Monday, 30 September 2013

The first planting in the Community Garden...

It has been a busy few weeks at the Community Garden. 

Weather has not been our friend over the last couple of weeks, with rain making the site too muddy to work on many days. So when the sun has shone, we have made the most of it.

We have had a great workshop on grafting. Having been the recipient of a surgical graft, I can sure see the similarities.

The Corrections Victoria guys have been back a couple of times to continue with the retaining walls, and this week they start on building the steps between the beds. I have to say that without their help, we would be so much further behind.

The steel bars have been driven into the ground for the curved gabion wall, and there has been heaps of shoveling of very heavy wet soil to back fill the retaining walls.

And most importantly, we have the first plants in. The top terrace is a row of fruit trees, that will be espaliered across the pool fence.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

In the garden this week.....

I love this time of year. Warm enough to go barefoot in the day and cool enough to snuggle under the doona at night. Oh and because the garden comes to life!

Top Left - this Lillie will need to be shifted next winter. The flower heads are way to tall for the landing above.

Top Mid - Tomato seeds & Spaghetti Squash seeds had been hanging around for a couple of years, so I wasn't sure they would shoot. No need to worry, and the toilet rolls make great seed pots.

Top Right - The variegated Fuchsia is great against the blue of the pot. Think I'll try it in a hanging basket too.

Bottom Left - The tulips have been fantastic this year. Those cold winter days did the trick.

Mid Right - The retaining wall bed is looking its best at the moment

Bottom Right - First time the variegated Iris has flowered. Love the clarity of the flower.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Watching the garden grow......

I've spent a few  minutes today looking back over photos of the garden.  Even though I've been the one to put in the work, I sometimes forget how far the garden has come in 4 years. I think most gardeners are guilty of seeing what is to be done next, rather than taking pleasure in what they have achieved.  

When we moved in the garden style was very heavily skewed towards water saving and native plants. Given we had just been through years of drought, it was a sensible choice (if not very exciting). I couldn't wait to get my hands dirty and make my mark on the garden. 

The narrow bed beside the drive was screaming out for something more interesting. I'm not a fan of Agapanthus, so they were replanted out on the road side. The Potato Vine and Jasmine were already in place, and have continued to thicken up.  The tired natives were given a good hair cut. Those that survived have been incorporated into the new bed. 

I wanted to renovate the bed so that it would give good screening, but not block out the view. So I decided to go with  "Big Red" Lillypilly that will grow up to form a 2m screen. I've added a mix of  Kangaroo Paw that were on a throw out table at the local nursery, as a mid level planting. I've managed to hold onto most through the frosty weather. After all, they are a bit far away from their natural warm & dry environment.  My mum struck cuttings from the box hedge from her garden,  so I could add this as a lower story hedge. It will grow about knee high.

This bed hasn't been easy to work with. The soil (if you can call it that) is rock hard and basically a mix of rocks and really poor dirt. I've been heaping the sugar cane mulch, dynamic lifter and trace elements onto the bed to try and improve the soil. It's going to be an ongoing process I'm afraid. I can't wait to see what it looks like in another 4 years.

beside the drive summer 2010

Spring 2013

Friday, 20 September 2013

Going the the Henty Field Days....

I know that unless you live in Northern Victoria or southern NSW, the title of this blog will not make much sense. I've been hearing the "going to the Henty Field Days" jingle all my life, and it sticks in your head. So this year I went along with my parents, sister & brother in law.

As the jingle says " people come from miles around", and they do. Waiting for a coffee, I got chatting to a lady who had come down from a property outside of Longreach Queensland (about 1200km away).  People fly in from their outback stations, and stay for the full 3 days. It really is a social event as well as business event.

Henty Field Days is basically a trade show for the agricultural industry. Anything you could imagine was on offer.

Looking for a grain silo, look no further! 
You want a grain header that is controlled by sat-nav, do they have a deal for you! 
Need a new toilet block for your shearing crew, step right up!

 You get the idea.

The scale of the engineering is what impressed me most. Farming on an industrial scale!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

It has taken months......

My latest crochet project has been a blanket, and it has taken most of the winter to get to a size that I'm happy with. I just can't decide if it needs a border. What do you think? Any ideas? 

This is the first time I've used the "join as you go" method, and I have to say that I'm converted. On those cold winter nights, it was really nice to snuggle under neath, while I worked a new row. 

I think the secret to this method working, is the motif that you choose. I mucked around a bit until I found one that I was happy with. I used the motif  #118 from "Beyond The Square - Crochet Motifs" by Edie Eckman, which was really straight forward.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Full steam ahead....

