat limited but we have so many grand plans.

A couple of weeks ago we decided to create an action plan.  In reality, it was just a matter of writing down all of the things that we regularly talk about.

1

Paint fenceposts

2

Fence vegie garden area

3

Buy & plant shrubs outside fence

4

Create rockery in V outside fence

5

Finish retaining walls under verandah

6

Buy and lay pebbles under verandah

7

Revamp compost area

8

Create 6 new garden beds

9

Extend concrete path to gate

10

Paint stairs and railing

11

Create corner garden outside the gate

12

Build a gabion seat in above garden

13

Make & erect lych gate

14

Rainwater tank under house

15

External plumbing/taps

16

Cut up and stack excess wood

17

Mulch wood as required

18

Build extra chicken roost/house

19

Trees cut down

20

Develop snakepit

21

Irrigation for fruit trees

22

Clear/replant along driveway

23

Plant rainforest on upper level

24

Slash top of the block

25

Battens/screening under house/verandah

26

Lighting under the house

27

Build pergola outside garage

28

Repair/replace verandah flooring

29

Build shed at end of driveway

30

Renovate downstairs shower/toilet

The list is by no means exhaustive.  Some of the items are long-term projects, some require external help and yet others are beyond our budget at the moment.  However, it is good to see where we are heading.  We have roughly allocated priority to the tasks, however, that may change.

We do not necessarily plan to refer to the list or stick to it precisely.  Without even looking at it, yesterday we made the decision to take the first step towards item  number 1, painting the fenceposts.  We retrieved them from where they had been stacked after the demolition of the previous chicken run.  Using the high pressure cleaner, we cleaned the mud and mould from them and they are now stacked on the scaffold.

Fenceposts
Some posts have already been painted and we now worked out how many of these are required to be able to complete the fencing of the vegetable gardens.  There is still a bit more preparation to do before we can start painting.  We need to cut some of the posts to the length we need and also remove the metal bolts which you can see at the end.  The posts that are not required for the fencing project will be stored for future use.

The posts were still damp today so we made a start on one of the other items on the list – creating a rockery in the ‘V’ outside the boundary fence.  When The Duke and my brother-in-law replaced the front fence last year we thought we would have t remove a couple of trees that were growing immediately adjacent to the fence.  However, a bit of creative thinking led us to detour the fence around the tress which we did not want to lose.

I did not take a ‘before’ photo but here are a couple of shots to give you an idea of what we are doing.  The first view is looking down the line of the fence with the ‘V’ to the right.  We cleared all of the leaf debris and small branches and set them aside to be mulched.  Then we created a rock border along the fence line and also to create an edge between the proposed rockery and the grass on the footpath.

New garden
Finding rocks is never a problem here as there is volcanic rock everywhere.  We have all sizes from boulders that are over 1 metre high to pebbles and everything in between.  It was a simple matter of collecting enough of the size we wanted and then positioning them.  This has had the added benefit of blocking one of the escape routes for the chickens when they are free-ranging as the fence did not exactly follow the contour of the land.

New garden - view 2
Here is a better view of our handiwork.  It is taken from inside the fence and looking towards the road.  The point of the ‘V’ is on the left of the photo.  There is still some leaf litter and twigs to be mulched.  There are some quite big rocks around the base of the trees  and they will remain.  This should add structural interest and height to the finished area.  I hope to clear some of the debris from the pockets between the rocks and fill them with soil to plant some groundcovers.  A bullet-proof suit might be in order for that job as some of the biggest, nastiest ants I have met live in that spot!!

The next step will be to spread several layers of newspaper over the entire area and then cover it with mulch.  We will plant an assortment of native shrubs and ground cover plants and before long the area will be much more aesthetically pleasing.

It is great to see the first results from our planning.  Watch this space as we work through the list.

Going, Going………Not Quite Gone

1 Comment

Last weekend we did some more demolition work on the old chicken coop.  We have been fairly careful in how we went about it because it was our goal to salvage most of the materials for use in future projects.  There is now only one piece of chain wire to remove and then the posts.

IMG_4088

The Colorbond sheeting from the roof and walls will come in handy for some of the remaining raised garden beds that we are planning to construct.  The posts have been earmarked for use in building the perimeter fence of the vegetable garden.  That was the reason that we fenced the new chicken run before the vegetable garden as the posts for the run were taller so had to be purchased.

