Category Archives: Planting

Peas ready to go

The snow peas have just burst out of the ground, and are ready to be planted. They caught me a little flat-footed since I didn’t have anywhere in mind to put them.


Decided in the end to dismantle the old veggie patch, which released the wire fence for use elsewhere. We put the wire along the bottom of the deck posts and lined the snow peas up along the edge. That gave us a nice, long sunny stretch for them to grow in, and with any luck the wire will deter the chickens from scratching in that bed.


Seed sowing

Determined to get some seeds germinated at the right time this year. The two trays on the left are coriander, the two in the middle are snow peas. On the end is a hodge-podge tray, with some turmeric roots on one end, some oregano in the middle, and some unlabelled ones on the other end that might be ageratum but are probably armeria.


The three little black pots have armeria that were salvaged from the trays that had been left under the deck all winter. There were also some little plants that were self-seeded, but don’t know what they are. They were put in the purple punnets just in case they turn into something useful. Two more of the punnets contain seeds that I think came from the native iris up on the hill.

Turmeric buried on the left, oregano in the middle and mystery something on the right

Kangaroo paws

Native plants are important to have in the garden, particularly in Australia. Many of them are winter flowering, and this provides a good source of food for bees over winter. The happy wanderer on the chicken run is literally abuzz with all the bees feeding off it.


We also put a row of kangaroo paws up on the path to the veggie patch. I’ve always thought of them as dry land plants, but after seeing some flourishing at a neighbours we thought we’d give them a crack in this spot.


Fuji cherry move

So there was one more tree to move this winter: the Fuji cherry. We’d planted it outside R’s window, but then the neighbours planted a Japanese maple about 2m away on the other side of the fence. Over time the maple will shade out the cherry, and it was interrupting the buddleia screen anyway so it had to go somewhere else.

It took a little while to think of a spot: we really do have enough trees now, and though there are a number of bare spots around the yard, all of those will be subject to earthworks and ground level changes in the future.

The steps up from the orchard need to have something nice bordering them, and we have the citrus on one side but nothing on the other, so it seems like as good a place as any.


The spare grass went over to the bare spot where we used to step down onto the trampoline (we ripped up the big rubber tiles that were there).


It’s one of the steepest spots in the yard here, so a rock wall will be required. Good thing we have lots of rocks from our vege patch levelling.


OK, all ready to go. This whole effort took about an hour.


Then we start digging out the cherry. It was pretty happy in its spot among the buddleia and the westringia.


It’s a pretty cramped spot to dig, though, so we had a rest in the middle of the day, and visited some friends up the road. Most of the dirt comes out with the little hand fork so as not to damage the roots too much.


Late in the afternoon it comes free and we’re ready to replant.


That hole was just big enough …


Ah, great success! The branches have been trimmed right back so it can expend more effort on growing new roots, and so it isn’t too thirsty in its first year. It’s got a good layer of nicely-rotting mulch on top and some anti-chicken bark.

This will be nice to walk past on the way to and from the orchard!


New planter

About this time last year we planted some magnolias in the big wine barrel tubs, destined to go around the perimeter of our deck-and-lawn level. One of the magnolias looked like it had died, so I bought another one to replace it. Come spring, the “dead” magnolia came back to life.

It’s been sitting in its original pot all this time, and hasn’t been growing much at all – especially compared to the others. I thought the only thing better than 4 magnolias around your lawn was 5 magnolias, so during the week I took a trip out to Yarra Glen to get another (reasonably priced) half wine barrel. I also got a full barrel for a weed tea receptacle, which will be the subject of a future post.

This new barrel didn’t need to be de-fungused first, so we could crack right on and get it sorted out. The black plastic liner went in (to stop any fungus getting into the soil from the wood), kept in place with a rim of hoop iron and some drainage holes were drilled. A small tub of aggregate over the drain holes will encourage good drainage. Two small tubs of garden dirt went in next, then a bag of compost, a bag of composted manure (which looked to contain very little actual manure) and a bag of potting mix. Mix well, then pop in the magnolia and six Liriopes. Add a small tub of mulch and Bob’s your uncle.

