Saturday, December 17, 2011

Good food resolution for 2012 and beyond

Summer has arrived and the year 2011 is coming to a close. It has been wetter than in the past years, but the Perth rainfall results have just topped the average rainfall by 11mm. Both water tanks are full and the garden beds are empty, just a few tomatoes and some squash. Pumpkins and zucchinis that have been showing signs of mildew and need treatment. Sunflowers grow buoyantly.

Preparations are in full swing for Christmas and the to-do-list is long during this week, as we are expecting visitors from overseas. Still there is time for reflection, resolutions and plans. The year of the dragon will start on the 23 January and it's looking promising for the rat.

One of my resolutions is to eat better and simpler food, more vegetables and less carbohydrates. From a friend who normally only sends me jokes I received a very useful link this morning that inspired me to write another blog before this year comes to a close. The link with the title "Six ordinary foods that are really extra-ordinary"  took my attention right away. It is a commercial venture and the guy who wrote the site wants to sell his books, but the content is great.

Have a guess what is in this list of foods! I could have named them all and it was the simplicity of the list that took my breath away. In other words, the penny dropped at the very moment I saw this list:
In my family coleslaw has never been a great feature, but an auntie used to make it often at her birthday parties. Also as a student I worked in a then Yugoslav restaurant and had to cut cabbage with a big shredder. This is where I came across my favourite coleslaw recipe:
  • Shredder a small cabbage finely
  • Add 1/3 cup white vinegar and 1/3 cup of light olive oil
  • Add salt and pepper to taste plus a clove of garlic or two
  • Massage this mixture with your hands, knead it over and over again until is becomes softer and smooth. Give it at least 3-5 minutes and work the elbow grease.
You will be rewarded with a fine salad, a nutritious and cheap side dish that lasts well for about 3-5 days in the fridge.

The list of special dishes traditionally eaten over Christmas and New Year is long and includes food from Silesia and Germany. We will prepare herring and potato salads, a pudding made of poppy seeds, milk and white bread. We have already baked a lot of Christmas cookies and a big gingerbread church has won acclaim, the best one ever.

Join me in making better food choices in 2012 - and for the rest of 2011. Have a very happy festive season and best wishes for 2012.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Transplanted fruit trees

During winter 2011 we transplanted all in all four mature trees. The last one not even four weeks ago. We transplanted an orange tree first, then two plum trees and last but not least a blood organise tree whoch found a new spot in front of the house. 
The last one gave me the biggest worry, as it was already mid-october before the tree found its new place. Unclear about what the weather would be like it was a bit of a bargain to transplant it that late in the cool season. But there was no choice and the tree had to go at its other place. I was lucky enough to get it donated.
The tree is much smaller than the other two, only about 1.30m high. I had doug the hole and watered it well plus filled it with compost the day before we got it. the previous owner pruned it back hard and used seasol on its roots for four days prior to digging it out. He also sprayed the tree with stress relief spray of some kind. The foilage got reduced by about two third.

The efforts appeared to have paid off. Although the tree had lost most of its little fruits that already had set from the last orange blossoms, it has not lost any leaves yet and seems to like its new spot in full sun. I water it regularly after reading that a transplanted tree needs at least about 5l of water daily on a hot day. Also the weather is kind to us as Perth is going through an unprecedented rainy period. October got the most rain in 13 years.

Two plum trees were transplanted at the same time around mid August. Again the soil was prepaired well with compost, bentonite clay and chicken manure. the trees were quite high, about 2.50m.

The trees were pruned before the transplanting and, similar to the orange tree, their root system is quite shallow. When we put them into the ground the roots were nearly bare.

I was surprised to see how differently both trees took to the new location. The left one flowered in September and developed leaves right away.
The second plum tree took a lot longer to show any sign of growth and is still flowering low at the start of November. I am worried how they will ever get pollinated, flowering to far apart from each other. Am thinking about grafting another branch ontothem if next year they flower that much apart. Now the late plum is growing leaves as well and all seems to be ok. Will wait with the grafting decision until next year anyway.

The first tree we transplanted into the garden was a mature orange tree, about 15 years old and 2.5m high. Although heavily pruned we lost more branches during the transport on the ute.

This tree later lost some leaves but not that many. It also kept only a few of the flower buds. However, the treatemtn must have been right. During the past months hundreds of new buds have emerged. The tree is flowering everywhere at the moment.

