Monday, September 27, 2010

Duckie wants a Tandem

I want one of these

There is also a great vid over at The Duck Herders that is worth a look.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Changing Landscape: The Lawn

I've been looking through my photo collection documenting progress on the house and garden and was struck by the evolution and changes over the last few years. We moved into the house in February 07 with all the major construction completed but a bit of the finishing still to be done, an ongoing process attended to as time and money permit.

 Landscaping at that stage had not really been started, apart from some rough shaping of the block, a small veggie patch and lots of plants in pots. Although there was no formal plan for the garden we did have an idea of what was needed. The garden had to be water-wise first and foremost, provide a climate for the house, a habitat for the birds and bees and other creepy-crawlies, a bit of stuff for us to eat and look nice enough to keep us on-side with the tidy- town folk.

I have lots of pic's of the progress on the house and garden, way too many for one post so I thought I would start with the lawn.

Since we don't have a lot of spare water to throw round and I'm not to keen on pushing a lawn mower or spending the money on fuel we only have a small one (about 60sq metres). Small it may be but it is particularly nice as lawns go. ;-)

I'm proud of my lawn, but it did take some work, lot's of digging. The soil we have on our block is mostly clay, hard as rock when it's dry and sticky as toffee when wet. To get a workable soil I scrounged around the neighbourhood collecting leaves and lawn clippings from anyone who had some spare. This was all dug in along with trailer loads of horse manure from the local stables. I dug and rotary hoed that patch about five times before I was happy with it. The first attempt at a lawn was a native grass that I thought would be drought tolerant and hardy but it became infested with couch and ended up a total failure. So it got rounded up and dug over again, more horse poo and a mulch crop to finish it off.

After a bit of research I settled on buffalo as a good prospect for our area and purchased a few rolls of turf from a local supplier. This was chopped into small squares and planted out willie nilly over the levelled area, anyone who asked about the planting system was told I was setting up for lawn chess.

So far it has been a total success, thick enough to suppress any weed growth it requires virtually no more water than it gets from the rain we get from time to time over the summer. I try to time my mowing runs to just before we get a rain event and always use a high setting so it' stays around 75mm deep all the time. Worked like that it retains good moisture at it's base and is soft and cool to walk on. Any visiting kids love it and spend ages laying and rolling around on it.

It goes dormant in the winter and requires no mowing until spring. That's when I give it a good scalping and hit it with a bit of dynamic lifter, work it over with a fork for aeration so it's good to go for the summer. Although I'm not a great fan of lawns I am happy enough with this one and the neighbors are impressed enough to keep requesting the runners I cut off from the garden edges.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Blogging has resumed

Well here we are, 2 o’clock in the morning and I can't sleep, so I thought I would have a go at a blog update. It's windy and raining outside so it looking like another miserable inside day for us today. There has been stuff happening since my last update, it's just that I've not been able to get motivated enough to write it up. Maybe it's the weird winter we have had this year that’s having a down in the dumps effect on us. There has been plenty of rain by the standards of last few years and everything is damp, damp, damp. This is due mainly to the lack of sunshine rather than the amount of rain. It's been unusually overcast this winter and as a result the garden has just been marking time, although, the last week has seen us with a bit of sunny weather that has perked everything up, and most of the fruit trees have suddenly burst into bud.

Anyhow on with the show.
The pay it forward vids have gone to their new homes with Nevyn and Ramsey, I hope they find them enjoyable and enlightening. A great idea, so thanks to Molly for getting me on to it.
The bubble wrap has been reasonably successful and even though its hard to tell how much difference it's made to heat retention overall (the house is well insulated anyway) its definitely helped with a major condensation problem we had with our large windows. The bathroom has really benefited from the extra insulation, being completely unheated it totally relies on heat from elsewhere in the house to keep it warm. The bubble wrap has helped there for sure, all in all it has been worth the effort. I'm thinking now that because it doesn’t look to bad or effect our views to much I will leave it in place through the summer to see if it has any effect on the cooling of the house.

The shed is still without a roof, another weather problem I'm afraid. I haven't been game to put it on until the rainwater tank is in place in case I end up with a flood, and I haven't been able to get the tank in place because the ground is to wet to do the landscaping required where it will be situated. The shed has been a bit of a marathon working by myself, I've had to find ways of doing two and three man jobs solo. I have a good neighbor who's been keen to help but since he is a mobile accident area I have tried to keep him away from anything sharp, heavy or high. Still he is handy for passing stuff to me when I'm up a ladder. The roller door was I major job to get in place solo but I managed that by walking it up a couple of planks bit by bit.  The decision to put eaves on the shed meant a bit of extra work but the appearance of the building has been improved I think, so worth the effort in my book.

The rain overnight filled the swales and attracted this visitor, it's a Buff-banded Rail, although common to this area of NSW it's the first we have seen in the garden.
With all the moisture in the soil it's looking like we will have a good spring this year.  In the garden we have broad beans ready to produce and the tomato plants I nursed through the winter are ready to start giving us some early tomatoes. Silver beet, swedes, cabbage and cauliflower are all powering on and we have pea bushes in flower. Garlic, onion and leeks are doing great and I've got some new beds ready for corn and more tomato plants.

The sharp eyed  will have noticed that although its says 2 am at the top I didn't actually post until midday. That because I'm a slow writer and it takes me a while to knock stuff into shape, and I did have to have a nanny nap about halfway.;-)

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