Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Step Forward in Time

It's a wonderful thing, to have friends who remind, inspire and motivate you to rekindle things when they've gone by the wayside.
The Crone (of Wit's End fame) is one of those. She's firing up her blog again and in doing so has reminded me that I enjoyed blogging and have let it go.
And my feelings around that are an indicator of how much growing has happened inside and out over the past 2 years. Where once I would have felt guilt and berated myself for evidence of yet another thing I have failed to do, lacked discipline on etc, now I can smile and expect that my blog will have rests over the duration of its life, just as we all need to let things rest and pick them up again when our fancy and appropriate energy levels allow.
Amazing what a diagnosis or three will do. Family issues will be left alone here, as that is a topic for another blog altogether. Suffice to say, that wonderful changes have happened which are making all our lives easier and happier. This blog however, is not my journey but Cwm Goch's. And though small, the steps towards the Grand Plan are in constant motion.

So here are some things which have changed, grown or been learnt since our last chat.

This is the highlight of our food forest. Home to tadpoles, frogs, various naturally occurring invertebrates and now 4 koi (a gift from my parents for my 40th).
It is the place I come to at the end of a hard day to sit on the tiny pallet deck with a glass of wine and a handful of koi food. Best thing I ever built. And it is little, 1.5 x 2.5m or thereabouts, it just always looks a lot bigger in the photos.
Here's the growth.

Summer 2014                                                                 Autumn 2016

It also has a small waterfall to aerate the water for the koi, but it keeps getting clogged. Haven't worked out a solution to this yet. It has a filter but there's so much slime it clogs within 24hours. Might need to encase the pump in a box that rests on the slime so the base isn't stirred. 

Buddha has also found a more fitting home, under the loquat tree which I hope will one day stretch out over the pond and provide shade on the pathway beneath it. This tree grew from a seed dropped by a bird, which grew into a small plant and which I subsequently transplanted here.
So for anyone wondering, yes, you can grow loquat trees from seed.

Food Forest
Slowly but surely the food forest is starting to feel like a forest.
There are spaces within it which are shaded, and the children have to come and 'find' me when I'm in it because there is no longer a clear view through the place.

 I had given up on under-storey for a while as the plants would die every summer, beaten by our 40+ degree days which fried everything that wasn't heavily shaded.
Things are getting to a point though where with a few strategically located toughies (arrowroot, pigeon pea etc) I'm considering trying this again.

(Bare ground - though well mulched now - ready for under-storey planting in the upcoming spring).

Also a video I watched on forest agronomy showed just how thick they were laying the 'chop and drop'. It was 30-40cm. I tried this on a small section beneath our jaboticaba (which has stayed at the 1.2m mark for 3 years) and it positively thrived during the hottest part of our summer - putting on new growth and growing!
Jaboticaba - 1.4m (Note thick mulch)

I've mulched before, but the difference this time was the thickness and the layering of green and brown - basically in situ compost layering. Not thick enough to get hot like compost (a good thing as this would have harmed the plant, no doubt) but thick enough to hold moisture and thrive with a good deep watering once every week/fortnight. Amazing given our hot summers.
This is the other side of the bare patch. Hoping to fill the space under and around the apple tree at some point. Chop and drop ongoing in this space in the hope that it will break down and create humous.

So that's the food forest, lots of growth and lots more shade, but just as many patches which need work.

Ice-cream Bean Tree
The ice-cream bean tree has finally produced pods!!!! We are just waiting on them to plump up a little  more before we try them. I've read that the seeds will sprout if placed immediately into soil so that's what will be happening as I'd like a few more of these. They are good shade trees and will grow tall enough to form canopy. Most of my food forest trees are mid-storey (peaches and such) so a few taller specimens will be welcome to form more layers and denser shade.
Pecan Tree
The pecan tree also has 3 nuts on it for the first time ever. When we shifted these bricks from the verandah area I repurposed them for a seat around the tree. It will be lovely to sit in the shade of a huge tree one day (and eat the nuts - yum!)

Panama Gold Passionfruit
Remember the old acacia that snapped and died? I convinced the husband to leave it as a frame for a passionfruit vine. Well, it took a couple of years but this summer/autumn we've had our first crop. They are delicious! And the high growing place means they are safe from foraging children who like to pick things before they're ripe and before I ever get a taste.

They've grown a bit and given us a handful of fruit, but to be honest I was expecting more from them by now. 
Maybe exponential growth will see us have more next year.

And that red-tipped plant is the Brazilian Cherry - barely budged in size or status since I planted it. Proof that I'm an optimist and useful for very little else.

Current Projects
French Bio-intensive plot

Inspired by our cousin whom we've shared our bottom paddock with so she can start up a market garden, I've made some 'market garden' style beds closer to the house for our own use.
This came about from my annoyance at buying vegies. It seems stupid given that we have so much space, yet our plantings in the past still only offer side dishes to supplement a meal or two a week at best. Our fruit supply gives us dessert most nights if we choose, but vegies have eluded us.
Hopefully, these beds will change this somewhat.

Seed raising
Past failures had me leave this for a while but the amount of seedlings we need for the bio-intensive beds far exceeds what I'm prepared to pay for so I'm having another go.

What I've learnt is that choosing the strongest seedlings, pricking them out and transplanting them to a second deeper container (which allows the roots to grow longer) means they take less time to grow once transplanted into the ground while taking up less resources and time to care for them in the interim.
Well, that's what the literature says, we'll see if it all works out, but it's looking good so far.

These spinach seedlings have been pricked out and will be moved into the beds in a couple of weeks.

Beside them are youngberries ready for a seed swap or to give to a friend, and my first try at pigeon peas which I'm hoping to grow for shelter and food.

And that's enough for one post. A pretty good catch-up on the whole methinks.

Good to be back, now to head over to Wit's End and see what's happening there...


Lara Zheng said...

It all looks fabulous!

Ps: I kept looking for the 'like' button!

Anonymous said...

It is wonderful to read you are back and the garden is looking amazing!