We have had a bout of glorious rain. Well, before the part where it got stinkin’ hot again. It had been weeks since we’d had more than a humid, light spit, so we are rejoicing. We hadn’t had proper rain since Christmas. It’s always hard to believe that we could be praying for rain in summer when only a few months ago we were praying for it to stop. It just goes to show the importance of using and saving our resources wisely. The garden rain tanks were empty or very low, but the main house tank was actually still doing well thanks to me be being strict with watering the garden. The veges have had to be tough. They wouldn’t be anywhere without mulch, that’s for sure.
It was a learning curve having to buy in water the first two years we were here. I look back and think, if only we’d been better at collecting rainwater while in was in abundance and using it more carefully when it was not… But it’s good that we’ve learnt and made improvements now. Growing up in the city where we didn’t have to pay for water, we pretty much treated it as in infinite resource, as most city folk do. It’s only a matter of time before city water meters become a thing though. My advice to those new to saving water is get rain barrels or rain tanks. Make sure they are easy to access and use and think about how to house them. I’ve seen some excellent stands that can hold multiple rain barrels, either vertically or horizontally. Every bit of water helps.
Before the rain, while the rain barrel by the deck was empty, I started improvements on the rain barrel stand situation. The improvised stand was sticking out so much that I couldn’t fill up a watering can properly, having to hold it on an angle under the tap. I had to use another watering can to fill up the second half. It was getting annoying. The Little Fulla and I gave the rain barrel a clean to get rid of all the algae that had built up from overflowing water during winter.
Next, we did a brick mission, pulling bricks out from the garden along the east side of the property, along the paddock. I have noticed an increasing amount of bricks appearing under the trees as their limbs thin out close to the ground. I think they were some sort of garden edging before things got overgrown. The Little Fulla took great delight in prising the brick treasures out from the ‘forest’, being careful to watch out for bears. I selected the best bricks and arranged them into the dug-out ground in a square just the right size for the rain barrel. Now we have the base for the rain barrel stand, so no more weeds growing under it. The next step will be building a stand from wood that is just the right size for a watering can to fit under. Since rain was coming, the barrel had to be put on bits of wood again. Now it is full.
We finished filling the new raised beds, with a scoop of bought topsoil, plus another three wheelbarrow loads dug out of the chicken pen. The beds have been topped with old woodshavings from the chicken coop and two blueberry plants have been planted in the Blueberry Bed.
We may have run out of time to create a corn field out the front, but I have managed to get a corn patch in. I was quite late with sowing the seeds but I was determined to try anyway, since I already had the seeds. I sowed them in cell trays then transplanted them so they wouldn’t be eaten by birds. We have a square of 16 sweetcorn plants. I put planks between the rows to stop birds and things from digging up the plants. Even if we only get one or two ears to save seeds from, it will be worth it.
I also finally decided upon a spot to plant the mandarin tree that has been siting around in a pot for rather a while. It was in the old compost area when we moved here, getting swamped by other things, so I potted it up and it has been waiting, very patiently for a permanent spot. It is a dwarf Silverhill so it won’t get particularly big. It has been planted on the side of the washing line in the Maple Garden. I did a bunch of weeding in there too, but there’s still more to be done.
The Black Panther calla lillies are flowering, and that makes me happy. I tend to forget they’re in the Maple Garden until they appear, faithfully and in greater abundance each summer.
There’s been some funny business with the pumpkins. Some of them appear to have cross-pollinated. I grew Wee Bee Little’s from seeds saved from an early pumpkin, which look to be true, but plants grown from seeds saved from some of my good pumpkins, which have only been planted here or by family members, are not what they ought to be. It looks like they have cross-pollinated with Small Sugar pumpkins. It also looks like the Jack Be Little’s have cross-pollinated with the Small Sugar. It will be very interesting to see how these pumpkins turn out. The pumpkins are growing well with all the heat and the spaghetti squash plants are proving to be very vigorous.
The Agria potatoes got a bit of blight from the wet weather before Christmas, so they were in need of digging out. I harvested 29.9kg of potatoes from 16 plants. They look good. And taste good. That made space to plant some more things. We planted some more broccoli and cabbage seedlings that were still looking alright. We continue to harvest other veges as we need them or as they become mature.
We sowed some carrots while the soil was nice and wet. Our last lot suffered from a cat digging incident. The last lot of runner beans I sowed survived through the slug and snail battle in their tender stage, but we won’t announce that loudly enough for the molluscs to hear.
I candled the eggs in the incubator on Day 8. Of the Annie eggs, only three of the seven were fertile and growing. Some of them were getting a bit old while I was waiting in case I needed the incubator for the last hatch, which I did. The oldest good one was 11 days old when it went in and two of the duds were older than this. Of the six Betty eggs, five are growing and one was a dud. Same with the Paris eggs; five are growing and one was a dud. This leaves us with:
- 3 Annie eggs
- 5 Betty eggs
- 5 Paris eggs
I will candle them again before lockdown.
Rory’s remaining three chicks are doing well. They have been outside most of the time, except when it was rainy, and Rory has been digging much less inside the coop, so things are a lot more chilled out and less messy.