Warning. Image intensive post AHOY!

Hi All,

Well what has happened since we last met? Well it feels like a year ago as we have been so very busy. We have filled most of the fridge wicking beds with soil from the back of Sanctuary, we have ravaged Sanctuary and turned her into a fruit and nut garden (and edible shrubs and vines etc.) and we have irrigated Sanctuary as well. There is SO much to do at the moment and I feel like we are racing against the clock because although our year has been incredibly wet, pretty soon mother nature is going to cast her eyes on us and realise that we have had more than our fair share and suddenly all of this fecundity will dry up and we will be back to our usual dry weather and rock hard soil.

I have a whole lot of images to share with you about the progress we have made since we last met and so I will stop talking and start adding images. My apologies to those of you who read my posts on your phone or tablet (or laptop) as this post is image intensive. Time to head off on our wild, careening adventure…

Lots of water on the ground in a recent downpour
Since we last chatted we have had a few rainy days. One of them was a little bit damper than usual…
Overflowing fridge wicking bed
This fridge wicking bed is situated directly under the gutters. We now know that when the rainwater tank fills to the brim, it backs up in the guttering and floods this particular bed. We had to hurriedly transplant the poor little lettuces in this bed into another fridge wicking bed and they are all doing well. Lettuces might look fragile but they are pretty tough little cookies.
Another rainy day
Another rainy day
Earl depressed because its raining and thus he won't get a walk.
Earl depressed because its raining and thus he won’t get a walk. Depression, thy name is “Earl”.
Showing how wet the fridge wicker area got.
We had a few rainy days in a row and everything got very soggy. Again, I don’t know what I would have done if Steve hadn’t bought me a pair of wellies at the beginning of autumn this year! I have practically lived in them since then.
Artistic rainy shot of what's left of our driveway and Chooks
You can’t phase a rooster. The driveway might be washing away but it’s just another thing to crow about.
Earl peeing on the wheelbarrow.
“Like we need MORE moisture around here Earl!”
The first foray into Sanctuary after a long winter.
This was the first time I had set foot inside Sanctuary for quite some time. As you can see, it’s a wee bit overgrown…
Sanctuary overgrown
These weeds were as high as my head.
Lots of undergrowth in Sanctuary
It looks like Earl and I have dropped by just in time.
Nasturtiums and grasses.
The whole of Sanctuary was a sea of damp green. We recycled the driftwood Christmas tree from a few years ago and its now doing double duty as “Garden Art” Β and a climbing pole for whatever wants to go vertical.
The little babaco tree overwintered in the glasshouse.
The little babaco (Vasconcellea Γ— heilbornii) tree overwintered in the glasshouse and despite losing all of its leaves, is getting them back again now.
Earl revisiting old scratching areas in Sanctuary.
I might have been lost under all of that vegetation but Earl knew where everything was including his favourite place for scratching.
Wheat growing in Sanctuary.
The wheat straw mulch that we used to cover the garden beds appears to have spawned a crop.
Potatoes in Sanctuary.
These potatoes, although they look healthy, are no more. They had to be pulled out to dig up the soil that they were growing in. Sanctuary has potatoes all over it now so hopefully some of them take root and grow elsewhere in the garden. You can never have enough shoes, bags or potatoes in my honest opinion.
Overgrown strawberry wicking boat.
I was only chatting to a fellow wicking bed gardener on Facebook this morning about how people only tend to show the very best things in their gardens. It’s human nature to want people to admire what you have done but in our case, nature does all of the real work and we just try to steer her in the direction that we want. I would like to point of that this is my strawberry wicking bed. Nature appears to have gone mad in it. This is an honest image from my garden. Feel free to laugh πŸ™‚
Perennial tree chillies.
As far as I can work out these are perennial tree chillies. I sprinkled some seed into a few pots and there are a couple of pots of these growing strong in the glasshouse. I initially thought that they were cape gooseberries but I didn’t plant any so that puts paid to that. I also have some pink English gooseberry babies growing on but for some reason I couldn’t get a good photo of them.
A bee in a rose
It eventually stopped raining and we were able to start plotting what we wanted to do in the gardens and how we were going to go about it.
Fig fruit on our small fig trees.
