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Saturday, December 17, 2011

TLC for our tomatoes

We look like having a bumper crop of tomatoes this year, starting with our Beefsteak variety. Also growing are Romas and Gross Lisse varities plus numerous compost-derived specimens - all doing fabulously!

However, we've had a lot of blossom end rot plus fruit worm through them - the Romas have taken the biggest hit by the looks. Given their hybrid background the compost tomatoes are the least affected. We've done a big clean out and given the toms a dose of calcium nitrate in liquid form, hoping to remedy the remainder of the crop, which is looking decidedly healthier after two weeks of TLC! :o) Next year we will need to dose the soil more with gardening lime I think - not enough in ourno-dig bed it seems. Might also be worth tracking down some powdered or pulverised rock minerals to provide more trace elements.

tomatoes (fruitworm)
Beefsteak tomatoes with fruitworm.

In the other bed, our second planting of dwarf beans and the purple king beans are coming to an end - the warmer drier weather has meant a smaller crop, but my affection for them has not diminished in the slightest!

purple king bean (flower)
Purple King Beans in flower.

The cucumbers are flowering with little cucumbers on the way as well. Our corn is growing taller everyday too - we love corn, but again will need to keep an eye out for fruitworm as I've heard they love corn.

burpless cucumber
Burpless cucumber in flower.

The Perth weather is surely getting hotter and the days longer, so we are being more rigorous with watering and regularity is the key. A regular dose of liquid seaweed (or fish) emulsion seems to push the vegies along nicely too. A dose every fortnight seems to be having a positive effect.

So, bring on Summer and happy gardening!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The water's rising mamma!

Yeah baby yeah! Garden is loving this rain! Our timing on connecting up our water barrels was good too - that's 400 litres we didn't have before!





Thank you forces of nature and happy gardening!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Universal playground, Mueller Park Subiaco

We recently visited the new universal playground developed at Mueller Park in Subi. It's a wonderful play space for all ages and abilities! We've been filing away ideas for kids areas in our garden and just loved hanging out in this space.

The water feature was a hit with Clancy (plus a few bees vying for a drink) where she dropped leaves into the "stream" and watched them travel into the "puddle". Other kids were dressed for the water action too!

The other aspect I really liked was the contoured sandpits which enabled all to enter them for a play - there were crawling babies dipping in and out - the level of the sandpit was below the walkways, making it really easy for them to get into and out of it!

There were some musical pieces too - drums and hollow tubes linked underground across the playground - kind of like submarine walkie-talkies. Very cool!

The area is planted with native shrubs and trees and some grasses. Would also be nice to see some aromatic plants - herbs for kids to pick and taste for example.

A great space for kids parties too I reckon. We'll certainly be back for more of a play here!

At Home with Josh Byrne

At Home with Josh Byrne by margoc
At Home with Josh Byrne a photo by margoc on Flickr.
We visited Josh Byrne's home garden last weekend. It's amazing what you can do in a small space! The front garden is a water wise native garden and looks so lush. The retaining recycled limestone wall really gives the garden form and structure and no doubt acts as a bit of a water diversion to other parts of the garden. Clancy loved the sleepers, stepping along to different areas, one part with a sort of wishing well again made from the same material as the retaining wall - there was a sense of adventure about it all.

The rear yard is amazing: an edible garden and sensory feast using raised beds, pots, bins, a vertical herb garden, plus a sandpit and cubbyhouse for the kids, surrounded by aromatic herbs.

I'll say Josh certainly has an eye for design, using the space well to create areas of activity and relaxation - I especially loved the pergola overgrown with a passionfruit vine and the inviting lounge suite beneath!

Mostly, I wanted to see firsthand his greywater set up - very high tech (well it looked that way) - water is probably the biggest issue Perth gardeners face.

Well, happy sustainable gardening... it's going to be another long, hot Summer!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Down South in Spring

twenty-eight parrot by margoc
twenty-eight parrot a photo by margoc on Flickr.
Spring in the Pemberton region is simply stunning! I did a few walks to the Gloucester Tree while there and the birds are more than interested in us visitors! This twenty-eight was obviously looking for a bit of brekky.

The wild flowers and creepers are out in full colour - stunning! Check out the pics on my Flickr site for more!

Monday, October 17, 2011

October Update

Excuse me but where is October going??? We've had a busy month - some of it in the garden and the remainder dealing with life generally I suppose!

