Category Archives: garden

Spring is in the Air…

...view up the hill towards the house from the bottom dam... our plans are to clear this area of shrubs and grasses and 'lift' the trees to create a park like area where the 'roos can graze... one day... soon...

The view up the hill towards the house as shown in my earlier post…

Earlier in the year I wrote about our project to clear the slope down to the lower dam behind the house, and I have to say, that even though we slid backwards a bit on this over the colder winter months, the project is back on track and Matt is doing an amazing job.

The work in progress… looking a bit sad at the moment, but once we have it cleared we can start greening it up a bit.

 

 

 

In the long term, we are hoping to encourage some pasture or lawn grass to grow there instead of the long, tussocky poa grass, and then the challenge will be to entice the ‘roos to come and graze and keep it nice and short.  We don’t think this will be too much of a challenge, however, as our ‘lawn’ (as we euphemistically call the grass surrounding the house)  is maintained quite nicely by them.  For now, though, we will just be happy to have extended our buffer zone around the house block.

 

 

I, of course, should be helping, but I managed to twist my knee earlier in the school break, and am finding balancing on the rocky, uneven slope a bit awkward.  Excuses aside, there is plenty to keep me occupied, anyway.

I’ve been working on getting our veggie patch up and running again.  After our fiasco with the possum who ate all our veggies last year (except for one, small head of broccoli that I’m not even sure he hadn’t nibbled on), as well as our roses, I’ve been working hard to find a cheap and easy way to possum-proof the beds.  They also need to be swamp-wallaby-proof.  And feral-goat-proof.  As I discovered one day last week when we had all been out and came back to find a small herd of goats absolutely feasting on anything they could get their teeth into!

Our veggie patch, as viewed from the hill above the house.

Our veggie patch, as viewed from the hill above the house.

Enter the chicken wire.  Which is surrounding the beds as we get them planted up.  Not nice taut, chicken wire, stretched between pretty posts, but slightly floppy – because, apparently, possums don’t like climbing it when it is – and tall enough to dissuade wallabies and goats.  We hope.  Although, I suppose that will depend on their determination and just how tempting our crop will be.

At the moment we are re-using some rolls of ex-fencing wire that we have found left lying around the property, but we’re being a bit careful.  Matt saw a brown snake running (sliding) for cover under one such roll, late last summer.

So far, I have weeded one-and-a-half beds and transplanted our asparagus and some tomatoes and celery into one of them.  The toms are under glass as we are still having some frosts, and the asparagus is pretty much hidden under the mulch of poa grass we are experimenting with.

Our permanent bed for the asparagus, alongside the rhubarb that i tried unsuccessfully to move last year.

Our permanent bed for the asparagus, alongside the rhubarb that I tried (unsuccessfully) to move last year.  Note the extremely attractive fencing.

The next bed along is our strawberry patch, which I was going to thin out until I saw all the tiny flowers.  I didn’t take much persuading to move on to the next bed and leave the strawberries in peace.

I’m half way through getting this one free of weeds.  I’ve pulled out about three different kinds of oxalis, various grasses, and something that is possibly santolina.  Another experiment has been to chop up and turn over the clover as a sort of ‘green manure’.  I’ll be interested to see whether it just grows back or not.  I’ve got quite a lot of things planned for this bed, so hopefully by planting heavily I’ll keep it weed free.

If you compare the two sides you can see how overgrown the bed had become.  I'm going to try out some companion planting in here, including some potatoes and a variety of brassicas, bush beans and an onion or two!

If you compare the two sides you can see how overgrown the bed had become. I’m going to try out some companion planting in here, including some potatoes and a variety of brassicas, bush beans, and an onion or two!

Two more beds to go after that, including one that will be challenging to possum-proof, and then a herb bed to tidy up.

Just one or two things to keep me going for a while.

Possum magic?

... a peaceful night at Seventy Seven Acres

… a peaceful night at Seventy Seven Acres

One of the many beautiful things about life at Seventy Seven Acres is the peace and quiet of the nights here.  Often, all you can hear is the whisper of the wind in the trees, the croaking of frogs over at the pond, and perhaps the haunting cry of an owl…

… but not on this occasion.

I’m a light sleeper at the best of times, but this had been enough to drag Matt from his deep and dreamless repose. I know, because when I said, “What was that?” or words to that effect, he said “snffndon’know…”

If, as my immediate thoughts had brought to mind, an enraged, escaped bull had burst through our living room door, then it had now gone suspiciously quiet.

My heart was pounding and all my senses were poised ready for fight or flight, but my breathing was slowly coming back to normal.

Logic told me that it couldn’t be an enraged, escaped bull – nor, my second choice, a steam train – so I slipped out of bed and went to investigate. Cautiously. In case it was an enraged, escaped bull, and was wondering what to do next.

The moon lent a pale, shadowy light through the window, revealing little in the way of bulls or steam trains. In fact, all was quiet. I continued into the kitchen-family room, but all was still there, too.

Puzzling.

I know I didn’t imagine it. My dreams do tend to be highly realistic, but don’t usually impinge on Matt’s consciousness (apart from the time I tried to rescue him from a helicopter that was about to land on our bed – well, I was convinced it was, anyway, when I tried to pull him out of the way).

I shrugged, and wandered back towards the bedroom, and had got as far as the door when something strange registered on my consciousness.

I padded back down the corridor.

Will you look at that!” I said. Perhaps a bit more explosively than was absolutely necessary.

Wha..?” came a bleary voice from the bedroom.

I laughed – because what else can you do? – and Matt appeared groggily, carrying a torch, which he proceeded to shine through the glass door.

Instead of a peculiar shadow, I could now see a possum clinging desperately to the door frame and regarding us with startled eyes. When it shifted position, its claws scraped loudly on the fly screen. Not quite like the enraged, escaped bull sound but with certain recognisable qualities. I can only imagine that what we had heard was the possum flinging itself against the door frame, leaping over the pot of mint to get a good purchase high enough off the ground to feel safe. From what I could not say, although we do have foxes and owls in the vicinity.

...the possum looked away at the precise moment my camera reluctantly agreed to work

…the possum looked away at the precise moment my camera reluctantly agreed to work

Good luck to them actually catching this possum though. Well, they might catch it easily enough, but carrying it off afterwards could be a problem. As you can see, he – or perhaps, she – is quite a chubby little animal. Well fed. Mostly on our veggies, enjoying a sweet tidbit of new rose plants for dessert.

A little gentle persuasion later, Chubs lowered him – or her – self to the ground in a dignified manner and waddled off into the darkness. Probably to munch on our roses again.

Sadly, my camera also objected to being woken up in the wee small hours of the morning and could only be persuaded to take one picture. Just as the possum looked away. So, instead of the rather sweet face of our midnight visitor, you see a headless rendition that reminded me of a certain well known Australian picture book. I didn’t think I had any lamingtons on hand, though, so I just had to resign myself to finding the new buds nipped off the roses again come the morning.

We’ll get there. I’m sure we’ll reach a compromise.

Like, I’ll fence off my veggie patch (and roses), but maybe leave out some fruit (or lamingtons) for Chubs.

... our resident possum retreating to safety after being caught in the act of feasting on our young broccoli plants

… our resident possum retreating to safety after being caught (on an earlier occasion) in the act of feasting on our young broccoli plants

I just hope he won’t make a habit of impersonating enraged, escaped bulls in the middle of the night. Once was enough.