Archive for January, 2010

Chuckles

January 9th, 2010

Chuckles the Kookaburra

Chuckles the Kookaburra

Meet my little friend, Chuckles. She is my little buddy. She keeps down the population of yabbies and is the deadly enemy of snakes so that alone is very helpful. Last year when my ducklings were very tiny I had to watch her and her friends and family very carefully. They had a sort of look in their eye that I didn’t trust.

Chuckles

Chuckles

Lately, she has been looking after her very own babies. I have not seen them yet but I know they are there. We have this little routine Chuckles and I. Most mornings after the watering of the garden and before I let the ducks out of their pen I give her a little treat. Not every day. Just sometimes. She knows if I let out the ducks without giving her her ‘little something’ that there will be no little something that particular day, so she heads off to find her own. She usually eats whatever I give her and hangs around to see if there is another piece, but when she has babies she flies off to give them the first piece I give her. Her babies get first pick. She is a good mum

Looking pretty pleased with her catch

Looking pretty pleased with her catch

The other day, when I was putting the ducks ‘to bed’ they were acting all frightened and ‘spooked’. I looked down and there was a rat he ran past me and out the gate. Most disturbing for me as well as the ducks. I saw the creature again the next day running down the side fence. He was a bold one that was for sure, a little too bold for Chuckles, who thought he looked a tasty treat! She brought him to show me the next day, up in my Chestnut tree. She looked pretty pleased with herself. She often brings me little her little finds, I think she is showing me how clever she is. She sits on the verandah railings with a skink or yabbie hanging out her mouth. I watch from the kitchen window while she bashes it against the rail. I tell her how clever she is then she usually flys away. Lately, she has taken to flying down and landing on my knee when I am about to feed her.   The other Kookaburras don’t do this, they stay further away.

About to head off to feed her babies

About to head off to feed her babiesChuckles

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Garden Lessons

January 8th, 2010

 

Garden -Dec09 025

If you, like me, inherit an old overgrown garden, resist the urge to hack it down and dig it up. Instead stand back and watch the gifts your garden wants to give you through the seasons. The spring may bring bulbs you never knew were there. You can also make notes about how much sun each garden bed receives. Weed, mulch and take notes. Also, stroll around the streets in your neighbourhood and see what grows well. More notes in your garden diary.  Check out the climate!  Is it shady?  Which parts will get direct sunlight and for how long each day?  Then chat with your local pant nursery to choose the ideal plants for each section.  Buy ones that are rugged survivors with the gift of spreading, propagating themselves and staying lush all year round.  Position plants together that have similar watering needs.  This will give you a huge headstart.
While you are waiting make a mulch heap of all your lawn clippings and bland vegetable peelings. Never put in onions, garlic or chillies. Avoid rotting fruit, which could attract the dreaded fruit fly! And definitely no meat! Choose a hidden sunny spot for your mulch heap, because warmth gets the break-down microbes working. Mine was under a rangy, sparse-leafed tree near the back fence. A lot of goodness will seep down and feed the roots, but keep the mulch heap away from the trunk as it could cause rot. Incidentally, you will probably soon find wonderful worms breeding at the bottom of your mulch heap. Spread them around other parts of your garden.

If you inherit a backyard of ancient trees they probably haven’t been loved or pruned for years. Buy a bag of blood and bone, throw it around their roots and water it in. Old folk need special care to get their energy back!Garden -Dec09 028

Old citrus trees, such as orange, lime or lemon, need to be checked for fruit wasps burrowing in the trunk or old branches. Usually these are found near the forks where limbs meet. Instead of poison, I give the hole a good poke with a metal skewer, followed by a flooding of vinegar and water mixed 50:50. Next day, poder the area thoroughly with borax. When pruning citrus trees, cut recent growth that has green stems. Then trim the height so you will be able to reach the fruit next season. Ideally, citrus should be trimmed into a ball shape, so the sun can ripen all the fruit. Pruning is best done in autumn, when you will recognise recent growth because the stems are still greenish.

Weeds in a brick-paving courtyard can be a problem. Resist the urge to tackle them with a spray or pour-on weedkiller. Instead try boiling water, this does the job nicely! Just make sure you pour on enough to cook the roots. Putting some salt over them first helps too.  Well these are just some of the lessons I have learned from trial and error in my back yard.

Happy gardening.