The retic was already running past the last space on the deck, so we popped in a tee and ran a new length of pipe up to the pot. A good watering and it was done!


What a difference a good pot and proper soil┬ámakes! The magnolia in the foreground has grown from the size of the one in back since sprouting its new leaves in spring. Also of interest is the number of flower heads on the old Liriopes compared to the ones obtained from the shop. The leaves on the new ones are also a lighter shade of green. Hopefully they’ll get a good dose of nutrients and perk up a bit!

Orange tree

So I said that we’ve probably already got all the trees that we need … except another orange tree. Like all the citrus, it goes next to the chicken run for conveniently fertilising with chicken poo.

As always, any job around here starts with some digging first:


It’s a good thing we dug up a bunch of rocks lately, because the slope is steep in this spot. A little rock wall on the downhill side keeps all the dirt in place.


Lovely! Ready to go.


We put some looser dirt and some of the old chicken poo/hay mix that’s sitting at the bottom of the run into the hole. Then a good thick layer of mulch, as this is a pretty dry area. It gets a lot of sun, and the giant mountain ash sucks the water out of the ground.


The final step, not shown here, is to surround the tree with cut bark. The chickens won’t scratch around the bark, so it protects the delicate surface roots from their tough loving.

That’s probably it for citrus: two lemons, two oranges, two mandarins and two limes. Yay! … and we’re getting a couple of passionfruit on the vines over the run! Woohoo!


Planting the Christmas tree

We’ve just had our fourth Christmas here. We’ve been getting “proper” Christmas trees, to go in the garden afterwards. We got our tree early this year; it was looking a bit yellow when it got home from the nursery. Some of the pics online give it a bit of a yellow cast, so we thought it was normal.

Himalayan spruce

After sitting on the deck and getting good food and water, it had perked up, though, with new green shoots and improved colour.


It’s gone down to the bottom of the garden. It was very ready to come out of that pot; maybe that was its problem. The pot wouldn’t come off and I had to slice it in two to remove it. The roots inside were very tightly packed.


We gave it a nice big hole and showed the roots where to grow.


This completes the conifer triangle I had in mind for this corner of the garden. These guys will grow big, their branches overlap and the space between them will become a dark hidey-hole perfect for spooky campfire stories. They’ll also wipe out the view of the downhill neighbour’s roof and gravel yard.

At the right and rear is 2012’s Norway spruce. Left rear is 2014’s Indian spruce, and front and centre the new Himalayan spruce. The Siberian larch of 2013 went up by the chicken coop, and is doing well despite the dryness of the ground under the big mountain ash.

Of course, now I don’t know what I’m going to do for next Christmas. We don’t really want more conifers in the garden. In fact, we reckon we’ve got almost all the trees we need – now it’s up to them to grow!

Stylidium graminifolium

We got a few plants at the weed swap the other week. This one, Stylidium graminifolium, might make a nice border plant, if it can be coaxed to grow OK. It’s an Australian species, and is reminiscent of Liriope, which comes from Asia. I put these two guys down around the stone seat that’s with the pears.


It’s one of those trigger plants that springs a little hammer out when you brush by.

Baby hollyhocks

The little seedlings are ready to go in the ground. First up is the hollyhocks, near the van cherry. The dry, compacted hillside needs to be dug up first, and the grasses removed. There was a bunch of lovely dark dirt at the bottom of the fish pond that we used here to enrich the soil a little bit.


These seed trays go a really long way. Much pleased.

Trees in pots

Took a trip with R to the conifer nursery to get this year’s Christmas tree. It’s a bit early, but I was suspecting that the prices might be a bit lower (I was right). We got a Himalayan spruce this time. It’s shorter and wider than the other trees we’ve had for Christmas; we’ll pop him on a stand or something.


While we were there, R fell in love with a “fluffy” Japanese maple – a variety with particularly soft leaves. Literally hugging it. Of course, at more than $500, I wasn’t about to be bringing that one home. We found a (much) cheaper one down at Emerald Gardens, so now the boy can become a literal tree hugger. We popped it into a pot to brighten up a bare spot at the corner of the house.