There is a gorgeous smell and it appears like a wonder that the tree, after being moved to a new location, could find the strengths of sending out this many flower buds. Compost and worm juice certainly helped. But the pictures are stunning. What a view!

Successful transplanting of fruit trees, even if they are mature trees, is possible with the right preparation, in the the right time, with love for the tree and an eye onto the moon  planting calendar.  Give it a shot before you throw the tree out.

If you have a fruit tree to give away, put it into the quokka or give your local community garden a call if you need a new home for your fruit tree.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Looking back on the first gardening year

Our first year of gardening is coming to an end. We thought and talked about it during October 2010 and then got to work on the the first day of the new moon, 6 November 2010.

It has been a rewarding journey and I am pleased that I found the time to document this period of growing and learning in this blog for myself, my friend and for other budding gardeners who share this passion for growing our own food and being outdoors working with plants and the earth.

I have been on a steep learning curve and bought about five gardening books last year. I don't want to miss every step of the journey. We are here for the long haul and hope that we are able to grow more and more food that we put on our table each day.

It's spring. Still some rain arriving and the temperatures are usually below the mid twenties, although we already had two days beyond 30degrees.

I am not surprised how often I wrote about the weather and especially about how little rain has fallen. Looking back we probably had a good year with close to average rainfall. I'd like to thank the WA Water Corporation for taking such copious records but I am thinking about grecording the rainfall directly in the garden, although my rain gauge is a very simple one from the post office.

Both water tanks are full and my last town water bill was a pleasant surprise.We only used 42,000l of town water in the past six months with three people. That's only 230 litres for the whole family per day or 70 litres per person and day! That's certainly called water wise!
Compost and mulch were the other big issues in the past year. The sandy soils of Perth are one of the poorest in the world. I never took to the term sandgroper but I understand what that means a bit better after one year of gardening behind our house.
We have produced plenty of compost during the past twelve months and I have just ordered another big pile of free mulch. All compost has been used in preparing for the spring planting but I am happy that two new batches are close to being taken out. They live in a small rubbish bin until they are needed. This makes it wasy to cart the heavy earth around in the garden. Two compost tumblers are in good working order, the third one has gone back to my friend who has herself commenced a gardening adventure around her new house in Duncraig.

The raised garden beds are still not in full production. I am proud of the idea to cut them in half with an angle grinder. Filling them with mulch and with jarrah saw dust has not fired back yet. It was a cheap way to fill them up and where I planted something I made sure there was plenty of good compost around the roots of the plants to thrive.

Pest were a big issue in the past year. That's understandable, as these little critters have a very difficult time to find a place to live in these sandy Perth soils. I recently prepared the first patch for spring planting, creating four 1by1m garden beds. I made the mistake to cover the soil with straw. The watering and the retained moisture in the compost rich soil provided a phantastic environment for a slater nursery.

The other day, when planting squash and zucchinis I noticed the colonies of critters. The straw I used to cover the summer garden beds provided the ideal environment for them and numbers multiplied quickly.

But again, I decided against spraying and simply pick them off, chuck them into a bucket and fed them to the neighbour's chooks. The chooks were happy and the neighbour thanked me with a bucket of lemons so it ended up as a good deal, just not for the slaters.

The new gardening year is about to start and everything is ready for the continuation of the journey.

Gardening has made me a more balanced person. I enjoy the caring for plants and getting my hands dirty. I feel connected with my ancestors and at the same time am producing some healthy food for my family and friends. I have been grateful for every little bit that the garden produced in the past year and am looking forward to the next year.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lettuces in blossom

My lettuce patch has been full of surprises. Due to the hotter weather and the drier season the lettuces were shooting up and started to flower. I was amazed to explore the variety and similarities in flowers these plants are producing.

Whether they actually go to seed is still to be seen. I am not sure how many are hairloom varieties and which ones are hyprids.

We had planty of salads to eat and the new lettuce seedlings are planted.

Here are some pictures to share:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My herb garden

In the past years I had herbs growing next to the grape wine in front of a fence in poor soil. I grew majoran, thyme, mince and parsley. Alas, the plants did not survive and it was time to find a place for my new herb garden. I new it was the right time when I heard about the University of Western Australia having another plant sale on the 30 November. I came home with some lemon and anise basil, black cummin, spearmint, dill, Vietnamese mint and a plant called mushroom plant, I never heard of before.

