Just a couple of nice pics from one of the tub ponds… I didn’t know frogs actually sat on lily pads.
I set up these tub ponds in the glass house earlier this Summer in an attempt to breed tropical fish within. From what I gather this is a great way to breed fish in a set and forget manner, with an over crowding of plants providing heaps of hiding places for fry and the outdoor setting providing an abundance of natural food from dead insects, insect larvae etc. I believe there is an added benefit for the glasshouse in that the large bodies of water act as a heat sink, heating up during the day and providing that heat during the evenings.
For those of you fishy peeps interested, there is a 160 litre and a 60 litre pond. Temperature extremes vary, particularly for the highs, but at the moment, the range between highs of 25-29c and lows of 15-20c. The residents are Pacific Blue Eyes (an Australian Native) and Neon Green Rasboras. So far, no fry have been spotted, and some of the fish are a bit elusive, so hopefully the cold nights have not gotten to them. One more resident (pictured) seems to also be appreciating the interest of the insects and the added moisture to the green house, I would be happy for it to set up home and spawn.
Regardless of the outcome of breeding, I think they look pretty nice.
A new year has just unfolded. As with all new years, I enter it with high hopes of making big changes towards being the person that I want to be and living the life which I want to live… whoever and whatever that is – LOL. Luckily you are not charging by the hour.
In the meantime, I will continue to post mildly useful and entertaining content on the site. This time, another update on the hoop house. Roughly a month after the previous pics/post, the hoop house is still growing with gusto. I was worried initially at the lack of pollinators, but this may have been a result of having doors closed often for temperature control, cooler days and lack of observation, I have noted recently though, enough activity and forming fruit to put to rest my concerns. The only real problem so far is that growth is so good on most of the plants that the poor eggplants, one of the plants which were catalyst to build the hoop house, seem to be being a little out competed. I always have been one to plant crops too close together. So far, I am still very happy with the results and the hoop house is now one of my favourite corners of the garden.
Happy new year, and stay tuned for more updates in exchange for free therapy.
1-1.5 months after planting out the hoop house, with a seemingly consistently overcast end of Spring and beginning of Summer, I am pleased to present the positive results so far.
The tomatoes at the time of the photos (1 week ago) were 6-8 times larger than those transplanted outside at the same time. The basil has already provided 2 generous batches of pesto, and the eggplants, cucumbers and capsicums are beginning to take off with gusto, with some such as the cucumbers having more than doubled in size since the pics were taken.
The watering system is the start of a garden wide system – an effort to reduce time spent dragging a sprinkler around an under watered garden all summer long. It is possible that I will be updating folks on the progress of that one for years to come, but, I hope not to be.
Although I am impressed with the growth of the plants within the hoop house, I do have some concerns and challenges. With the weather being unpredictable of late, I am never quite sure if I should or how much to open the door/s before heading to work. In an ideal world, and maybe a job for down the track, an automated door with a temperature sensor could regulate the environment and take my guess work and manual labour out of the equation.
The other issue noted is the buildup and subsequent dripping of condensation on to the plants below. This has not seemed to cause an issue yet, but I fear that as time passes, this may encourage disease on the foliage. Time will tell and i’ll keep you updated.
A hoop house is what I have been calling it although poly tunnel may be the more appropriate regional name for the structure which I have been working on for several weekends, now, finally finished except for the path down the middle.
After trying out a small poly tunnel over a single garden bed last summer, with good results but with access issues for weeding, I decided to build the Hilton of grow spaces for those plants which thrive on a little more comfort than Tassie typically delivers. Destined for the house will be Capsicums, Chillies, Eggplants, Melons, Tomatilloes, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Basil, and, down the track, strawberries, raised in PVC pipes. Now that I have listed them all, it sounds like it might be a tight squeeze, but I will give it a go and keep you posted on the progress. Below is some images representing the longer than anticipated build process.
The apples are coming along finely with the Cox’s Orange Pippins just about finished, we will be moving on to these Fuji and Golden Delicious Delicious apples. The espalier is pretty imperfect with a bit of summer growth and some gravity challenges due to fruit, and is pretty much impossible to take a good photo of, due to the green background. This aside, here is a pic taken a couple of weeks ago, just before the net went on.
