The Lid is On

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It is over 2 years since we commenced building the walkway/pergola entrance to our property at the eastern end of the house.

This is a photo I posted in a blog post in mid-March 2018.

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The 6 sticks marked out the proposed location of the posts.  You can also see the newly-planted shrubs to the right of the pergola site.

By July 2018 the majority of the structure was completed as per this blog post.

In September 2018 GMan laid the repurposed pavers that we had salvaged from when the entrance stairway was demolished and rebuilt.

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The mandevilla creepers have been planted close to the pergola and the garden beds on either side have been mulched.

But, there is still no roof covering on the pergola.  We would still considering our options.

These things take time but a couple of months ago we finally agreed that we would cover the top with wire and we would also need a couple of horizontal rails to support the wire.

We sourced, painted and installed the timber rails a couple of weeks ago and today we added the wire panels, or as otherwise described, put the lid on.

The finished entrance to the eastern end of our house and the vegetable garden area.

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The shrubs and mandevilla creepers are well-established and we now have a well-defined entrance.

A Bit of Wire

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I am a great fan of wire.  It is so useful.  My mother reckons that I have inherited my love of wire from my grandfather who, reputedly, could fix anything with a bit of wire.  As a farmer, a lot of his skill would simply have been tied to the fact that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.

Although I grew up in the city, I now live on a semi-rural small acreage and those same skills are required from time to time.  Apart from genetics, at least some of my ability to use wire was honed during my career working in operating theatres.  The principles of application of wire remain the same, regardless of whether it is a fractured ankle, a fractured jaw or attaching fencing wire to a post.

Here are a couple of recent examples of my handiwork.

Attaching the weldmesh panels to star pickets for the sides of the compost bays.

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We bought a decorative wind ornament for the garden a few months ago but the pole was not sturdy enough to maintain an upright position.

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So, we placed a star picket immediately beside the pole and wired it to the star picket in 3 places to provide a sturdy brace.

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A couple of things to keep in mind when using wire.

Consider where the ‘knot’ will finish and make sure that it can be tucked out of the way to avoid risk of injury.

Make sure that the item is strong enough to accept to force of tensioning the wire.

Use a suitable gauge of wire appropriate to the job.

Always hold the end of the wire when cutting it to avoid injury.

 

Garden Edge and Grapefruit

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While there are plenty of photos of our vegetable garden there is much less evidence of the rest of the garden.  Some of it is quite naturalised and, in parts, overgrown.  We want to keep it as natural as possible but some areas require clearance of invasive weeds which are a real pest as they thrive in our high rainfall,  sub-tropical climate.  Little by little, we are planting native shrubs, in many cases, indigenous to the local area.

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This area alongside our western boundary fence had long been neglected.  As part of the preparation for the soon to be assembled garden shed we cleared the area and have planted 3 new shrubs.  In order to be able to maintain the area we have placed a rock edge about 1.5 metres from the fence.  The rocks were all sourced from our property.  Rocks are an abundant resource here and we use them for a multitude of purposes.

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As I mentioned in this post we have an orchard of about 10 citrus trees and were unfortunate enough to have an infestation of citrus fruit piercing moth a couple of months ago.  Whether it is their lifecycle, the cold weather or simply a natural progression, they appear to have moved on and I think the Valencia oranges may have been spared as well as some of the grapefruit and the netted mandarin.

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Today I picked several grapefruit – enough to make a batch of marmalade.  I sliced and soaked the fruit and will be making the marmalade tomorrow so will post all of the details then.

I started to cut them by hand.

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However, that proved too difficult so I heeded the advice of the recipe and used the thin slicing blade of my food processor which made short work of the job.  It was a simple matter of retrieving the ends of the quarters and slcing the last bits by hand.

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Soaking overnight.

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Compost Bays – Completed

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We now have 4 new functioning compost bays, and as promised, here are some views of the finished product.

Because of the slope, the ground needed to be levelled once all of the structure was in place.

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Close-up of some of the details.

We wired the mesh panels to the star pickets.

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Geotextile stapled to the inside of the timber lattice.

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The 5 metres of geotextile and 1 star picket were the only new purchases we made for this project.  Everything else was already here and most of it had been salvaged or recycled.

One of the most important considerations when planning this project was the street view.  The back of the bays are parallel to and only 1 metre inside our boundary fence which faces the road.

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I am very pleased with the result, and if anything, it has actually enhanced the view from the street.

 

Garden Structures

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There is more to a garden than just the plants.  Pergolas, seats and birdbaths are some of the non-plant items you might find in a garden.

The vegetable garden is perhaps less likely to have these type of pieces than other areas of the garden. However, this week we made the following additions to our vegetable garden.

The first is a purely whimsical piece – a ‘windmill’ which spins in even the slightest breeze.  I am hopeful that it may even be something of a deterrent to the pesky birds.  Aside from that, it is quite mesmerising to watch and is visible from the kitchen window.

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The other additions are of a more practical nature.  These black powder-coated toppers accept 4 standard sized garden stakes which are anchored with screw fixation to create a wigwam-like structure.  Twine can be wound around them to create a growing frame for climbing plants.  I am planning to plant climbing beans on one of them.

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One of my future projects for this area is the addition of a scarecrow.  I have never made a scarecrow but I don’t think it would be too difficult.

 

 

Happy Blue Year!!

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The New Year’s Eve challenge that was posed in a Facebook group I follow was to post a photo of your take on ‘Bubbles, Berries and Blooms’.

So here it is to share with you all.

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Blue agapanthus from beside the driveway, a bowl of freshly picked blueberries from the garden and some soda water with a wedge of lime in one of my favourite glasses – the blue one of a set that belonged to my mother.