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January Jobs

January 5th, 2010

 

Water in the cool of the morning

Water in the cool of the morning

The summer is getting mighty hot out there so I head out first thing these days and try to finish all my little chores early in the day.  Some chores are wet and cool and there is nothing more pleasant than watering in the cool fresh morning after a hot night.  The plants enjoy it too.  Here are the main tasks that will keep me busy for the month ahead.

Fertilising: All the flowering annuals will benefit from a fortnightly application of liquid fertiliser. So will the tomatoes and any veges in that vege garden. Azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons and daqhnes can also be fertilised this month. You need to water well before and after applying the fertiliser or you can burn the plant. If you have any problems with yellow leaves on plants such as daphnes you can cure this by watering with a watering can full of water to which you have added 1 tablespoon, but no more than 1 tablespoon of epson salts just once a month.

Feed the tomatoes once a fortnight

Feed the tomatoes once a fortnight

Watering:January is the month where this really becomes a chore esp. with all the water restrictions in force. The roots of the plants should be encouraged to reach deep down into the soil, where it will be cool and moist, and this can be achieved by a good soaking once or twice a week. Lots of short waterings only encourage the roots to remain near the surface, where they dry out easily and can be burned off on a hot day. The best time to water is early in the morning. Roses are best watered in the morning, as damp foliage in the evening provides an ideal enviroment for the spread of fungal diseases such as black spot and downy mildew.

Weeding: January is that dreaded month where weeds run to seed, so we do need to try to keep the weeding under control. To win the battle you need to pull the weeds out before they go to seed. This makes the job much easier in the coming year. I mulched my garden in October so the weed situation is not too bad for me but there are some determined ones out there….

Waddles ready to help with the mulching chore

Waddles ready to help with the mulching chore

Mulching:

I find that I have a much healthier and mor robust garden if I have mulched at the beginning of the summer, but it is not too late to start. All gardens benefit from mulching. Compost, dried leaves, lucerne-hay all make excellent mulch. Water first (after pulling out those weeds) then stuff that mulch on top.  Waddles and Hazel love to help as I weed and mulch you just never know what snails are still lurking out there.

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Fairy Gardens

January 4th, 2010

Look for the magic in your garden

Look for the magic in your garden

 

 

There are fairies at the bottom of everyone’s garden. They add a magical quality and work with the bees, ants, ladybirds, lizards, frogs and worms to improve the soil and add magic to any and every garden. Yours as well as mine. You just have to believe! Look at the flat, splay-leaved dendelions. Theiryellow flowers follow the sun and close up at night because that is where the fairies sleep in their cosy yellow bedrooms. Of course the dandelion puffballs of gossamer are acturally baby fairies, you can watch them fly off on the first puff of wind or help them on their way by gently blowing on a warm summer day.

 

If you get time this summer to wander into the bush or into a ferny glade in the less civilised pockets of your local suburban parks or gardens, take some time out to search for the fairy places. It all happens down near your toes! Tiny star-like flowers are hidden in the grass. The early morning dewdrops that sparkle like precious gems are surely fairies! They have secret plots, gardens everywhere!

If you are lucky enough to find a green praying mantis, coax it onto your finger. Now, move your hand slowly. With great politeness, the mantis will always keep turning its pretty little head to face you. This is why it is also know as ‘the lady’s companion’.

Garden Magic

Garden Magic

Take some time out to wander in some lovely green place and let your imagination take you by the hand. Play he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not with a daisy on a blanket by some pretty river. Just take some time off to discover and delight in all the magic in nature’s garden.

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January Gardens

January 2nd, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

The new year has arrived! Happy 2010! Suddenly, the holidays are here and it is time for us all to look back on our accomplishments over the past year. For the first time in a great many years I am not too behind with my garden chores and am feeling pretty smug really about enjoying my trim and tidy garden. I managed to mulch well in October last year, pulling out those weeds as I went. And for the first time I managed to get this accomplished before they (the weeds) seeded! Happy days!

I am just about to start my new garden diary for the coming year. I like to record when I plant, prune and do my chores so I can learn more about my garden. I note down when I prune my roses and when they flower after so I can have some idea how long it takes for flowers to develop. It has helped me improve my pruning skills too.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

I have had a few losses over the year. I miss my Curry Plant (Helichrysum Italicum) with its silver leaves poor little dude just got covered over with a larger bush rose and it just got too dark and gloomy for him. I had forgotten I had put him there to tell the truth and discovered his poor little remains when clipping and weeding. Never to mind!

My salvias continue to flower and bring joy and I am always finding new ones. They seem very easy additions. Easy is good!  Anyway, I hope you have a really good 2010 and happy gardening!

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