Salvaged and Spread

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Now that the weather has finally moderated it is a great time to be out in the garden.

2015-04-18 01We took the ute up to the neighbour’s place to collect the first of 2 loads of mulch that they had kindly offered to us.  This was from when they had some trees trimmed and mulched about a month ago.  Although we have had some light rain in the past day or two the ground was not too wet and GMan was able to bring the ute close to where we wanted to use the mulch.

The newspaper collection has been replenished somewhat, thanks to the generosity of friends and also some that GMan collected from his office.

2015-04-18 02Once again, the newspaper and mulch covered pretty much the same area.  We now have more than half of the front garden deeply mulched.

2015-04-18 03Here are the first of the sweet pea seedling peeking their heads through the soil.  There are also some almost microscopic seedlings which I suspect are the snapdragon or heartsease that I sprinkled in front of the sweet peas.  I am very excited at the prospect of growing some old-fashioned flowers.

2015-04-18 04These are some of the flowers on one of the hibiscus shrubs in the front garden.  It is in the part that is yet to be mulched.

2015-04-18 05It was 4.30pm and I had just finished photographing the garden handiwork when I noticed that this sunshower.  It is the regular rain and relatively warm climate that we enjoy which keeps everything lush and green.  Of course, the rich, volanic soil helps, too.

Permaculture Principles or Plain Commonsense

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Whatever you want to call them, there are things we can do in the garden that will save money and resources.

Here are a couple of projects we have been working on this weekend.

2012-08-05 01When we came here there were numerous shrubs/small trees planted close to the front verandah.  They provided some screening and privacy from the road.  Over time we planted a screening hedge of native shrubs along the boundary so the ones closer to the house became less important from a privacy point of view.  We extended the area in front of the verandah and slightly reduced the amount of lawn.  The shrubs have been pruned several times to try to keep the blow the level of the gutter.

Last year I decided on the final format for this area.  We will have a selection of flowering hibiscus in front of the verandah.  We bought 5 hibiscus at the Garden Expo in July last year and they have been progressing well.  However, one of them was beginning to struggle and we realised that it was being shaded by one of the grevilleas.  We cut down the three remaining shrubs, mulched everything that was small enough to go through the mulcher and cut the bigger branches into manageable lengths.

2015-04-06 02While Gman was mulching Istarted laying out newspapers (usually about 6 sheets at a time) and hosing them down to stop them blowing away.  The we piled the mulch we had made at one end.

2015-04-06 03This shows a close-up of the small logs that we used to create the back edge of the area to be mulched.

2015-04-06 04Here is the mulch spread out.  It was convenient that we ran out of mulch and newspapers at about the same time.  We are going to bring home whatever newspapers we can collect from work in order to continue our project.   There is still quite a bit to do as you can see from the next photo.

2015-04-06 05You can also see some of the hibiscus.  They seem to really be enjoying the full sun now that the overhanging shrubs have been cut down.  We have been offered a huge pile of mulch from the neighbours so that will go towards completing the mulching of this area.  The next job will be to buy some more hibiscus.

2015-04-06 06Finally, I wanted to show you the garden bed that I started last weekend.  It is now dug over, edged with rocks and seeds planted.  We have no shortage of rocks as they are everywhere on the block in all shapes and sizes.  I have planted sweet pea, snapdragon and heartsease seeds in the hope of having a border of colourful spring flowers.  The sweet peas are in a furrow close to the fence which will do double duty of keeping unwanted animals out of the vegie garden and being a trellis for the sweet peas.

Redistribution of Resources

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Today has been a cool grey day but after a long week in the office it was good to get outdoors for a while.   The liquidamber tree was looking stunning in red a couple of weeks ago but now there is not much foliage left.

Bare tree
The Duke was mowing the lawn so I decided to spend some time in the vegie garden area.  Much of the area has been covered with several pumpkin vines but they are gradually dying off.  The have had the added benefit of killing off some of the weeds and grass that was growing in the area before we finished the fencing.  It is my goal not to have any lawn within the fenced area.  There will eventually be 9 raised garden beds as well as the blueberry patch which will be all mulced and other beds around the perimeter.

I am not sure how to keep the grass from growing on the paths between the beds but I started today by covering a small area between the ends of 2 of the beds.  I used several layers of newspaper and then some mulch that The Duke had created some weeks ago when he muched a pile of prunings.  I bordered the sides with some rocks, a commodity of which we have an abundance.  This is a bit of a test case as I am thinking of using this method to cover all of the paths/walking areas once the garden beds are finished.

Mulch and rocks

I moved the concrete besser blocks that were bordering this small area.  It was one of the early garden beds we created when we moved here but it is now in the orchard area.

