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!

Farm endeavours.

Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.54.18 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.52.35 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.54.57 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.53.59 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-14 at 5.11.23 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.55.40 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.53.13 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.54.07 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.54.29 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 6.00.20 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.53.41 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.53.32 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.52.14 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.52.48 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 6.00.42 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.52.59 pmIn a few short months we’ll have been living in this little house for a year.  When we first arrived there was considerable time spent drafting a plan to rejuvenate the sand filled yards surrounding us.  It’s been many years since someone we here to properly tend to the gardens, and even 7 years ago when we first lived here we made several attempts to tame the landscape and they all failed (apart from this one strange tree that is overtaking part of the house and more pest than shade giver).

We have dreams of an orchard, lawns, veggie gardens, native flower gardens, trees to provide to luxury of shade and a new chicken coop,

With no one living in the house for a few years nature had crept in and the interiors and they needed to be reclaimed by mankind.  That would involve fixing a leaky roof, cleaning dust laid windows, vacating the space of vermin and spiders as well as painting or repainting several rooms.

Tackling these projects solo with a toddler (as a part-time single parent) is no easy feat!  Mike is away at work in the northern tip of the State every second week leaving Wesley and I to our own devices.

Thankfully we have a very happy boy who loves to participate and join me outside.  For this I am ever grateful as it’s allowed for a few projects to begin and move in slow but steady stages.

This week I’ll be painstakingly dragging a wheelbarrow back and forth 150 metres to the old shearing shed near the house.  It’s a treasure trove of sheep manure!  To make this monotonous task more fun, I’ve given Wesley a harmonica and he hops into the wheelbarrow as we traverse back and forth.  He plays a little tune, and sometimes will stop and yell at me: 123 GO! When I set the whole thing down to give my arms a break.

It’s hilarious, and frankly Wesley’s company during the whole task has made it so enjoyable that when I went to do a load during his nap today – I missed his music and silly personality keeping us both entertained.  The job seemed a real effort without him.

We’re only into the start of winter, but with these beds not completed we’re going to be missing out on crucial rains!  We should have pushed harder to get this started but it was contingent on a lighter wheelbarrow (that only arrived this week).

Our chicken coop is up and working fabulously.  There are two separate pens one about 3x bigger than the other.  Our hens are all very happy laying at the moment.  They have such a grand, shaded space that Mike and I are both very proud to have built together.

Three bottlebrush trees, 4 macrocarpa trees, and one silver princess have been planted around the yard.  Several more will go in as we see how things fare the next few weeks.  Shade around this house is lacking so it’s an ongoing project.  All of the trees are natives and should be very hardy for drought.

Our mango, feijoa and avocado trees are another story.  These are doing ok – but only time will tell if they survive.  To have these fruits at our fingertips would be so wonderful.

Some of the plants mentioned above were given to us at a native plant giveaway last weekend by a group based in Jurien Bay (of which I’m now a member!) who survey the local flora and do bush tours together.  I’ve found my people!  They were given a grant to grow and distribute these native plants to locals to encourage more people to keep drought hardy species and grow native gardens, which is a fabulous idea.

Pictured are some trees, plants and bugs found around the farm the past couple of days and some of the aforementioned projects!

Huge thanks to Sally’s Baking Addiction for sharing her insanely gorgeous white cake recipe online.  We made it for Wesley’s birthday party.  It was so so so good.  Check out the recipe here. A testament to it’s goodness – I woke 2x in the night to polish of a few more pieces of the vanilla buttercream cake.  Wesley crammed much of it into his mouth during the cake cutting ceremony and discovered a love of frosting!  Even now a week later I’m still drooling thinking of it and I’m not even a baked goods person…

I’ll share more on the progress of the house and yards as we soldier onward!  For now, even though progress is slow – it still feels oh so good to see hard work coming together.  Even if it is inch by inch.

Western Australian Spiders

Here is an assortment of spiders that I’ve managed to photograph of the past couple of years from Perth, to Coorow and Warradarge.  They come in all shapes and colours…  Stay tuned I’ve got some exciting news about spiders to share with you in my next post.

Robert Whyte, author of the field guide “Spiders of Australia” has kindly helped me identify these beautiful spiders.  From top to bottom:

  • Lycosidae A Wolf Spider
  • Sandalodes scopifer
  • Thomisidae Tmarus sp.
  • Araneidae Araneinae Araneus arenaceus relative
  • Thomisidae Zygometis xanthogaster
  • Thomisidae Stephanopis ornata or close relative
  • Salticidae Apricia jovialis female

The comprehensive field guide he wrote has been incredibly useful, and comes with very clear images of each spider and categorises them in a straightforward and practical manner.  I imagine even people with spider phobias would enjoy the maratus jumping spider section!  If you’re looking for a copy take a peek at it here.

