An Evolution

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This week we spent some time in the garden and on of the jobs I tackled was tidying up the entrance pergola.

The mandevilla were growing out of control and needed a bit more training up the trellis. I also trimmed some of the lower growth and swept the pavers. We cleaned up and mulched the adjacent garden area. The flowers and small shrubs will thrive as the weather begins to warm up.

It looks much better.

There are not a huge number of flowers at the moment but this shot from November last year shows it in full bloom.

In March 2018 the area was very different.

By September of 2018 things were progressing but the plants were still in their infancy.

It is always useful to look back and remind yourself of how much progress you have made.

Concrete – Covered and Cleaned

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Today I want to show you a couple of small but significant home maintenance jobs.

Since we live in a rural area we do not have sewerage. Instead there are 2 tanks – a septic and a greywater one. They would have been installed when the property was initially developed so they are probably close to 30 years old. Unfortunately, both of the lids had become cracked and chipped so we decided to replace them

I thought this would be a relatively simple task but after much research via Google, I was still unsure as to what they were actually called, whether they came in different sizes and whether it was possible to replace the concrete lids with fabricated steel ones.

I rang our local Council who were of minimal assistance except to say that they had to be restored to the original state – so that ruled out steel covers. Next, I tried a local plumber who said that he didn’t keep them on hand but to ring Everhard Industries. I had perused their website extensively in my research and been unable to find a reference to anything like what I wanted but I rang anyway.

Everything took an immediate turn for the better as the young lady on the phone knew exactly what I wanted and was able to give me the part number and description but said I would need to order it from a plumbing supplier as they did not sell directly to the public. She also gave me the names of several suppliers in our area. I rang one of them, ordered the covers and we were able to collect them 2 days later.

GMan replaced the old covers with new ones and here they are looking bright and shiny.

Speaking of bright and shiny, the other concrete project has been cleaning some of the back path.

Here is the section that I did yesterday.

Then I moved some of the potplants to the space under the stairs.

There is still more to be done but that may have to wait as there is rain forecast for the next week.

Where Did I Go?

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If you were paying careful attention to my last blog post (27th August) you would have noticed that I mentioned that we were about to go away on holidays.

Well, we certainly did and were away for just over 3 weeks before returning home on Sunday. It was a road trip though our home state of Queensland which you can read about on my other blog, Somewhere, Anywhere if you are interested.

There will be plenty of new content coming up soon but meanwhile, here are a couple of images that greeted us upon our return.

We had housesitters staying in our home so that the chickens and gardens would be maintained. Quite aside from the housesitters, the growing conditions must have been simply perfect. This is the haul I picked from the garden on Sunday afternoon.

In December last year we had some Himalayan Ash trees removed. These are classified as an environmental weed in south east Queensland – please refer to the link for details. Naturally, we were keen to revegetate the area as quickly as possibly and have planted a mixed selection of native shrubs and small trees.

It is barely 9 months since these were planted but this callistemon is already putting on a spectacular spring show.

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.