It looks like we are going to get a few figs (if the blackbirds let us) this year.
Grape flowers
And some muscat grapes!
Thornless blackberry flower
And lots and LOTS of berries. We had so many thornless youngberry and loganberry plants that we had to pull a stack of them out and we are about to give them to a fellow horticulturalist who owns a large property nearby and who works at the local community gardens. Some will go home with him and some will be utilised in the gardens. An excellent outcome for something that was free πŸ™‚
Getting soil from the rear of Sanctuary.
In order to fill the fridge wicking beds we need to do some serious hard yards to do so. First we have to push the barrow up the steep hill alongside Sanctuary and around to the rear of the garden where the manure and oak leaves have broken down to excellent soil that is perfect for the beds. Steve pushed the barrow but I did all of the shoveling. It’s only fair.
Steep image 1
I wanted you to see how steep this area actually is and remember, we are wearing an extra couple of kilo’s of gumboot each.
Steep image 2
Going…
Steep image 3
Going…
Steep image 4
Gone! He still has to wheel it down the hill further and off to the right, through the gate, bypassing the gatekeeper beast who tries (in vain) to escape) every single time! And into the area where we have the fridge wicking beds.
Wheelbarrow ready to fill
Each fridge wicking bed takes between 3 and 7 wheelbarrow loads of soil and we have 14 wicking beds so I will let you do the math. We have to drop the netting down each time we load a barrow as otherwise we would return to a garden full to the brim with chooks.
Wheelbarrow of soil.
This is what the oak leaves and horse manure have turned into. It’s full of worms and is entirely delicious stuff. The green at the back of the barrow was some corn salad that I didn’t want to throw onto the big weed pile at the back of Sanctuary and used to help fertilise a fridge wicker and in the front we pulled out some purple congo spuds and replanted them into a fridge wicker.
Irrigation accouterments.
We headed in to Bunnings and bought a whole lot of fixtures and fittings to create a drip irrigation system inside Sanctuary. You can see some of the potatoes that we pulled out while we were digging out barrow loads of soil. The rest are scattered all over sanctuary.
Full fridge wicking beds inside Sanctuary.
Well at least we know that the fridge wicking beds inside Sanctuary hold water! They are now upside down and stacked up on top of each other prior to us working out what to do with them now we have turned Sanctuary into a fruit and nut tree Sanctuary.
Perennial tagetes.
I don’t actually know the botanical name of this perennial tagetes but it’s leaves smell distinctly of fresh ripe pineapple whenever you brush up against them. I manged to get a cutting to strike and this 5ft tall shrub grew. It had to be moved from the area that we were planting espalier fruit trees etc. into but will now grow next to a row of currants. Flowers are more than welcome inside Sanctuary now as they will attract the pollinators πŸ™‚
Feverfew flowers.
I love feverfew. I know a lot of people that pull it out but I really appreciate it and leave it to grow wherever it wants.
After whipper snipping a pathway around Sanctuary and ready to start irrigating.
After whipper snipping a pathway around Sanctuary and ready to start irrigating.
Earl helping us to set up the irrigation.
Earl helping us to set up the irrigation.
Dripper rings around existing fruit trees inside Sanctuary.
Dripper rings around existing fruit trees inside Sanctuary.
Earl surveying all of his hard work.
Earl surveying all of his hard work.
Pink aquilegia
In the process of clearing Sanctuary up a bit so that we could get irrigating we discovered several lovely aquilegia plants that had grown from seed spread by the birds. This is a pretty pink one.
Purple "Granny's bonnet" aquilegia
And this is the classic, tough-as-nails purple granny’s bonnet. This flower would grow happily on mars!
Finding the garden beds in Sanctuary.
Before we could plant out our pots of edible fruit and nut trees we had to “find” the garden beds under all of that foliage. That meant being a bit ruthless and pulling lots of things out and it looks a whole lot more unattractive than it did but before you can make an omelette you have to break a lot of eggs. This is the egg breaking phase.
The back of Sanctuary.
You can see the fridge wickers stacked up on the left hand side of this image and the rear potato garden (soon to be ravaged for it’s precious soil) still looks fecund.
Garden remnants
There are little pockets of Sanctuaries garden left dotted around the area but most of Sanctuary has had to be completely changed in order to create the espalier beds that we need for our fruit and nut trees.
