Friday, August 19, 2011

Finishing some "unfinished"

If there's one thing the wife absolutely loves, its got to be the way the yard is littered with half finished projects. Its not just because it gives it an abstract, new age feel, or because the ironing got done. I figure it could have something to do with my euphemistic interpretation of the way her face contorts when I suggest starting another something new. But no matter how much it makes her happy, every now and then it really starts to bother me, and so sooner or later I get around to starting an end to a project.

At some point in the last two years I must have gotten distracted. Because shamefully that's how long its been since we replaced our treated timber retaining wall, and how long some of these gaping holes have been waiting to be filled.

So to start, I had to do something that would distract the wife from the certain distress that would come from completing something that was unfinished. Its a few boards of stained decking timber, so you could say its my back deck, but in truth, its supposed to more closely resemble the function of a seat. What's better, the gaping hole is only covered, not filled, and the seat is removable - so aside from me being able to keep it out of the weather, I can return to the gaping-hole look whenever I want! 

She was so delighted with the result, there wasn't even a hint of a complaint.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


The oranges think so.
The lemon thinks so.
The plums definitely think so.
The apples... Nah. Stuff ya'.

Monday, August 15, 2011

By Rognvald's Mattock!

Anyone over the age of four will tell you that you can't use grass in a salad. And since I am reminded daily that we're currently growing a couple of under-four-year-olds, I thought it an opportune time to reclaim a bit more of the lawn before those few extra sets of eyes join the wife, watching suspiciously whenever I disappear into the yard with a mattock. In any case, I'm going to be leaving at least some lawn, mostly just to cover ourselves in case said under-four-year-olds won't eat anything else green.

I was lucky enough to have both company and experience in the yard with me yesterday - a good mate of mine who has more experience with a mattock than Thor had with a hammer back when the Norsemen started to worship him. I'm sure the Vikings would have given this guy some cool name like Rognvald, and shouted it loud when they did their team gardening. We're talking about a man that regularly removes large expanses of lawn in forty degree heat, if there's anything more bad-ass than that.

Aside from the usual bribery in the form of ice cream, chocolate or ironing board slavery, approval for this project is won by the acceptance of shape and form as marked out by a garden hose. The wife looked reasonably happy with the proposal, and in my book, a yes is a yes, even if it is said with folded arms and an unconvinced tone. With two mattocks smiting the lawn, a lasting and irreversible impression is quickly made.

I've designed my garden to be a lot of things - but if there's one thing that it is definitely not, its conducive-to-wheelbarrow. But unless you're teetering on the edge of death or permanent injury by falling wheelbarrow, I say you're not really gardening. And that's the story of how new topsoil came into my world.

Then in a final attempt to ensure at least one of us would need to build a lasting relationship with a physiotherapist, Rognvald and I began moving large chunks of bush rock I'd acquired from some random's front yard. I assure you though it was totally legit - through a service I can't speak highly enough about (Freecycle). After arranging them suitably in place, the dropping sun was subtly telling me the same thing my lower back was shouting directly into the pain centres of my brain: Its time to throw back a few of Bundaberg's finest.

And with the setting sun, mattocks by the door, and dirt strewn across the back room, so closes the opening chapter in a new epic.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Getting cold feet

More often that not, its dark when I leave the house over the colder months. When I arrive home its darker. Some nights I still go out to see the plot, when the need is most great. But I'm almost never there in the mornings. It's hard enough getting out of bed, let alone venturing that one step colder. For me, the coming of Winter marks the time where the otherwise steady, stable relationship I have with my garden disintegrates into a series of intermittent weekend flings and one-night stands. Thus, the most used pages of my little black book at this time of year are full of self-confident, independent and motivated types who are mutually agreeable with these kinds of on-again-off-again arrangements. I'd like to think we've become quite comfortable with one another over the years.

Broccoli is performing surprisingly well this year, considering that the plants were eaten down to the ground three times before they gained any traction. I spent April squashing the caterpillar of the cabbage white butterfly, as well as attempting in vain to find out how in gods name the slugs were getting past my defenses.  Next year I'll plant broccoli in late May - when I've found both these pests are a lot less active. My July succession crop of broccoli suffers none of the above problems, but I fear its growing too slow to crop before the hot weather gives it a beating. But all up, since April, the only thing I've done for them is harvest the results.

At the risk of loosing my title as a lazy gardener, I'm now going to carefully use the term succession a number of times more - hopefully not to the shock and disappointment of you, my dear readers. My bush beans grew so well through the June, I was even game enough to plant a succession crop of those right in winter's heart - which are coming along surprisingly well. Up to a kilo a week has been collected in short sprints between the patch and my climate controlled abode.

The onions are doing as onions do. Nothing too quickly. But alas! I even have a succession crop of those!

Despite the best efforts of the seed packet to scare me from planting parsnips in late May, I went ahead and did it anyway. They've been growing extremely well, hand in hand with a row of carrots, all the way through the colder months. Its almost like they don't need me at all.

So maybe I have to admit I did in some ways become a little more committed to the Winter Garden this year.

But only a little.