Hugelkultur

Screen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.14.13 pmScreen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.14.04 pmScreen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.13.46 pmScreen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.14.19 pmScreen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.12.48 pmScreen Shot 2018-07-15 at 2.11.44 pmThis past week I’ve been working on an epically large project.  The ground has been dug up to about two feet to be lined with logs and fallen timber in a process of soil regeneration called hugelkultur.

It’s a simple concept.  You’re taking carbon life forms and placing them into the soil to slowly decompose beneath your garden bed.  The results can have a lasting effect for up to 20 years!

The bed I’ve created was lined with logs then filled with jade cuttings and branches from around the house yard.  The next layer was compost.  Topping that was a huge layer of seaweed which we collected from Greenhead.  The seaweed took three trips to cover the entire bed.  The last few steps involve topping the green matter with the soil that was dug out, then adding a final layer of compost and hay or mulch.

My body has pulled me through this process – surprisingly with little soreness.  Overall exhaustion though was at an all-time high after I singlehandedly dug out the pit!  This is definitely a job for multiple people.

Wesley has particularly taken to the pit.  He’s also found great joy in all the mounds he can push his little dump truck over.

Only time will tell if the soil retains moisture – we’re going to let it settle and get some more decent rains on it before moving to the stage of planting.

All in all – this has been a thrilling project.  I really can’t wait to see how the veggies grow!

Organic Gardening – Trial & Errors

Today I dug for potatoes.  I thought, maybe there might be something there?  And by god there was!  About a month ago I pulled up one shoot only to see the teeniest little spud growing.  Mike assured me we should wait a lot longer.  After this tragic realisation, I had a flash back to that time I dug up my dead guinea pig.screen-shot-2017-01-06-at-8-21-30-amscreen-shot-2017-01-06-at-8-18-57-amscreen-shot-2017-01-06-at-8-19-33-amscreen-shot-2017-01-06-at-8-19-47-amscreen-shot-2017-01-06-at-8-22-17-amscreen-shot-2017-01-06-at-8-19-59-amI had thought at the time, that it might be a “dinosaur” (it was 2 weeks post burial).  I was around 8-9 years old (My shovel hit something and when I pulled it out from the earth there was guinea pig skin all wet and sticking to the shovel.  My 4 sisters were screaming at me, and I think they all still consider me a terrible monster for digging in the first place!  Anyway, clearly the lesson was not learned.

I’m still impatient.

We’ve now dug up a medium sized bowl full of all sizes of the glorious spuds.  These were planted in about September.  We had a potato in our pantry that had grown eyes and lots of shoots at the time.  I segmented it into separate parts for each shoot and dug them into our pallet garden bed.  Seriously stoked, each time I dug into the dark soil – there was another pale nugget!

We’ve learned the hard way not to plant sweet corn near our tomato plants as they attract a moth that lays it’s ravenous little babies (whom especially love the corn but also enjoy green tomatoes).  To combat this issue naturally, Mike trimmed the tomato plants at the base up to 12 inches from the ground.  He also did a thorough scan for the caterpillars and “eliminated” them.  I think he fed them to the fish tank…

Initially Wesley and I would spend about 10 minutes a day weeding in the garden.  We did this for about 3 weeks.  Now, there are very few weeds to pull and it’s all become quite an easy process.  To be honest though, I found weeding quite therapeutic (at least this standing version anyway – probably wouldn’t have been so keen bending down).

Most of the other plants have grown exceptionally well (bar the capsicum and chilli – they seem to be awaiting warmer weather).

A few months back I harvested the seeds from the coriander, sage and thyme plants.  I then trimmed them down.  They all have continued to flourish – and I’ve noticed even now the sage is flowering again!  It’s quite a stunning plant, and looks great in the batch we have growing.

The herbs we have successfully grown:

Coriander, Thyme, Sage, Lemon Grass, Rosemary, Italian Parsley, Broad Leaved Parsley, Watercress, Chives, Rocket and Basil.

Plants that we’ve grown or are in the midst of waiting:

Eggplant, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Sweet Corn, Kale, Lettuce, Capsicum, Silver Beet, Beetroot, Chilli Plants, Capsicum, Strawberries, Apple Seeds, Lemon Seeds, Radishes, Fennel, Spinach, Perpetual Spinach, Baby Carrots, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Red Onions & Leeks.