Earl patrolling the perimeter fence.
Earl patrolling the perimeter fence. We have been plundering the soil from this area and Earl had to be locked out of the garden while we did it as otherwise he would be most of the way to the Australian mainland by now. Here you see him checking out what we have done to “his” garden.
Liberated fruit and nut trees
Here are some of the potted fruit and nut trees that we want to plant out. Most of them are going to have to be given away (chestnut trees etc.) as we just don’t have room for them on our property but we have someone who is most happy to take them and sharing is what makes everything better πŸ™‚
Escape from Serendipity Farm.
Earl and I managed to escape from the slave mines of Serendipity Farm for a few hours the other day. We dropped off some plants (currants and oca) to a friend in Beaconsfield and then we headed off for a walk. We like to peek over fences and see how other people garden (well “I” like to peek, Earl drops the “k” πŸ˜‰ ) and one of the fences that I peeked over revealed this scrumptious garden right in the middle of Beaconsfield. It’s amazing what you can do with a few plants and a bit of a plan.
Hazelnut row.
This is the row of hazelnut trees that I grew from seed planted out in situ. We have since added a double row of dripper hose to irrigate them. As you can see, the soil is still very damp at the moment but give it a week or two and it will dry out like crazy so I have to cover these beds with a good layer of mulch in the next few days to keep the moisture in the soil.
Currant bed
I have NO idea whether these are blackcurrants or jostaberries as i lost the tags on the pots but I am guessing it’s a mix of both with the odd red currant that we already had thrown in for good measure. This row will be grown into a tall hedge and kept as an edible hedge at the rear of Sanctuary. I have plans to add my little pink English gooseberries to this row in the future when they are big enough to join the fray.
Website designing perks.
Steve and I are working on designing a website for a friends daughter. There are some seriously decent perks to website design πŸ˜‰
More booze.
Both Steve and I have finally passed our course. That called for a celebration πŸ™‚
Lovely Chinese bonsai beech tree.
This is Steve’s gorgeous Chinese bonsai beech tree. It’s looking particularly happy after a long wet winter and it has now been rehoused on the front deck in a nice shady space next to the door.
Skewer birds on a lawn in Beauty Point.
There are some serious benefits to being at home now and one of them is that we can take the time to head out and walk the boys in some lovely places. This was an image that Steve took with his Nikon the other day at Beauty Point when we were meandering along the beach. These birds are skewer birds and this lawn was right next to the beach.
Pink bottlebrush.
Another one of Steve’s images. This one is of a lovely pink bottlebrush hedge at the Beauty Point caravan park.
Paper Beach.
Paper Beach is rapidly becoming our favourite dog walk. Here you see Bezial splashing around in the foreground and Earl and I on the beach in the distance.
Sparkles on the water
It’s an absolutely magic day today. Steve took this photo of sparkles on the river on our walk this morning.
Bird reserve area at Swan Point.
Bird reserve area at Swan Point. Bezial was MOST unhappy that he couldn’t race off and have a splash here as he says he is a friend to all birds but rules is rules Bezial.
Swans at Swan Point.
One of the reasons that this area is called “Swan Point. Australian black swans.
Paper Beach
We are SO lucky to live where we do. This beach is just 10 minutes away from our house.
Bridge on the river.
Whenever we walk to Paper Beach Steve drops Earl and I off and we walk all the way while he and Bezial stop off at the Supply river and take a little walk around before driving to the beach. Here’s the supply river bridge.
Supply river bridge
This is the Supply River bridge again but taken further up the track on the way to Bezial’s favourite spot, an old flour mill ruin.
The blowfish king
This is Bezials most favourite pastime. He is hunting for blowfish in the water. Whenever he sees one he tries to pounce on it but by the time he has started his pounce, the blowfish is about 100m away πŸ˜‰
Auld Kirk Road taken from our front gate.
Steve took this photo from our front gate this morning. It’s just about time to whipper snip the front verge again. That means it’s almost time for the Auld Kirk Church Christmas Carols again!
Fridge wickers
As you can see the fridge wickers in the back yard are starting to take off nicely. We planted out the other fridge wickers (around the corner from the water tank) yesterday and are now racing against the clock to erect a protective structure before they start growing like crazy and attract the possums.

