The rain started Sunday evening as the temperature plummeted. Markus and I had just put the chooks and ducks away when it came bucketing down. Well, it didn’t come down, it was driving across horizontally! That kind of rain when the chairs get blown off the patio and the rain falls on the patio in places that hasn’t seen a drop since last winter. So, the time for beanies, thick jackets, gloves and boots has arrived. Outside work just gets that bit more challenging, but the show must go on. As they say in Tasmania, which gets about 5C colder and many times wetter than we do, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad (inappropriate) clothing!
So what’s up for this winter?
Well a few big things need to happen at Dreamland – like getting water tanks in before the rain ends, getting all the signs up, and planning an ambitious calendar of events… Oh and moving a wormwood hedge and creating a parking area which is going to be a fun exercise in the muddy clay. At homeland it is a totally different story. Initially we wanted to redo the front lawn as a French pottage garden, but the solarisation of the kikuyu grass was a gross flop (more about that later), and besides, madamme has now come up with a new design. We live in interesting times, indeed. But there is a bigger, longer, over-arching project already underway. It is called…
The war on kikuyu
So the old front lawn and all the beds around it aren’t the only places where we have to fight the kikuyu. We have tons of it down the driveway orchard, at places on both sides of the track. It has started to creep into the mulberry tree and the berry corner next to the shed. But worst – it has crept into the vegetable garden beds from the lawn – through or under a strip of about 6 meters wide of thick mulch and then underneath a paved path with weed mat underneath. So although I’ve already had a few skirmishes down the driveway, the vegetable garden is the scene for the first big battle.
On the battlefield
But the plot is thicker than you may think. Right where the kikuyu is now coming up in droves, I have the two “main” irrigation pipes running that feed the whole vegetable garden. So I can’t spit or fork there, and neither can I use the gas burner. Those things and irrigation pipes don’t mix well. So in order to get battle ready, I’ve had to flip the whole irrigation system head over heels first so that the pipes run down the other side of the beds. In the process I’m reducing it to one pipe which is the thickness of the feeder pipe from the pump. I can’t remember the rationale for running two pipes at the time, but the water can only flow out as fast as it arrives… In some of the beds we also have perennials, such as Lucerne, asparagus and rhubarb, and two beds with herbs. On all these beds, except the rhubarb and asparagus, I’m also reducing the number of drip pipes. I’m also reducing the taps to one per bed, as we never irrigate single rows. So a bit of a revamp, reconciliation and improvement too.
Preparing for battle
Oops, slowly cowboy! Halfway through the flipping project, working from the back to the front, I run into the new no-dig beds that have all the young brassicas, salads and other winter vegetables. These little plants are neatly planted next to the dripper holes. I know it is winter season now, and we have started getting some good rain, but you never know when we strike a dry week or two and may need irrigation. So the problem is if I flip the pipes around, there is no guarantee that the holes would be at the same places. And disconnecting and reconnecting the pipes at both sides will also weaken the joints or shorten the pipes, besides being a lot of work… So for those two beds I have to lay an extra pipe all along the top edge length-wise to feed it from the other side. It is a waste of pipe for now, but I can recover it when we replant in spring. For now I’ll rather use a bit more pipe and keep the vegetables growing. They’re doing really well!
So NOW the first battle against the kikuyu can begin. In addition to spitting it out, pulling it out, burning it off where I can, I’m also going to lay more weed mat –both inside the beds and also under the path pavers. Fortunately we’ve got lots that came free from Dreamland. Might as well use it in the battle. We’re going all out in this war this time round. So that big bang wasn’t the temperature dropping and the rain… no mateys, it was the sound of first shots being fired across the bow. We’re on to ya, kikuyu. No easy warm cosy relaxing winter on this side.
Oops, man down
Just as the fight got underway, this cowboy had one too many mugs of coffee on Monday at my day job. The result was a kidney inflammation which saw me limping around in excruciating pain. Four days later it still hasn’t eased up – and as a result some projects are lying in wait, the irrigation pipes are lying all over the vegetable patch, some big stormy waves went unridden and the war was put on hold from my side. Except you know how that works – the enemy doesn’t stop fighting – the kikuyu goes on growing relentlessly. In fact, I don’t think it slows down any bit during winter; it just gets greener and stronger. Oh well, they say patience is a virtue. For now I’ll enjoy looking at the rain (also relentlessly coming down!), listening to “How fragile we are” and catching up on some way-behind admin.