Friday, November 26, 2010

Growing, harvesting and digging... and more !

Toni has been active in the garden. The rain has been insistent, with more to come apparently, it has destroyed some of her hard work but the other day she managed to harvest some of her garlic, hang it in the shed to dry then bring it in to hang in the pantry.
Garlic, drying, ready for use
Planting more potatoes, carrots, attending to her corn, beetroot, lettuce, picking strawberries etc keeps her very busy in there.

Rock steps and wall
I have been scouring old borrow pit sites for some time, gathering rocks in preparation for redoing the steps of the outdoor area. They were built  with wood laid on the ground and of course have become rickety with rot over time.  This is what it looked just as I started the digging.
Starting the dry stone wall and steps
I have to dig out the remainder of the soil, on either side, and then lay about two courses, matching it to the new stairs I will have in place.  Hopefully, even though it will be a first attempt, it will look good and outlast the house itself !

With summer under way and plenty of rain, the grass is growing crazily but the kangaroos do a good job in the main yard, with it only needing mowing infrequently The guinea pigs a good job in the orchard, albeit at this time of the year even they struggle to keep it down.  Combined with the chook manure, sun and rain, the chook run grows as I watch it, so it needs to done weekly but having just widened the door, I can get the ride on mower in there now, oh happy day, it can do 80% of the yard and Toni's love of using the whippersnipper sees the rest being attended to.  We use the cut grass by drying it in an old shed near the chook yard and using it to line the laying boxes in the chookhouse, the old stuff going onto the compost pile as well as for mulch around fruit trees.

Stink Bugs
One of the scourges of having the orchard netted is that birds can't get in to demolish the stink bugs on the citrus trees.
Juvenile stick bug in action on our citrus trees

 These dastardly pests have been busily sucking the sap from new growth, so it was time to do something about them.  Wearing rubber kitchen gloves and carrying a bucket of soapy water I removed thousands off the citrus trees a few weeks ago but I decided I needed to follow up and removed a few hundred that I had missed last time, probably one more attempt in a few weeks to remove the last few will do me.

Other Stuff

The chickens have been busy making more babies, we now have three pullets, four that are about a month and a half old and another four that are a week old.

The constant rain has seen the Dam full to overflowing, and the lillies and ducks are lovin' it
Male Blue beaked duck getting ready to take off
One of the many water lillies on the Dam

Nesting Kookaburras
and the Kookuburras have built a nest in a large tree in the front yard, they merrily made a hole in the side of the large ants nest that was in the tree. I thought they were just going after the ants but it appears they had baby making in mind from all the frenetic work they had done. The ant nest provides food for the babies and insulation as well.
Just about to leave the nest

They busily come and go all the time, with food for the babies

More flowers
of course the plants are enjoying the rain, still bursting forth with flowers, most of them I have no idea about, though the Agapanthus (native to southern Africa) I do.
Agapanthus blossom about to open

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

more lantana, Geckos and fruit trees

We took the opportunity with the rain having stopped for the day, to go out and clear some more lantana, with the soft ground it was the best time to pull it.  We were adverse to using poisons so the regime we used was to clear an area by pulling it all out by hand and then come back about a month later to get the bits we had missed or the bits that might have struck again and then return about 6 months later to get any small vines that may have started to grow from seed etc.  We are aware of the damage this method can do in terms of erosion, especially near creek banks but thought it a fair trade off to the persistence and dangerous nature of the poisons. See this article on Round Up for more information

Anyway, enough pontificating, this was the area we had cleared about a month ago see this old blog post for a before photo and now and after photo

A month after being cleared of lantana

One of the many advantaged of having the area cleared of lantan is some of the native wildflowers can peek through,

Wildflower in bloom

this one was about the size of a match head and was taking advantge of the warm spirng weather and copius rain we have been having.

Gecko suprise
The other night I was surprised to see this fine fellow clambering up the inside of the wall of the house,

Robust Velvet Gecko

what a wonderful Gecko !! and HUGE compared to the Asian Gecko so common in my recent home in North Qld.

More Fruit Trees
Our fruit trees from Daleys Nursery arrived today. Two Pecans, a Passionfruit, a Black Sapote, two Japoticabas and a Dwarf Mulberry, all designed to give us lovely fruits and nuts (hopefully) in the future.  We will get around to planting them on Friday hopefully.