In the Fading Light

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After the grey and rainy days of the past week, we had a perfect Queensland winter day.  Brilliant blue sunshine but quite chilly with a westerly wind.  I did not even stop to take a photo as we were busy working on an outdoor project.

You may remember this post from a little over 3 months ago when we began in earnest to build the walkway/pergola entrance to our garden.  It had been several years in the dreaming/planning stages but is now finally a reality, albeit, a not quite finished one.

We worked until the light was fading fast so I snatched these last minute photos as GMan was packing up the final tools.

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We still have to attach the crossbar at the end closest to the house as well as panels of wire on the lower sections of the sides.

The next step will be to decide on exactly what coverage we want on the top of the walkway.  It will probably be timber slats but we need to consider how wide and how far apart.  The base will be paved with some of the pavers we salvaged from the front steps when they were demolished.  There is even a pile of excess crusher dust salvaged from the front steps project, too.  We will clean the pavers with the high pressure Gerni first.

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The final step will be to plant 4 Mandevilla creepers in shades of pink and crimson.

I am excited at the progress we have made and am looking forward to seeing a welcoming flower-covered entrance to our garden.

 

Mothers Day Makeover

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For those of you who think this post is going to be about me with a new hairstyle or looking particularly glamorous, you are going to be disappointed.

GMan and I spent a good portion of yesterday and today (Mothers Day) working on a garden project.

Here are some before shots.

January 2018

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Then we planted some shrubs.

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Easter 2018 – GMan and my brother dug 6 holes and put in 3 posts.

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GMan and I then finished the remaining posts but then there was no more progress during April as we were busy socialising and celebrating.

Part of the grand plan for this space was to remove a portion of the lawn and plant some low to medium height native shrubs.  We had already planted a few in January and will add some more soon.

GMan dug up all of the lawn in squares then we covered the area with cardboard which we had been collecting for some time.  It makes a great weed suppressant and breaks down over time.  Finally, we covered the area with mulch which had been languishing in a pile below the chicken run.  This mulch resulted from some tress we had lopped ages ago.

I did not take any photos during the process as I was busy loading cut turf into the wheelbarrow and relaying it elsewhere.

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We did not have to move the turf too far as we have relaid beside the path just inside the gate.  It is a bit uneven in places but is an improvement on the state of this space previously.

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There is more to do yet – we will complete the portico and plant flowering creepers to cover it, plant some more shrubs and build a gabion seat in near the corner of the mulched area.

Like every area of our garden this corner is a work in progress and will develop over time.

 

 

A Weekend in the Garden

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For the first time in what seems like months, we actually had a weekend where the weather was conducive to being outdoors.  Lately it has either been 35C or raining or both so gardening has not really been on the agenda.  We were delighted to see a forecast of mostly sunny days with a maximum temperature of 27C.

Yesterday, we decided to firm up our vague plans for a freestanding walkway/pergola to define the entrance to our garden.  The idea is to have it covered with a flowering creeper.  We have had a general idea of what we wanted but now have calculated the materials and so then it was off to Bunnings to buy the 6 large posts for the uprights.  These are now positioned on sawhorses under the house where GMan has begun painting them.

We have marked out the exact location of the posts as you can see in the photo below.

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We are hoping to get the construction started over the Easter break when we have a couple of extra days off.

There will be more updates once there is more progress.

The perfect weather deserted us overnight and we awoke this morning to drizzling rain and cloud drifting past the windows.  However, we did not let that stop us and we braved the overgrown and out-of-control vegetable gardens.  Everything was covered with the wild cherry tomatoes.  I had resolved to pick all the fruit which was ripe and not damaged before removing the plants.  It was a massive job but we successfully cleared the garden beds and planted a variety of seeds.  There are now beans, radishes, spinach, beetroot, lettuce, kale and cucumbers planted.

Hopefully, these freshly dug and planted beds will soon yield a range of produce.

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I don’t have a before photo but suffice to say that this is a vast improvement on how it looked this morning.

It may be a little difficult to see but there is an addition to the area.  We constructed a new compost area in front of the hen house using some panels of pool fencing and some star pickets.  This allowed us to put all of the cherry tomato plants in a single heap.  I also cut the asparagus back and added that to the pile.

The forecast warm weather with showers every day fort he next week should give the newly sown seeds the best possible start so I am feeling quite optimistic.

 

Seasonal Produce

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There are many good reasons to eat what is in season where possible.  Food miles are reduced if you eat local seasonal produce.  It is more likely to have been picked ripe and have better flavour.  An abundance of a particular crop will invariably see the best prices for the consumer.

Most of all though, if you only eat items that are in season you will appreciate the wait for those crops which only bear at a particular time of the year.  Like the first sweet bite of a new season mandarin.  In our climate we pick fruit from our mandarin tree during June and July which are our winter months.

Once the fruit are ripening I have to cover the tree to protect the fruit from the local scrub turkeys.

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You can also see one of the orange trees next to the netted mandarin.

This afternoon I removed the netting and picked the last of the fruit.

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We have picked a lot of mandarins over the past month or so but these are the last 30 of them.

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We will savour these fruit as we know it will be another 10 months before the next crop is ripe.  In the meantime, there will be plenty more seasonal delights as the months roll by.  Imagine if I could eat these all the year round.  They would no longer be anticipated longingly and the delight of that first burst of delicious flavour would soon become ho-hum.