If you are still here, “Congratulations!” Well done on surviving an enormous image intensive post. I promise that my next post will be a bit shorter but I had SO much to cover in this one. Hopefully in my next post I will be able to show you our new fridge wicker structure as we plan on building it this week. We have to mulch all of the garden beds, finish irrigating the espalier beds and then start some serious whipper snipping of the grass on the property before fire season starts. Catch you soon πŸ™‚

Advertisements

19 Comments Add yours

  1. God lord it is gorgeous where you live – and wet! Siddy wants Earl to know that his mumma is not a wooz and he goes for a walk every day. And as it has rained every day since forever he always comes home very wet. As does his mumma!! Summer, what summer?

    Did Steve take that photo of the purple and white aquilegia that get’s to appear twice? It’s a beauty isn’t it! I haven’t seen that colour way before, it’s lovely. I haven’t been able to plant my garden out yet, it’s so wet. Just as well I didn’t have any big plans for this year.

    Your wicked garden is coming along – I’m realising it is a big learning curve – and not so easy to rectify, like when you plant up a fridge under the guttering that overflows when the water tank backs up…… It’s Sod’s Law isn’t it!

    Congrats on passing your course – and the designs are bringing in the free booze too so that has to be good! Could be a great summer in the end.

    I enjoyed this wander and chat with you – ‘ti; next time! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Hi Ms Pauline. I hear it’s gorgeous in your neck of the woods too :). Sounds like it’s wet there as well. Maybe Tassie really IS N.Z’s sister island. The fridge wickers are a real work in progress as there isn’t really a lot online about them and we are learning from regular wicking beds and applying them to our cheapo fridges. I just hope that some poor (literally and figuratively) sod out there who thinks that they can’t afford to garden might get some ideas from our attempts. I get the feeling that summer is just around the corner Ms Pauline. It was like this about 3 years ago remember? We had a 3 week summer back then as well! I planted out a couple of eggplants in defiance. It’s always good to be Bolshevist about things as then you have something to rail against when you are bored ;). BIG hugs and thank you for still visiting Serendipity (Swamp) farm πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. Hi Fran, Work, WORK, weeeeerrrrk! You and Steve have been working away like navvies! Hopefully, there is a day of rest scheduled when the urgent tasks are completed.
    Lots of weeds means you have lots of ingredients for weed tea fertiliser!
    I needed to consult Google recently to learn about American Staffordshire Bull Terriers. There were pictures of dogs who had to be Earl’s cousins if not his brothers. After I read about the characteristics of this breed, I understood why Earl is the way Earl is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      We named him after the lead part in “My Name is Earl” so I guess we got what we deserved eh? πŸ˜‰ Seriously though, he is the most magnificent dog with people and other dogs. The tiniest, yappiest, most insane little fluff balls (with their terrified owners I might add πŸ˜‰ ) come racing up to him and he just wags his tail and turns sideways and lets them sniff him. He just “knows” how to be with other dogs and they immediately calm down with him. Bezial is the exact opposite and every dog within cooey has a go at him because I think he is the dog equivalent of Woody Allen. I forgot about weed tea, but then, I don’t have time to even think about much these days. Off to fill the last of the (working) fridge wickers this morning at 6am, then off to fix the couple that leaked, then irrigating the rest of Sanctuary (the espalier section in the middle so that all of the plants get water from the drippers but not the areas that don’t contain plants so MUCH more efficient) and then we have to start collecting tea tree poles from the lower garden in order to make a series of structures to erect around that long line of fridge wicking beds to sling some netting over to stop the possums from free ranging and snacking when Earl is upside down snoring on our bed! No rest for the wicked eh? ;).

      Like

  3. Goodness me, am out of breath now! Congrats to you both on passing the course πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      I tried to make it so you could just skim down and look at the images if you wanted to and could skip the words but it ended up being a big bollocks of a post! Sorry about the size but I couldn’t tell it like it was without just about all of them so I thought “sod it!” and used them all. I think I am going for the WordPress version of the Guinness World Book of Records for the longest ever blog post ;).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And the winner is……!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. foodnstuff says:

    Congrats on passing the course from me too! My muscatel grapevine is flowering too, at long last. I grew it from a seed. I tried feverfew….I thought the flowers might attract bees, but then I read that other plants don’t like to grow near it. Did you find that? It died (of dryness) eventually but now I see seedlings are coming up in the spot. Don’t apologise for all the photos. Always good to see what others are up to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      The feverfew is mingled with everything else in Sanctuary and they all seem to be getting along well. I got my muscatel grapes (7 of them) from cuttings that I took from the original one that I bought and left in the city and they struck and are growing like crazy now. Now that they are going to get regular (drip) irrigation they should do a lot better. I was always worried that they would get some kind of leaf mould as I watered them by hand all summer long last year. They seem to be pretty hardy though. I guess those old Italian varieties don’t take any stick ;). Thank you on the course passing by the way. It’s the hardest course that I have ever attempted and I am suitably happy to be out the other side of it. I couldn’t choose which photo’s to use so I used them all. I figure that someone might get a good idea what we are doing if they can see it in words and images.