We scored some half wine barrels from our dear friend Phil and now have a lovely Eureka lemon and a Tahitian Lime - both doing well. A third barrel will support one of our Ficus trees and provide some much needed shade in the Summer heat.

tomatoes well underway

We've planted another lot of dwarf beans after our success with the first lot (still going if getting a little woody!), and the purple king beans have lovely purple flowers heralding the impendng arrival of purple beans! The garlic are drying out and due to be pulled up very shortly.

Purple King Beans new planting of dwarf beans

A question mark over the carrots and beetroot at present - slowed down in their growth and seem to be affected by the little bit of heat we've had so far, especially the beetroot - will keep an eye on these and check the water is getting to them...

Tomatoes are flowering very well (see pic above) and the passionfruit vines are on a race to see which one will make it to the roofline first! The strawberries in the hanging baskets have lots of flowers and some green fruit already - will top them up with some seasol solution.

passionfruits both progressing nicely

We have done a heap of pottting as well - some natives and annuals for colour and coverage. It helps in bringing some colour to the back patio which is concrete (and hot in summer!).

Finally, the grapevine is fast covering the new white frame and Simon added a swing to entice the kids to the sandpit space a little more. Hoping to get enough coverage as the weather warms up. Next big job is to put up the lattice along the boundary and get some covering vines going to futher provide some summer relief (you'll see the old lattice behind the grapevine in the photo below...)!

sand pit now complete with swing

All ticking along nicely :o)

Happy gardening!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Visual plants and ancient trees

We recently had a verge-side "bring out your dead" day whereby residents drop all and sundry on the footpath to be collected by the council for recycling or dumping (imagine old fridges, tree cuttings, items from yesteryear - that sort of thing). Leading up to the pick-up day itself, neighbours (and visitors) can be watched crawling along the street looking intently at the piles for that little (or big) treasure! It confirms the old adage "one person's trash is another person's treasure!"

I'll admit to some kerb crawling (said tongue-in-cheek!) myself and picked up some big pots and the top of a wheelbarrow to use as a succulent garden. I like the effect!

succulents

I've always been a fan of the succulent family for their ability to survive on very little attention only to grace you with a lovely show of delicate flowers! Here I've planted some Aloe (has a flower stem that grows from the centre of the plant up to about 50cm with a red poker-like flower); a red jade tree (at least I think it is); and Aeoniums, together with some yellow African Daisies (also hardy). I had some small zygocactus pieces that had struck out roots so popped them in as well (see in foreground of photos).

With Summer just around the corner, this little garden should be settled in enough to cope with the heat... ...but we will see!

A side note: Simon's aunty gave us a Ginkgo tree - these are simply lovely trees and from what I've read (as I know little about them) they are quite ancient and grow quite large to about 50 metres. Long thought of as a sought-after medicinal plant in Chinese and Japanese cultures, it has many healing properties. We'll be keeping ours in a pot and will admire its delicate fan-like foliage which turns bright yellow in Autumn.

ginkgo biloba

Happy gardening!

Spring gardening: some extras

A lovely day today to tidy up the garden and get some more vegies in - love the cycle of growing!
Popped in some more dwarf snappy beans - they are so productive for such little plants, I'm totally sold on them!

dwarf beans

Also sowed some coriander, parsley, bok choy and chives, all to minimise the growth of (and turned in) the seedlings coming up from the compost (that one wasn't a fully 'hot composted' load then was it?).

Dosed up the potted plants and seedlings of beetroot, carrot and swiss chard with a weak seasol solution. Pulled a couple of garlic too as they are beginning to go dry and yellow - not as big as I'd hoped but had planted team around the brocolli and caulies so perhaps didn't get the feed they needed.

garlic

Spring is the best time of the year! Happy gardening!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sustainable House Day 2011

Part of Sustainable September includes Sustainable House Day. We visited an open house on Sunday morning, a renovation (retaining the small, street-facing original double brick home) using passive solar and universal design principles throughout. It was really helpful to talk with the owner and hear their experiences on the ins and outs of designing and building a home using green principles.

