I’ve been meaning for ages to post about my garden at my new house (where we’ve been living for nine months now, not so new!) I love going back and looking at my old garden posts from my old house, and it’s good for me too because I tend to think that I did a lot less, and got a lot less produce etc, than I really did. So it’s nice to have a record. There’s going to be a string of these posts, and they might not interest anyone but me, so be warned!
So, first, a quick trip back to October 2014. Here’s what the backyard looked like in the realestate listing. The photo is taken standing right against the Western fence, furthest from the kitchen door.
The shape of the garden is basically a long rectangle, although the back fence is angled so that there’s more length behind the shed than at the other end. Features to point out: verandah and paving – that little extension of paving is where the washing line extends to. Those rocks at the back are heavy heavy moss rocks, surrounding a mulched bed with succulents in it. That tree there is a Lagunaria tree, also known as ‘Cow Itch Tree’ also known round these here parts as ‘that bastard prickle tree’. You can’t really see it but there’s a big gum in the back corner there. I’ll show you some more presently but basically, when we moved in, it was a big expanse of kikuyu grass [shakes fist] and not much else. When we were inspecting the house, S was worried that the garden wouldn’t be big enough for me. In fact, it’s quite large, but with nothing in it it looked relatively small. There’s a front garden too, another, smaller rectangle of grass edged with hardy things, but I’ll stick to the backyard for now.
Here it is again in February, much less groomed and tidy, and also much less oversaturated.
Here’s what you see when you step out of the laundry door
The stakes and shadecloth is a tomato, and the other shadecloth thing with all the junk around it is my potting bench, for seedlings.
Here’s what you see if you look left
More tomatoes, bastard prickle tree, trunk of the gum tree. There are two dwarf fruit trees in pots from the last owners (a peach and a pear), that I really struggled to get enough water to. We got a few teeny fruits but I’m not very invested in keeping them alive, to be honest.
And if you look right
Palm trees, miscellaneous ‘low maintenance’ type tropicalish plants, assorted laundry implements. Also a makeshift fence because the last owners had a large dog. It’s just star pickets and hardware cloth but it was sunk a good half a metre into the ground and was quite tricky to pull up. The tree in the lawn in an ornamental plum. You can also see, in the righthand corner, the pump for the rainwater tank, which is quite handy. Except that the rainwater tank (which is down the side of the house, there’s just room fore the tank and a small path) doesn’t have a first flush system, so it’s full of gumleaves and the water is very murky.
Here’s the view the other way, if you march straight forward and turn around
Laundry door, bbq, assorted outside rubbish. The windows are, l-r, bedroom window (actually out of shot) toilet window, bathroom window, laundry window and door, kitchen windows. Then the little setback bit is what used to be a garage but the last people refurbished it and now it’s where the teen lives.
And if you turn right from there
Same palm trees, different angle. Water tank peeping out from behind the house.
And if you turn left
That blank wall is the back of a barnacle bills and a real estate agent. There are people up the back we never see, and friendly but sometimes rowdy people over the other fence. They really like 90s pop music.
The last owners mulched everything good and proper before selling, for which I am very grateful. I also suspect they roundupped the crap out of everything, which I am less grateful for but it does mean fewer weeds.
The lurking green things against the fence are various ‘hardy’ shrubs but they are not doing very well because that’s West facing and there is a LOT of afternoon sun against that fence. It’s so so hot, and basically everything cooks. In fact you can see that the kikuyu grass is cooked, in this photo. On the street out front, the gum tree and palm trees got burnt in the heatwave. That’s the kind of sun we’re talking.
Ok here is a view of my potting bench and a little bit behind the shed
The shed is quite generous but it’s also where we dumped everything when we moved, and it’s still not sorted out. There’s the leanto behind the shed, for the bins. Potting bench, compost bin…. christmas tree. You know, the usual
There’s an oblong of space back there, with a flourishing ornamental pear tree, and not much else. It’s very tucked away so not a very useful space.
Here’s what was going on under the shadecloth over the potting bench
This is a self-watering/wicking seed raising tray from diggers. It worked pretty well.
Here’s what was growing in it. I just ate some of these for dinner today. Feel pretty good about that!
However, I ended up putting this tray away and going with this set up
It’s just a plastic tub with holes drilled about an inch from the bottom – we had a bunch of these storing stuff in the shed before the move, so we have heaps left now we’re unpacked, and I didn’t have to buy any. Anyway, holes about an inch up, fill it with sand. The soft drink bottle is sitting inside a yoghurt container with the bottom cut out, so that the lip of the bottle is buried about a half a centimetre into the sand. As the water in the sand evaporates, the bottle empties. It’s self wicking, and with the lid on it’s a little greenhouse, and it worked much better than the bought tray, because it has more water reserves. The lid is too dark for winter, though, the seedlings got leggy. Here is how to build one.
The garden bed along the back is mulched with barkchips over river stones. So to dig down to the soil is quite hard (plus side, no weeds at all). Adding to this, the prickle tree left its prickles all over the bed, so you HAD to wear gloves and even then you got prickles. They are little needles, like running your hand over fibreglass. Just awful. I did plant a few things in the bed but it was just too torturous to dig into to plant much. By the time these photos were taken I’d planted and then pulled out spent zucchinis – we got a reasonable crop. I also planted beans
The ants got all but two of the seeds, one of them burnt in the afternoon sun. This one thrived but I planted them a bit late really. I got three lovely beans from it, which wasn’t really worth the effort. I also planted tomatoes
Which did ok but struggled in the afternoon sun too. I got a small crop from them, again not really worth it but it was nice to be out there in the mornings, watering them and planning the future of the garden. I had more success with pots along the verandah.
Some lettuces which got a bit bitter, and a cherry tomato that looks a bit sad here but perked up after some fertiliser and some more consistent watering.
These pots were all self watering, but I used gravel that was probably too large and they weren’t very efficient. You can see the asian greens have gone to seen and the lettuce looks sad, but we picked and ate those plants steadily for a month or so. Chilli thriving in the background is overwintering pretty nicely at the moment.
More lettuce, and the real stars of the show, the basil and thyme
Going to seed here after two months of hard work.
And that was the garden in February! That’s enough for one post, I’ll save the next batch for later.