The simple things in life

What a weekend…
Plenty of action, plenty of fun, but I just finished the single best thing I’ve done all weekend. mangoes

Motorbike riding Saturday morning was great for clearing my head, working in the garden was great for raising a sweat.

Our mango tree is beginning to fruit, there are hundreds of large mangoes growing (and falling!) on the tree. Most of what has fell to date is not ripe or has been eaten by fruit bats.
I was out checking the status of my ponytail tree, when I heard a few leaves in the tree rustle, with that I ran from beneath the canopy, down fell a beautifully ripe mango.

Taking the opportunity for a nice sweet desert, I picked it up and made a cut in the skin and began to eat.

Sun warmed, juicy, full mango flavour. It does not get any better or fresher than that. I did have to duck inside to wash my face and hands…

Simple things like a falling mango can make all the fun activities in the world seem not as good any more.

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I have WORMS!

No need for a dose of conbantrum here. I have worms in my garden.

Living in  a semi-arid/tropical region with ancient soil containing -50% organic matter I never thought earth worms could survive, let alone find their way into my garden!
Earth Worm
I was digging around today where my tomato plants were yesterday (I pulled them out), and much to my surprise I saw a worm. A little more digging revealed even more. Not sure where they came from or how they got there, but I’m not one to complain.

Remembering back to grade 4  at school (we did a huge project on worms), they burrow through the soil with the aid of a mucus they secrete. As they go, their tunnels allow for air to penetrate the soil aiding the roots of plants. Many worms come close to the surface to feed on organic matter, which is then digested and taken deeper into the soil. In the process of digesting the soil, the nutrients and minerals contained in the soil and organic matter get broken down into a state that allows for easy uptake by plants.

Here is a breakdown of what I have done over the past 10 months, which has lead to the great find. Pulled out weeds (some up to 5ft high!)

  • Dug soil to 30cm while minimising turning
  • Added 4 large wheelbarrows full of horse manure
  • Dug horse manure into top 15cm of soil.
  • Added water
  • Added water
  • Pulled out new weeds
  • Planted cabbage, tomato, lettuce and broccoli

What do you do in your garden to attract earth worms?

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Perenial Tomato

There was a tomato plant growing at work last year, it sprouted in a patch of gravel where someone threw a slice of tomato from their lunch. No one ever watered it, the only kind act was that it was tied to a nearby post with a piece of flagging tape. 27092008

I was quite surprised to see the same tomato plant come back to life from a stick and grow another 5 tomatoes this year. It always looked sick after it’s first crop was done, but it must have kept enough in store to keep it going over the cool months to pump out another crop.

It reminds me of what my grandfather always used to say “let the plants do the growing”. He would always say that when I a young boy and was keen to see my seeds sprout or my crop to fruit.

A lot of truth comes from what he used to say, you can sometimes spend all the time and effort (and money!) trying to grow a plant, when sometimes it’s best left to it’s own devices like the rouge tomato plant.

Have a think next time you are worrying about your garden. You only need to supply water, good soil and some nutrients. Then just ‘Let the plants do the growing’. Who knows, this one might just grow on for another year!

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Vegetable Garden Sunshade

IMG_0599Following on from the post ‘Summer Australian Garden’, my vegetable garden has been taking a beating from the sun. The tomato leaves are a bit frazzled and the beans are getting crispy. I’ve just finished the construction of my new shade tunnel; garden cover.

Using three lengths of poly (polyethylene) pipe around 4m long, six star pickets and 7m of 70% UV reduction shade cloth I have created a shade tunnel over my vegetable garden.

Start by banging the star pickets into the ground then sliding the poly pipe over the top of one side then bending it over to form a hoop. Make as many of these as you require, I used three and placed them ~3m apart.
Connect your shade cloth at one end, securing it with wire or zippy ties (use UV stabilised ones), then drape the shade cloth over all of the hoops and securing at the other end.

Since construction I have noticed that the humidity is higher in my vegetable patch, I hope this helps the growth of the vegetables, I know it will help the pests and diseases thrive!

Here is a photo of the clouds that look like rain, but are just teasing.

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Summer Australian Garden

It’s that time of year again.
Living in a semi-arid / sub tropical / tropical area there comes a time when the nice warm ‘spring days’ of plentiful growth turn into hot dry leaf scorching blast furnace days of 40+ degree celcius (104+F), all of this is prior to the “big wet” consisting of humidity and large storms that dump inches of rain every week.

It is somewhat disappointing and heart breaking to see your pride and joy wilting in the yard, especially when the local council sends out a letter saying that we should all be conserving water as there was no “big wet” last year.

I’m still smiling, as I’ve put in place a number of things to help drought proof my garden beds (Good old lawn… Lest we forget).

  • In my yard mulch is king. At present the horse manure spread on top of hay and or shredded paper is working at the moment…
  • I’ve found that shredded paper is a free, plentiful source of weed suppressing mulch for the garden (My fiance’s office makes the stuff by the ute load) . Simply spreading a layer of shredded paper ~10 to 30cm thick over the garden bed and covering the top with manure will help stop the moisture from the soil evaporating.
  • Installing a drip irrigation system won’t even cost you $100 for a fairly large garden bed, you can place the drippers underneath the mulch right near the plants roots. You wont need to use as much water, and the plants get the water right where they need it.
  • My yard is fenced by an 8ft galvinised iron (silver) fence. It’s great for privacy but the reflection of sunlight around the yard in summer buns the plants double time. I’ve gone and bought some shade cloth from Bunnings to hang on the fence until my bigger fence line plants get established. It looks kinda daggy at the moment, but it’s saving my plants from a beating. Those brush fence rolls do the same job and look great but are expensive.

What do you do in your garden to save your plants over the warmer months?

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