Here are my take away thoughts:
  • Get a number of quotes from architects and builders before making a final decision.
  • Have a good ongoing relationship with your architect (they can also help when talking with the builders, especially if issues arise).
  • Be prepared to compromise if necessary for practicality sake (it's incredibly expensive to take a purist's view on sustainable design and building!) and be wary of "green washing".
  • Be available regularly at least to stay in touch with progress, especially if there are suggested design changes.
  • Engage builders who are knowledgable in sustainable building practices, materials and approaches (including minimising on-site rubbish and disruption where possible).
  • Be realistic (and well prepared) about budget and timeframes!
  • Think beyond the initial build/renovation (i.e. future proofing and ongoing maintenance needs, etc).
  • Be prepared for a relatively stressful time throughout. :o)
And the garden? Don't leave it til the end, build it into the design and get stuck in! :o)

Happy gardening!

Garden efficiencies and cycles: seed propagation

Having had our no-dig garden now for some five months, we are beginning to get into a bit of a cycle: fennel made way for garlic (planted earlier and now quite large) and new seed plantings of Swiss Rainbow Chard and parsley. The snow peas have virtually finished (with some saved for seeds), just as the dwarf beans began to take off. With the beans in full tilt we planted some purple runner beans from seed (using teepee style sticks over fennel for support and bug protection), and beetroot and carrot seeds, plus some coriander seedlings (sown during Winter).
dwarf beans


It's great to see cycles in action side-by-side simultaneously in the one small space - an ongoing cycle of life!

past
Past...
present
Present...
future
Future...!
I'm also becoming more aware of the need to be efficient in the garden, not just with precious resources such as water, but with seeds and seedlings, and fertilisers too. I've been researching and reminding myself of ways to store and propagate seed from brocolli, peas and beans, and have struck various herbs like rosemary and marjoram. We've also propogated some green tomato ('Zebra') seeds - hoping they'll germinate!

Being efficient and effective with fertilisers and composting is also important - so far we have one compost bin, but ideally could use two or even three (being about 80 litres in volume), to spread the benefits further and more regularly, and minimise the need for buying compost. Others have been successful at growing compost, mulches, and green manures, as is key to permaculture practices. So our peas and beans can be turned into the ground once harvest is finished, and the fennel leaves bulk out the compost heap too. As the lemongrass kicks in that can provide some mulch/compost.

I'm beginning to see the real benefits of the no-dig approach as well - the soil is really friable and free-draining and the plants seem to grow more vigorously. It's easy to beef up a zone after one crop in preparation for another as well - although due to our small-sized garden this seems more intensive to do!

And finally, our new limestone raised garden bed now has some tomatoes planted - the big Aussie Grosse Lisse, Roma, and Beefsteak varieties! Bring on Summer (and Spring has just begun)!

Happy gardening!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Remember Sustainable September

Don't forget it's Sustainable September in Perth! Of course, every month should be (is) filled with our sustainable efforts, but this month provides lots of opportunitites to highlight the ways in which you can be sustainable in your home and business. Check out the Calender of Events for the month.



Happy gardening!

Planting the "Big Boppa" (passionfruit)

A lovely way to spend a Father's Day morning - planting a passionfruit vine (with a little help).

This is a hybrid of the Panama Gold variety called the Big Boppa. I've read mixed reviews about its productivity, but hoping that with the right condiitons and feeding it will do well. It is supposedly a vigorous grower with large yellow-ish fruit and quite pulpy.

It should, together with the black passionfruit we just planted, create a nice shade and wind break in the summer months, as wll as lush fruit (mmmmmm pavlova anyone?!).

As always, happy gardening!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Passionfruit vine

passionfruit by margoc
passionfruit a photo by margoc on Flickr.
We put in a passionfruit vine last weekend on the western side of the house (where the patio is) and we are hoping this will develop into some living shade from the harsh Summer sun. This one is known as a Sunshine Special and is said to do really well in Perth and all year round.

Thanks to Simon for getting stuck into this one and digging out the hole! We filled it with yummy manure, soil conditioner (a wetting agent) and lots of mulch.

Let's see how long it takes to reach the roofline!

Until then, happy gardening!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A limestone garden bed

We have certainly made the most of the sunshine this weekend in the garden! Simon (with some help from Clancy) put the garden bed together from salvaged limestone blocks, which sits in the middle of the backyard, cutting the space in two - part of our backyard project (we do love projects). In addtion, we will build a sandpit for the kids too, under the grapevine to make the most of the shade there.

The limestone is simply lovely and the bed breaks up the space to be more user-friendly. Hoping we can keep things growing during the hot summer months and will rig up the greywater system to service this bed too. We may need to supplement with town (potable) water, but hoping to minimise this as much as possible.



