Thursday, January 31, 2008

I have Bush Tucker

On the weekend when I was out the back pulling up some of my dreaded Caltrop I noticed some of my "Native Weeds" had some pretty little pink berries on them, looking similar to a pomegranate seed (fleshy around the outside with a seed in the middle).....hmmm interesting....Photo from:

Once back at work I asked our environmental guys what it would be, and we consulted the plant books scouring the pictures, and "there that's it". One of my "weeds" is a Ruby Saltbush, and the pink berries are actually edible and used as bush tucker.

How great it is to be a slack weeder!!!

Native Weeds

As I have mentioned before my most frustrating weed in my yard is Caltrop. Although it has to be admired for its persistence and ability to grow anywhere, and at a rate of knots, and the amount of seeds one plant can put out, which I swear most end up growing, but not for its ability to find bare feet!!

Moving into a different area to what I have grown up in came a whole lot of new weeds. My attitude was if I didnt know what it was it was allowed to stay, then once it grew if it didnt have prickles it was allowed to stay a bit longer. Then as they have flowered I have set about identifying them. Many of the plants that I had never seen before ended up being natives, most considered as weeds because they are so common but native never the less.

The previous owners used to religiously spray the whole backyard to get rid of the "weeds" so when we moved in it was completely barren, since I have moved in I have not sprayed at all (although I have been tempted by the caltrop) and have a range of "native weeds" that have sprung up. When something grows which I havent seen before,I take either a photo or a sample of it into work to try and have it identified by our environmental person, thinking I may have just found a rare and endangered species (well I have never seen it before). Most if the time I have been told that it is a native but it grows like a weed, grows like mad, producing lots of seeds (which will stick in your socks, but not really prickly like caltrop), then die off, but the beaded dragons and sleepy lizards have been seen to eat it, So it earns the right to stay in the yard.

I have also had a few acacias that have grown as well, (I am assuming out of bird droppings), these will definitely be staying, if these want to grow by themselves it saves me trying to buy tubestock and keep them watered all the time. As well as the fact that they have decided to grow near the side fence which I want to create a native screen against, to create a bit of privacy and also provide habitat for birds and lizards. Usually it is the self seeded ones which grow the best.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Goodbye Backyard Privacy

Friday saw the next-door neighbours house arrive. Went to work in the morning leaving a vacant next-door block, and returning to look out the kitchen window to see a brand new house plonked, about level with the middle of our backyard. Because we dont have high fences this now means that from their front windows they can see straight onto our back veranda (where we quite like to sit of an afternoon or evening and enjoy a couple of drinks and watch the colours of the sky and hills as the sun sets)

The view from sitting height on the back veranda.

The house arrival wasn't really new news we have known since about a month after we moved in that they were planning to put a transportable on the block, and had know that Friday was going to be that day for a couple of weeks.

Since first discovering that we were going to have human neighbours (a miniature horse has live there for a while now) I set to planting a natural screen with pants from our Arid Lands nursery, these were large tube-stock, which have grown well but are still probably a few years short of being big enough to successfully do the job they were intended for.

This is a Golden Grey Mulga (Acacia argyrophylla) which was planted around 6 months ago and I plan to be the main screening plant. You can see from the clothes peg it is nowhere near the heigh that it needs to be to do its job.

I am thinking of planting some relatively short lived plants behind these (between it and the fence) to create a temporary screen until the natives grow tall enough. My thoughts currently are leaning towards giant russian sunflowers, or perhaps some sort of non invasive bamboo that would grow in a fairly hot dry climate (if one exists)

What else might be suitable? Here's the criteria: grows to around 2m (minimum), allows the natives in front of it to grow and not be permanent. I think I'm looking at at least a couple of years until the natives will be tall enough, grow in a hot and relatively dry climate, surviving on minimal or hand watering, not need supporting like a trellis.

I'm interested to hear others ideas.

First Corn

This is the first picking of corn, yes it was a bit small but what was even more disheartening was the discovery after taking the husk off, the fact there is only three kernels that have developed. This is however from the first planting and is one of the surviving plants after a "survival of the fittest" incident initiated by one chook that discovered it likes the fresh green leaves of young corn plants. Maybe the bigger planting (which has been relatively free of chooks) will be a little more promising.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The heat taking its toll

Well things haven't really been doing too much lately except almost dying in the heat and non-rain. Out the front I have agapanthus which I thought were fairly drought tolerant plants, but even those have withered away in the heat, what a few weeks ago were nice lush plants are now clumps of dry yellow leaves with a few green shoots here and there, even my frangipanies are looking a bit sad from the heat and lack of rain.

The corn patch has set some cobs but it didnt escape the heat either with quite a bit of the leaves being burnt.

The tomato plants dont seem to be going that well, the plants themselves look good but there is not too many flowers and the flowers that are there dont seem to be setting, not sure what the problem is there, might have to try again with a different variety.

This morning I went to the local flea market and bought a bag of pig manure and a bag of sheep manure from a nearby, farmer to go on the garden, will see how that goes I have only ever used horse manure on the garden.

