Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

Espalier olives update, and some other garden stuff too

April 16, 2011

It’s been a while since my last post, so a quick prune and tie-up of the espalier olives seems like a good opportunity for an update.

The olives have been going great guns over the summer. It wasn’t too hot, and there was plenty of rain, so they haven’t really been tested yet in their north facing exposed wall location.

I did a quick prune of a few wayward shoots, and tied the latest growth back. They are up to the top of the frame already. I think it’s been about a year since they went in.

Espalier olives on north wall

We’ve also been finishing off the harvest of a few more productive crops lately too. The last of the tiny tom tomatoes came off the plants today, as well as a lonely full sized fruit. (different plant!)

Last of the seasons tiny toms, and a rogue big feller too!

I also grabbed what will probably be the last of the figs the other morning whilst out at the chook shed on the regular egg collecting trip. These were really big, juicy and yummy! Made for a beaut morning tea snack.

Mornings harvest, figs and eggs

Figs made a yummy snack, with kiwi fruit and Greek coffee

More soon…

Brian.

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A bumper plum crop, and other edible garden stuff.

January 6, 2011

A wander around the garden found some of the plants fruiting, or sprouting. Not everything here, but a sample…

The plums are interesting. We used to think it was just an ornamental tree as the fruit is normally small and not very tasty, until this year. The really good rains have produced a bumper crop of big, juicy fruit. Yummy!

The grapes looked like they were about to set fruit too, but it seems like they have decided not to. Why? Not pollinated? Not sure. It’s not from a lack of water this year, that’s for sure.

Off to eat some plums now, more edible gardening to come…

Brian.

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Compost

December 17, 2010

Time for some news from the garden front, and where better to go than the compost piles!

We have many and nearly everything that could possibly go on them, does. I have a phobia about taking stuff to the dump when it could be used within our little territory at home. Our recycling bin is often full, but our rubbish bin only ever has two small bags of rubbish each week, the rest is re-used.

We currently have 6 compost piles, with all working at some stage or another. The general process involves having 1 or 2 being for adding material to, some “cooking” with nothing more being added to these, some ready to use, (these don’t last long) and some for raw material to be added to the current piles. (stuff like straw from the chook house, leaves in autumn, etc…)

compost piles

All 6 compost piles

We try to keep the chooks out of most piles, but let them have a scratch about in some. The overloaded pile is the “sticky” pile. The material in here is too big to use straight away. Sometimes it becomes firewood, or just gets burned down to “bio char”, or parts will eventually breakdown and get put on the other piles.

compost piles

Compost piles 1 to 3

These piles are at the back of the garden and form one edge to the chook enclosure. It is out of the way, but we enjoy this part of the garden as much as any other and often have afternoon tea nearby!

compost piles

Compost piles 4 - 6

Behind them is the “useful box” where all potentially re-useable material, and firewood is stored for later use.

The un-mentionable compost is also kept behind these piles – the dog poo compost.

dog poo composting

Dog poo composting

Two inverted bins are used to compost the dogs poo. (two dogs make alot!) One is breaking down while the other is added to. When both are full the old one will be down to less than half volume and is used to make a special dog poo only compost pile, which we use on non edible plants and gardens, mostly in the front garden. The poo breaks down completely and appears and smells just like earth, but could contain some pathogens still, hence the non edible garden use.

We also have mini compost tubes, like little worm farms.

worm tubes for composting

Worm tubes for composting

These are dug into the ground in the vegi patches and near trees. Started with some worms and compost from the main piles, they are topped up every now and then with kitchen scraps. Large holes below ground level allow the worms to come and go in the ground around the tube. We like the little hats and faces too!

Compost, gotta love it, in all forms. We’re happy not to throw out anything which could be used again.

Brian.

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These garden beds are wicked!

June 15, 2010

lined with black plastic to hold water layer

Wicked gardens beds have been seen on several TV shows recently and seem to be popping up in several publications and websites too. Or is it just that I’m looking for them now?

