Dead chicken

It turns out Dynamite was not so dynamite. Dynamite was unhappy, or sick, or something, and just up and died without warning some time on Wednesday. Checked her for signs of trauma, but there was nothing.

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Here she is the previous evening, looking all rested and content.

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RIP Dynamite.

 

Planter changeover

The planters on the deck are a mess. The original idea was to have a tree grow in the middle, surrounded by low, leafy herbs. But the trees don’t grow, and the low herbs turn into tall stems that go everywhere.

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One has a Tahitian lime, which got trashed by hail and, while it’s recovering, it’s having a really hard time of it. The lime is surrounded by white peppermint, spearmint, tarragon, parsley and a strawberry which never produces any fruit. In stark contrast to the ones on the meadow stairs, which are going gangbusters.

The pots are pretty dry; we’ll need to give them some reticulation if we want to get things to really grow well in them, and be a bit more conscientious with their feeding.

The other has irises in it, which are nice, but it’s also got a fungus that gets into the bay laurel.

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The fungus goes for whatever leaf is lowest

The fungus grows on the wood – it’s just half a wine barrel. As the wood ages it rots, and fungus grows up at the edge of the soil where it’s damp.

There’s a long-term plan to put in some magnolias around the grassed area. We’re going to try to get them going in these planters, with the addition of two new ones.

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Baby magnolias (with the big leaves) waiting in the seedling table

We’ll give them a proper clean-out, and line the inside of the barrels so that the wood isn’t wet. Hopefully that will stop the fungus from returning.

So step 1 is to remove any plants that we can – the laurel planter yielded a tiny sage bush, two chives with two leaves each, a strawberry plant, an oregano plant that is all flower stems, and a bunch of common mint, which I’ve developed a distinct dislike for. I don’t know how it became common; it’s the worst kind of mint for anything.

R’s room refresh

R spends a lot of time down on the floor of his room. It’s only natural; things keep falling there.

When we had a water leak a couple of years ago, the water got into R’s room and caused a terrible stink. The state of the carpet in there is horrifying to contemplate.

It was kind a forgotten place when the previous owners had it. The furniture consisted of a crib, a chair, and a rocking horse. Oh, and a miniature wheelie bin. We think that bed-with-bars is a crib, anyway. Not sure who’s child it was for; the kids who lived here were teens.

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S decided enough was enough, and that R couldn’t wait for the grand plan to eventuate to get himself out of there and upstairs. Fair enough, too. The grand plan will take forever at the current rate.

Stuff was moved out, and the old carpet ripped up. R carried all his own old carpet down to the shed for later hard rubbish disposal.

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+1 happiness, +1 strength and +1 handy ute action

Meanwhile S worked on getting all the skank off the floor. Literally scraping. The house is 30 years old this year, but it seems like that carpet has to be older.

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With the carpet off it seemed like a good idea to paint the walls, also. S is finally abandoning her love affair with beige. R’s big rainbow will go, too, since he’s getting so big and all.

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Paint, paint, paint.

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And it’s ready for the carpet man. We weren’t going to try to do it ourselves; there’s an awful lot of banging that goes with carpet laying, and we’re not really bangers.

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Ready to go. We can’t take the cabinet out without removing the wheels and the laundry door. The carpet man says it’s OK to work around it. Phew! Was considering turfing it out the window…

 

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S wanted a shelf for R to put his books on. The only problem is that all the wall space is kind of taken by the bed, the cabinet and the built-in wardrobe. So the shelf will go above the cabinet and R will just have to climb up there when he wants a book. He’ll still have his little go-to collection at the side of his bed, so it’s not a terrible inconvenience.

The shelf is one of those Ikea “floating” ones. You don’t get a choice about where the holes go, so it’s attached to the wall with toggle screws that go through a hole and then pop open on the other side, instead of being screwed straight into the studs. As they go in the toggles grab the back of the plasterboard. The shelf slides over the long sticky-outy bits.

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Pretty sure this was the effect S was after.

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Then it’s all ready to have R’s stuff piled back in.

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A bit of garden tidy up

The garden gets very leggy over summer. The grass gets long and pointy. We keep the bit by the sand pit tidy for hanging out on, and once we’ve collected the seeds from the original veggie patch (only parsley this time), we chop that whole area getting ready to refresh the veggie patch for more yummy plants.

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The grass gets cut and the sand pit gets weeded and raked.

It’s been a very cool summer so far, and a wet January, and we’ve had a few flowers pop out thinking it was spring or autumn or something. It seems like it’s cool and wet enough to plant some things without killing them. The plants are certainly loving the sunshine/rain combo.