The right spot was quickly found just outside the back door and close to the water tank in full sun most of the day with a bit of shade in teh arvo from a wattle tree. I removed the grass cover and weeds and gadded compost in the planting spots. Before I set the herbs I laid eight bricks flat to make a small garden path for easiert access. I split some of the plants in half with the aim to increase their survival rate. the other halves I put into one of the garden beds where I had already seeded lots of parsley and coriander a few weeks ago with healthy plants developing.

I am pleased with my new herb garden. I also included a parsley plant which I transplanted from another spot. The patch is flanked by a pot of mince and a pot of coriander. There is ample room for more herbs and yesterday a new gardening friend gave me some majoran and thyme that I will add to the patch. He also has promised me a blood orange tree that I will be picking up in a few days. Although it's the wrong time to tranplant trees, I am hopeful and will give it a shot. More about this another day.
Not sure what this iris is called?!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

September hail

What a surprise a few days ago when around 8am a storm struck and our suburb was showered in hail. Here is the evidence:

The storm reminded me of the huge hailstorm that caused havoc in Perth last year in March. But the size of the hail this time did by far not reach the proportions of that day.

All looked well. A nice ball of ice collected with the water sweeping down from the roof at the outlet of the downpipe. I was tempted to put a snowball into the freezer for later thorough inspection, but left it as it was. the hail stones were perfectly round.

All looked fine, apart from the leaves of the nasturtions that got a few holes; but a few days later upon closer inspection of the palm leaves I noticed that the leaves are covered with yellow spots caused by the impact of the hail on the plants.

I am pleased that it was not my own head which had to bear the brunt of the hail and I am sure the plants will recover. Interesting weather and another story to tell!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Almond and lemon cheese cake

Sometimes tidying up the fridge brings friendly surprises. Today I found some ricotta cheese in my fridge. It had already passed its use by date and nobody in this house was keen on cannelloni for dinner tonight, so making a cheese cake became the task at hand.

How to bake an almond and lemon cheese cake:

  • 500g ricotta
  • 250 g castor sugar
  • 4 eggs
Cream until very smooth, about 5 minutes with a mixer or a food processer, then add
  • 200g butter - salted (melted in microwave)
  • 3 lemons - rind and juice
Mix thoroughly for another minute or so, and then transfer the mixture into a bigger bowl before you add and fold under carefully:
  • 400g self raising flour - put through sift first
  • 110g almond meal (one small paket)
The lot goes into a spring form lined with baking paper.
Bake for about 45min at 160degrees celsius.

The cake turned out to be a beautiful big and tasty cake. We ate it after a short cooling down period with some vanilla ice cream. Here is the proof:

Spring is here

The rainfall for this September is already above the long-term average, with more rain predicted for later tonight and the coming week. We had 42mm in the last seven days!

The garden is looking fresh and green. Over the weekend I planted two artichokes and about 10 lettuce plants that I received from my friend Gay.

I set the artichokes between left over capsicum plants from last year which looked like they were sprouting and showed some new leaves. I am not sure whether artichokes and capsicums are companion plants. A bit of research found that artichokes grow well with sunflower and tarragon. The plants don't dislike each other so all should be right, although it might be a bit late in the year for artichokes in our climate anyway , but  that can't be changed now.

The lettuces were put into one of the two new garden beds that so far had only been filled with jarrah saw dust and woodchips. Lifting the soil I found that the winter rains had helpted turn this into some decent looking earth already. However, below each plant I ensured there was plenty of compost to give them a good start. The predicted rain will hopefulla assist as well, as the first sunny day already already give them a bit of a hard time. But it should be right.

Compost is ready for more planting after the new moon this Tuesday. I emptied one of the three bins and put the compost into an unusued small rubbish bin that I found behind the house, no longer being the right size for the council service. It comes with a lid and has wheels as well, so just the right thing to keep the compost until it's needed and to easily wheel it to the garden bed for the new plants.

I want to return the borrowed green tumbler and cleaned and scrubbed it to regain the state it was in when I got it three years ago. I consider myself as very lucky to have friends that let me borrow their compost tumbler. Lots of spring flowers are out and make a much better sight than the newly planted artichokes and the new lettuces!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Winter rain and new seeds

Winter has come back and dumped a lot of rain down on Perth. It is very windy and quite cold around 15 degrees celsius only. Both watertanks have filled up and the earth is moist and in good shape. The lettuces thrive and the tomatoes needed to be tied better onto their stakes to withstand the wild weather. It's real winter in Perth, but it compares well to similar days in April in Europe.

