Some weeks ago, The Husband tilled up most of the front yard with a rotary hoe. Since then, it has been my job to get the ground prepared for crop planting. The Little Fulla and I did a big push for this while the weather was cooperating. Spring weather isn’t entirely cooperative. What threw a spanner in the works was getting rid of the three flaxes (phormium) along the front fence. They had gotten way too big for their britches and were pushing the fence out. I don’t know what variety they were as I divided them from one that was in the garden when we got here. They used to be much smaller. I had been watching them bulge by the day, knowing I had to dig them out but so reluctant to do the mammoth task. Procrastination does not favour the flax digger.
The Little Fulla and I managed to dig out the first, biggest one, with much time and effort. It was so big I had to hack and saw pieces off it just to pull it up the little slope away from the fence. Fortunately, The Husband was around for the next two, and with a bit of digging around the edges, he hauled each one out of the ground with the van and a big towrope. He’s good for ideas like that. The Little Fulla and I managed to haul them down to the chicken pen by wheelbarrow or sackbarrow. There they will slowly decompose as they provide mulch around the feijoa tree. I just have to keep an eye out for any roots trying to grow back the into the soil. The Little Fulla spotted not one but two green and golden bell frogs sheltering inside the flaxes, fortunately before they were disposed of in the chicken pen. We relocated them to the remaining flax by the eastern boundary fence, which is staying put.
The Little Fulla and I also had a crack at digging up the last camellia stump from the bit beside the front carport. We didn’t get very far. Do you know what the only thing worse than digging up an old, rebellious camellia stump is? Digging up one that’s growing horizontally. We got a bit further than in the photo below, managing to dig up some of the roots as we got to the smaller ends. But now, I reckon it’s The Husband’s turn.
After the flax ordeal was over it was time to weed the hedge strip, level it out, lay cardboard down under the hedges, which has been partially covered with mulch, and trim the corokia hedge plants. I planted three new plants in the gaps, although they’re not quite the same as the existing shrubs. The existing ones were purchased online as Corokia cotoneaster but they certainly are not. They might be Corokia cheesemanii. The new ones I bought on special are Corokia ‘Little Prince’, which is a cultivated variety of Corokia cotoneaster. I would like to have a little bit of variety in the hedge. I liked the contrast in texture that the flaxes brought, but they were way too big.
After all this was the part that took considerably longer than I thought it would – leveling and forking out clumps of grass and weeds that hadn’t died off. I hadn’t realised how much kikuyu grass was in that part of the lawn and hoeing it up basically spread little bits of grass everywhere. Kikuyu does not die easily but it does spread easily and so I went around forking up the dirt and removing as many bits of it as I could. The Little Fulla did helpful things like digging big holes, standing on the parts of ground I was trying to dig, throwing clumps of dirt around and transporting pieces of kikuyu grass in his dump truck to other parts of the garden, interlaced with running off to do even more disturbing things. Sometimes he did some raking, but that task largely fell to me.
The leveling was quite a big thing too. I had to go and buy a proper metal tined rake. The highest point was just in front of the hedges, particularly in the middle where there used to be a big tree stump. The lowest point was the left hand corner farthest from the fence. I lot of dirt was moved down away from the hedges and, although not perfect, the ground looks a lot flatter than it did before. The grassed parts still slope in a several directions. I’m short on compost with all the garden projects going on, so I just raked in a small amount of bought compost.
The Front Plot was then covered in black plastic to suppress the weeds, prevent soil erosion and encourage the soil organisms to get working until we’re ready to plant crops in there. Ideally this would have been done a couple of months ago but I’m happy we got it done some time before planting and also before this crazy four-day storm showed up.
Now we’re working on fencing. The Little Fulla helped me begin installing wire netting along the eastern paddock fence. There are a few reasons this is important.
- So the neighbours’ dog doesn’t get through and chase or attack our animals.
- So the neighbours’ young bull doesn’t eat all my plants to death. He’ll still be able to reach some from the top of the fence but at least he won’t be able to destroy low plants or entire plants.
- So if we have chickens out there they won’t waltz through to the neighbours’ place.
I still have a long section to go behind all the shrubs and trees that form the least domesticated part of our property. That’s going to be fun. There will have to be some sawing and bush whacking before the wire netting can be squeezed behind all these shrubs. I will also need to run a thinner section of netting along the top to further prevent animal encroachment.
The wooden post and rail fence along the front of the property needs to be replaced due to the fact that it’s falling apart, not helped by the flaxes. When we get around to doing that, I will put wire netting along the inside of that as well. It’s nice that the front yard is finally getting more attention. Apparently it takes putting edibles out there to get my attention.