Notes to Self from the 11th August 2010

• The temporary grey-water set up has done us well through autumn and winter, however it still requires more time and effort and we are not always available to monitor it. Another barrel has been installed but I am not sure it is working properly. It is supposed to be the end of winter but with sunny days, chilly nights and the odd winds the garden is damp, but dries quickly, even with vegetables growing over it. I can see already that with the water we use on a day to day basis we will adequately cover the water requirements of the gardens, but I need to work on supplying that water in an easier, more efficient and broad-scale manner. I have set up two large 44 gallon drums which my Dad was getting rid of. These are being filled with water manually from the grey-water tanks and simply drip into the side gardens to gravity feed them. I am prepared to manually fill these (every second or third day) as long as I can spread the coverage of the main greywater tanks across the rest of the gardens. I am confident that the front garden will take care of itself with a fortnightly watering.
• Under the house has turned into a rubbish tip during winter. This is a huge disappointment. The saving grace of sorts being that it is not visible and it can be sorted out when time permits. I have pondered on setting up bay compost bins but there is limited room and I wondered if it might be something that would work well under the deck? I am not sure given that I don’t want to attract either ants or white ants but it is such a huge space that I would like to devise some way of using it to its capacity. At the moment it is storage for excess papers and cardboard boxes. This is one of the main reasons for wanting to set up better storage and possibly composting bays.
• I would like to introduce more native bushes too. Small, compact with lots of flowers for the birdlife. An understorey of these may do well along the back fence.
• Utilising the vertical space is, I think, a priority. Not much is happening at the moment in winter but as spring approaches I am thinking of the best use for particular areas and what might grow well there.

• List for work to be done:
• Front garden natives need pruning
• Greywater system completed and refined.
• Boxes and papers sorted out under deck for better access to remainder of underhouse. Possible area for compost bays or worm farms marked out. Worm farms would use up paper also and greywater. They could be raised off the ground to reduce attracting ants or white ants and any run-off could be either tapped into bottles for storage or gravity-fed directly into the garden beds.
• Re-defining the kitchen sink run-off. Looking into creating more of a reed bed with run-off channels more clearly defined.
• Digging over of back compost heap with a view to create an area for the chook run.
• Adding extra colour to the garden with flowers for companion planting. The marigolds have been a real boon. I have not really planted flowers before and after having the marigolds flower continuously since planting in March I am delighted. They have added bright orange and yellow splashes to a winter garden that would have been grey and green with a couple of lemons! Plant more flowers!

What is working

  • Organic carrot tops from the farmers market were sprouted in water and peroxide then planted into the garden. They have taken and are now bushing out in lovely green tufts. I am hoping they will supply insect-attracting flowers in spring and seeds for planting later in the year. Potato tops also planted out are doing well and already a small harvest has been made with several smaller potatoes put aside to be re-planted.
  • Having a compost pile that extra green waste can go onto and the paper from the guinea pigs cage can be used for is damn handy. Thus I would like to have an open compost set-up somewhere and am tempted (given space restrictions) to utilise the area under the outside decking.
  • The pond is going well. The fish are alive and well after not being seen for some weeks since we put them in there. The pondweed on top is growing at a steady rate and is quite thick as it gets pushed together by the action of the fountain each day. I harvest this excess weed and add it to the aerobin. This will be a handy addition to an open compost pile in the future.
  • The eastern garden is doing remarkably well with cabbages and spinach. These were planted out as seedlings over a month ago. It may become a dedicated cabbage patch if things work out. I can make two gardens, a lower and a higher one and alternate between the two.
  • The aloe vera in pots is doing okay under the tree in winter. I am thinking that these can be moved out to be placed around the fruit trees in summer and get all the mid-day sun and cool the ground a bit. Along with some more pots of peppermint. This will be a juicing garden!
  • The aerobin is now working. After two dismal attempts at composting, all the initial material was removed and piled into a compost pile in the area put aside for the future chook pen. This appears to be working well as a conventional compost pile whilst the aerobin is being used to reduce the growing piles of newspapers in a high-fibre compost using alternate layers of shredded papers and green, leafy matter from the garden with additional kitchen scraps, hot manure and compost periodically added.

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