We are fortunate because we live in a temperate climate so many crops can successfully be grown during most months of the year.  However, seasonality still exists for the citrus trees, raspberries, mangoes, passionfruit and avocadoes.

What is in season at your place?

This was our glorious winter day here today.  No, it has not been photoshopped – the sky really is that blue.

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Taking the Time

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Today we met the housesitters who will be taking care of our home while we are overseas later in the year.  We invited them to come and have a look around, meet the animals and generally get a feel for the place. We spent a few hours showing them around and explaining various aspects of the property.  During that time we had lunch on the verandah as it was a lovely day.

As we discussed various things it struck me how much of our home and garden is simply taken for granted or gets forgotten in the myriad of tasks which make up our day to day routine.  Time really appreciate what we have.

After our visitors had gone GMan and I spent a while out in the garden.  Apart from the mass of sweet potato plants in one of the raised vegetable gardens we also had some which had taken root in an old cut-down water tank which is one of our compost piles.  It was becoming entwined with the raspberry canes so we began to pull them out and realised that there were potatoes growing.  I started digging and this was the harvest.

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The next job was down by the bottom fence.  We planted a new tree which we had bought a couple of weeks ago.  It is a tropical birch and according to the label will be perfect for our climate, deciduous with colourful autumn foliage.  It is difficult to see but look closely.

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A little further along the fence is a callistemon which has come up self-sown.  It was almost choked with wed and entangled in the fence so with a bit of care it will hopefully become established.

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Speaking of autumn foliage, the liquidamber is showing the first signs of colour.  A few golden leaves are peeping through the green.

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This is a broader view of the same general area with the liquidamber tree to the left of the photo.  Being in a high rainfall area, everything grows easily and well but unfortunately, that includes weeds and unwanted trees and shrubs.  Most of the foliage to the right of the liquidamber is not particularly pleasant or useful so we have finally made a decision to have a substantial swathe of it lopped and mulched so that we can replant the area with more suitable plants.  Watch this space for before and after photos.  Hopefully it will happen before we leave on our trip.

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This is a view of some of the trunks and undergrowth of the area we plan to have cleared.

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Behind the 2 water tanks is a clear area where GMan planted some pawpaw seedlings  a few weeks ago.  These had been given to us and they seem to be doing quite well.  They are difficult to see but there are about eight plants through the centre of the photo.

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Finally, here is the front verge which is a selection of native shrubs which we started planting about 9 years ago and have extended a bit more since then.  A couple of weeks ago I noticed some unusual foliage higher than the rest of the shrubs and it turned out to be a tree which we had not planted and already reached a height of about 5 metres.  I am not sure what it was but am certain it was non-native and almost certainly an invasive weed so GMan cut it down last week with minimal damage to the surrounding shrubs.  It is a reminder that we need to keep a closer eye on what is growing here.

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As always, the garden is a work in progress and we have lots of plans.  I hope you have enjoyed checking out a little of our place.

 

The Gorgeous Garden

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This weekend GMan and I have had 3 days at home so finally managed to catch up on some much needed work in the garden.  We have had a combination of plenty of rain plus some hot, sunny days over the past few weeks which has been a recipe for everything to grow crazily – especially the weeds.

Thankfully, the weather was not too hot and mostly fine this weekend.  GMan ploughed through everything on the mower and now I can actually see the vegetable garden area again.

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We also had a blitz in this area in front of the verandah.  The hibiscus we planted last year are doing really well and I think we need about 3 more.

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The weeds were going mad and there were piles of branches waiting to be mulched.  The mulching has been done and weeds mostly pulled up and discarded in the compost heap up the back.  The thickly mulched area in the background of the photo with cardboard/newspaper underneath has very little weed so we definitely need to get more mulch and finish the whole area.

This afternoon GMan planted the capsicum plants we bought last weekend and the 4 shrubs we bought at a new native plant nursery in Maleny.

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The plant in the foreground was a Christmas gift and has more than doubled in size in the 6 weeks since we planted it.  The one up closer to the road was also planted towards the end of last year.  The new plants are barely visible in the photo but can be identified by the areas were the lawn has been dug up.

Although it is not clear in the photo, this is quite a steep embankment and difficult to mow.  So, we have decided to cover the entire area with native shrubs and groundcovers.  Nothing will be more than a couple of metres high and we hope to have it densely covered and eliminate the lawn in this area entirely.  It may seem like a vain hope when you look at it now but here is a reminder of what can be achieved.

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This planting is along the front boundary a provides privacy from the road.  The whole area was just a wide expanse of lawn when we came here 10 years ago.  It took about 4 – 5 years to get this level of screening.

We have many grand ideas for the garden and look forward to getting more done but in the meantime it is gratifying to see how much we have achieved.  The chicken run, vegetable gardens and fencing in the first photo have all been established since we came here, the area in front of the verandah has been completely revamped and the native screening grown.  Many other areas of the garden tell a similar story.

I hope you enjoy seeing some snippets of our garden.

Trailing Tomatoes

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I have written before about the cherry tomatoes which grow in various parts of our garden.

We seem to have literally hundreds which keep coming up in the garden in front of the verandah.  I pull the majority of them out so that they do not smother the hibiscus which we are trying to get established.  However, a few plants have got themselves very well established, including this one which has grown about 2 metres up the wire fencing to the verandah and then continued to spill over the floor directly outside our front door.

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I finally got around to tying it up the other day so at least we can walk along the verandah unimpeded.

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I am looking forward to being able to pick tomatoes from right outside the door!