The Biggest Mistake I made Gardening

Way back in the early 1990's when I was doing my first gardens (unpaid works on houses my parents had bought with big stretches of green grass and nothing much else)I had huge plans and grand bvisions of European inspired layouts with monster ancient trees romantic stands of silver birch.

So I went out and ordered the European trees and staked out a rough plan for the planting and when they were delivered set about plating them out. Which was all fine and with copious water made for a great start for the saplings.

Only thing was, I didn't count on the searing Australian heat, nor did I plan for the planting by taking into account the aspect of the planting. So the silver birch were sitting high facing torrid western sun and the blowing hot winds of late summer, which stripped them bare of their delicate leaves. And the slow to establish Oak just sat morosely in it's spot and basically entered a hibernation prior to quietly dying a season or so later.

That's when I learned to snap of a twig of a deciduous tree and to see if it is green on the inside just to check that it is still alive. But they were valuable lessons learned.

Building the Chicken Coop Stage 1

Here is the basic outline of my chicken coop making.
I have dug trenches 300mm deep, placed chicken wire around the trenches with a 450mm skirt overlapping outwards to be a guard against foxes and vermin.

As you can see, I placed bricks in the trench to act as ballast to hold the wire in place. Then I put the vertical wire across the span and tucked about 150mm of wire under the bricks. Onto this I poured concrete and mixed it so that there was coverage across all the bricks.

As you can see, it looks pretty sturdy and I hope it is strong enough to hold out foxes.

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It is a really pleasant spot for the chooks, about thirty metres out from the house and under tall trees so there is no huge heat during summer. Christmas Hampers.

Here's a view with the large Kentia I planted four years ago.

Some more local animal life

Spent some time outside in the rains and came across some great little creatures hiding in our backyard. It seems our policy of no pesticides, cats and encouraging bird life is working although the evidence is not strictly scientific, there is plenty alive and making scurrying around.

The green tree frog was really difficult to spot in the first instance, but once I had
it in my frame it compliantly sat by and let me take a few shots, just blinking with the flash. After three shots I left it alone.

Next, we came across a turtle and this one was particularly tricky to catch - they just seem to dissolve into the mud and leave no trace - so it was a relief to actually keep hold of it. We walked up and down in the muddy shallows and felt for the shells with our bare feet, then quickly bent down to pick then up in our hands. We caught one and it wasn't the tiny penny turtles we were seeking, but still was small enough.

Next, a bit easier to catch was the Eastern Water Dragon - which you may not even notice when you are walking through the bush - just hear a rustle by the creek or hear a dollop as it escapes into the water. They are very skittish and have a handy set of fangs so handle with care, holding just behind the jaws/head.

See up close how the water dragon has such a beautiful mosaic of scales.

Have been featuring wildlife a bit lately, will make an effort to get some autumn gardens and particular plant stories up next.

Planting a roll of Sir Walter Turf

Have been taking advantage of the lovely autumn rainfall and have made some repairs to the lawn where it has rubbed bare.  It has been largely my fault that the grass had deteriorated so drastically, as I have been very strict on not watering over the summer.

The worst affected area is facing north west and has the extreme afternoon heat in the middle of summer.  If that wasn't bad enough, I was a bit over enthusiastic with the fertiliser and there was some severe burn from the chemicals just to make sure what grass that remained was totally killed off! 

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So now it is roughly the footprint of a car in size and is bare soil except for some twisted weeds.  And once the soil was bare, it gets that water repellent feature where any rainfall is quickly turned into runoff and does not penetrate even further than a few millimetres.

So, it was off the the hardward store and we bought a few 1.8m rolls of Sir Walter, the soft leaf buffalo grass.  I teased out the old soil and removed the weeds and rolled out the grass so we will see how it survives over the winter period and hopefully with some care will be a vigorous green swathe of grass come spring.