Archive for July, 2018

Sunday morning blues

July 8, 2018

Another 12 mm of rain overnight to add to the 13 mm on Saturday.

After being trapped inside all day Saturday by rain, I thought I’d better try and get some work done. I cleaned out the chook coop and put fresh straw on the floor. I took the bucket of poo+straw down to the compost tumbler.

Crack…thump. I was only 20 metres away when it went down :

I knew it would go eventually, of course. It was leaning too far to not go. Wet soil….centre of gravity too far to one side….roots won’t hold.

Why, oh why, do they always fall across a path? Two paths this time—the main one to the rear of the property, in front of the pools and a minor one behind the pools.

Just as well there weren’t any neighbours around to hear the stream of 4-letter words.

More work!!!! All the branches have to be removed first, then the trunk. I think I’ll be able to clear the main path by myself—it’s only branches there—but not the trunk across the rear path; it’s too big for my little battery-operated chainsaw. About half of the branches are sitting in the first of the 3 pools. It’s the shallowest one, but it’s going to be a gumboot job to clear it.

Life on a bush block is never boring!

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June update…..brrr!

July 7, 2018

We had a really cold, wet start to winter this year. It was disconcerting to be reading about wildfires in California and the English moorlands, while shivering inside 3 layers of clothes, a scarf and gloves in Melbourne.

So far this season, I’ve found only 2 edible mushrooms. By the time the seriously rainy weather started to moisten the soil, the ground was too cold and any sort of fungi, let alone edible ones, were not wanting to show themselves :

I ate the small one and because the large one was a bit on the over-ripe side, I decided to try an experiment with it, to see if I could inoculate some soil with the spores and get them to grow in a pot.

I put the mushroom gills side down on a piece of white paper. As I’d hoped, plenty of spores dropped out :

What I’m going to do now is put some commercial mushroom compost in a pot, cut out the circle of spores on the paper and place it on the top of the pot, then cover with a thin layer of peat moss and leave the pot in a sheltered spot open to the elements. I’m hoping the spores will germinate (or whatever it is that mushroom spores do to begin growing), and I’ll eventually get a crop of mushrooms in the pot. This is after all what you do when you buy one of those mushroom farms in a polystyrene box. You get a bag of compost stuff which you spread in the bottom of the box, and a bag of peat moss inoculated with mushroom spores which you spread over the top and keep moist. Worth trying anyway.

I took a trip to the local nursery which sells bare-rooted fruit trees and bought some more for the food forest. I got another Stella cherry, an Anzac peach, another Satsuma plum, a Tilton apricot and another dwarf nectarine (that makes 3 of those I have now) :

I’m sold on these dwarf varieties like the nectarines (last year I put in a dwarf pear). It’s much easier to get a net over them to keep the birds and possums off. When I put in fruit trees at first, I just let them grow and do their thing. They grew too big to net and everyone but me got the fruit. So I’ve had to resort to pruning them back really hard, which doesn’t make for a particularly attractive tree (large truncated branches, with smaller growths sticking out everywhere). It’s much better to continually prune and keep the whole thing small and the branches in proportion, so I aim to do that with all these new trees that aren’t dwarf forms.

The turmeric died back and I harvested the tubers. Two plants were in pots and one in one of the baths. I was really happy with the yields :

Here’s what they looked like separated into tubers and scrubbed up :

Some of these will be replanted for next season. I’ll slice the rest, dry them in the dehydrator and grind them into powder in the Thermomix.

The new planter box I installed last year has been filled with weeds and prunings and other compostable stuff and might be ready to plant this spring :

I’ve been jumping up and down on the contents trying to compress them as much as possible and adding the liquid from the composting toilet to help with the composting process and increase the nitrogen content. I’ll buy a few bags of mushroom compost to spread over the top and try some planting this spring. Maybe cucumbers—the rabbits won’t touch those. The box is low enough for them to jump into, so eventually I’ll have to put a ring of wire around the inner edge. There was no point in buying a taller box, because of the extra cost and it will only be used for shallow-rooted veggies. Filling it would have taken longer, too.

We had 73 mm of rain for the month, compared with Melbourne’s average of 43 mm. It’s been cold and wet and not conducive to working outside, but the winter solstice has passed and the days are getting longer. And the asparagus will be up soon.

Time to get out the seed box and plan for the summer crops!