Friday evening I got out the back with my hand shovel and attacked the Caltrop which again has spurted into life. I had thought that I might have to resort to spraying it because there seemed to be a lot in the back yard, which was well and truly on its way to setting seed, but after about an hour of walking around and slicing each plant I found, off below ground level with my hand shovel, I found there was fewer plants than I had originally thought, so I am happy that my methods seem like they are working. I have been collecting the seeds in a bucket by the back door, and that is starting to build up nicely.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Knited Dish Cloths

During our recent "lack of internet" I decided that I would do some knitting, and thought I would make up some dish cloths for cleaning. I get so annoyed when the chux cloth starts to fall apart, but I still keep using it wanting to get the most out of it before I let the worms at it.

Here it is at the start,

and here is the finished product

It was really easy to make and only took me two nights to do it while sitting in front of the TV. Now to find the motivation to use it and get those dishes done

Pumpkin vines are looking like vines

I noticed the other day that my pumpkin plants that are planted amongst the corn have grown from little things to actually looking like vines, they even have some flower buds on them so now its just a mater of waiting to see if there are both male and female plants and if they set fruit. Now starts the chasing and training to keep them in the garden.

Someone is not pulling their weight!!!

Monday when I went and collected the eggs I found the usual 2 eggs, only one was much different to what is normally laid, it had been shrunk.

This picture shows the two eggs and a 10 cent coin, the one on the left is normal size.

I guess the heat is taking its toll on them as well. There have been no more "bantum" size eggs since then so I think it was just a once off thing.

Joy to find a catepillar in the garden

Now most gardeners hate finding caterpillars in their garden, but even to my amazement, the other day when I was in the veggie patch collecting the flowering tops of some Asian greens to feed to the chooks, I was delighted to find a fat green caterpillar. Some may ask whywould you be delighted at this?.....well my first thought was "wow!! the chooks will love this, but pity there's only one they will have to fight over it".

What "strange" things do you find enjoyment in, in your life?

I have been lost.

Saturday night I lost my internet, after over an hour of talking to tech support people and changing wires and pressing this and that and resetting this and that, they worked out it was a problem with the exchange, so nothing to do until Telstra fix it up at their end. Today is Wednesday and it has only just been fixed and I am able to access the internet at home again.

I was really surprised as to how much I rely on the internet without realising it, so many times over the last 5 days I thought "I'll just check that on the internet" then "no I wont, its not working" Simple things like the weather pages for how hot it got today or how hot it is going to be tomorrow, or what's on the TV tonight, even recipes, and then there is the internet banking and checking on my favourite sites and blogs to see who's been up to what, all these things that I have started to take for granted, its a bit like in a power failure when we still (out of habit) turn the light switches on and expect it to light up the room.

What do you do on the internet that you take for granted.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Sharing Our Land

I read on Rohnda's blog Down to Earth a comment about even though we may own land it is not entirely ours, we share it with other living things, like birds, reptiles, and insects. This got me thinking about my half an acre and what I share my land with, just of the top of my head I know I have a number of little skinks (who I havent managed to get pics of because they move so quickly) many who drop their tails when they are attacked, there are spoggies that live in the date palm, there are Murray magpies, native doves, and crested pigeons (we call them toppies), normal magpies, galahs, corellas, and I have seen a couple of times a rather large green grass parrot (probably a bit bigger than a rosella)

A few months ago I had a pair of Sleepy lizards stay with me for a few weeks, they made a cosy hole in my shade house and would wonder about the garden during the day. The first time I saw them they scared the crap out of me, I went to check on the chooks and heard a rusting in the dried leaves, but not like a scuttling little skink rustle, more like what I thought was a snake rustle. It turned out to be a large sleepy that I had scared and it was trying to get away and hide. Now I pretty much grew up in the city so never had to deal with snakes and I'm well aware that where I am now is brown snake territory and especially living
on the size block that I have, refusing to clear and poison every single weed and keep a perfectly neat and tidy garden, leaving water out for birds and lizards, and having chooks means that there is a fairly good chance that I am going to one day share my yard with a snake of some description, but they do frighten me and I secretly hope that they stay away (or at least stay somewhere where I don’t know about them and am not likely to unexpectedly step on them)

There is a possum around somewhere, I occasionally hear it jump onto the roof with a rather large thump, and it ate my 3 plums

The flocks of galahs, and corellas live in the trees nearby, and go out in the morning to feed throughout the day and then return at night. They make a huge racket both when they are leaving in the morning and when they return at night, my cockatiel often gets into trouble because being a small parrot and a flock bird will "call out" to the others, (she hasn’t realised she is not a galah, or a corella, or a human for that mater) only us humans call it screeching, a very high pitched loud call which gets very annoying very quickly, especially when it is inside.

There are a number of kites that glide around looking for food on the ground below.

And then there is the thousands of flies, spiders and other insects which I would rather found someone else's yard to call their home.

Here is a picture of a couple of galahs in the gum tree next door the other night (it didnt come out too clear because the sun had almost gone down).

And a flock of correllas last night,

And as they took off (there were three kites flying around down the road)

What creatures share your yard, and how do you encourage them?