Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Some critters don't like mulch.

Native burrowing bee hole.

In many places and for many plants mulch can make a big difference to maintaining moisture in the soil by reducing evaporation. However there are some insects and birds that don't appreciate mulch everywhere because they are burrowing animals that prefer bare sand to dig through. Mulch adds another degree of difficulty to their task of tunneling. The bee hole above is in our back garden. I know it has tunneled a fair way down as the yellow sand it has deposited on the surface is a few centimetres below the slightly improved top soil.
Rainbow bee-eaters (Merops ornatus) are a migratory bird that burrows nests into the side of sloped areas. It eats bees, wasps and dragonflies, caught in flight. It needs a deep soft bank to tunnel into and will sometimes use old mines.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Talking plainly about plane trees

Outside where I work there are two large plane trees. They are only 15 years old but they are already huge. They are also one of the very few things that give me allergic reactions. In fact they are one of the most highly allergenic trees you could choose to grow. There are certain times of year that I can't go into Fremantle anymore because I can't breath from the seed fluff and fungal dust that the trees produce.
In suburban areas there are good reasons for and against growing large deciduous trees. They will provide shade in summer and lots of great leaves for mulch. However they can also block neighbours sun, fill up drains, causing flooding in winter, and quite a few European trees are really bad for causing allergies.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Inspiration comes in many ways.

Those who know me know that I love learning new things about horticulture and how to make our lives more sustainable by living more simply. Uni has been a big part of my life for the last few years and getting my head down and studying has been easy enough to fit in with my simple life. This semester has been very different. The semester started with my partner and I being quite skint and then a few weeks in I got sick and was feeling properly depresed for a few weeks. So I ditched all but one of my units to concentrate on looking after my tender brain and taking it a bit easier on my self for a while. Duering that time I have been completely lacking any inspiration to study, preferring instead to spend lots of time in the garden, enjoying the spring, taking photos of interesting bugs and wasps n things.

Also, in this time my contact with some of the local (Perth metro) keen permaculture and food growing folk through facebook has been very encouraging and inspiring. In a time when I have felt often quite dismal and sad it has been fantastic to read about other people's gardens and see their produce. So though I have felt bad, I have felt good when I know that there are other like minded folk working literally at grass roots, turning their lawns into food. Thanks, permaculture peeps.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Spring (and pollen) is in the air.

Long time no type. Things were difficult for a while there, I was depressed and sick for a while and have had no inspiration to do anything, really, at all. Luckily have been able to chill out and recover a bit. It has been strange having absolutely no interest in my study. I've managed to keep up with one unit and have spent time trying to be extra good to myself, spending time in the garden and trying not to stress about all the terrible things that humans do to the planet and each other; yes, sorry I did put the planet before the people.

Strawberry flowers.
The garden is starting to need watering again after a decent winter of rain. We collected water from the roof that has stopped us having to use tap water to put on the garden.
The garden has produced lots of lovely greens for us over winter, lettuce, spinach and stacks of parsely. The strawberries are "going off", now that we have rid them of slugs and snails - last years obsession of dropping any mollusc into soapy water seems to have worked.
Baby doves with silly big beaks.
The garden has also made some baby birds. Singing honey eaters have produced one youngster in the back garden and out the front a dove has two little funny looking babies- their beaks are much too big for the heads. The babies are quite relaxed and lurk about in a couple of favoured spots.

Some inspiration (though not for studying) has been coming from interacting with some of the Perth permaculture peeps from PermacultureWest on a little facebook group we have. It is good to know that there are people who are keen to get out there and share knowledge about how to grow food and live a more sustainable, simpler life.