Total failures:

  1. Mint.  Which is pretty odd considering the stuff grows like a weed everywhere else!
  2. Avocado.  These have been in water waiting to grow for months.  Either we’re doing something totally wrong or the seeds aren’t good for germinating.  Has anyone reading ever sprouted an avocado before?  Mike’s brother managed to get some sprouting in a humid glass house…but we don’t yet have one of those.

Dear reader what natural strategies do you use to manage pests?  Do you have a preferred vegetable that you enjoy growing each season?

Ps: Yup, I wear overalls now.  Haha, my sister really despises them – but who cares! Ever since Wesley was born I’ve found them to be the best thing to roll around and get messy in.

When bees swarm

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The other night Mike rushed out and caught a hive that was swarming.  He had a bee hive box ready and promptly brought the lot to our house.  He found a nice place for them and hoped that the queen was inside.  When we checked in the morning it looked like all was well.

Yesterday afternoon however, as I went out to hang some laundry to dry, there was a mass of bees frantically flying around the house.  They were moving so erratically that I stayed inside until they settled on the trunk of a tree in our driveway.

I’ve not been stung by a bee in a few years now (despite having spent plenty of time around native bees in Western Australia by the thousands) I learned early on – it is true if you stay calm you’ll be of no notice to them.  These images and video were taken only one foot away from the swarm.  Mike and his brother called the “bee doctor” (a relative) after work and got some advice before they collected the bees, conditioned the hive again and transplanted them back

Collecting them is quite simple.  In this case (we had a bee suit) the guys placed the hive back under the low hanging branch and gently pulled the swarm from the very top of it’s perch downward.  This causes the bees to fall en mass.  Which is actually a really cool thing to see happen.

So far this morning… all is well.  Hopefully soon they will start to tend their eggs and begin to gather pollen and nectar.

Mr. Giggles

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Mr Giggles.

This little giggly one is now near 6 months old.  He finds plenty of amusement in the silliest of things.  He’s curious and is constantly trying to work things out… like his jolly jumper.  I’ve caught him a few times looking up at the main spring and trying to wrap his mind around how he gets the bounce in it and nothing else.

He has a really enthusiastic deep hearty laugh, that I don’t think we will ever tire of hearing it… Some nights before bed I play videos and Mike and I relive the little victories we’ve had getting to this point.  He’s gotten so big.  He’s now over 20 pounds!

Garden Update:

We’ve been harvesting (and eating) loads of kale, spinach, rocket, watercress and multi-coloured frilly lettuce.  The little caterpillars are growing on our swan plants and just about everything we’ve planted has taken root and is growing really well (apart from our eggplant – can’t figure out what’s up with them!).

The sheep have grown just as quickly as Wesley…they are so plump now!

The humble crocus.

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When I was young, I lived in a little white house with my sisters and parents.  There wasn’t much life growing around our home apart from a couple of pine trees, and withering old maples.  There was also a large rosebush that covered the entire expanse of the back fence…it was a thorny jungle and that image sums up the minimalist landscaping efforts – it was a wild world out there – we truly never bothered to tame it.

One sweet little memory I have was of the little flowering crocus that had some how seeded themselves into our barren front lawn.  They were small and light purple, with slender little spiked leaves that poked out at their base.  Each spring I would get excited to see them open on our yard.  To be clear here – there were never many maybe no more than 5.

Well, one year I took notice as the spikes were beginning to sprout from the thawed yard.  I was able to identify them by the slender white line that ran along the length of the centre of the leaf.  My dad too noticed the grass, particularly that it needed mowing.  He mowed over the lot of developing flowers, and I’ve not seen them since.

That is… until this weekend when Mike’s grandma was showing us a catalogue of spring bulbs that she ordered from as gifts to her daughters and son in law.  I noticed the page of crocus and my memories came flooding back.  They are such dainty beautiful little flowers.

I told her and Mike in the moment – of my memory (and naturally of dad massacring them) and thought nothing of it.

Last night – a package arrived… A brown paper bag of mixed crocus bulbs for us to plant in a container that we can pull out of the ground and replant when/if we move.  It was so thoughtful, and I’m so pleased to be able to see some sprout for us this spring.

The image above is the mix – though they look like little onions, they are so much more!

Basically this is one of the sweetest gifts I’ve ever received.  Some of the varieties that should sprout up are: Prins Claus, Cream Beauty, Sunkist, Purity and Firefly.  I think I’ll find a nice pot to plant them in and keep them close to the entrance of our house.

Do you have bulbs in your garden?  What flowers do you love seeing in spring time?

Desert Sound Colony – The Way I Began

Desert Sound Colony – Fire Egg

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