A fitting post title being that I dreamt last night that I was casually sipping gin with Paul McCartney. You can have that insight in to my subconscious psyche for free, although, I will be honest, I will accept donations.
This is the 1st bowl of strawberries that we have been able to pick for the season, which have not been chewed on by every other creature in the garden, including the world’s sneakiest blue tongue.
The early summer harvests are starting to be harvested and dictate what is on our plates for dinner, and, I don’t mind at all. Tonight, Greek style zucchini fritters, broadbean pesto and green salad, all from the garden, padded out with some local bread and produce.
Globe Artichokes are one of those vegetables that have a bit of an awe surrounding them. A seemingly exotic addition to the kitchen garden, with a mysterious preparation, you might be surprised that they are both easy to grow and cook, and well worth the trouble. Here is just one way to cook them, which takes 15-20 minutes and makes a great addition to a platter plate. I have read that the whole artichoke can be meticulously consumed, while discarding the tough, inedible bits as one goes. Although, it feels wasteful, I, and many others like to discard all but the tenderest parts, leaving the rest to go in to the garden as compost.
Artichokes will oxidise as they are being prepared. This does not bother me, it does not affect the taste and I do not take any measures to prevent it. Others use lemon juice during preparation and cooking to minimise browning, I have not described this in my tutorial.
Although I can assure you, I am a very manly (and obviously secure) man, I use Pinterest. Not that it gives me any sense of validation, but, I particularly like to pin stuff from Hobart Backyard Farmer and keep an eye on the repins (which is getting harder to do, Pinterest). Pinterest is actually is a good way to drive traffic to the blog.
Anyway, I am quietly a little bit chuffed at reaching 100 repins on a recent pin, so thought I would share it.
If you would like to see what this manly bloke is pinning, follow me at www.pinterest.com/hobartbackyardfarmer
Hobart’s heat wave has been broken with a suitable amount of rain. Expect your gardens and weeds to double in size this week. The opening Epiphyllum Cacti, and the now chilly weather have prompted this post. It stands to reason that can’t mention the Epiphyllum (or Orchid Cactus) without mentioning orchids. This time of year, Masdevallia and Sarcochilus rule the roost in Hobart. Here are some of the current contenders. The Hoya (Wax Flower) in the glass house is also putting on a great display, although, not an orchid, or even a cacti posing as one, it is worth admiring.
Slow and steady wins the race they say. The paths had to take a back seat to the flurry of Spring time maintenance, preparations and planting. As luck would have it, in the meantime I managed to get a load of, I would say heritage sandstone from a very generous family via Gumtree. A bit more work, but the results so far speak for themselves.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love birds, mostly because they fly over your fence (an in joke from a public speaking course that I once did, needless to say, a piece of me died that night and never grew back). What I love more than birds is the literal fruits of my labour, which birds happen to also love, more than me. Being that we have clearly established that they have the superhuman, almost bird like ability to fly over fences, measures need to be taken.
Those who has seen a cherry orchard know that they are covered with nets. Birds love Cherries. The unseasonal November heat wave seems to have blushed the cherries early this year. I suspect, part of a bird’s success is they are happy to take a few bites out of a partially ripe fruit, and leave the rest to rot. Being almost a real human being, I also succeed competing within the food chain, quite well in fact (I like to eat) therefore, this morning, instead of my morning cuppa, I was putting up the below primitive but timeless bird keeper outerer. Again, anyone who knows me would know that 4 x 4 metres of twisted net would normally be a trigger for a fit of rage. I can tell you that I calmly and skillfully got that net up in 25 mins, maybe I really am a backyard farmer?
Speaking of stuff, we have two lots of thornless blackberries on our humble suburban block, one covering a tree stump and the other, pictured below. Normally an afterthought, they typically produce a token amount of berries which need to be picked at the right time to ensure ripeness. I think age and care is a factor in their production as this year, they are laden with flowers and should produce plenty of fruit in February, after the bulk of the summer berries have already been enjoyed.