Happy gardening!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Vegetables all year round

We had a productive day in the garden yesterday; cleaning out old brassicas (keeping some for seed as well as the last little flowerettes of brocolli), dosing up the peas, beans, garlic and fennel with seasol solution, as well as reconditioning all the potted plants (of which most are flowers such as azalea, peace lilly, pansy and Clancy's 'fairy flowers').
End of the winter garden

We planted some seeds too, of purple running beans, target beetroot, baby carrots, and rainbow Swiss chard. I also transplanted some coriander seedlings and parsley. Now we have a rather full plot which is great!
purple running beans over fennel

The beetroot, carrots, chard and beans can be planted for much of the year in Perth given its mild climate; all seasons but the hot dry summer really (unless you can provide good shade and adequate water for seeds, seedling and young plants). We will see how this summer shapes up and decide if we should put up a shade house at some point.

More generally, the garden layout is beginning to take shape now. We have the terraced corner garden in place, plus I have some hanging basket frames to work with and am on the hunt for secondhand large pots for bushy herbs and small shrubs like lemons and rosemary. As mentioned in a previous post, once we get some paper, mulch and compost down on the terraced bed, we will put in the lemongrass, rhubarb and herbs, plus some oak leaf lettuce that has self-seeded in our planter boxes! Am still looking out for raspberry canes too.
Corner terraced garden

So much to do and the whole of Spring to do it in!

Happy gardening!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Truffles down south

truffle by margoc
truffle a photo by margoc on Flickr.
It's truffle season down south at the moment and we brought back this beauty from a recent trip to Pemberton, from Stonebarn, out near Quinninup. We were hoping to view the dogs in action sniffing out the truffles, but didn't make it down in time - well, there's always a next time.

I think this is the French variety, the Perigord black truffle.

The aroma is exquisite, sweet and earthy, not to mention the fresh, pungent flavour when served on top of free range scrambled eggs! Freshly cracked pepper and some shavings of parmesan top off a full and luxurious brekky.

We also tried truffles on top of creamy mashed potatoes with fillets of ocean trout for dinner - yummo! I can see why truffles are fast becoming a lucrative industry in the lower south west!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Goodbye winter, hello spring

With barely two weeks left of Winter, I'm quite excited to spring into spring! Recently I visited the Mt Claremont markets and grabbed some hydroponically grown tomatoes, a green striped 'zebra' variety. They were so full of flavour too. I scooped the seeds out of one and have saved them to plant in a few weeks, once I kick some spring seedlings off.
Mt Claremont Markets

Have to say that the broccoli and cauliflowers did better than I expected - both small varieties. Of the 6 cauliflower seedlings we got 4 decent heads. And of the brocolli (about 10 plants we got about 5 small heads and perhaps no more than a 1kg of smaller bits - not as productive overall, but lovely and very green! :o)
mini caulie and dwarf broccoli
mini caulie
fennel and broccoli

The peas and beans are starting to move as the weather feels slightly warmer, although we've had such a lot of rain, I've been worried they'd get mildew - so far all is OK. Hoping the white moths won't monster them either!

I have some coriander seedlings to go in, some beetroot - a striped variety called "Target" and a baby beet variety (beta vulgaris). And will put some carrots in as well (we had sown carrot seeds in a large planter, but Clancy keeps "digging for worms" there!).

We have an extra bed now that Simon lined up some limestone blocks in the corner of the yard and cleaned out the grass there. It is quite a large-ish corner, so will terrace it to have two levels. We will put the more permanent things there like galangal, lemongrass, rhubarb and I'd like to also try some raspberry canes along the western lattice fence. Be interested to see how they go in Perth's mild climate. Given they need protection from the afternoon sun, the small shed on the western side should provide some well-needed protection, especially in the hot summer.

Until then, happy gardening!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lemon cordial

Lemon cordial by margoc
Lemon cordial a photo by margoc on Flickr.
Here's something you can do with all your extra lemons, make cordial!

I tried this recipe out from Nevn and LInda Sweeny's great blog, with great effect - quite aromatic too when you include the lemon rinds - yummo :o)

The results may vary depending on the type of lemons you use - the more zesty the better I reckon!

Thanks to my new neighbourhood lemon fairy for these lemons - cordial coming your way !