But as is has not been raining all the time, I could pick a sunny time during the afternoon to seed some zucchinis, cucumber, capsicums, eggplants, basil and a few sunflowers to attracts birds and insects.

I used three plastic seeding trays, filled them with compost and inserted one or two seeds into each segment. The idea is to see how the plants go and eventually cut the weaker one to have just one plant out, survive and start off strong strong. I seeded four to eight seeds in one or two rows, with the intention to repeat this process in about two weeks time after the next new moon.

Last year I marked each row off with the initials of the seeds but to no avail, as I did not give them the intention the seeds deserve. This year I left it, feeling comfortable that I remember what I seeded when the seedlings grow.

Both rainwater tanks have filled again after I started watering last week during temperatures around 23-24degrees. The rainfall record this year is looking better than last year although we have so far not reached average rainfall in any of the 2011 months:

201130.2 0.4 0 19.4 85 171.4 161 115.2 65.2       647.8

More details available here:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Propagating bougainvilleas

Several times before I tried to have bougainvillea cut-offs grow roots simply by putting them into water. Only once it appeared to work but in the end nothing came out of it. This time I should be more clever.

The cuttings are from plants in my front garden on the side of the driveway that were growing in the wrong direction and intruding too far into the space reserved for the car, making it difficult to get in and out of the car without scratches from the thorns of the plants. I cut them off generously, knowing that at the start of spring they were about to rebound in no time.

I reduced the cuttings to about 15-20cm, making them small enough to fit into the pots prepared with good compost. I removed most of the leaves and selected branches that were already showing some growth to the side. I usually discarded the very tips and rather selected semi-hardwood instead of softwood.

Two different varieties of seedlings were available and I spread them across six pots. Straight before planting I dipped them into roots hormone gel, just because I had some. A friend said honey would work just the same. The wikipedia site on cuttings mentions it.

I was happy with the outcome of the work and watered in well the new plants. Again I embarked on this adventure without research on the internet, but today found a good article about propagating bougainvilleas again from Gardening Australia on the ABC website.

Cuttings is a new way of propagating plants for me. I enjoy the learning and believe that I picked a good day for this activity in the moon calendar, just a day before the full moon!

I decided to post the progress of the propagated plants into the same blogpost, easier to keep track:

18 September - leaves are wilting

Transplanting Fruit Trees

We used the winter period this year to transplant three fruit trees: one orange and two plum trees. All trees are mature fruit trees that have not been pruned for a while, about 10 years old, but that's hard to say. All have nearly the same height, around 3 m plus.

This was the first time that we have attempted to transplant trees. Julian doug them out carefully, pruned the roots and wrapped them with black plastic for the transport. The ute came again in handy and the first tree was tied to the car with the branches facing into the wind. Luckily there was not a big distance to travel.

The branches were held together with some plastic mesh as well. We had to dig out a peppermint tree to make room for the orange tree, the first one to be transplanted. 

We prepared the soil well at this end, lots of compost, worm tea and some bentonite to assist with the retention of water in summer. It was surprising how light the tree actually was with only little soil left on the roots. We easily carried it to the hole we prepared earlier and doug a bit wider and deeper than actually needed. This orange tree had quite a shallow root system.

We positioned the tree in the hole and turned it to match the space best. The leading root should position into the wind we were told. Fortunately the tree's new location is quite protected behind the garage door in a sunny corner or the garden.

We had to adjust the height of the roots to ensure that the trunk ended up again level with the soil. We left a bit of a ditch, to make watering in summer easier; and after a good soaking for a few days we topped the area under the tree with mulch, leaving enough space around the trunk to prevent rott.

The tree still had a lot of leaves and some oranges too. They were quite small, visible sign of underfeeding and poor care in the past. Still the tree showed plenty of buds and they now, six weeks after the actual planting they have not dropped off yet, so there is hope for some flowers in the coming season.

We are happy to have saved a tree and promise to look after it. I deplore the lack of research prior to the planting of our first tree, but when the tree found its final spot in the ground, all felt right and all is good as is. A good article about transplanting trees into the urban orchard in Perth and presented by Josh Byrne for ABC is available here.