Lastly in a series of unrelated paragraphs, pictured below is another cute cacti which I picked up a couple of years ago. Love the little bright orange flowers which it produces each year.
Having been a fan of cacti many years ago, my interest waned as I focussed on other persuits. Recently I started coming across images of cacti flowers on pinterest which caught my attention. With great diversity, ease of care, and flowers which challenge even orchids in beauty, it might be time to start adding a few more to my collection. I picked this little fella up from a hardware store a while back, and it has just rewarded me with this gorgeous flower.
I can’t claim credit for the flower in the second picture, as the plant was already in spike when I purchased it, but, I just had to share. The orchid is named Miltoniopsis Breathless ‘Beauty’. Miltoniopsis are commonly known as “the Pansy Orchid” for obvious reasons.
Even to this day, recalling the song which inspired this post title still makes me want to regurgitate my very recent, and quite delicious meal. I’m not sure why I am going ahead with it.
Today I prepared my first batch of strawberry wine. The result of a new hobby born after being a teetotaller for 12 odd years. Drinking is a great hobby, but, the desire to be as close as possible to my food sources, and have a clear understanding of the ingredients (alcohol seems to be exempt from labeling requirements) has led me to the art of fruit winemaking.
What better way to preserve this year’s excess tamarillos, rhubarb and a lucky score of feijoas? Not to mention my plans for all the summer fruits that will be soon in season.
Tomorrow, while sheltering from the midday heat, my 1st batch of mead will be prepared. Perhaps the oldest and simplest of alcoholic beverages, in its most basic form, can be created with just honey, water and yeast. Being a huge honey consumer, and having access to the great honey available in Tasmania, it seems like a no brainer.
The strawberry wine reminded me of our own strawberry patch, which seems to be gearing up for a bumper crop this year. The berry in the lead already showing signs of being tampered with by an unwelcome guest prompted the netting to be rolled out and installed.
Speaking of unwelcome guests, the close encounter with a white lipped snake in the yard just the other day was cause for concern. A beautiful creature, they are, like all of Tasmania’s snakes, venomous. For healthy human adults, the effect of the venom is supposedly not too bad, and with the snake being on the shy side, it is our secured on a lead but ever curious and somewhat wannabe hunter of a cat which is of most concern. With luck, the snake, despite being surrounded by its favourite food of skinks, will decide to move on.
It had been playing on my mind a bit lately that I do not feel as close to the Earth as I did in my younger, more idle and carefree days. Recently, as the the spring blossom makes way for the young fruit, while I scurry to plant seeds and prepare garden beds, I had the epiphany that I am actually closer to the earth than I ever have been.
As a gardener, the Earth, the Sun, and the seasons that they create as they do their cosmic dance in the vastness of the universe (to be fair, the earth seems to be doing most of the dancing) dictate when and how I work the garden and when I plant the crops. It dictates to a large extent, what my family eats and when we eat it. I wouldn’t dream of buying a zucchini or a cucumber, especially out of season, and, don’t get me started on store tomatoes, although, it seems that eating tomatoes cannot be avoided for a whole 9 months.
Like the Earth’s movements, and its seasons, gardening is repetitive and slow. Being gardeners, we watch and work as the days grow longer and shorter, and we learn and get a little better with each full circle around the sun (I am pretty sure that is how it works… who would have thunk it?). Year by year, we add a little and get a little bit more productive in the yard. With the recent addition of several new fruit trees, mostly cider apples, the yard is starting to seem a little bit small, but, I am hopeful as we settle in further, we will find the balance between productivity and space.
I am sure, all you gardeners out there, whatever you grow, consciously or subconsciously are (happily) slaves to the seasons, waiting for the prime times to plant and reap whatever rewards that you take from the Earth and its plants.
Anyway… all that was an elaborate and maybe, kinda over the top segway into the following pics, a selection of our fruit trees as they transition from spring into summer.