Happy gardening!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Garden art project

This is a simple project that kids can help out with and fuel their (and your!) imagination about life in the garden.

We had some scrap pieces of plywood, so I drew some simple designs and cut these with a jigsaw. We drew a sun, a butterfly and a snail, but you are only limited by your imagination! The idea is to layer the pieces of each 'creature' to give a 3D effect. You can see how this is achieved in the slideshow below.

Paint each piece a different colour (use leftover paints, outdoor types if possible) - give them a good couple of coats to waterproof them a bit, then glue together, clamping to get a firm grip between the layers.

We will finish these off with salvaged bits of wire and coloured electrical wiring to make the antenna and legs.

Cool huh? It's taken a few weekends of painting and cutting in between holding/feeding/changing a baby and negotiating activities with a nearly-three-old! Worth it in the end and you could get this done in a weekend for sure.

What garden art have you made for your garden, especially kid-friendly things?



...and happy gardening!

Winter plantings and seedlings

seedlings by margoc
seedlings a photo by margoc on Flickr.
Our garden is going really well at the moment and Perth has had some decent rainfall over the last month - a refreshing sight!

Clancy and I had planted beans and peas about 3 weeks ago and they are doing well too, as you can see in the foreground. We picked up some marigolds at the local gardening shop - they were going cheap - and have popped them around the outside of the bed as well. So far we haven't had any issues with insects or mildew, etc.

The brocolli is heading up well - not sure about the caulies just yet - one has bolted (the mild winter doesn't help!), but others looking OK for now.

Our backyard project is also about to get underway. We are terracing some parts of the yard so we can plant extras like lemongrass, rhubarb and comfrey (near the compost, as its a good composting agent). Then this weekend past I began preparing the ground running up to the garden bed for some lawn seed to get some grass coverage there - its all sand and ends up in the house after a bit of gardening! :o)

Next we are working on another raised bed made from some beautiful salvaged limestone blocks (why anyone would want to throw them out is beyond me!) and a sandpit under an old grapevine for the kiddies. We will take a leaf out of Josh's book (see Ollie's garden) and make some blocks into stepping stones around the sandpit too - just for fun!

The back patio is all concrete and being westerly-facing was radiantly hot over the summer months, so we want to get some shade up now while its cool, and have plans to put in two passionfruit vines. These grow really well in Perh's mild to hot climate and are great for kids too, as they can search for fallen fruit. I especially love their flowers.

Clancy and I have been putting together some "garden art" pieces as well, to brighten things up, involve the kids and add some interest to the large, open backyard - more on this in another post shortly!

Until the, happy Winter gardening!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Raised garden bed - 1 month on

garden bed - 1 month on by margoc
garden bed - 1 month on a photo by margoc on Flickr.
Well our seedlings are coming along nicely now, after a month in the ground plus a couple of good rainfalls. Interestingly, the last line of brassicas - caulies and brocolli (to the right of the picture) - are more damaged by white cabbage moth than the others - I'm putting it down to the interplanting with fennel, as nothing seems to attack that and it is quite fragrant when it's a warm day.

Clancy and I also planted some peas and beans up the other end of the bed, with some parsley as well. I had planted some Aussie red garlic in between the brassicas a couple of weeks ago too. They are sprouting well now.

Clancy also planted what we think is a kohlrabi and a broccoli given to her by her Ah Mah and she's looking after them well (i.e. hands off - it's the best way so they'll survive!!).

We have some backyard design plans in the wind - will post about that soon, once plans are firmed up. Going to be an edible back yard with interactive spaces for kids!

Until then, happy gardening!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Is crop rotation feasible?

Although we only have one long garden bed, I wonder if we can still apply the crop rotation principles and not plant in same area twice in a row? Might be worth experimenting with anyhow.

I like the overview provided on the Gardening Australia website - ideal for four garden beds if you have such a set up. We also tried to rotate our beds when in Canberra, so will revisit some ideas from our successes (and failures!) there. This guide from Harvest to Table is also useful (and mentions that no garden is too small for crop rotation!).

Companion planting is also a good method for gardening and this guide is a good overview if you are interested in trying out the method, as is this guide.

More on that later; until then, happy gardening!

Raised garden bed: no-dig layers

We have finally completed our no-dig garden bed and just in time for some decent rain!

