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!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rain, lettuce and termites attacking trees

La Nina has been bringing higher temperatures than usual to Western Australia with the result that the North of WA and the Estern States got a lot of water while we were waiting for the rejuvenating downpour. Now the dryspell seems to be broken. It is bucketing down this morning. This is a most welcoming change as so far we only had trickles.

My water tank has been empty for a few months now and I did not want to plant anything before I had the water to look after the plants. Early this week I got some gourmet lettuce seedlings and put them into into pots to prepare for a later planting in the grounds, the lettuce within the pots. I learnt about this method from a Serbian gardening friend. This way the lettuce gets good nutrients to start off and when the pot gets too small the roots can venture into the ground to find further plant food.

So far the pots are still waiting to be set into the earth, they are just sucking up the moisture from the rain as I am writing this.

On Tuesday we had to get the plumber out, as the toilet was blocked. This followed up from two other blocked drains two weeks ago. It demonstrates that the plants were really suffering in the dry weather and were looking for any moisture they could find to get them going. Our old drains are just the right things for this. Tuesday was the third time in the seven years we have been living in this house that the drains got blocked. An expensive affair, but understandable. One of the drains was attacked by a peppermint tree we planted as seedling to shadow the view into our kitchen window. The roots got into the kitchen drain and did a lot of damage, probably two years ago. That drain was replaced with plastic pipes. The other drains were just cleared, so it is only a matter of time when this happens again.

Pin Cushion Hakea

The other implication of the past dry weather was an increased attack on the trees from white ants. Two weeks ago the local council offered a green verge collection and using a chain saw we removed two wattles, a pin cushion hakea, the peppermint tree outside the kitchen window and an oleander bush that was pushing over the fence to the neighbour. 

Trunk of pin cushion hakea,
eaten up by white ants
All these trees were affected by white ants or termites that hollowed the trunks and were in the process of killing the trees.

The garden looks a lot neater now, especially out the front. My daughter thought that there was enough space now for a community garden. The mulch is looking good and will keep the moisture in the ground once we get enough rain to reach the earth in the first place. The sprinkles until today only wet the top of the mulch but did not make any impression on the soil below. That is to change now. Hurray!