Maybe it is because southern Tasmania is starting to heat up, or maybe, because due to the increase in temperature, I am finding myself in the yard more, but, it seems the wildlife is starting to rouse. The Blue Tongue Skinks in particular seem to be taking over the yard, with several sightings of distinct lizards on a warm day, with two even spotted fighting, or mating… let’s face it, the two acts come hand in hand ;-). In our previous residence, there was a noticeable rise in the snail population when the Blue Tongue was no longer about, so, if you get these fellas in your yard, do your best to make them welcome.
2 Brown Tree frogs were spotted in the glasshouse, providing further motivation to create a frog pond to encourage further amphibious residents. Having spent my childhood seemingly endlessly searching for lizards and frogs, I am excited to be able to share my backyard with them and foster my daughter’s curiosity.
Some passing Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos stopped in to play on our big gum tree, the 1st time that I can recall them hanging out on there and, a testament to my photography skills.
Finally, this Katydid, whose chirps fill the air for many of the warmer months.
Not a vegetable, but a bit prettier, these Blue Flag Irises pop up and flower in spring, shortly after the daffodils have finished their narcissistic display. This one caught my eye, looking particularly perfect as I dug over a raised bed ready for the big Spring planting.
The spring equinox has just past, and I write this post while my daughter and I watch the lightening of the current storm from the comfort of our lounge room (well.. it is on in the background, while I write this post and she watches minecraft videos on youtube 🙂 ). While we sit in the comfort of our technology, I wonder what our little bird family is doing in the shade house, having once again moved in to their spring home to raise another year’s clutch of chicks. This year, a very metropolitan nest, by-passing the orchids, and opting for the modern comforts of a plastic plant pot.
While I have you captivated on a Saturday night, I should have mentioned this earlier, but the Hobart Orchid Show finishes its four days tomorrow. If this rain keeps up, then it will be a perfect day to visit 9-3 at the Hobart Town Hall, Macquarie Street.
The post title sounds intentionally more epic than what the post actually is… did I get your attention?
My previous path work has been on hold a for a while as I wait for the winter rain that finally came to clear, and while I keep up on the other jobs in the yard such as weeding, mulching and planting out new crops and trees. I recently also had the good fortune to pickup some sandstone flagstones, which may well just find their way into the paths that have been in the making.
In the meantime, this little space has been waiting to be a path for quite a few years. As I worked my way up to it weeding, I decided that I might as well just do the job once and for all and never have to weed the space again.
Although i’m sure that no-one other than myself and perhaps my mum actually care about the landscaping (don’t get the wrong idea, she doesn’t live with me and 10 cats), I promised updates and am a little proud of how things are coming along. After a great deal of digging, measuring, levelling, drilling and what not, all that is needed is weed mat, gravel and a little planting and mulching. Not too long before I can post the pics of the final result. Just stage one of what I am sure will be many 😉
Fishy headline more like it. I don’t seem to be even trying any more.
Bad headlines aside, I have been trying my hand at a different kind of gardening over the last few years, and, after boring friends and family with happy snaps of my projects, it feels like time to take it to an ever so slightly larger audience. The mysterious gardening technique that I and my dodgy headline refer to is of the underwater kind, aquascaping if one were to use the popular term.
Although still ever pervasive in the fish keeping world, the days of sunken pirate ships, fluorescent skulls and fantastic multicoloured pebbles are behind many of us. Aquascaping, with its many styles and schools of thought are gaining popularity, with most practitioners attempting to recreate a slice of nature within the four glass walls of an aquarium.
The passion and knowledge of some of these guys is enviable. Many diffusing CO2 gas directly into the aquarium to provide the plants the vital gas lacking within those four glass walls. Their knowledge and understanding of the light spectrums artificially provided for their plants and their knowledge of the nutrients and micro-nutrients required for plant health far outweighs that of a common gardener such as myself.
Acknowledging my shortcomings, I too wished to create a piece of nature within a transparent box, with two of my efforts so far shown below. No C02, and light levels which might be considered low to medium . Low tech is how the people in the game would describe them due to the low light, lack of CO2 injection and lack of a strict nutrient dosing regime. Low tech seems to work OK for me at the moment, although, the next tank, maybe even one with CO2 injection, is always on the back of my mind.