I have been watering the tree in the past weeks without rain and am pleased that our water tanks are both full and 6,000l of water available for the coming hot season.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pura Veda Seeds

My latest discovery and an enrichment to my breakfast choices has been a seed mixture of buckwheat, sunflower kernels, raisins, sesame seeds, millet, pumpkin seeds, linseed, poppy seeds, chia seeds and amaranth. This mixture is called pura veda seeds.  I add it to my musli for breakfast and love its taste. Alsio during the day eat it some joghurt and tinned fruit or steamed apples. I have come across thus stuff by accident through one of their promotion events at Manna Wholefoods in Fremantle about two months ago.

I have actually lost a bit of weight too without changing any of my diet. My naturopath who I visited last Friday said she rarely sees healthy people like me. A few friends of my are hooked too now. Give it a shot. I think you will like it. And the producer of this heavenly stuff don't even pay me to say this.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Winter harvest

Lettuce in pots - 5 August 2011
In our garden there is not much growing at the moment. I must have missed the days to plant winter vegetables, but still am very glad to see my neighbour Paul grow his suedes and beetroots.  There are a few kohlrabi plants and some left over sping onions still gowing from last year, but my pride and joy is the lettuce patch.

The last rain has done the lettuces well. We nearly reached average monthly rainfall for June and July, just a few mm short. One watertank is full and the other one 3/4 full, despite only a very small water collection area on the roof.

The lettuces are thriving, may be due to planting them in pots in the middle of best home made compost. Or the companionship with garlic is working out. I planted garlic in the corners between the pots, plenty of it and it has been growing just as well as the lettuce.

Snails seem to avoid the lettuce alltogether, apart from a few common garden snails (helix aspersa) that were tucked on tighly and came with me into the kitchen when I cut the leaves for dinner.  
It is a delightful pleasure to cut lettuce leaves for family meals. Just enough for a few people. Fresh and home grown it is eaten within 10 minutes of being harvested! We love it! Any leftovers go in the lunch boxes for the next day or into the next compost batch!

Lettuce patch - 25 September 2011

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pruning grape vines

Today I spotted the first growth on my grape vine. It was time for pruning and I worked for about 15 minutes using my best secateur. I know that the plant only grows flowers and bears fruit only on the new shoots therefore I cut everything back that I did not want sprouting in the wrong directions. I want the grapes to ripen along the sunny fence and want to avoid much sticking out into the garden, as one of our coffee tables is close by. 
The picture shows the branch cut off already on the table, looking quite healthy despite some insect bite marks.
I never had any training on how to prune grapes but had very good outcomes last year. In the meantime I also learned that I should cut out the weaker growth from shoots that cross each other.  I will try that in a few days when pruning our two transplanted plum trees where I already spotted some green shoots coming straight out of the trunk of the tree. Probably a sign of stress.
Happy with the outcome of my work, all that needs to be done now is to get rid of the cut-offs. I don't want to put them in the rubbish bin and am thinking of other options. Any ideas?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New water tank

Everybody is celebrating that the dry spell is over. Winter rains have arrived in Perth and given us a good downpour. Highest daily rainfall was just under 60mm on 25 June. Still, there is no reason to talk abut a wet year. March was totally dry. April and May had below  average rainfall and even the 'wet' June did not reach the average rainfall for Perth. It remained actually 4mm under the average. Here is the chart again, from

201130.2 0.4 0 19.4 85 171.4 42           348.4

July has started well, with already 42mm in just three days. The weather has changed a few days ago, it is now quite cold and dry but sunny. Night temperatures have dropped to 3 degrees which is not unusual for the temperate climate in Perth.

The desire to catch as much rain as possible for use in summer made us buy another polyethylene water tank. We went again for 3000l again, to match the size of the first one. This one is a good one. Like the other one it came with a tap to harvest the water. The inbuilt overflow has a cover with mosquito mesh. The tank also has a filter for the big inflow area on the very top of the tank which allows it to be filled to the very top. We don't want to waste any of the 3000l, apart from the one that is below the waterline of the tap and difficult to access anyway. I can't wait to water the garden with rainwater during the coming summer. Twice the water in the tanks should last twice as long. I guess it will give us plenty to smile about all the way through summer.

Our water bill in the last half year has dropped considerably. We actually used 50,000l less water than the six months before. Surely the cause was more than just installing a rain water tank. It happened through being conscious and mindful of the use of water in our lives and through following all the water saving tips promoted by the Water Corporation. However, the water tank was the motivator, that it clear to me. It changed our attitude towards the availability, usefulness and preciousness of water.

