Blog

Preparation of the Site

 

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The chooks take a break in the afternoon garden.

Today we spent more time over at the site remedying the water run-off situation which after the rain yesterday afternoon – it was pretty apparent we needed to do better!

So of course we did. It is after all a rather steep slope. So we continued supporting the embankment with rocks. I took a sledge hammer to the last remaining BIG rocks. This cleared up the area where I plan to put a pond.

The boys were getting up to mischief in the sand with sticks and stones and bits of timber – and having a great time. A distraction from the job at hand. With a brief toilet break in which they visited the nearby park, I knuckled in and got the rocks out of the way while I could.

We then managed to make fantastic progress by shifting salvaged timber out of the way so I can begin to plan for the creation of swales further up the slope. We also dug out smaller swales to catch and divert the water further up the slope. Already it is evident that the rain is shifting nutrients down to the bottom of the garden.

Further soil was added to the garden bed from our current chook pen and more potatoes planted to make the most of it in the build up to a proper planting out of the garden bed.

We even planted out some of the first trees. A small collection of acacia that I have grown from seed collected over the past few years in anticipation of the new garden. These will be used as pioneer plants. There are some large, bushy Sydney Wattles on the border of the block which I am glad the neighbour has not removed (they are a declared pest species in Western Australia). These will be used for mulching the swales and cultivated for further foliage for later use as mulch. They are prolific growers (as most pests are) but will be ‘chopped and dropped’ before getting the opportunity to bare mature seed.

There are hopefully enough salvaged lengths of timber to put up a trellis for the espaliered fruit trees. I have a small pile of choice lengths to select from. This is one of the priority jobs so that there is a barrier at the top of the 2 metre plus retaining wall.

On returning home there was more work to do whilst the going was good. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. Almost as though we had winter yesterday and spring today. I set about preparing some sweet potato and pepino cuttings to strike for planting out into the swales at the new garden and making a list of some of the priorities and order of events for a move of the garden which is seeming so very imminent with the approach of the warmer weather.

 

Winters End

 

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Pelicans returning to the River in the afternoon rain.

Today was a return of more of the rain that visited mid-week. It was not too heavy during the morning which gave me a chance to clean out the rabbit hutches and then we got started on shifting rocks and timber over at the renovation site. We put down plastic wrap (salvaged from the renovation) along the embankment made for the rainwater tanks.

There is a lot going on at the moment with financial considerations, decisions relating to the transition across to the house once completed and just trying to stay ahead of the day to day things that go on in our household. On top of this is the itch to get across to the new house as soon as practicable so we can begin to simplify things.

I’ve never had so much on my plate before. Ever.

On returning home we had lunch and I went for a nap to encourage the boys to take one. The rest of the afternoon was further showers, though much heavier and I did not return to the site to continue with the timber. The above picture of the pelicans making their way home for the evening kind of reflects the very sombre mood of the day.

Still, we got some stuff done. And no, I doubt we’ve seen the last of the rain, despite September approaching. There will be more to come I am sure.

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A somewhat dishevelled hen sheltering from the rain.

 

New Adventures in Poop Scooping

Last Sunday I was up early to get out and get some horse manure. I had been offered the unique opportunity to pick up horse manure from a friends horse paddocks.  I turned up with some old stock feed bags, some gloves and an empty ute (utility).

To me this was an exciting venture for a Sunday morning. I’ve carted trailer loads of horse manure to the house garden before but most of it was full of sand and was really just a filler for the soil.

This stuff was much better. Much, much better. There was a few acres of horse manure in little piles around the place, dotted with the odd cow paddy. But I had to pick it up. I got to it systematically and within 2 hours had a dozen bags – heavy bags – of quality dung.

It wasn’t fresh stuff, so as I was picking it up to put it in the bag I was also picking up the odd worm. They were prolific under the piles. Big, fat, turd-engorged red wigglers.

I am aware that this is not a common fascination with the general public, but this stuff was exciting because it was going to be part of the foundation for our vegetable garden at the new house. This was going to feed the worms and the soil that was going to feed the greens and other crops that were going to feed me and my family!