It sure is full steam ahead at the Community Garden. 

Saturday dawned a beautiful morning, just right for a working bee. 

The angle iron was cut and welded to form a "T", so that it will hold the concrete sleepers that make the retaining walls. They sure were heavy!

around 300 metres of recycled steel have gone into the ground

Thanks goodness for Ron and his digger (I know it has a proper name, but we just refer to it as the digger). He was able to push each "T" at least 1.5meters into the ground. We would still be there if we had to drive them in by hand!

You can see from these photos that it is not a flat site. Far from it. The terracing really is going to be the focal point of the garden and is going to give us about 90m of veggie beds. Should be plenty of room to grow what every we want here. With the community swimming pool right next door, we hope people will drop by after they have been for a swim.

where there is will there is a way
Today we had the wonderful help of the residents from the local Corrections Victoria establishment. They worked so hard and were extremely polite. I was even referred to "madam" when I was in the way and they needed to get past. They physically lifted the recycled concrete sleepers (about 100kg each) into place on all three terraces. I'm sure they all slept well tonight.

the retaining walls still need to be tweaked and back filled

 So what next? Well, we need to get the top terrace in shape so we can get the bare rooted fruit trees in place. They really should have been in the ground 3 weeks ago, so it's all hands on deck on Saturday to get them in the ground.

More later...

Monday, 9 September 2013

What a difference fresh eyes make.....

A couple of weeks ago, my dear friend Lizzie came to stay for the weekend. She is a mad keen gardener like me, and so I was picking her brain about what to do with various "problem" spots around the garden. She very quickly came up with ideas for the fence that joins to our neighbor's orchard. It has been bothering me that when I stand at the kitchen sink, this is what I see.

Not very inspiring! The green sheeting is to keep their goats & dogs in. Does the job, but not very pretty. With a trip to the hardware shop for some nature reed, wire & pliers we spent a couple of hours chatting, snipping & tying.  So after a window wash and a couple of warm spring days, here is the result.

With the blossom on the fruit trees, the fresh growth on the Japanese Honeysuckle and Lizzie's styling of the potted blueberry and cyclamen, I can't help but smile when I'm doing the dishes now!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Election 2013....

So another federal election has come and gone. Do you look at the mandatory vote as just another thing you "have to do", or do you grab hold of your democratic right to have a say in who runs the nation. For me it is the later, but it does concern me that as it is mandatory to vote in Australia if you are over 18 years old, there are many people who vote as though it is a popularity contest.

In the electorate I live in, we still don't have a result. It is a close race, and it will go down to preferences to find out if we stay a Liberal seat with Sophie Mirabella, or if the Independent Cathy McGowan will be our voice in Canberra. We will wait and see.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

How much bunting is enough?.....

About 5km actually.

A lovely local lady by the name of Lauren has inspired us to try and break the world record for bunting. So every Friday night, armed with rotary cutters, piles of fabric, and whirring sewing machines a local group of sewers and cutters get together to get our to the 5km target. Still a way to go, but we will get there!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Building a "Community" garden...

Our community has been fortunate to be able to secure a grant to build a "Community Garden" through  Sustainable Gardening Australia & the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust. There has been a lot of decisions to make, and ideas to follow up. The struggle to find a site that would work for us, took us through two other options before the local council was able to commit to "our site". Sitting between Commissioner's Creek and the local swimming pool, it has huge potential. The garden isn't a garden where people have an allotment. Rather it is a garden for the community. To garden together, to catch up, to chat, to laugh and to share skills.

willow tree removal - photo thanks to Yackandandah Community Garden web site

There has been community forums to talk about what we want to use the garden for. This was a really interesting session. We have people who are keen amateur gardeners through to professional nursery men. People in their 20's through to people in their 70's. People who have large country gardens and those on town blocks. We are a true cross section with a wealth of experience. We pooled our ideas to come up with a draft plan.

Brainstorming design ideas

Plan designed by Tabatha Barclay

 It has been a wet winter, but on Sunday things started to progress.The two donated 22,000lt water tanks were man / woman handled into place. It has been fantastic to see what has been donated. We are very fortunate.

many hands make light work
We are using a shipping container as our shed, and will cut a door and add a roof with veranda to make it look more like a "shed".

fancy foot work to attach the moving chains
The positioning of the container at the top of the site has the potential to go so very wrong, but thankfully went really well.

So after a morning of progress, a cup of tea and scones was just what we needed.

As a keen gardener, it is so exciting to see progress. Can't wait for the raised beds to go in, and w can start planting!

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