Weed tea result and tidy up

There are conflicting opinions about how long you need to leave your weeds in the weed tea bucket/barrel before they’re good and decomposed. We ended up leaving this lot in for 6 weeks. The wandering periwinkle was really quite persistent; I suspect it’s a water plant and is not terribly concerned about being underwater. Nevertheless, darkness and water and patience did the job.

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Much tidying up was done over the last weeks. We had a great pile of wood and kindling on the paving near the chickens, waiting to be chopped up and put under cover after drying out over summer. Since February and March are the times when sticks and leaves rain from the sky, there was plenty of them to pick up and relocate somewhere where they’ll be useful. A few extra plants were put up by the cherry tree, to finish that bit of the garden off (3 blueberries and some salvias), many weeds pulled out to refill the weed tea barrel, and the grass mowed. Dirt, rocks and mulch were moved into the chicken run to provide some flat places between the door and the feeder. That 2m of mud is unbelievably slippery after a spot of rain. The chicken waterer was cleaned and an attempt made to “fix” it by taking out the clear section (which got algae in it after a while). The fix leaked, though, and time ran out to get it working again. The chicken run and coop were cleaned out and the fences around the two citrus in the chicken run removed, to be replaced with one half of a tyre around the base of each. They’re big enough now that the chickens can’t peck them to death. Add single parenting and working full time to that and I’m ready for a holiday!

Blue banded bee

Some time ago I made a bee hotel for native Australian bees. It was only after it was planted in the garden, that I read that most Australian native bees don’t live in Victoria, they live in New South Wales and Queensland. They like the temperature a little hotter. So it was a little disappointing to think that my hotel would remain empty. Nevertheless, I left the bee hotel in the yard, just because I liked the look of it.

Today was awesome because I saw my first native Australian bee buzzing around the garden. A blue-banded Amegilla cingulata. He’s a quick mover and the sound of his buzz has a higher pitch compared to regular honey bees. At first I thought he was an exotic fly of some kind, but the video below allowed me to confirm his identity. Fantastic!

Wikipedia says they like blue flowers and that they nest in dried-up river banks. This particular bit of the garden has a steep slope, and I was arranging the dirt to make it a bit more stable. It looks like this guy was looking to make a burrow here.

So the bee hotel, which was only 2 metres away from where this video was made, looks like it will remain empty for the time being!

Update: actually guy is probably a girl, since girls make burrows. They also have 4 blue stripes instead of 5 as boys do, and though it’s hard to tell it looks like she’s got 4 in the video.

Redirected path

The upper path going through the top garden is a bit of a hog’s breakfast. It started out as a straight brick path across the bare hillside, three years ago.

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Then the little stringybark came down and made a berm, and the path was extended across the hill to the road.

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Path freshly dug out and first little plants on the hill. Three years ago in March 2013.

By the time the two were meeting up we’d decided to ditch the brick idea and do stones instead.

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A first attempt at a stone path. Looks great until you run out of stones and the weeds start growing up in the cracks. April 2013.

Then, as it turns out we ran out of stones really fast. And it’s way better to use stones for walls as the weeds grow up between the stones and are impossible to get out. So we ditched the whole stone idea and went for mulch instead, after toying with the idea of importing some nice gravel.

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Mulch replaces the stones, and the stones get used to make walls. Winter 2015.

The mulch worked out very well, but it took some time to get it beyond that one spot between the two stairways. We just don’t use those paths that much, and there was a lot of other stuff to do first.

Eventually we got it most of the way to the road end and up to the cherry tree circle.

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Mulch path extended just in time for spring, September 2015.

There was only about 5 metres left to do, so while we’re finishing the cherry tree circle we might as well get the path done, too. The last bit near the road was completed, with all the compacted clay dug out with the big blue stick, and a good pile of mulch at the dumping spot meant that we could use the same mulch on the path as around the cherry tree.

There was just one spot to the west of the cherry tree that needed finishing, where the old brick path was. The bricks were pulled up and stacked down by the weed tea barrel; they’ll make a nicer base for it than the aggregate we have there now.

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The level here is higher than the path, so it needed to be dug down. There’s a stump in the middle of the path, too, which needed to come out.

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All the plants have grown up since the original brick path was put in, so the path needs to come out a bit from where it was. Just as well we had a bunch of dirt rocks lying around to pile up and extend the hillside a bit. There’s currently not a lot of space between the wall around the cherry tree and the precipitous drop-off down to the driveway, but that will get sorted out once the wall for the garage is built.

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The log steps are redirected to the right. The old path was pretty much under that rosemary bush.

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Then it’s just a matter of neatening it all up. We use some stones from the orchard level digging to keep the dirt in place on the uphill side.

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After doing the cherry tree circle and half the path, we went back to the mulch drop off spot to get another load. What do you know but someone else was there loading up and taking all the rest. Arrgh! We scrounged what we could but we came up about 2 metres short. Looks like we’re going to have to get creative to finish it.

The new path provides a nice garden bed on the left, which we’ll plant up. That echinacea flower has been going for months and months and I think a whole bunch more there will make a nice summer view out of the kitchen window.

Update: There. That’s better. Tulips and thyme in the bed at the right, and a little more dirt needed on the left, but generally done.

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Finishing the cherry tree circle

The cherry tree up on the hill has been almost finished for ages now. With walls built and the hedge planted, all it needed was to get some retic and receive a layer of mulch to complete. But it wasn’t long before some self-seeded poppies popped up, so it got left as it was and we had some flowers in there.

The summer’s killed off all those poppies and there was a nice new batch of mulch up at Menzies Creek so it looked like time to get it done.

Over the intervening months, and with me stepping on it while building the walls and planting the hedge, the ground around the tree had become as hard as rock. So the first step was to break it all up to let that soil breathe a little. That also got rid of the weeds that were growing there, and which are pretty much impossible to remove from the soil once it’s compacted.

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All the big rocky bits were raked out. The big mess pile down on the orchard level is yielding some compost, so a whole bunch was dragged up to enrich the soil.

Two rings of dripper retic pipe were added to water the Armeria around the tree and the box hedge around the outside. The tree catches any water that falls in the summer and it gets quite dry here.

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Then it was time to put the mulch on, and voila it’s done. Lovely!

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That path there on the left is looking a bit tired. The mulch has broken down and compacted and a few weeds have taken root. Time to clean that up too.