Whilst being wicked, as in wicking water up into their soil, they would also appear to be pretty wicked in the way they can save water and also create an environment which looks after the soil in wonderful ways.

Worms also seem to be an important component of the design of these beds, and need to be added rather than just hope they will turn up, as you can do for conventional beds, because the impermeable barrier used to contain the water also, of course, stops the worms getting up into the bed.

The following is a picture story of the construction of our first bed so far. Subsequent posts will address it’s use, worms, success or otherwise, and links to reference sources we used.

We did use treated sleepers for this bed so the plastic liner has been extended to the top of the wood to minimise leaching effects. If you have any concerns about using this material, go to the CSIRO website for details.

Brian.

Laundry grey water surge tank

May 16, 2010

We have been dumping the waste water from our washing machine on the back lawn for years now. It seemed like an easy thing to sort out with the back of the house being 5-6 feet higher than the ground, and the backyard sloping away more after that. I’d previously cut a hole in the floor and run a pipe through and out the back steps to a longer pipe which we move around the back lawn as we remember.

There has always been the worry that the machine may be pushing too much water for its motors capacity, despite the gravity drop of 5 feet or more. And sometimes the pipe across the lawn doesn’t drain out fully, so it can be the case of the motor having to push this collected water ahead of it, or possibly drawing it back into the machine, resulting in dirtier washing than you started with.

Laundry grey water surge tank

Hence, the latest addition, a surge tank to collect the rush of waste water from the washing machine and allow it to slowly, gravity feed out via the original pipe and a short length of agi pipe.

We used a new molded garbage bin as the tank and several joiner pieces as the entry and exit points for the pipes. I managed to make the lower hole in the tank a tight enough fit for the joiner to make it water tight without additional sealant. The end result is fairly neat and tidy. I even made a small paving stand for the tank.

We seem to be washing clothes constantly at our place so it wasn’t long before the system could be tested. All good, although the agi pipe does empty its contents fairly quickly and over a small area. Not sure how to get it spreading out more. Perhaps by running it across the slope the run off will be over a greater area?

First test – no leaks!

Agi pipe to distribute water across lawn

This project has me thinking of other ways to use waste water from the bath and shower.

Brian.

Espalier olives

April 25, 2010

Something a little more organic this time, to relieve the technology based posts of late.

After seeing some espalier olives in the local nursery the other week I decided that the north wall of our sunroom would be a good place for some of our own. There’s something I like about trained bushes and trees, like Bonsai for example. The application of this to a fruit tree seemed like a good idea here. The space is very narrow and would normally not be suitable for any plants really, unless they were very small, so the espalier should work well.

I love olives too of course, but I’m not holding out for a harvest. I have read up a little on pickling olives and it is clearly a long and tricky process. If we get a good harvest in few years time I may give it a go. I’ll make a post or two here if i do.

The soil was added to with our latest compost mix from pile number 1 (of 6, watch for a post on the compost system!) and mounded up to give the new trees a good chance of getting going. It’s been a warm, wet autumn but it is getting a bit late to be planting new trees. The mound was covered over with chicken wire to keep it together, and, I thought, to keep the chooks off. However, Sheryl recommended that I put up another fence to keep them out as they would get in there despite the cover wire.

olives behind the chook proof fence

The frame for the espalier is just a couple of star pickets and old wire strung at close intervals between.

Materials here show off our scrounging skills well. Long star pickets @ $1 each from the local dump shop, tie wire left over from other jobs, dog fence wire and short picket picked up off the side of the road, having been dumped illegally by someone just past the nursery where we bought the olive trees. We couldn’t make use of the old couch, so had to leave that for someone else to clean up!

espalier frame for olives

The frame reaches reasonably high, but may need extending if the trees grow to my planned 6 foot height, just below the sunroom windows. It’s sort of like living art to fill a blank canvas. Hope they last the hot summers.

sunroom wall for olive espalier

Brian.