It’s a magic summers day in Sidmouth Tasmania and the temperature is approximately 21C so it’s cool indoors and the sun is performing its magic out of doors. I have been attempting to walk Earl a bit further than I usually do in order to have him knackered out when we head back to TAFE in two weeks time. If Earl is tired he is a sweet dog that sleeps. If he is under-exercised, he is a menace to society, specifically Bezial, who has to weather a rambunctious twitching kennel mate till we return home. Best I keep him tired and get a bit fitter in the process methinks.
We drove past a private house with a little plant stall parked out the front with a large sign saying “Potted Colour $2” yesterday. I got Steve to stop and turn around so that we could take a look. The plants were a mix of annuals like marigolds and zinnias and perennials like dahlias and salvias and were in excellent health and covered in flowers. I have always wanted a garden with flowers in it and now that Sanctuary has been converted into an espalier fruit and nut tree garden I can indulge my desire to have a few flowers in the mix. I picked out a dahlia, a salvia and a HUGE marigold and brought them home and planted them out immediately. Steve asked me if I would like some more today and I said “yes please!”
This morning Earl and I walked 6km to Rowella and back and on the walk I get plenty of time to think about what I am going to do with the rest of my day. We are still on holidays in between TAFE courses and so we have been pottering around enjoying this lovely mild summer. We have been getting regular rain which is a complete anomaly for Northern Tasmania. The paddocks are usually dry by now but at the moment they are lovely and green. I have only had to water the garden a handful of times since the beginning of summer and since we installed drip irrigation and fridge wicking beds, watering has been a doddle.
On the walk I was thinking about something that a Facebook friend shared with me about Ruth Stout’s method of lasagna gardening. I have read quite a bit about Ruth Stout and her lazy gardening (sic) technique and heartily approve of anything that allows nature to do the work for you. The mulch I had put on the garden beds inside Sanctuary was a bit patchy in places which meant that the soil dried out faster than in other areas so I decided to use up some of my stockpile of saved (hoarded) grass clippings in bags to make a nice thick layer that would reduce evaporation. I didn’t want to deplete my stocks as I have to mulch my fruit trees yet as we haven’t gotten around to drip irrigating them yet and I suddenly remembered the last time that Earl and I were walking around the Batman bridge park and seeing large piles of mown grass and I knew what I was going to do after I walked.
Steve came along for moral support but as he is hacking and wheezing I collected most of the mulch and he carted the bags over to the car and loaded them up. We keep the sacks that our chook wheat comes in and use them for this purpose. I now have 20 bags of delicious dry grass clippings interspersed with rabbit and wild hen manure under a tarpaulin outside Narnia waiting for me to apply it wherever I see fit. I know that some people might think that I should just pay $7 a bale and pick up hay as it would be a lot easier but I got some good exercise collecting the grass clippings, I got to spend some time in a lovely, and very underutilised park with a wonderful view over the river and I got the satisfaction of “gleaning from the commons” in the process.
We dropped the eleven bags of grass clippings back home and picked up the (sulking as they were left home) dogs and headed off to the dog park where they had a prance around and then we picked up five more potted plants to add to my stockpile and returned home. I planted them out among the trees and shrubs and hopefully the annuals will spread their seed and the perennials will grow happily. I would imagine that they will because I planted out Steve’s potted dahlia and it has exploded into growth. I also planted out several mystery plants that I guddled from a pile of garden refuse that someone had dumped on one of our walks. I don’t know what they are but they have a very pretty pink flower and appear to be quite hardy. The perfect thing for Sanctuary. Everything that I am planting out seems happy now and the days of crossing my fingers and hoping that my transplants survive are long gone.
Sanctuary is a converted space this year and a completely different proposition to last year when I hand watered the garden for three hours a day. This year the drip irrigation combined with a thick layer of mulch that we sourced from local parks that had been mown and the grass left behind, has seen a marked improvement in the soil. Where last year the soil was consistently leaching out moisture to the atmosphere and through the soil profile, this year I am watering half as much with much better results.
Steve stopped drinking alcohol and became vegan last month. In the six weeks since then he has lost 10kg. It’s amazing how effortlessly men can drop excess weight with a few positive changes. He does, however, have a bad cold and we haven’t done a lot in a couple of weeks since he succumbed to the dreaded lurgy. I am sure that any woman who has spent any time with a man with a cold will know that a man with a cold is a truly pathetic creature. Steve has been quaffing cough sweets and moping around with puppy dog eyes for almost two weeks now and I have been feeding him lots of healthy food and keeping him hydrated with juice and water with lemon slices in it. Colds are no fun at the best of times but summer colds are truly the pits.
I pottered around and took a few photos for today’s blog post as I wanted to document how delicious today was. In a couple of weeks we will be back on the TAFE treadmill but in a completely different course that will rely more on our ability to be creative than our analytical abilities. We are studying Screen and Media and are required to create a documentary and a drama for our final assessment. Steve loves watching films but I don’t watch a lot of television or go to the movies so this is going to be a real challenge for me. Unlike last year where I had to learn the fundamentals of web design, this year is more about taking our thoughts and turning them into something that someone else would be interested in watching. If anyone has any ideas for a good plot for a drama I would be most grateful if you shared them. I have had a few but I keep shelving them due to technical difficulties in producing the end result.
I have all sorts of ideas but when it comes down to turning the ideas into reality, I need to step back and realise that I am not producing a Quentin Tarantino movie and that my short (5 – 10 minutes) creation needs to deliver the goods without needing all kinds of effects and a big budget. Our movies will be shot using cameras and will be learning how to write scripts for movies, how to add audio and how to (hopefully) make something that will pique the interest of a viewing public. When Steve and I decided that we would throw ourselves into study, rather than working for the dole, we realised that it was going to be a lot harder to wrap our brains around formal study but we have found that it has taught us an enormous amount and has been an entirely brilliant way to expand our horizons.
I have a rough idea for a documentary that involves contacting a friend at TAFE who works with various social groups to create garden spaces. I want to meld the social benefits of gardening and show that growing your own food, sharing what you grow, sharing seeds, plants etc. is an excellent way of forging community and that gardening bridges all kinds of gaps between societies various age, gender and racial groups. We are all one when we are gardening and nature certainly teaches us that lesson implicitly. I am not sure how I am going to go about linking my ideas together but I will have a chat to my friend and see if we can’t come up with a good idea to showcase a variety of people, community gardens etc. in my short documentary. Again, any ideas will be most gratefully listened to.
And so another day on Serendipity Farm is slowly coming to an end. The dogs are both snoring after a big dinner, I have a tasty meal to prepare for Steve and I need to get this post off to the presses. I know that there has been a lot of upheaval and turmoil around the world over the last few weeks and I think that the best we can all do is keep fighting the good fight and keep making positive changes as these small changes all add up to healthier and more resilient communities. Whatever you are doing over the next few weeks, we hope that it brings you happiness and contentment. Catch you all next time 🙂