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.

 

War on Weeds

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It is the height of summer here and over the past 4 weeks we have been blessed with warm to hot days (27 – 32C) and intermittent showers and storms.  The rainfall has been over 100mm in the last fortnight.  Your can almost hear the vegetation growing and everything is green and lush.

2015-01-15 01Unfortunately, the weeds are loving the weather and thriving as much as the plants that are supposed to be growing.

Since we live on an acreage, we are never going to have a pristine garden but I do prefer not to have it overgrown with weeds so it seems to be a never-ending battle to keep them at bay.  The Duke tends to use a combination of whipper-snippering, glyphosate and simply pulling them out.  The glyphosate is banned from anywhere near the vegetable garden but unfortunately it has been a necessary evil on other parts of the block.

I recently received some information from my friend, S, over at My Life is A Balancing Act.  Although she hasn’t posted this on her blog, I think it is worthy of a mention.

Super Effective Weed Spray – Cost: $2.50 for 4 litres weed spray

  • 4 litres white vinegar
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 tbsp washing up detergent
  • Mix well. Spray on weeds to kill them. This is a very effective weed spray so only spray it on the things you want to kill. It is excellent for weeding paths and pavers and along the edges of garden beds.

It sounds easy and even piqued the interest of The Duke.

Before I rush out and buy a bulk quantity of vinegar I decided to test it out.  There is no shortage of places to try.

This is a patch of the weeds in what can best be described as the future garden bed in front of the verandah.

2015-01-15 02We have planted several hibiscus shrubs that are the beginning of the new plantings and there are some old shrubs which will need to be removed but there is a lot of bare earth which the weeds are really enjoying!

I had 1 litre of white vinegar so made up a 1/4 mix of the recipe and filled a small spray bottle.

2015-01-15 03I sprayed weeds until I had used up all of my mix so now it is just a matter of waiting.  According to S, I should see wilted and dying weeds within 24 – 48 hours.

I will be back on Saturday with an update on this project.  If it shows signs of being successful, I will be looking for somewhere that I can buy a bulk quantity of vinegar and also buying a backpack sprayer as S suggested because my hand is exhausted from just spraying a small area of weeds.

Weeds That Feed

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What is a weed?  A plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially one growing where it is not wanted, as in a garden.

If the above definition is applied then my cherry tomato plants are definitely weeds.  They are not particularly pretty, grow in places where I do not want them and generally get in the way.  I am forever pulling the seedlings out of the ‘formal’ vegetable beds and The Duke must mow over thousands of them in the lawn.

However, we usually have a few that we leave to their own devices in areas where they are not causing harm.  There is one plant which has been growing and bearing fruit for several months on the far side of the driveway in ‘no man’s land’.  It has spread over a heap of mulch and has intertwined with thistles.  I had not picked any fruit for about 6 weeks so I braved the thistles yesterday and was surprised to find all of these fruit just waiting for me.

2013-04-29 01  There was about 3.5kg of fresh, full-flavoured cherry tomatoes.  I have cleaned, rinsed and frozen 3kg of them in readiness to make more tomato sauce.  I hope to do that next weekend.  The remainder are spread on a tray to ripen fully and then they will grace the last of our summer salads.

Plants that are self-sown which survive and thrive will be good as they have passed the ‘survival of the fittest ‘ test.  Perhaps that is why we have such success with the cherry tomatoes.  Other self-sown plants which provide use with food include pumpkins and cucumbers.

Do you harvest from any fruit or vegetable plants which just appear in your garden?