Grass roots gardening…

Saturday

Today was a fairly easy day. I planted up the seedlings and broad beans seeds in the veggie beds. We have tomatoes, golden beetroot, two types of kale (Tuscan and Scarlet), broccoli, coriander, cos lettuce and pak choy. We’ll also plant silver beet (chard), rocket and basil. It’s late in the season to plant basil, but the netting should protect against the weather and keep the temperature a couple of degrees warmer than outside. We have lots of self-sown rocket coming up around the chillis that we moved from the veggie beds. We also have self-sown basil. I’ll transplant these once the seedlings have grown enough to move.

Planted veggie beds

Planted veggie beds

Stephen planted several thymes around the chilli hill. There are a variety of flavours in addition to regular thyme, including lemon, caraway, bush bbq, pizza,bergamot and Jekka’s thyme.

Chillis and thyme

Chillis and thyme

Our timing was perfect, it started to rain just as we finished planting.

Sunday

Today we started the day working to clear the grass from one end of the front verge. This corner has always been a bit of a problem due, in the first few years to the next door neighbour’s gardener scattering grass seeds our way when he mowed the lawn, and in recent years to our current neighbour’s lack of care of their front yard. We’ve tried to keep up with pulling out the grass, but the groundcover we planted there was a bit sparse and straggly and wasn’t helping. The grass was out of control.

Starting work on the verge

Starting work on the verge

The overnight rain ensured that the job would be as easy as it could be – not very easy. We had to pull out the groundcovers that were planted there and then pull out the grass. We both worked at it for a few hours and finally got it  done mid- afternoon.

First we removed the groundcovers, leaving a pretty dense layer of grass

First we removed the groundcovers, leaving a pretty dense layer of grass

There was a huge amount of grass to pull out. The roots were deep and strong. We know that, while we managed to pull out all of the visible grass and as many of the roots as possible, there are still plenty of roots in there.

We pulled out all the grass

We pulled out all the grass

We’ve planted several new plants, mostly groundcovers and low growing grevilleas.

New groundcover plantings

New groundcover plantings

We have a  groundcover that we really like, Myoporum parvifolium (Creeping Boobialla), growing at the other end of the verge. It grows in a dense mat and it should be the perfect thing to grow and cover the ground between the other plants. We’ll put in several plants of that and then  put down weed matting before we mulch.

New plants in the cleared area

New plants in the cleared area

Garden, lizards and business…

I’m a bit behind on my daily posts. I’m thinking that perhaps I shouldn’t have committed myself to daily.

Over the last couple of days I’ve started to feel a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of my venture into the world of training. While it’s not very big in the grand scheme of business ventures, it’s a huge thing for me. Thoughts of getting my manuals printed, my inability to find some office supplies and furniture that I want and a call from the insurance advisor conspired to get to me. But no, all is well and it’s not so difficult at all; I was just having ‘one of those days’. Of course if I want to develop my own training materials, I’m going to have to get them printed. That’s no bigger job than ordering pre-printed manuals. Why is it that it seemed bigger than the actual development of the resources? The office supplies are a small thing, and the insurance issue should easily be solved by wording things a little differently. Thanks to a long chat with a good friend everything looks clearer again.

Speaking of insurance, we received a cheque in the mail from AAMI for our share of the fence, made out to us as a cash payment so we can pay the fencer whenever the job is complete. AAMI have been so easy for us to work with. We’ve been with them for a little over a year now and we’ve made two claims. Both have been easy to settle with no questions asked and only the slight hicough when they thought we hadn’t renewed with them. That question was solved by them before I could even look up the payment details myself. Now, hopefully I’ll hear from the contractor in the next couple of days with a start date.