Along with the manure I also put into our new garden bed some nasturtiums and old straw that I took from our current garden. Plus some buckets of rabbit manure, wood chips and assorted stuff from the chook pen left over from sieving soil for planting seeds.

It was a beautiful morning to be outside. It was like Spring had arrived, it was sunny with a light breeze, the magpies were singing and the cuckoo was around. It was a great opportunity to get some exercise and fresh air.

 

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The base of the garden bed.  It will be finished with extra soil and materials later.

 

Rainwater Storage

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Today was marked by the arrival of the two 23 000 litre rainwater tanks. (6075 gallons)

I had figured in my head that we would be able to man-handle them down onto the pad when they arrived from the top of the block. I’ve shifted large tanks at the Community Garden and they are cumbersome but not impossible.

I do have to admit to being a little taken back when I spotted the tanks on the back of the truck some way up the road before we even reached the block. They looked much bigger than I expected!

“So how much do they weigh?” I asked the delivery guy.

“400 kilos.” (881 pounds)

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Hmmm. We had The Plumber and two carpenters on hand as well as myself and guided by the delivery guy we managed to roll both tanks down the slope, turn them and drop them into position without any of us going pancake in the process.

We nudged them close to the back of the slope and my goodness – they fit! With room in-between just as we’d figured out and with enough room to get around. It was deceiving how large they looked on their sides on the back of the truck.

While The Plumber and myself discussed the connection of the pipes, overflow pipes and greywater matters the delivery fella went about adding the couplings and covers for the tanks. He told us that at least one of the tanks had been manufactured that morning in Perth and here it was delivered and in situation by 1.30 pm. Not bad at all.

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The extra benefit at this point is that there is enough room left on the pad to move some of the materials I have salvaged from the renovation so they are easily accessible when the time comes to use them. This will also free up room on the lower part of the block to start rolling out piping for the tanks and the greywater system. Also it tidies the area up and I can start to work on translating the permaculture design from the page to the landscape.

Meanwhile . . . the rocks that were used as the base for the lounge room chimney had been moved up to the top of the block by Dave the Digger. He had also removed about half of the concrete path from the front and side of the house.

The tiling was progressing with grout going in and the floorboards have been put into the newer part of the kitchen, the boys room (where the central, previous kitchen chimney stood) and also into what will be Gran’s boudoir. It’s all looking good.

The Plumber estimated that the four tanks collecting rainwater under the house will fill one of these large tanks 5 times.

 

Winds Of Change

 

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Hardenbergia comptoniana – Our Native Wisteria colours the backyard in late winter.

 

Despite the overcast weather and the odd shower of rain, the breeze is warm and hints of a coming Spring.

Over the weekend I caught the scent on the breeze that is unmistakably the perfume of an approaching and not so far off Spring. The plum trees in our garden are blossoming. Our neighbour’s up the road have abundant flowers on theirs, though their mature trees are getting a lot more direct sun also.

I hang out the washing in the hope that the wind will do most of the drying despite the lack of sunshine and shortly after it rains again. Heavily.

My youngest son assists me with sorting out the seeds ready for planting out. Some are old seeds so they go into a collective jar to be broadcast sown across the forthcoming mound garden as a green mulch. Others we will plant out soon to get seedlings started for an eventual planting at the new garden.

In the distance a Cuckoo calls and I remind myself to check the bird book again. The birds are on the move. They are calling early and I anticipate the nocturnal caroling of the magpies will start soon if it hasn’t already. Happily, some of these natural events are marked by associated memories in my life. When the magpies start their night time caroling is a reminder of when I first met my wife. This also means that the freesias will soon start to appear out of the earth with their bright white flowers and some coloured ones too if we are lucky. Their perfume will confirm to the senses that Spring is coming. This wonderful scent will be carried across the land on the winds of change that herald the start of the Southern Hemisphere Spring. Here in Western Australia there is already the wintry thrill of brilliant yellow acacia blossom dotting the landscape. Soon there will be much more as the warmer weather closes in.

The renovation is drawing near its completion.  My mind is full of matters that need addressing and the sequence of things related to the build, the move, the garden, our current house…