The following pictures depict the layers (as ably demonstrated by our mini-gardener, Clancy), starting with wet newspaper, then sugarcane mulch, homemade compost and a wetting agent, another mulch layer, sheep manure and a dusting of blood and bone, then more mulch to finish.

Layers 1 and 2: Newspaper and sugarcane mulch
Clancy gets started on layer #2

First 2 layers = newspaper (soaked) + sugarcane mulch

Layers 3 and 4: Compost, wetting agent, then more mulch
Raised garden bed - no-dig

Today (and after letting the bed settle for almost 2 weeks) we planted some mini broccoli and mini cauliflower seedlings, plus some fennel. The bed is holding moisture really well - something to be tested this week as the temperatures warm up again to about 27 degrees. The bed also gets a decent 8 hours of sunshine on most of its 5 metre length - another bonus as the weather cools.

The final addition will be a drip hose watering system, for both grey water (filtered) and potable water (although hoping this can be kept to a minimum). We would like to put in a rainwater tank at some point, but that will need further planning (given we are renting). Would ideally love to set up something similar to the greywater system Josh demonstrated on Gardening Australia (2006)!

So far so good! And to all, happy gardening!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Raised garden bed: reinforcing the sleepers

reinforcing the sleepers by margoc
reinforcing the sleepers a photo by margoc on Flickr.
Stage 2 of our raised garden bed construction is reinforcing the sleepers. This seems especially useful in the sandy soil, given the plot is on a slope. Simon used large galvanised coach screws to keep the sleepers in place and set the reinforcing stakes at the joins of each sleepers to minimise any movement and water run-off (we hope).

With the sleepers now in place we are ready to constructt the layers of our no-dig garden. First off, however, we will do some minor pulling out of grass (that you can see by the fence/retaining wall) just to minimise regrowth, as the bed is not as deep as we had first envisaged. We should get approx 30-40 cm depth with the no-dig layers, probably higher at first until the layers settle over time.

Next: no-dig layers! :o)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Setting up a raised garden bed

Setting the garden bed by margoc
Setting the garden bed a photo by margoc on Flickr.

Stage 1 of our raised garden bed is in progress. Simon laid the old sleepers reclaimed from the vacant lot behind us. The whole lot gives us approx 10-12 square meters of garden which should be ample space. Now for the fun bits in pulling out the worst of the grass and getting the layers happening for our no-dig garden!

Stay tuned!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Perth's sandy soil

Welcome to our new gardening blog! We have travelled across the continent from Canberra where we enjoyed pottering about in our garden there, to take up residence here in sunny, sandy Perth!

We are currently renting so there are a few things we are thinking about in terms of how we go about setting up our new garden here. Firstly and most pressing is the very sandy soil. Perth literally sits on a sand dune, making gardening a real challenge.

Being a Gardening Australia viewer, I always enjoy Perth-based presenter, Josh Byrnes's advice, and he shares some tips for dealing with sandy soil as well as his ideas for those who live in rentals. Josh reckons the sandy Perth soil is "gutless", especially for fruit trees, which we'd love to grow (probably in pots though):
"To fix this type of soil add some key ingredients. Bentonite clay helps retain nutrients, compost adds organic matter to the soil, rock minerals provide trace elements, pelletised manure adds a slow release fertiliser, and blood and bone."
Basically, Josh says to use four basic ingredients to help build up sandy soil:
  1. a surfactant-based wetting agent, to beat hydrophobia
  2. organic matter, like aged sheep manure
  3. ground rock dust (for trace elements and minerals)
  4. mulch to minimise evaporation, something like pea straw, for example.
For vegies it's also good to add a finer type of compost and use seaweed and/or fish emulsion to boast growth.

Site for raised beds

We are choosing to put in some raised beds along a north-facing fenceline. This way we avoid much of the sandy soil and can contain the garden in an otherwise large open space in the backyard of the property. We also have an opportunity to do these in "no dig" style - great for me as I'm 6 months pregnant! Again, there's a good step-by-step how to guide via the Gardening Australia website.

We have a compost bin going already and will also set up our worm farm once more, so just a matter of spending a small amount of time on these preparations and we are underway! To start, we have put in two large planter boxes for herbs - it's nice to have just that little bit of green (Clancy has a pot of flowers too).

Fairy flowers

I can't wait - we've only been away from Canberra for about 4 weeks and I miss my gardening heaps!

Anyway... happy gardening!