May 2019 be filled with beauty for you.

In the Fading Light

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After the grey and rainy days of the past week, we had a perfect Queensland winter day.  Brilliant blue sunshine but quite chilly with a westerly wind.  I did not even stop to take a photo as we were busy working on an outdoor project.

You may remember this post from a little over 3 months ago when we began in earnest to build the walkway/pergola entrance to our garden.  It had been several years in the dreaming/planning stages but is now finally a reality, albeit, a not quite finished one.

We worked until the light was fading fast so I snatched these last minute photos as GMan was packing up the final tools.

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We still have to attach the crossbar at the end closest to the house as well as panels of wire on the lower sections of the sides.

The next step will be to decide on exactly what coverage we want on the top of the walkway.  It will probably be timber slats but we need to consider how wide and how far apart.  The base will be paved with some of the pavers we salvaged from the front steps when they were demolished.  There is even a pile of excess crusher dust salvaged from the front steps project, too.  We will clean the pavers with the high pressure Gerni first.

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The final step will be to plant 4 Mandevilla creepers in shades of pink and crimson.

I am excited at the progress we have made and am looking forward to seeing a welcoming flower-covered entrance to our garden.

 

Mothers Day Makeover

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For those of you who think this post is going to be about me with a new hairstyle or looking particularly glamorous, you are going to be disappointed.

GMan and I spent a good portion of yesterday and today (Mothers Day) working on a garden project.

Here are some before shots.

January 2018

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Then we planted some shrubs.

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Easter 2018 – GMan and my brother dug 6 holes and put in 3 posts.

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GMan and I then finished the remaining posts but then there was no more progress during April as we were busy socialising and celebrating.

Part of the grand plan for this space was to remove a portion of the lawn and plant some low to medium height native shrubs.  We had already planted a few in January and will add some more soon.

GMan dug up all of the lawn in squares then we covered the area with cardboard which we had been collecting for some time.  It makes a great weed suppressant and breaks down over time.  Finally, we covered the area with mulch which had been languishing in a pile below the chicken run.  This mulch resulted from some tress we had lopped ages ago.

I did not take any photos during the process as I was busy loading cut turf into the wheelbarrow and relaying it elsewhere.

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We did not have to move the turf too far as we have relaid beside the path just inside the gate.  It is a bit uneven in places but is an improvement on the state of this space previously.

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There is more to do yet – we will complete the portico and plant flowering creepers to cover it, plant some more shrubs and build a gabion seat in near the corner of the mulched area.

Like every area of our garden this corner is a work in progress and will develop over time.

 

 

A Weekend in the Garden

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For the first time in what seems like months, we actually had a weekend where the weather was conducive to being outdoors.  Lately it has either been 35C or raining or both so gardening has not really been on the agenda.  We were delighted to see a forecast of mostly sunny days with a maximum temperature of 27C.

Yesterday, we decided to firm up our vague plans for a freestanding walkway/pergola to define the entrance to our garden.  The idea is to have it covered with a flowering creeper.  We have had a general idea of what we wanted but now have calculated the materials and so then it was off to Bunnings to buy the 6 large posts for the uprights.  These are now positioned on sawhorses under the house where GMan has begun painting them.

We have marked out the exact location of the posts as you can see in the photo below.

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We are hoping to get the construction started over the Easter break when we have a couple of extra days off.

There will be more updates once there is more progress.

The perfect weather deserted us overnight and we awoke this morning to drizzling rain and cloud drifting past the windows.  However, we did not let that stop us and we braved the overgrown and out-of-control vegetable gardens.  Everything was covered with the wild cherry tomatoes.  I had resolved to pick all the fruit which was ripe and not damaged before removing the plants.  It was a massive job but we successfully cleared the garden beds and planted a variety of seeds.  There are now beans, radishes, spinach, beetroot, lettuce, kale and cucumbers planted.

Hopefully, these freshly dug and planted beds will soon yield a range of produce.

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I don’t have a before photo but suffice to say that this is a vast improvement on how it looked this morning.

It may be a little difficult to see but there is an addition to the area.  We constructed a new compost area in front of the hen house using some panels of pool fencing and some star pickets.  This allowed us to put all of the cherry tomato plants in a single heap.  I also cut the asparagus back and added that to the pile.

The forecast warm weather with showers every day fort he next week should give the newly sown seeds the best possible start so I am feeling quite optimistic.

 

Seasonal Produce

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There are many good reasons to eat what is in season where possible.  Food miles are reduced if you eat local seasonal produce.  It is more likely to have been picked ripe and have better flavour.  An abundance of a particular crop will invariably see the best prices for the consumer.

Most of all though, if you only eat items that are in season you will appreciate the wait for those crops which only bear at a particular time of the year.  Like the first sweet bite of a new season mandarin.  In our climate we pick fruit from our mandarin tree during June and July which are our winter months.

Once the fruit are ripening I have to cover the tree to protect the fruit from the local scrub turkeys.

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You can also see one of the orange trees next to the netted mandarin.

This afternoon I removed the netting and picked the last of the fruit.

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We have picked a lot of mandarins over the past month or so but these are the last 30 of them.

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We will savour these fruit as we know it will be another 10 months before the next crop is ripe.  In the meantime, there will be plenty more seasonal delights as the months roll by.  Imagine if I could eat these all the year round.  They would no longer be anticipated longingly and the delight of that first burst of delicious flavour would soon become ho-hum.

We are fortunate because we live in a temperate climate so many crops can successfully be grown during most months of the year.  However, seasonality still exists for the citrus trees, raspberries, mangoes, passionfruit and avocadoes.

What is in season at your place?

This was our glorious winter day here today.  No, it has not been photoshopped – the sky really is that blue.

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