The Rain, the Muse & the Start of Winter

frog

I have been dreaming of compost. I’m not sure why.

After the recent winds came the rain. Slowly. But it really hit this afternoon and then settled in. I heard the tank pump working this morning and I’m sure it would have pumped more water up to the header tanks by this afternoon. The neighbours confirmed about 6-7 mm yesterday (Sat 26th, 20019) so I’m sure this afternoon delivered a good deal more.

I know it’s only the coming of winter, but so far we’ve done ok. In as much as, so far the house has done exceptionally well at keeping us comfortable. Gran has not made comment yet on feeling the cold unless she has been out and about.

I’ve enjoyed our autumn this year, though I feel much of it has been spent as an observer of the beautiful sunny days as I’ve worked, rather than getting out into it. But anyway, there will be time for this later and the glimpses of beautiful weather has not gone by without appreciation and gratitude.

The Muse is happy also. There is a small stockpile of deciduous leaves, mulched tree branches, saw dust, cardboard and assorted other piles of waste paper and cardboard items ready for the raised garden beds. Plus there was a little bit of progress with moving sand recently (in amongst everything else) so the promise of the first bed being completed some time soon appears eventual. Happy Muse. These resources lay in waiting. Small pots and containers of edibles are greening up and thriving. The compost bins that we started early in spring are shut down now, simply sitting and maturing. Ready also for their addition to the alchemy of what will be the raised garden bed soil.

So I am eager to get some further progress on the beds happening so that we can move the rabbits and compost bins and tidy up more of the awaiting, bulk resources that lay piled up around the place. There is the sound of rain on the tin roof as I lay in bed. The whisper of a breeze, the restlessness of a rabbit in the winter dark. The frogs are starting to sing. The Muse is happy. Finally, the rain has come.

 

The Garden & The Muse

cropped-apple-box1.pngIt’s 5 am and its dark. Really dark. Inside and out.

Gran, with little regard for the silence that embalms the house (because she’s losing her hearing), bursts from her bedroom door and wheels herself into the bathroom with an urgency we won’t see for the rest of the day. The noise echoes through the floorboards. The Little Fellas are restless. I can sense it.

I’m already awake anyway, sitting in the office. Planning the day ahead. Thinking. Making notes. Being aware. Practising my ‘Dad Radar’.  I have a few minutes before I anticipate hearing little feet across a big floor. The Muse shifts about listlessly in the house also. She’s been away so long now I can’t remember what she looks like. She has a habit of changing regularly anyway.

One of the Little Fellas comes in and joins me. He’s the first half. The Muse has fled by now, as he perches on the seat and begins the inquisition of questions and furtive, curious investigating of objects and pieces that litter the top of the desk.

My thoughts are with the garden. After putting it to the side for so long now I am feeling compelled to get it up and running. But there is much work to do still – and the other house needs finishing in order to put it on  the market. It’s closer. I’ve been working on it.

Autumn came so soon, and now it’s nearly gone. I implore for the Muse to return. We can consolidate our ideas over chilly winter nights and make plans for the Masterpiece that lies sleeping in the coming Spring.

 

A Happy Hum

tahitian lime petit paradis

The Tahitian Lime is in full swing. By that I mean it is humming! It is laden with fruit and is experiencing another wave of the most wonderfully perfumed flowers. These are being visited by hoards of bees which literally have the tree humming in the warm afternoon light. It is a joy visually as well as therapeutic to the ear. The hum emanates through the garden.

It is a pleasant corner of the what has now become ‘the old garden’ now that we have moved to – the new garden. In the corner is the lime tree, a mulberry in a pot, a lemon verbena which I use to flavour tea and a geranium which decided it liked that particular corner also and has set up home under the mulberry.

Mini-Crops for your Little Paradise

As we await the completion of our larger, raised garden beds, I cannot let it stand as an excuse not to grow our own food. So in the meantime we have a couple of plants started to supplement that which we purchase from the local farmers market. I have sprinkled lettuce seeds, parsley seeds and mustard seeds pretty liberally around the garden in areas of sand or bare dirt so that we can benefit from those plants that thrive with our neglect. However, there are three plants in particular that I have in containers simply because they are so easy to get started.

