The feature photo above is of some corn, beans and pumpkins – the famous three sisters – coming up in the Dreamland potager beds. OK and some weeds too… a lot of weeding and composting going on.
Way back when in autumn, as part of the winter cover crop kit I got from Diggers Club, there were three packs of Lucerne seeds, which had to be sown in spring. Makes sense hey? Anyway, so I had 9000+ seeds to sow. Now some Lucerne would be a good addition to our gardens, make no mistake. It is very useful in no-dig beds, as chook feed and bedding, the flowers attract bees, it’s a good nutrient miner, useful in compost, and so on. But 9000 seeds are quite a lot! So we sowed some in our most problematic raised vegetable box – the one nearest to the compost heaps and the gum trees just the other side of the fence. If their deep roots can outsmart the gum trees for water, it would be great. We sowed some all along the edge of the driveway orchard – they don’t get any irrigation, so they are left to their own devices. And we have a little problem child bed in the front yard where we unsuccessfully tried growing myrtles before, so now the Lucerne can do battle with the invading kikuyu runners.
Problem bed before and after
As part of the multi-tasking, we started renovating the old chicken coup on Dreamland, but I’ll cover that in a separate post. It’s a massive project…. However, in the run we planted some Lucerne too. These ones are lucky, they get some “fly-over” water from the pumpkin patch just outside the coup – so they are spouting nicely!
Lawn and compost
I don’t mow the lawn to make it look nice – we have no Garden and Home aspirations here – it’s all about sustainability. I mow the lawn when I need compost fodder, as simple as that. So as some of the compost heaps started running low in temperature, it was time to mow. Especially the little paths and spaces at Dreamland are great for compost fodder, as they are loaded with white and red clover too.
So as a certain young gentleman was mowing, I was using the whipper-snipper to trim some of the bushy grasses next to the long market garden beds, as Patricia has also been planting these with capsicum, cucumber and some more members of pumpkin family. Just as well I trimmed the bushy grasses, because I whipped out a baby tiger snake (about 30cm) in the process! It was a bit stunned from the whip, but seemed to recover quite quickly. So it first had to be released at the creek nearby. Don’t tell Patricia – but the little snake was right where she sat on the path and planted the capsicums a few days before…
Tiger snake and capsicums
I must say I’ve been getting very good assistance with the mowing lately. Young Markus has been pushing the lawnmower and has been collecting cartloads full of compost fodder as a result. This week alone we turned three of the compost heaps by adding in new clippings. But of course, his favourite is using the ride-on, which I have now been slowly letting him do on his own. He is really careful through the narrow Dreamland paths, maybe because he helped to tie the borders and sow them. But of course, young boy that he is, we caught him out doing s-curves on the concrete paths at Homeland! We were furious and of course gave him the “trust” speech, but I had to chuckle afterwards – it’s probably what I would have tried too… but maybe I wouldn’t have left incriminating evidence on the concrete paths though. I mean, the gravel driveway is so much better for s-turns, but don’t tell him that! (Unfortunately the “evidence” photo didn’t come out very well, but we have it…)
I measured the compost this morning, and it’s so welcoming to see the grass and clover clippings had pushed the temperature up into the 60C again. Or was it the snake oil? Actually, I must still add a bit of Valerian water to revv it up a bit more…
No, this is not a landmine site… Patricia has been planting sunflowers and more pumpkins in the mulch in the bottom corner. This part of the garden used to have such dry dead soil, but the mulch and the regular biodynamics sprays have really turned it alive, even though it is still quite dry. She has a very interesting approach of sowing the seeds and planting the seedlings in a pocket full of seedling mix into a hole in the mulch. It seems to provide the seeds with a good base for germination and give the young seedlings a good start before their roots hit the hard but nutrient-rich clay which has been softened slightly under the mulch.
We got such a good pumpkin harvest from the new vineyard right next to this corner last year, let’s hope we get another bumper crop from the corner itself!
We started harvesting the first few strawberries from the terrace conversion bed… but of course, we’re not the only ones who discovered the strawberries! So the first set of bird nets had to go on. Being a new bed, it wasn’t just drape and clip – the stands and wires had to be made and screwed on first. Fortunately, the old terrace net fits – even though it’s showing serious signs of wear and tear (literally). These flimsy white nets just don’t last.
It was really interesting – these strawberries, which were directly planted from runners during autumn, are about 2 – 3 weeks ahead of their compatriots, which were also planted off runners at the same time, but which overwintered in the greenhouse and were transplanted early in spring. We have a few beds which will need cleaning and redoing after this summer. I know which approach I’ll take this time round – especially as it saves me a lot of useful space in the greenhouse!
That all sounds amazing. Do you have open days?
We have 5 acres on the Bellarine and I have done a permaculture plan for it.
We want to build a rammed earth house there also.
Hi Gemma, the previous owners are still living in the house, while they’re building close by. They’re gorgeous people and have graciously agreed for us to develop all this and go crazy all around them. But so once we get the house too, we’ll have open days, etc. We hope to run permie workshops and related events too. We must now start the whole rigmarole to find out what we may be able to do here – permits, etc.
Your place on the Bellarine sounds amazing too! (We’re a bit cramped for all we want to do here – but we’re flying full speed ahead 🙂 )
One of my former employers was rather rough with machinery. He certainly never hot rodded any of it around, but he sometimes got one of the tractors stuck while doing things that the tractor should not have been doing. Rather than tell me about getting it stuck over a berm, he pulled it out with my elegant old Buick. The problem was that there was no one on the tractor to apply the brake. No problem he could not solve. He just stopped it with the rear bumper. Another problem was that the rear bumper was insufficient for the task. No problem again . . . the tailgate and other parts in front of the bumper were sufficient to stop the tractor. He put the car back where I had left it, as if I would not notice.
Whoa – that’s a tough guy – on the machinery and you!
He took very good care of me. He just did not go easy on machinery. He does not understand why I am so uptight about the cars. I still have my first car that I got before I got my driver’s license, so I do know how to take care of them. (He is not allowed to drive the old Dodge.) He does not not own a car, and does not drive unless he needs to. I hope to go back to work for him next year, and never leave.
Someone advised me that lucerne would be the best green manure for my garden but so far I haven’t been able to find any. Anyway, I hope it does the trick in your garden, Martin.
Hi Helen that’s why we planted it as well – for green manure, chicken fodder, compost input, etc. I got my seeds as part of an autumn cover crop package (for whatever sense that makes, as you sow it in spring!) It’s a hard one to get a smallish quantity of seed for, most are sold in huge bulk. You sometimes get it as part of a chicken / poultry forage mix too, if you don’t mind the mix.
I imagine I was looking at the wrong time of year (late summer) but I’ll keep a look out. Probably mail order would be the best option, although in some ways the need has passed now.
Anyway, I hope the lucerne fulfils all your needs.
Definitely busy busy! Interesting that the greenhouse strawberries were slower to get started. Maybe they got a bit starved in the pots? Or just the hassle of settling in once transplanted.
Yes it is interesting… I had a long discussion with my neighbour (who grows very successfully in his greenhouse) and he reckoned even though we have compost in our seedling mix, we should add blood and bone, and the odd sprinkling with a seaweed extract (diluted obviously) wouldn’t harm them either. So we’re trying the seaweed solution on our young tomatoes now 🙂