Firstly I have wanted to reclaim my shed and get all the STUFF out and have some SPACE. But not without cleaning out under the house and creating some space for some of the stuff.
And it wouldn’t be as easy to do all of the under the house part without using some of it to do the retaining wall which was going to be needed at the back of the block to: Stop earth piling up against the fence and create more garden space.
So, the wall came first. And I also did under the house where and when I could to make the most of the wet days and do other things out in the garden on the dry days. I put slabs under the house and made what has been affectionately called “The Man Cave” where I will plant seedlings and pot up plants for the garden.
I have also been tinkering with the aquaponics set-up as the water is still doing more filling in some beds and less filling in others. I think I’m nearly there. The water is clearing and the fish seem happy.
So this grunting, digging and shifting heavy stuff has been going on for the last week starting with picking up the sleepers from the sawmill last Monday.
I also replaced the fencing wire to the chook yard and planted out pepino cuttings to wind through it as the chooks don’t seem to peck the leaves of the pepino that much. I have plans to move the meyer lemon out of its pot and plant it into the garden where it will hopefully thrive a little more. It has fruit forming on it at the moment.
The wall took the best part of a day to put up, most of the time being the foundation laying before putting the sleepers in position. Then I deliberated on how to make raised garden beds out of the spare sleepers and in the end decided on a plain rectangle shaped garden bed coming out the width of the chook fence. This left a small edge garden along the cement edging where I had the inspired idea of leaving the grasses that seem to have thrived there and made it a real hedge garden of flowers and herbs and grasses that will eventually mask the sleepers and create a natural-looking fence to the vege garden beds behind.
So I began liberating spring bulbs from their pots and strikings of rosemary and borage seedlings that were coming up in random spots of the garden. There is still a large cape gooseberry bush which is doing really well as it was getting water from an over-flow pipe. This water was also helping out the broad beans planted nearby. Because it worked so well I have left the pipe there and built the wall around it.
Likewise with the kitchen water soak. The garden is chock-full of worms in that area and I have extended the pipe to carry water a little further from where the sleepers are, to another area where I can keep the system going and probably much better.
In the low, far corner I have mainly planted exotics that I had no real purpose for but which have made, collectively, a nice little jungle corner. The pond is still leaking but I have not ventured into it to any extreme as the pond is likely to get an overhaul at some stage. I do need to do something to with the water chestnuts which I took out of the pond and have now just started to sprout through the earth brand new little shoots.
As usual for this time of the year the nasturtiums have taken over the garden but I welcome this as it keeps the soil moist and shaded and makes great compost later on. Actually, the soil in the back garden where the trees where is fantastic! I have added to it when we first moved in sheep manure and trailer loads of horse manure which has helped somewhat, but by far I think the biggest asset to the quality of the soil has been newspaper and cardboard. Placed in sheets with thin layers of soil in between the worms just flock to the stuff and have made it over the last eighteen months a really wonderful, dark, rich, friable soil.
It has worked so well that I anticipate using as much paper as possible to build this soil up further as I now have another foot or two of soil depth to add in order to “fill” the raised garden. So over time I will leave areas in fallow and add plenty of shredded newspaper and layered cardboard.
In other areas of the garden where paper has not been covered over or has been disturbed by the chooks scratching about, the slugs and snails have gravitated to it and it has made it easy to collect them and put them into the fish tank with the perch. Happy Perch!
The odd bail of hay or pea straw has been put into the back garden too, but it is newspaper that has added the very friable, moisture holding properties of the soil as I can see what the worms have done to it in areas where I know I have placed large quantities of either paper or cardboard.
The apricot tree is now dotted with bright, white flowers and is being visited by busy bees. Only just today did I notice the greenery starting to bud out also. The nectarine flowered at the same time last year as the apricot but has instead this year starting shooting leaves at the lower branches and stem and today has pushed out flower buds which perhaps will open tomorrow, or maybe appear overnight. I will see.
The banana palm is doing well, now that it has tapped into the water supply of the worm bed and is not seeking out sun between the trees. In fact, the whole garden has benefited from the removal of the mallees though it remains to be seen what impact this will have during summer when the trees also shaded the back garden bed from the sun directly above.
In expectation of this – and because I now have the space – I have planted sunflower seeds and corn to create a bit of summer shade for some of the other crops. The timing of this larger garden also coincides with my desire to plant out as many of the seeds that I can that I have this year, so as to get newer seed stock from them. Not to mention a heap of seeds from the Diggers club.
I should also mention that over the last few weeks of holidays the chooks have had the run of the garden and have stripped the silverbeet plants of leaves and raked the soil over very well. They weren’t keen when I put them back into the pen but seem to have settled in more now and the new little orpington has settled in and is regularly laying eggs.