The first is Pak Choy which I am very, very fond of. Particularly in smoothies and stir-fries. This little crop was started from about an inch of the base of each Pak Choy plant that I used in the kitchen. Like most Brassicas they are keen to keep on giving so they are really easy to start on some damp towel on the kitchen bench and then transplant out once they have leaves forming.

pak choy petit paradis

The Little Fellas are keen on potatoes. They love them. Regular white potatoes or sweet potatoes, or purple. Really, whatever Dad is happy to grow for them. They are easy to grow in containers with a bit of compost and some sand. I wait for the flowers to die down and get to them when I need some for the kitchen. The Little Fellas are acutely aware of the difference between a Ladybug and the Twenty-Eight Spotted Bugs that are really the only sort of pest that might trouble them and they are happy enough to squash them or feed them to pet birds.

potatoes petit paradis

Next up are Shallots. Those in the photo below had only been in the soil about a week. A little autumn rain and sunshine and they were into it. I grew the original crop and kept some of the smaller ones from the harvest in a container over summer when we moved house. Little Fella J and myself planted them out, spoke to them nicely and let nature do the rest.

shallots petit paradis

There is yet another favourite crop we like to keep on the go as well which does really well in pots and that is Spring Onion. Again, like the Pak Choy, we leave about an inch or so of the lower part of the plant and roots – typically the whiter part of the ‘bulb’. This is put in a little bit of water, only to get it by until we plant it in the garden. Don’t cover it completely. Let it breath and bask in the sun a little and within days, if not overnight, it will be reaching for the sky. When you harvest, simply repeat the process. Again and again and again. They take up so little room and are really handy in the kitchen.

The containers are usually filled with kitchen scraps at the bottom. Cardboard. Paper. All the good stuff that compost worms like. We ‘seed’ the containers with some soil from the worm farms so that further down the track there is rich feed for both worms and plant.

These mini-crops are easily fertilised by the run-off from our worm farm. It’s fantastic stuff. It feeds them well. Uses up scraps from the kitchen. Makes great compost and soil amendment and can fit on the back deck, verandah or patio. Usually Zone One in a permaculture design. Back door step stuff! Easy.

Cos’ it has to be! Right?

The Professionally Engineered Leaf Trap

 

petit paradis leaf trap

This was one of those “Mate – you’re different.” moments.

There was no friend present when I first lay my eyes on the above scene, but I’m sure that would have been the response to my reaction of “Awesome!” and my spontaneous enthusiasm to immediately begin gathering as many handfuls of leaves I could, shoving them into a bucket for swift relocation to the compost bin.

I grew even more ecstatic when it dawned on me that by having inset the stairway entry to the house, we had inadvertently engineered ourselves a perfect leaf trap from which to harvest the bountiful autumn leaves that blow over to our house from the park.

I expected the leaves to gather in the drive-way.

They did this before the renovation. The wind hand picks them as though on fishing line invisible to the eye and carries them in an almost deliberate dance to gently place them on our drive-way, where the distraction of playing amongst the roses and the sloping corrugated fence-line means the wind loses interest and forgets about the leaves. They lie there for days. As they build in number they appear to accumulate at a faster rate.

I am also aware that this would be an abhorrent mess to any regular gardener. There would be cursing, the revving of the leaf blower.

It would be regarded as an abomination to the order of things. I am aware of this. It’s what I like about permaculture. The problem is the solution. It means I can slacken off from trips across the road to the park to fill a bag of leaves for the compost bin or worm farm. They are instead conveniently placed – at the front steps!

It gets better. I have assistance. The Little Fellas also take it upon themselves (dare I say, sometimes with financial incentive) to harvest the leaves and put them in the compost bin. It’s cooking up a storm that compost bin. It’s going to be a great bit of vintage dirt. The crap we’ve put into it! Amazing.