Saturday, 1 February 2014

Exciting happenings

Welcome to the New Year!

It has been so hot here over the last couple of months, and with a complete lack of decent rain, my garden is really struggling. As I stood watering the veggie garden at dusk last night and looking over our main food production area, I became so depressed and disappointed with what I saw. I'm starting to get a little ticked off watching the rain approach us on the BOM radar, seeing it on the nearby hills, smelling the beautiful rain but watching it fizzle out or miss us completely. It didn't help that we went on holidays for two and half weeks over a very hot period. Although our veggie garden was looked after, everything else was not, and I almost cried when I saw it. Due to the lack of moisture, we have lost the majority of our raspberry, olive, blueberry, and plum crops for this year, and the remaining fruit trees have either dropped a substantial amount of their fruit or their fruit are quite small. We almost lost some of the newer fruit trees we planted last year but they seem to be hanging in there now. This bleak and negative outlook is not a fantastic way to start the year so I am going to share some of the exciting things that have been happening over the last couple of months.

The first awesome piece of news is we finally harvested some of our own honey!!! 

Very, very exciting for us! We have waited a long couple of years to harvest, and watched enviously as numerous urban beekeeper friends extracted their honey and honeycomb from hives that benefited from all the flower gardens in the city. But that first taste of our own honey...Just.Awesome! All up we harvested approx 2kgs in honeycomb and approx 6kgs in honey from five frames from the one hive. We now have five hives on our place thanks to a few free swarms, so hopefully will be able to harvest more in the future.

The next exciting thing has been the commencement of our rec room near the pool. This is going to be an ongoing project for us this year as we endeavour to learn more Reno skills and do most of the work we can do ourselves, and get specialists in for the things we can't. Hubby is off to do a 'Pergola and Decking' course over the next month, so after we get the doors on he is going to commence the deck. By sending him on this course I am also hoping for him to erect a pergola over the western side of the house so I can grow some deciduous vines over it to shade the summer sun. All part of my permaculture retrofit to our place :)

And more permaculture retrofit news - I now have swales in my orchard! Very very exciting stuff! Hubby built me an A-bob thingy and off we went to mark out the swales in such a way that we missed most of the major trees.

A couple of the smaller ones will need to be moved over winter, and once it gets cooler, I have some nitrogen fixers such as tagasaste, acacias and even (fingers crossed) a couple of silk trees that I germinated from seeds from my mum. These trees, once grown, will provide shade for the swale and the soil, nutrients for the surrounding fruit trees, shade for my berries from the hot afternoon sun and hopefully dissipate the flow of frost in winter as they are evergreen. A couple of jobs still to do are mulch the swales and direct the overflow from the tank into them. I'd like to mulch with lucerne bales but most of the local bales, even rubbish stuff, is being used to feed stock. As you can see from the pics we have zero topsoil but I am working to try and improve this :)

The last bit of good news story is that I have a fence around my veggie garden to keep the chooks out. I love my girls dearly but jeez they make a mess.  They learned to 'bounce' on the netting I had over the gardens to make it go saggy then they could eat my veggies. I added a bird bath and small flower garden in the middle of the yard to encourage good insects into the garden. We have also found that the local bird population as well as our bees have been relying on this and the pond in the orchard for fresh water in this dry hot weather.

Next blog I hope to share some of the harvest pics and preserving I have been doing lately.

Stay cool and lets hope we get some rain soon!

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