New Species Maratus Jumping Spider Western Australia

New Species Lycidas Maratus Jumping Spider New Species Lycidas Maratus Jumping Spider New Species Lycidas Maratus Jumping Spider New Species Lycidas Maratus Jumping Spider New Species Lycidas Maratus Jumping Spider femaleNew Species Lycidas Maratus Jumping Spider femaleScreen Shot 2017-11-18 at 5.53.29 amScreen Shot 2017-11-18 at 5.54.16 amScreen Shot 2017-11-18 at 5.54.30 amScreen Shot 2017-11-18 at 5.54.42 amScreen Shot 2017-11-18 at 5.54.51 amScreen Shot 2017-11-18 at 6.27.49 amScreen Shot 2017-11-18 at 6.28.04 amScreen Shot 2017-11-18 at 5.55.36 amScreen Shot 2017-11-18 at 5.56.00 amScreen Shot 2017-11-18 at 6.27.34 amScreen Shot 2017-11-18 at 5.56.15 amScreen Shot 2017-11-18 at 5.56.39 amScreen Shot 2017-11-18 at 5.57.30 am

Wesley and I have had a busy few days this week.  We’ve travelled inland to see some friends and hang out in Coorow.  We’ve been gardening and digging up some plants in the yard.  One of us has learned that the pool is an amazing place on a hot sunny day (and is due to start swimming lessons tomorrow too!).

Yesterday we met with a fellow Canadian and her son for a nice walk and play in Greenhead.  There is a really beautiful park there that is basically enclosed by bushes and Wesley and his little friend were able to run amok within a safe space.  We were enjoying our coffees and the scenery.  The weather has run a bit cooler this week and last night it poured down on the farm… which was a nice change as two nights prior we had quite a bit of lightning and at least one fire on the horizon.  Its safe to say that I did not sleep very well that night.

Most days when Wesley is having a long nap I move around the yard and pull weeds and take a look at what’s moving about my feet.  Sometimes I see little movements that catch my eye.  With the jumping spider I actually didn’t take too much notice of him at first.  I thought I should try and get a photo but then as I was taking the image I saw the tips of his back legs stretch out to almost wave at something. It was then that I realised I’d found something very special.  At first I was so excited that it might be a new species, I called Mike and Tessa to tell them and send some images.  I then scoured some resources online and found that it’s common and closely related to the#peacockspider maratus species.

You know what, it’s still a huge find.  This little spider called#lycidaschrysomelas was so incredibly small I strained my eyes to keep track of it.  I’ve included a photo (it’s not the best quality) to show the size next to my index finger.  Note my hands are smallish.

He’s absolutely beautiful along with all the others.  I’ve been throughly impressed by nature this week, and can’t wait to see what else is out there.  Till next time… here is a list of what’s pictured above.

  1. maratus jumping spider male and female (she’s pale and creamy).  I was able to begin to identify them with this site.  It is the second new species possibly genus of spider that I’ve discovered on the property in the past week.  A variant of this new species will be featured in another post.
  2. Solid Black Christmas Spider (the first we’ve seen that looks like this, normally they are white and black with orange
  3. THARPYNA (CRAB SPIDER)
  4. Leaf Beetle #paropsisternadecolorata
  5. Oxyopidae – Lynx Spider
  6. A little flower segue – these are white verticorida commonly named lambs ear or wild cauliflower #verticordiaeriocephala
  7. An unidentified jumping spider – may be another female but it’s not clear at this stage.
  8. The bush caught between a cropped paddock on our way home from Coorow
  9. A slender skink found just in our car port called a #westcoastctnenotus

Flat Jumping Spider, Lycidas scutulatus – Western Australia

Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 11.36.00 amScreen Shot 2017-11-10 at 8.24.13 pmScreen Shot 2017-11-10 at 8.25.02 pmScreen Shot 2017-11-07 at 8.03.41 pmScreen Shot 2017-11-07 at 8.04.23 pmScreen Shot 2017-11-07 at 8.05.09 pmEach day (or nearly each day) I’ve discovered a number of curious little bugs that live near our house.  The West facing side particularly has yielded a number of jumping spiders and strange critters.  It’s a bit like a treasure hunt, Wesley will go down for a nap and I have limited time to get on my knees and start peering at the sand and soil.

The images above are only from the past couple of days.

The grey flat jumping spider looks almost like his tush was squished.  It was found by Mike in the kitchen.  Keeping it safe from harm (Wesley) I transported it to the yard and took a few snaps as it scuttled away.

The lycidas scutulatus was found in the front yard on a warm sunny morning. I think it might be a female, but it’s an uneducated guess at this stage!