This is going to be a long post. That’s what happens when I spend too much time in the garden! Also, I was a bit computerless after my laptop fell into a coma and was unable to be revived. RIP dear laptop. Hence, the lack of posts and the probable influx of posts in the next few days. Fortunately, The Husband was able to retrieve my hard drive and everything on it AND build me a new desktop computer. I’m a lucky gal. He’s got some mad skills, that man.
I have a problem. I’m a gardenholic. It’s Daylight Savings’ fault really. Now that The Little Fulla goes to sleep very well around 7pm and it’s still light, I somehow find myself outside. Some people demo the house. I’m demoing the garden. I am like a crazy energizer bunny; hacking, smashing, pruning and digging all over the place. I have a full-access pass to the Garden Gym and I finally have visible muscles again. For the last few nights I’ve intended to have a break and a quiet night in. Nope. Last night I was definitely going to have a restful night. Nope. I think I’m making up for the lost Spring last year. And the very wet start we had to this Spring. I’m going to hurry up and post this before anything else happens!
Although I have to do tasks all over the place to keep up, there are three main areas I’m currently working on: the vege garden, the cedar tree garden and the side of the house around the plum trees.
The Cedar Garden
The fort in the cedar garden (I’m going to have to keep that big tree if I start naming the garden after it) has started to disappear. I don’t have anything against forts; I like forts more than the next person. But the fort was ugly, poorly built and, most importantly, in the second chicken pen to-be, so pretty pointless. I just want to keep the platform for shelter for the chickens. It was going to go some time, but one afternoon I was sad and frustrated about my poor chicken, Legolas, and I just needed to smash something. I’m not usually the smashing type, but, well, down came the front railing! I had to get The Husband to help finish the sides because I wasn’t manly enough. The posts still need to be sawn off at the platform level and the ladder removed. Then I’d like to use the wood from the sides of the fort to close off at least one side under the platform, and maybe both, to keep the dust bathing and shelter area drier.
While I was up there sweeping the piles of pine needles off the platform I realised that the woodshed roof had a big layer of decomposing pine needles on it that was weighing it down. I ended up sweeping and raking the whole collection off the roof plus removing some big, heavy lengths of timber that were on it. Not such a good storage spot for heavy wood. I also found a plastic dinosaur. And an axehead. I quickly pruned a few branches off the apple tree and pear tree but I need to have another crack at them with the telescopic pruning saw, as I don’t trust the roof very much.
Speaking of finding weird things, whilst hacking away at things in the cedar garden I found a ball, which is fairly run-of-the-mill, and I also found a decomposing pair of men’s undies. Yup. Isn’t it great how there is so much treasure to find around here? I’m still waiting to find the treasure chest. While I was getting stuck into the bay tree, The Husband surprisingly appeared. He cut off one of the low branches of the cedar tree and started hacking the ivy. He cut through the main ‘stem’ of the ivy that is climbing up the tree. And when I say stem I really mean trunk. The ivy up the tree started wilting so I was feeling pleased, but now it seems to have recovered so it must be drawing nourishment from the tree. Good grief. More action required.
Meanwhile, I pruned a very large amount off the bay tree, which was getting very bushy. It turns out it it wasn’t just a tree. The bay tree must have been cut down at some point and left to resprout (a common occurrence around here). And resprout it did, very vigorously. I saved just a few of the biggest, straightest trunks along the fence and cut the rest down. I need to get rid of the scrambling ivy before I can deal with them properly, so I’ve cut them to where I can see them. I think I just about pruned out more bay tree than I left. The aim was to raise up the foliage and lower branches so that when the chickens are in there in the future they won’t be able to climb in it and from thence over the fence, while maintaining some shelter and controlling the tree size. I have also weeded the cedar garden (except for the ivy), dug out a bunch of weedy crocosmia and even planted a few native sedges along the edge by the fort. They should be tough enough to handle chickens and will help keep the soil in, as well as improving the look of the area.
The pruning mountain was actually getting smaller, but now it has morphed into a hulking giant that can probably be seen from space. I was tossing up whether to hire a mulcher or to burn it. It would be nice to use it and get some mulch, but it wouldn’t be particularly cost-effective compared to just buying some mulch. I think we will just burn it. The larger branches can be chopped up for firewood anyway.
The Vege Garden
The Great Vege Garden Expansion Plan continues to progress. The new beds have almost been filled with substrate. We’ve been buying trailer loads of compost since I didn’t have enough matter to fill them with. They hold a serious amount of substrate! I’m not sure how many trailer loads we’ve done. The Long Bed needs topping up too. I miss my free horse poop supply. I really must find a supply in the area.