Old garden
I did not take a ‘before’ photo but this is all that is left after the blocks were removed.  There was a cherry tomato growing wild and spreading on the ground so I found a star picket and created a stake for the tomato.  You can so it to the right of the photo.  The plant looks pretty straggly but it still has flowers on it.

Here are the concrete blocks in their new location just inside the fence.  This is the area where I am plaaning to plant asparagus.  I am not sure whether it will be a temporary or permanent home for the blocks.  Wherever I end up using them, I will also fill the blocks with soil and plant in them as well.

Concrete blocks
The cabbages and kale are growing.

Cabbage and kale
I also planted some beetroot, rocket, radish and parsley seeds so I will see what success I have from those.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing my garden as much as I enjoyed the time spent working in it this afternoon.

Make & Mend – A New Garden

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Today I made a garden bed, or more accurately refreshed an old one.  Unlike most of my gardening posts this one does not include growing food.

This is an area between the side of the garage and the front steps which originally had a selection of fairly unappealing shrubs and plants.  They had been cleared out some time ago and the space badly needed revitalising.  I did have a before photo, however, it is on the desktop computer which seems to have some issues so I took it to be looked at/repaired today.

Front garden
We bought the plants at a local garden centre on the weekend.  They are Australian natives – low-growing shrubs and ground covers.  The area has quite a considerable slope so I move some more rocks to build up the edges to prevent the mulch washing away in the first heavy shower of rain.  We were lucky to be offered a large pile of mulch by our neighbours who had several large trees lopped and mulched.  We moved 3 loads in the back of the ute last weekend so some of it was used on this garden with several layers of newspaper underneath to help suppress any weeds.

I thought we may have had some rain late this afternoon as the storm clouds were building rapidly and the thunder was rumbling in the distance as I put the finishing touches to my new garden.

Storm clouds

The threatening weather dissipated quickly and we have been left with a warm, humid night.

The Great Garlic Massacre & Other Dirty Tales

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We have finally had some of the glorious winter weather for which south-east Queensland is renowned – clear, sunny days and crisp, cool nights.

2013-06-16 01

The majority of yesterday and today has been spent in the garden. I have previously  shown you the 3 raised vegetable garden beds.  One was planted out with seeds a couple of weeks ago.  I planted 2 bean seeds together in each hole and they all germinated so I transplanted the extras.  I am not sure whether they will survive the process but it never hurts to try. 2013-06-16 02

We moved some lemon tree prunings which had been in this tank and filled it with soil from one of the old garden beds which is now redundant.  The soil is fabulous and it would be a shame to waste it.  We mixed it with some mulch (from the poinciana stump which we had ground last year) and also some mushroom compost.  In the centre you can also see some bok choy seedlings. The bok choy seeds came up so thickly that I have thinned heaps of them and will thin them out again as they get a bit bigger.  I could not bear to just throw the thinnings away so they were all transplanted.  Some went into this old esky filled with soil and mulch.

2013-06-16 03

I put some others in between the potato plants in the other raised bed.  The bok choy will be well and truly finished before the potatoes take over.

2013-06-16 04

The carrots, onions and beetroot have also germinated and are growing but are probably too small to identify in this photo.  You can, however, see the beans and bok choy.

2013-06-16 05A few weeks ago I bought some organic garlic ready to sprout and plant.  It has been languishing in a bag on the floor of the pantry but today was the day to plant it out. Firstly, we had to finish preparing the third raised bed.  It was about 1/3 full of leaf litter, mushroom compost and shredded arrowroot leaves.  Today we added some grass clippings after The Duke had mowed the lawn area area the vegie patch, more mushroom compost, lots of mulch and soil as previously described.  Then it was time to plant the garlic.  We peeled off the papery outer layer, separated the cloves and planted them in rows with the sprouting tip pointing upwards.  You can see all of the shredded outer layers on the ground beside the bed.  It really did look like something had been massacred.  The bed is 2.4m x 1.2m and it is entirely planted with rows of garlic.  If this is even moderately successful I should never have to buy garlic again!

2013-06-16 06 I cleared some old cherry tomato plants out of another round tank, topped up the soil and mulch and planted these golden sweet potato plants that had been in a pot for ages since my brother-in-law gave them to us.

2013-06-16 07This is the old garden bed where we have been digging up the soil to re-use.  There is still plenty left.

2013-06-16 08The pile of mulch which resulted from the grinding of the tree stump last year  has been put to good use in the garden beds.  We still have more that we can take from here to build up the next round of garden beds.

2013-06-16 09 It is gratifying to be able to use and reuse everything from our own property in the gardens.  Leaf litter, compost, mulch, soil and grass clippings all go into creating the next lot of vegetables for us to eat.  Chickens, chickens manure and eggs are also part of the cycle. Trees provide fallen timber for firewood which in turn leaves ash that we put back into the compost heap or garden bed. Permaculture in action really is the circle of life.