      Like

  5. Kim says:

    I’m exhausted just reading about your endeavours. Next time I’m moaning about my garden I will remember all of your work. I hope all of your planning pays huge dividends πŸ˜ƒ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Our property is a harsh mistress. She has whipped Steve and I into submission and we have finally learned what works here. I must confess, I am secretly over the moon with how everything is going now. We might have just trashed Sanctuary and she looks more like “the day after” than the fecund jungle she once was but she now has structure, fruit and nut trees planted out and irrigation, that precious possibility that means that I don’t have to stand hose in hand at 4am for hours every morning pouring water onto something that drains it straight off. The fridge wicking beds are proving to be amazing. Everything that we have planted in them so far has gone mental. Last year we planted lettuce into the ground earlier than this with the hope that we would get some for Christmas. We ended up buying bagged lettuce but this year we will be eating lettuce well before Christmas. Our little “Eureka!” moment last year appears to have fit our personal bill. Hopefully there are other people that visit who will see that growing their own food is not as hard, or as expensive as they have been led to believe πŸ™‚ I am sure your garden is lovely. Mine is borderline mental at the moment and may need to start taking meds.

      Like

  6. Wow, Fran, you’ve been up to your elbows in clearing, planning, planting and enjoying the lovely Earl. I feel like a lazy bum after reading this. My oh my.

    Like

    1. narf7 says:

      Steve and I know that we have a teeny tiny window of opportunity from when our TAFE course ends to when our soil sets like ceramic and summer hits home with a vengeance here. You know what it’s like! Its a complete anomaly year here for us as our soil has usually done it’s ceramic moment about 2 months ago but the rain we have kept having has kept the soil workable so we can actually dig a hole or two! You can’t let that sort of opportunity go by without making the most of it and we are racing around digging holes, planting out our precious edible babies into said holes, drip irrigating the rear end out of all of the new and old plantings that matter and wheelbarrowing loads and loads and LOADS of created soil from the back of Sanctuary to the fridge wicking beds below. It’s been seriously hard work but every plant that has been languishing in a pot (some from 2009) that we get planted into a hole or a wicking bed makes my heart feel lighter. I am up there with the grinch in his last iteration I can tell you :). That old saying “Make hay while the sun shines” is our common motto isn’t it but we both do it in reverse. A more appropriate monika for our common conditions would be “dig holes while it still rains” πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad the work is ultimately making your heart feel lighter, Fran. Well done. I’m sorry you have such a hot, dry summer ahead every year. We are equally hot and dry here ourselves and it only seems to be getting worse. Sigh.

        Big hugs.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. narf7 says:

        Australia is really getting hammered this year. Extreme heat and very dry makes us the honorary California. So far, fingers crossed, Tasmania appears to have been forgotten in the mix and we have had lovely cool days, blissfully cool nights and we are almost halfway through our first month of summer. That won’t stop us shoring up our belts and making sure that Serendipity Farm is as waterwise as it can be. Now we just have to collect up all of the debris to fireproof the place. Might start with the 2ft tall weeds in the roof guttering o_O πŸ˜‰

        Like

      3. I’m glad to hear you’re experiencing cooler days and hope that trend continues. Hot and dry are no fun. Best of luck getting those weeds out of the gutter. We replaced our gutters a few years ago with a product called rain guard they curve under, allowing the rain to flow but blocking leaves and debris. They’re larger too (six inches instead of four) and allow all the water to flow downstream. It’s a clever design. Please be careful up on the ladders gathering those weeds. Yikes!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. narf7 says:

        We have a similar product on our back guttering but couldn’t afford to do the front of the house. At the moment there is a blackbird nesting on the back gutting so we can’t get the bark and leaves out of the gutters there and we don’t want to go stomping around on the roof and scare her so we are leaving the “green roof” till the babies leave the nest.

        Like

      5. You are my hero, Fran. I love that you are leaving her to nest. What a gift. xo

        Liked by 1 person

      6. narf7 says:

        She has 4 babies. I should add that they are cheese stuffed babies as they are in close proximity to the cheese that we put out on the kitchen windowsill. That is one clever blackbird as she is also in close proximity to Earl-the-wonder-dog’s dog door that he burst out of at any given time thus rendering her and her babies immune to cats, bird predators and anything else that would want to have a go at either her or her babies.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s