Veggie refresh and experimental mulch

The lettuce and spinach crops that were planted in June have well and truly run their course, pretty much done before Christmas. With summer nearly over, it’s a good time to try to plant some more little darlings in wicking beds one and two.

In bed one we’ve got runner beans, snow peas, bok choy and some chard.

In bed two we’ve got lettuces, pak choy and a circle of capsicums in the middle.

This time we’re going to try shredded mountain ash bark for mulch. The new mulcher is able to slice up the bark, though it’s still pretty hard work. It comes out very fibrous and fluffy, and it looks like a good candidate for creating a moisture barrier.

Third wicking bed

We’ve been collecting pallets for wicking bed cladding for ages. It’s taken a while, because we were trying not to make special trips for pallets, just picking them up when we saw them.

Post-Christmas was a bit of a bonanza, so we got enough to do another wicking bed (there are around 70 pieces of wood in the cladding).

Tried to do the shou sugi ban for a whole four sides in one day, from having cut pieces of raw pallet wood to having cladding installed. Only got three sides done in the end, with the last one hammered together and installed the next day. Just one wicking bed to go!

This picture shows how the finish fades in six months. They will probably want regular re-oiling to stay in good condition.

Monster caterpillar

This guy is an emperor gum moth caterpillar. 9cm long and weighs a tonne. What a colossus!

Apparently this is how they look just before they go into their cocoon, which they can stay in for a couple of years. And doing a bit of research we discovered that an interesting picture we’d taken just 5 days earlier was a juvenile version of this guy.

Here’s how he’ll look once he emerges from his transformation.

That was convenient

There’s this old dead stick of a tree that hides down amongst the pittosporum at the bottom of the garden. It’s too rotten to safely climb to take down, and we were waiting for it to fall on the fence.

The other day there was a thump which turned out to be the top half of this tree hitting the ground. Missed the fence by about a metre.

The bit that was left was short enough to take down without it being in danger of hitting anything. So after a spot of chainsawing, down she went.

We have so much firewood already, we’ll just leave it there for the time being.

Hot compost

I’ve never been able to get a compost pile to heat up. When it gets hot and nice and damp inside, it breaks down really fast. With the new mulcher, though, vegetation is shredded with diabolical efficiency. We put a pile of it into a ring of wire and, after 4 days, it’s already reduced by about a third. Success! We are the new kings of compost.

The one on the left is about a week old, and has been turned a couple of times. The one on the right is being filled.

Interlude: wood chopped

It’s that time of year again, when the weather is dry and the wood for the coming winter can be split and stacked.

We had some bits come from one friend’s place, and some bits from the broken tree at the school, then another friend mentioned a bunch of blackwood she wanted out of her yard. That meant a huge pile waiting to be split. So it’s been quite a few hours at the chopping block, and not much else could be achieved around the house, but we’ve got a really good store set aside for this winter.

Cement mixer for rammed earth

Up until now, we’ve been doing all our concrete and dirt-preparation mixing in a plastic tub, using a spade. That’s fairly back-breaking work even for small quantities, and we’re about to take it up a notch so a cement mixer is on the cards.

Cement mixers are expensive, though, and we have a motor in the shed from the old mulcher. The plan is to get an old mixer for next to nothing, attach the motor and Bob’s your uncle.

After not seeing anything on the second hand forums we did a shout-out and one popped up straight away.┬áIt’s got no motor or pulley, and the bearings are shot, but it should go with a bit of love. Here it is with shiny new wheels.

The inside bearing on the pinion is the main issue, but we know a guy who’ll send us new ones cheap.

Western screen progress

Some time ago we dug up the grass along the western fenceline and planted buddleias as a screen. A little more than a year on, and we have a thriving bushy spot which is just lovely to be in.

The tags on these plants said they were a dwarf variety (which I failed to notice when purchasing), and I was afraid they wouldn’t do the job they were put there to do. No fear, even dwarves grow tall around here!