I have set my Golden Queen peach tree free from its planter and planted it in the compost area. I was going to plant it next to the potting shed but decided to bring it forward next to the path so it will give some shade to parts of the vege garden, as it gets really hot in summer and some crops like a bit of shade. I have also measured out where I would like the future 3-bay compost bin to go, shovelled the compost into that area and turned most of it. It’s quite fun climbing atop the compost pile but it is hefty work.
And then one weekend I was sick, so what did I do? I sledgehammered the leaning fence along the vege garden while The Husband was out with The Little Fulla. I’m not good at resting. The Husband helped me finish and move the pieces of fence. Now I can better plan the next garden bed phase: the blackcurrant bed, the raspberry bed and hopefully a little angled bed to fill in the space by the entrance. The Husband has just dug out all but one of the bits of concrete and fence posts. I currently have a weed compost pile sitting here, also known as the weedpost heap. It happened by accident when I realised that the pile of weed rubbish I left sitting there was getting composted by the many resident worms. Now I’m putting all my weeds on there, except ivy and crocosmia, so I can keep them away from the main compost and turn the pile regularly to make sure all the nasties are decomposing.
The only problem was when I foolishly chucked onion weed (Allium triquetrum) from out the front on my weedpost pile. I hadn’t thought about how invasive it is. It can spread easily from all the little bulbs, some as tiny as a pinhead, as well as the flowers. I hadn’t even thought about the flowers until I read some information online. Thinking about how much it has spread under the walnut tree already it could be almost as bad as oxalis. Eek! When I realised what I had done, the next day I had to sift through the pile, getting out as much of it as I could find. The bulbs and flowers need to be disposed of or burnt. Or pickled, as the bulbs are quite edible. But even more foolishly, I mowed over some of it while doing the front lawn and put the clippings on the main compost heap. Argh! There’s nothing I can do about that except hope the mower chopped up the flowers and that the process of decomposition will destroy any seeds. That’s it. I’m declaring war with the onion weed. It’s a stealthy beast clothed in a pretty white garment.
The Plum Tree Garden
What Plum Tree Garden? Apparently I needed more work for myself so I’m creating a new garden at the side of the house around the plum trees and apricot tree. I am reducing the lawn and giving myself more space for planting. I have left enough lawn space for a vehicle to get around the back and dug out a nice sweeping outline for the new garden. I had originally planned to put the two big wooden gates across the side of the house to enclose the back yard, but with this garden bed we will only need to use one and have a section of fence across the garden bit. Plus a little gate for the path and tiny bit of fence for the garden bed beside it. Then we can replace the current front gates with the other big wooden one.
So far I have planted the dwarf ‘Best Seedless’ orange tree in the new garden and am planning to plant the dwarf ‘Burgess Scarlet’ mandarin as well. I’m still deciding what sort of plantings to put in there, but there will definitely be some low native shrubs. I want to preserve some of the paddock view. I chicken-wired along the fence so the neighbour’s animals won’t eat my plants and The Little Fulla won’t get wayward and I have dug out most of the weeds along the fence in the existing garden strip. I like to reward myself for doing the less exciting tasks by getting to plant things, so I planted some native sedges along the fence. In the rain. That sounds very rewarding, doesn’t it? I am definitely having a break tonight…
One more thing. Before I could post this, something altered my whole new garden bed. The apricot tree is gone. While working on the garden I discovered amber-coloured gum oozing out of various parts of the apricot tree. I knew the tree wasn’t doing very well; I barely pruned it because it hadn’t regrown much after it had been hacked back before we came along. Compared to how well the plums are regenerating the apricot was a bit sad. The gum was evidence of canker, whether bacterial or fungal I’m not sure, and being right down on the main structural branches, there was no way to cut it off and leave enough of the tree. Canker in stonefruit is very contagious and I needed to get it away from my plum trees. The Husband got out his chainsaw quick swift and down it came, to be turned into firewood. And rightly so, for it had holes in the trunk. I am more sad about the alteration to the structure of the new garden bed rather than the loss of the fruit, which wasn’t a whole lot anyway. The three fruit trees looked really nice together. Ah well, it did mean I could plant the dwarf mandarin a little closer to the apricot stump. Furthermore, we discovered a strip of thick black plastic where I’d dug down the first hole for the mandarin, which I was spewing about until I realised that there were wet stones underneath and that it was probably a drainage line from the septic tank. We left it alone and I planted the mandarin a little further back. Now I’m tinkering with the idea of moving the dwarf orange further back to balance out the tree structure of the garden…