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A “cha cha” chilli, apparently 7.5/10 on the hot scale. Maybe try half a chilli in dinner next time.
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Creeping thyme and Spanish shawl. The Spanish shawl should trail down the rocks to the right, down to the cherry tree
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The seedling table is already full. Need to do more planting, but every time a plant goes in some kind of earthworks are required. It’s hard work.
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A few belladonnas in the garden think it’s autumn already. A bull ant nest is just under those nasturtiums, so I’m always pretty afraid to go digging about this spot.
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A baby bunny, as brazen as you please. They seem to like the weeds, so we don’t chase them too much.
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This pink lady apple was in a pot in the veggie patch, grown from a seed. It was looking too healthy, though, and sure enough the roots had grown out of the pot, so we’ve put her up on the hill to fertilise Granny Smith.

Screen selected

This purple-flowered plant self-seeded up at the top of the meadow steps.

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There are a bunch of these guys up the hill at the bus stop, serving as a good, dense screen to stop people falling down the embankment.

I had just rushed out here to take a picture because I’d seen a Macleay’s swallowtail sucking on its nectar, and wanted to get a better photograph. It flew away before I got there though. Got a honey bee instead.

We need a screen along the western fence line, so the neighbours can’t see into R’s room from their verandah, and we can’t see their garage from our windows. This plant grows nice and fast and thick, so it will do the job.

Update: gotcha.

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White thyme

I always thought of thyme as a rather scraggly little bush, but apparently there are a lot of carpet varieties. This white thyme is making a very pleasant carpet over by the wood hutch – we’ll spread it around a bit more.

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Stick piles

With the bark mostly under control, we can move on to the piles of sticks and weeds that are lying around. One pile of sticks we made 2 years ago when we cut down the stringybark tree in the front yard – it’s been sitting by the worm farm ever since.

We’ve been assiduously not photographing the pile, but there it is at the back, in Jan ’13.

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Another pile gathers by the wood hutch, when we sweep leaves and sticks off the bricks and the steps outside the front door.

We had a bunch of chicken wire that was scrounged off hard rubbish in the hope that we’d get enough for the chicken run. It was chopped up, rolled and tied together to be put away for next year’s hard rubbish. An old water hyacinth laundry basket that had gone mouldy needed deconstructing – much respect to those who make strong laundry baskets.

Then, all the sticks and leaves need to go into one super pile. This process took nearly a whole day.

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This spot will be filled. Still planning to put steps down here.

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At the bottom of the old stick pile we found one of the concrete boots that were in the yard when we moved in. Thought it had been destroyed or effectively buried, but seems not. To boot (ha ha) we found a nest of mice living underneath it.

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Will bury it properly next time.

Also some interesting fungi under all those sticks and leaves:

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Bark

No comment.

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Got the bulk of the summer bark shedding gathered and cut 
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Got the bundling station ready

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This will last about 3 to 4 weeks over winter

We took the opportunity to clear off the top of the wood hutch, too. The spinach seedlings didn’t grow, the rosemary and lavender that we struck died, and most of the little oaks got downy mildew and also died. Just a bad spot. Now that we have a seedling table, all the new baby plants will spend their first few weeks there before braving the garden at large.

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All tidy for the first time in months.

Seed harvesting

It’s seed harvesting time. The coriander, dill and parsley all come ready in January. The coriander is first off the ranks.

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R’s seed patch was mostly coriander in the end, despite the range of things we planted.

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The other guys in there are carrots, still in flower. Very disappointing carrots.

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Obviously the soil is too clayey for them, and it’s pretty crowded in there.

It takes about 2 hours to harvest most of the seed.

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That’s a lot of coriander seed.

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We’re left with a few carrots, some little beetroot and about 4 or 5 parsley plants at the back. There were a few weeds mixed in, but not too many.

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What we did have was the most monumental haul of snails.

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No wonder we didn’t get any basil, and the beetroot were tiny. It was just muncharama down there the whole time.

The experience taught me that I just need to be more measured with my herbs and vegetables. Raise little seedlings, plant them 10cm apart, take out every second one, then every third, then leave a few for next year’s seed. Not just ditch seed in a patch and rake it over to see what happens. We know what happens now. It makes snails.

Up in the meadow, the poppies, love in the mist, rose campion and sage are all also ready to go.

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Going to try selecting certain colours of poppy this year
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A pretty good haul of love in the mist
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We’ll make some rose campion plants for Angie
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Sage flowers have one to three seeds at the bottom of each of these flowers. The seeds smell really nice as they’re popped out.

Update: hollyhocks ready to go in late February.

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