Damage Control

petitparadis recycleWith an available morning to tend to the Tillellan garden I drove over to the house and was there by 5am to do some maintenance. The early rise was to beat the heat and the first job was to fix the hose which had a couple of pin hole leaks in it due to the extra high pressure of the water. The garden then needed a decent watering.

One of the main jobs was to do a bit of ‘dumpster diving’ and clear out all the cardboard from the skip bin. This I have done whenever I get the chance and have amassed a small stockpile of cardboard in the backyard for keeping sand down. With the eventual arrival of Mrs PP and The Little Fellas we also rescued a large wooden pallet with a decent sheet of MDF which will be perfect for projects.

With the skip bin now only 3/4’s full there was room to put some of the real rubbish from the backyard and a large piece of rusty tin which I uncovered when planting out the Wormwood hedge. Over the last couple of months in particular there has been a lot of cardboard in the skip bin due to the high number of items being fitted out in the house. Light shades, plumbing fixtures, water filter, glass panels and such things. If I have the time, I pull it out to retain this cardboard as it will be consumed by the garden easily. Plus we are not paying for something to be taken away that is quite useful. It doesn’t make sense to me.

Already some of our paths are lined with cardboard to make it easy to walk across the sand and to encourage the soil life underneath into activity. Even in the heat of the early southern hemisphere summer the dirt is cooler and retains more moisture, allowing worms and other soil life to come to the sub-surface and do their good work.

Fat Hen Chenopodium sp. is rampant and prolific in the garden at the moment and I have pruned most of it down to add as a mulch to the gardens and paths. It’s not a pretty garden at the moment, at least not close up, but highly practical in order to build soil and get us through the hot summer ahead without losing too much water and sand with the wind.

This damage control will allow us to make the most of our water supply and maintain some vegetables through the summer whilst also providing bountiful feed for the rabbits, guinea pigs, quail and chickens when they are re-located.

There is still a decent bit of earthworks to be done with the backyard, but this will occur at a later date once we have taken the time to observe more closely what changes occur on the block with sunlight, winds and how the grey water system operates. And definitely much easier once we are residing in the house, to keep an eye on things.

In anticipation of the next phase of earthworks the tagasaste seedlings have been repotted into individual pots and I am nurturing a mass planting of tamarillo seeds which have emerged from the soil recently. These are from seeds collected from outstanding fruit from one of our trees. I have also taken cuttings to propagate and these appear to be going ok, but are yet to develop new leaves.

Despite the wilder nature of the garden as it is now, it has supplied us with a decent haul of potatoes and some chard for us and the neighbours. In clearing the chard I have discovered several squash and melons forming. Happy with that.

The other main job was to move the potted roses, daisy bush and apricot tree from the front yard and give them a spot up the back where hopefully they can recover, get a little more water, and not be in the way. The apricot was grown from seed from a fruit given to Mrs PP and myself when we were dating. We’ve had some wonderful fruit from it in previous years but the last couple of years its had it rough. We’re going to have to nurse it back a bit and we’re both looking forward to actually planting it in the ground at some point next year.


A Tale of Tall Timber

petitparadis j whyte jnr

My forefathers, a select few, cut down trees in the Manjimup district.

Big Trees.

Without power tools.

They were part of the Group Settlement Scheme that was implemented as a large-scale solution to clearing land for agriculture and providing food resources for Western Australia in order to lessen the reliance on imported food. Much as we will endeavour to do in our own backyard!

Stumps like the one above were not going to go away easily. It took fire and dynamite and a lot of determination. A decent size Karri tree would provide enough timber for two houses or cottages. 

I was thinking about this kind of stuff as I was oiling the floorboards at the renovation. Long, beautiful, thick floorboards that we really did not want to coat with polyurethane that would be off-gassing into our environment for years to come.

There were skeptics amongst us. Even the floor sanders were dubious of us oiling the floor. And when I asked if the wood dust from the floor sanding would be ok to use in the garden ( Produce no waste and all that stuff!) I’m sure they thought I was nuts. 

“It’ll take ages to break down.” 

“That’s good.” I replied. The sandy soil is a Monster with a large appetite. Truth be known, I don’t want to put it directly in the garden anyway. It’s for something much more special and selective  – but that will be for another post.

Trees . . .

I cannot but imagine what clearing the land would have been like some hundred odd years ago. Some of us pine for the old growth forests that spanned the south-west. I’ve always felt at home amongst the southern forests. Karri. Jarrah. Yarri. Marri

The floor sander man was telling me he did the floors in a house in Cottesloe. He was sanding away and realised that some of the floorboards were up to 14 metres long. That is, one length of timber. No joins. Apparently the logs had been pulled to the house by horse and dray and was milled on the site. Back in the day, that is

Jarrah is what has kept Tillellan in good stead for 80 odd years.

Tillellan, from the stumps up was made of Jarrah. A hard wood that is known to stand the test of time. And as far as the builders could ascertain it was probably ‘run of the mill’ timber which was milled and used fresh in the build. This is how they explained the warped beams and supports they discovered when they removed the plasterboard. Nothing was very square, it was quite ‘organic’ but it was solid.

As much as the builders are confident in their treated pine products, I reckon parts of the original house will still outlast the renovations. Time will tell.