Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Back in the garden

This is the picture that I showed yesterday... the overgrown patch down past the main garden.  There is quite a large patch of omproving soil there now,  but I only grow vegetables there in the winter.  It's too hot and dry to use so much water in the summer,  whereas I can produce a lot of extra food in the winter and freeze it.  Being away during the spring when the grass should have been cut was bad enough,  but the two weeks of 40C+ weather dried it out really well.
I spent two hours hoeing, raking, shovelling this morning and look at it now...  I can hang the washing up without getting grass seeds in my socks!

The pile of dry grass on the right hand side is the remains of a compost heap, and I've left much of that alone.  It will come in handy later.
The green bush behind that is an eremophila.  The bees and the honey eaters love it and it flowers often.  In fact,  there are a lot of buds and newly opened flowers on it now.  The large bush behind is a melaleuca with white flowers just coming out...  these two pictures show the flowers.  They are both natives.

Then on around the corner... I didn't show how overgrown this patch was,  but it was as bad as the rest.  The steps are all cleaned off and the dead grass in piled onto the artichoke patch... free mulch!
On the left hand side is a wormwood bush, right beside the chooks yard.  I have always planted wormwood near chickens.  They don't seem to get parasites when they have access to this plant.  The steps are made of stones, bricks and the local clay...  the ground is quite sloped here and this is my version of terracing to make use of the whole area.

The stalks look a real mess,  but they'll protect the soil from the worst of the heat for the summer.  The very "seedy"  bits I piled along the fence in the background.  This is where the sour sobs (oxalis) grows and it's also a bit shady in the winter, as the fence is on the northern side.  If the grass grows,  it should out-compete the sour sobs and I can eventually dig it into the soil.
My mulch is not as neat as the "biscuits" that one can break off of the compressed bales of straw,  but it will still keep the soil cool and preserving the micro-organisms and fungi that I need for next winter.

As I worked, I was thinking about the amount of organic matter that I have here.  The material that  these weeds, grasses and so on have used to grow have all come from the soil right here.  To remove it (in the green waste bin?) is a serious loss of fertility.  This made me think of Masanobu Fukuoka who wrote a book called "The One Straw Revolution" in which he described how he maintained the soil by returning all of the surplus straw to the soil after harvest.  I am following in special footsteps!
My tools are all packed away... but only until tomorrow and the next patch!

I think that this will be the next patch to tackle...  this is just one of a number of overgrown lavender plants... I'll clear out the whole patch,  cut the lavender back a little and water and mulch them to see how they go.

This is another patch that needs some attention too (there is no shortage of work around here) but this plant in the foreground is a salvia that is native to Mexico.  It seems to thrive on neglect and a lack of water.  I plan to plant some of these near the pathway to the back patch.  When I clean up this patch there should be some pieces to stick into some soil and strike ready to plant before next winter.  I would like to grow them in the good soil near the chicken coop where I cleared the grass from today.  The salvia smells so good and I'd like it by the clothes line.

The leaves are very distinctive,  but I don't know the name of the plant.  It has pale blue flowers, and it looks as though there are buds,  so I'll be able to show those soon.

Checking out the vegetable patch,  there is still earwig damage,  and the coriander plants are up (so quick!)  These come from a handful of seed that I took from the spice shelf.

The trees are all surrounded by dried grass as well.  (Should I call it free mulch?)
This pear tree is just amazing.  It's small,  a couple of years old,  but it is the one that I thought would never survive.  Notice that it is tied to a rope that holds it up straight.  It had falen over completely and looked dead at the end oflast summer.  I tied it up,  gave it some water,  cut it back drastically and it looks so healthy now... can't wait to see how it goes next season.

Baby quinces... jsut a few,  but this tree is off to a good start too.   I missed the flowers this year, but it is looking really good now,  though I'll cut it back next winter too.

The apricot tree has produced a few fruits this year.  It is still small,  though it tried to produce a lot of fruit last season.  This year there are just a couple,  but look what I found!  Thar is an earwig tail hanging out of that apricot!

A self sown pepper tree.... and I haven't decided whether to keep it or not yet... it will depend upon what else is around...  pepper trees are not a native,  though they grow well without much water.  It may be too close to the native pines (next) that I would rather maintain if I can.
(later:  I have pulled the pepper tree out.  It was close to those native pines and I'd rather maintain those...  we aren't short of pepper trees!)

And here (below) is a baby native pine tree.  There are two of them down here,  near the fence.  John had several and planted a couple along his row of native plants by the shed.  He had four left over,  and planted them  down here and left them to sink or swim,  so to speak.  Well,  two have survived and this one is looking really healthy... no water,  no care and surviving...   the other one is smaller but should be ok too.

And back towards the house... this remnant of a hedge that must have been planted many years ago... these branches are quite large... it is some kind of privet, I think,  though not doing very well.  The dead branches look a lot like cooking fuel to me!

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