The woodshed which is in the foreground of the photo will be retained and some minor modifications made to it.

IMG_4089

I will also be making some changes to how the wood is stored.  Although it cannot be seen in this photo, I had wood stacked quite high against the side wall.  I use the past tense of ‘had’ as recently there was a tremendous crash during the night and we have now discovered that my carefully stacked wood has collapsed and is now a disorganised jumble on the ground.  I suspect that some of the local wildlife was instrumental in this event.

As always, there is always another project lurking in the background, even if it is only in our minds at this stage.  Once the structure is completely removed this will open up the possibility of having at least one large limb lopped from one of the jacaranda trees.  There is also a very large boulder which has dislodged from higher up the mountain and is resting against part of the old fence at the top of the block.  We may remove the fencing to allow the rock to roll to the bottom of the garden (another ‘meteorite feature?) before repairing the fence.

Then there are the possibilities of what to do with the area where the chicken run was but I will save that discussion for another day.

I Can Grow Carrots

11 Comments

This probably seems pathetic to many gardeners but I have finally managed to grow some carrots.  It is a crop which has eluded me for the best part of 30 years of growing at least some food crops.

Some of my earliest memories are of the carrots growing in my grandfather’s vegetable garden.  Carrots were one of the vegetables that my parent’s grew also.

So why is it so difficult to grow carrots?  The seed is very fine and can easily dry out, blow away or be taken by birds.  Whatever the reason, I have been unable to even get them to germinate previously.  Then there is the issue of the soil.  It needs to be a bit on the sandy side, well-drained and definitely no rocks or you can end up with some strangely shaped carrots.  Mind you, I was so desperate to at least have carrots growing that I could not have cared less about them being misshapen.

When I sowed carrot seeds a couple of months ago I covered them with a few layers of damp newspaper until they had germinated and this seemed to do the trick.

Carrots and beans

These are the carrots I picked today.  They are really just a few that I pulled to thin them out.  They are still smaller than the beans that are also from the garden and I can almost hear my grandfather telling me that the soil is too rich in nutrients as they have all gone to the tops.  I know, I know……..but at least I have carrots.  I am so proud of myself.  The beans and carrots were eaten for dinner.

We have been busy putting the strainer wires up for the fencing on the chicken run today.  Tomorrow we hope to attach at least some of the chicken wire and also assemble the coop which we bought.  It is currently still in the 2 flat pack boxes in the garage.

I am looking forward to the day when the fencing is all done and the remainder of the raised garden beds are built and then hopefully I will be able to concentrate on improving the results of my vegetable gardening efforts.

Demolition Derby

6 Comments

We have managed to get a bit more done in the garden this weekend but is has not been all about building.  Some of it has entailed destruction – namely demolishing the original vegetable gardens.

Vegie Garden

This is what it looked like about 2 years after we moved here.  These beds served us well but we are now working on a revamped plan.  So far we have built 3 raised beds and eventually there will be nine of them in a fully-fenced garden area.

New garden beds

You can see some of the old beds in the enclosure in the background of the photo above.  Below is what it looks like now.

Demolished

You can see the posts for the chicken run in the background.  That will share a common fence with the bottom of the garden enclosure.  The string line on the left hand side marks the eastern boundary of the vegetable garden enclosure.  As well as the 9 raised beds I plan to grow herbs in beds along the fence line nearest to the house and asparagus and rhubarb on the eastern side.  I do not want these in one of the raised beds as they are perennials rather than annuals.  There will also be chilli bushes and blueberries nearest to the front boundary as well as a screened area for the compost tumblers.  We have one tumbler at the moment and will probably get a second one as well as keeping one ‘open’ compost bay.  I am quite keen to clear up the ‘Steptoe & Son’ arrangement that is there at the moment with a cut down rainwater tank as well as a rusty 44 gallon drum.

We put in 4 more posts for the chicken run fencing so next weekend we should be able to attach at least some of the top rails and the strainer wires.  Because the fence is 1800mm high in this section we will have three horizontal wires.  One at the top, one close to the ground and the other in the middle so this should prevent any sagging of the fencing wire.  We are using heavy gauge chicken wire as our plan is to make sure that the chickens do not get out nor any unwanted guests finding their way into the run.

Our original plan included incorporating a coop into the run but it all got too complicated so we have opted to have a ready-made, freestanding coop situated in the run.  It will be something like this.