I’ve now sent off my application for registration of a business name and I’ve paid for the first semester of  my Graduate Diploma of Information Design. I’m committed to both I now have to stop procrastinating with my TAA upgrade and get that out of the way. I don’t think the projects that I’ve been set are all quite as necessary as I’ve been led to believe. I’ll look back through the materials that I have on hand from when I used to do computer training in Jabiru and see what I can come up with to cover as many of the requirements as possible and next week I’ll put my head down and get as much of the rest out of the way as I can.

Now on to more interesting things.

I’ve been looking for a new pair of sandals, something comfortable, casual but a bit nicer looking than my old Birkenstocks. I found a very comfortable pair of El Naturalista sandals on sale and snapped them up.

El naturalista Ikebana Cuero

El Naturalista Ikebana Cuero

The garden has shown it’s pleasure at the cooler weather and the little bit of rain we had through the week. There are lots of buds on the roses.

Pruning roses

Pruning roses

The pink flowering gum has been covered in buds and they’ve started to open.

Corymbia ficifolia (summer beauty)

Corymbia ficifolia (summer beauty)

The white plume grevillea (smelly socks) has also made a last show with a few small flowers. It’s looking quite fabulous with it’s tall canes and popped seed pods.

White Plume Grevillea (smelly socks)

White Plume Grevillea (smelly socks)

The birds are loving the height and the other grevilleas that are currently in flower. We’re currently seeing a lot of New Holland Honeyeaters and a variety of other honeyeaters. There are lots of parrots around at the moment but we rarely get any of those in our garden. So far we haven’t seen any Black Cockatoos in the garden, we did have a couple come in for a drink at one of the birdbaths last year.

We did have a visitor to the yard today. Anzac made it obvious that there was something attracting his attention. He barked a couple of times but was mainly focussed on something in the bushes. It turned out to be another blue-tongued (shingleback or stumpy-tailed) lizard. This one wasn’t as pretty as the Christmas Day visitor, but looked just as healthy.

Blue tongued lizard

Blue tongued lizard

We finished the day with a very windy walk along the Burns Beach pathway.  The water was pretty rough with lots of lines and white caps. Our walk would have been nicer without the wind, but was enjoyable anyway.

Out walking

Out walking

Kaz

Kaz

Anzac in the sandpit

Anzac in the sandpit

A garden left unloved in the heat of summer…

Our citrus trees  haven’t thrived since we planted them. They’ve only ever had 3 or 4 flowers and the fruit has dropped before getting bigger than fingernail size – except for our tiny blood orange that had 2 fruit that stayed on the tree but never got any bigger than golf-ball size. The soil here is just sand. No nutirents and no water-holding capability. We did, of course feed it up before planting and have continued to give it  trace elements and food and lots of water. Nothing was working, they were still obviosly impoverished. A few months ago I saw a segment on Garden Gurus showing a 5 in 1 organic plant food that they used to give new life to citrus. The segment is called Citrus Delight if you want to do a search in the TV & Video factsheets of their website.  I couldn’t buy that same brand here, but I could buy something similar so I put it down around the citrus just like the garden gurus did. The trees are now looking strong and healthy and vigorous, though still no flowers or fruit yet. I also have to get the whole espalier pruning right. It’s my first attempt so as with most gardening it’s all an experiment!

Our roses were looking quite stressed so I thought I’d give them the same treatment. We decided I should do it a couple of weeks before we went on holidays in case the dogs took a liking to the plant food. I can’t put blood and bone/dynamic lifter down around the roses because the dogs eat it. So I tidied up the roses and lay down the fertiliser, covering with straw mulch as always. The dogs took no interest as there was no enticing fragrant aroma. That was a good sign.

When we went on holidays we had a babysitter come in and stay with Molly and Kaz. We have never kenelled them (other than when they were in quarantine) and have always had a babysitter/housesitter instead.  This babysitter has looked after them before and they love her. We also ask her to water the veggie garden and rose garden when she can. The automated reticulation takes care of the rest of the garden.