The new tank was on special because of end of year sale. I saved the delivery fee of $65 and tied the tank to the ute with some proper straps. It was easy to handle and I unloaded it with my children. We rolled it in the garage on my boy's skateboard and there it stayed for a few days until we brought it through into the garden on the weekend.
The tank was a lot cheaper and is a lot better than the last one I bought two years ago from the same company. Both tanks don't match. They are different makes, but they at least have the same colour. Also, they do not stand next to each other anyway, and design purposes have rarely been a deciding factor for purchases in my life.

The inlet of this new tank is close to the side of the tank and it therefore can be positioned straight under the gutter's down pipe. The gutters got a good clean, amazing how much compost gathered in there. It went straight into the raised garden bed.

This time we did not need to prepare the base for the tank much, as the location already has some proper bricks that were laid evenly. The last time we used some rock samples as a base, compacted down with dirt and held in shape by garden bed shaping made out of thick plastic. It has worked well so far. Despite the overflow from the full tank running straight down the tank with a danger of eroding the base, it still looks good.

All that needs to be done now is to undo a few pop rivets, remove the downpipe and put the tank in place. It fits neatly under the gutters and will catch a part of the roof that previously ran off freely. I guess the roof inflow area is about 50m2 or about half the size as for the other tank. 1mm will bring in 50l. 60mm should do then to fill it. There is hope this winter. July has 100mm to go to last year's rainfall and 120mm to average rainfall. We have a few days grace to put it up, make sure the foundation is right as well.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Lettuce in pots

Lettuce in pots - planted on 22 May 2011.
The idea of growing lettuce in pots came to me from a Bulgarian gardening friend. He gave me a pot of lettuce as a present one day, just dug it up from the garden bed. It seems to be working well. The seedlings get the best nutrients straight to their roots due to the compost contained in the small pot. Their roots can venture out through the draining holes if they need more space.

I thought about cutting out the bottom of the pot to give the plant better access to the soil outside the pot, but I did not want to go that far. I want to reuse the pots until the plastic gives up. Therefore the pots were left as they came to me.

Lettuce in pots - 3 July 2011
The lettuces have grown well in the past weeks. It has been six weeks since I planted them or at least since I took the photo above. We harvested three decent salads so far. I simply picked the outside leaves, gave them a thorough wash, included a capsicum that was ready to be picked too and we could eat the most delicious salad.

The second generation lettuce was seeded when I planted the first lot. It was ready today to be planted out and again I used old pots to give them a good start in best home made compost.

There is a variety of salads, simply seeded from a mixed lettuce seedlot, not sure whether they are heirloom varieties. The next lot would be ready to go, but I though these will do me for the next weeks and I decided to seed other plants, just not sure which ones. Will consult the plant calender and wait for the moon to change.

It has been a while since I have written the last post, my kitchen ceiling was replaced and demanded a more comprehensive paint job not only of the ceiling but of the whole kitchen. It has been completed and the place is ready for us to move in. It felt great to paint and to see the bright new colour reflect the light. The garden had to suffer, but things happened that I will write about soon, such as the arrival of a new water tank and of two transplanted fruit trees, the digging out of several root systems of a lilac tree and more. Watch this space.

Lettuces - 27 September 2011
Lettuces starting to seed
after 50 meals we ate just picking the leaves!
10 October 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mulch is spread

Beautiful mulch, organic material to enhance the productivity and biodiversity of our soil. I just noticed that I never wrote about the adventure of spreading the mulch and yesterday was the International Day for Biological Diversity.

2011 is the Year of Forest Biodiversity, but nevertheless, improving the soil of any environment is right up the aisle.

Mulch saves water and keeps the moisture in the ground. Now it finally has commenced raining and the first showers strong enough to penetrate the mulch. We want the water to stay in the ground as long as possible and nourish a healthy plant and animal live. (Only the breeding of the slaters should be exempt from that process.) The impact of mulch on biodiversity is well documented.

It took a while to spread the pile of mulch. We did not count the total number of wheel barrows that were needed to shift the 25m3 of shredded trees. We set an easy task and focused on lots of around 15 wheel narrows at a time. We used early mornings or evenings to work, as the days in March were still very hot and the work turned out to be quite intense and sweaty.

All of the front garden was covered. We also filled up two raised garden beds and spread lots of mulch in the backyard under the trees and shrubs. Not long and it will be time to order the next lot!