Backyard garden

Backyard garden

While we were away the weather was very hot here. The babysitter emailed us to say the roses were looking very droopy even though she had been watering them.  When we arrived home we found a very sad garden indeed. Our girls were well-looked after, as was our house. The garden hadn’t been neglected, but it hadn’t been loved the same way we would have loved it had we been here. We don’t blame the babysitter at all, she was here primarily for the girls – not the garden and with the continuous hot dry days it’s a constant struggle.

Distressed veggie garden

Distressed veggie garden

The veggie garden didn’t receive enough water or shelter in the constant high 30’s temps and winds. We’ve lost our corn, most of (if not all) the cabbages, the tomatoes and the bok choy. The beds just get too hot and even with a good layer of mulch they dry out too much in the heat of summer. We have a big market umbrella that we use to give partial shade and protection to the beds when we are home, but the wind here is too strong to leave the umbrella up and unattended so we didn’t ask the babysitter to take on that responsibility. Perth is supposedly the third windiest city in the world!

We’ve also had another problem in the veggie garden over the past few months – rats! They’ve been getting in and eating the veggies. Stephen has been putting out traps and has caught a few small ones and I found a large dead one in an empty water bucket; I think someone nearby must have laid baits. Several of the veggies that survived our holiday had fruit on the bushes, but the rats had eaten them. Mainly the eggplant and the capsicum. Luckily there are plenty of fruit still coming on those bushes so the traps are going out again.

The veggie garden now needs quite a bit of renovation but the first three days after we arrived home saw temperatures close to 43C (~110F) and in the high 30’s since so any replanting will have to wait a bit. Also, Stephen was up at the mine last week and will be again this coming week so the rodent trapping program will not be run as thoroughly as it should.

And the rose garden…oh my. Fertilising so thoroughly at this time of year and then going on holidays was not a good idea.  I’ve lost 3 (probably 4) roses and another one is struggling. Those 3 or 4 were the weakest and the other one was showing signs of distress before I fertilised, with new growing tips and shoots dying off. I’m going to have to get into the rose garden a.s.a.p.  and  give buckets of water and prune away any distressed growth.

Distressed rose garden

Distressed rose garden

Watering is, of course, the biggest issue in our dry environment. The native garden is growing beautifully. We planted it for that reason – they are the plants that would naturally be growing in the area.  The little honeyeaters have been visiting in good numbers and have been in very good vocal form. Our Grevillea leucopteris (aka smelly socks) has three flower spikes.

Grevillea leucopteris aka smelly socks

Grevillea leucopteris aka smelly socks

The flowers on these are quite spectacular so we’re really looking forward to having them flower for the first time, but they are apparently not given their common name for nothing, so it’s with some trepidation-mixed excitement that we await the flowers. They grow profusely along the highways here, but we’ve never seen the close enough to smell. Our biggest Corymbia (eucalyptus) Ficifolia has started to flower now as well.

Corymbia (syn eucalypts) ficifolia - summer beauty

Corymbia (syn eucalypts) ficifolia - summer beauty

It’s a pink one, so not quite as showy as the smaller red the we have in but, but still lovely and hopefully with it’s height above the fenceline it will start attracting even more birds. The red is also covered in buds – if only it had grown as vigorously as the pink.

Corrymbia ficifolia (summer beauty) and Grevillea leucopteris (smelly socks)

Corymbia ficifolia (summer beauty) and Grevillea leucopteris (smelly socks)

We’re trying a hose from the washing machine outlet onto the lawn to try to green up the grass. Lawns here in Perth mostly tend to die off in the summer, but in our backyard a brown dry lawn seems to be an invitation for our dogs to dig holds. A green lawn means stronger roots and more resistance to digging.

Backyard

Backyard

Our water restrictions here allow us to use sprinklers (or retic) on 2 rostered days a week, only once a day, either before 9am or after 6pm. We are allowed to water by hand at any time.

Corymbia (syn eucalypts) ficifolia - summer beauty

Corymbia (syn eucalypts) ficifolia - summer beauty