Hobart Backyard Farmer

Just another garden blog

Natural light

I love the play of light and shadow that occurs when the morning light streams through this aquarium. It makes the fish look great, the rainbow fish particularly enjoy looking their best for the ladies.

Aquascape in natural light

Mum and Dad Return

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 ūüôā ). 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.

Black Bird Nest in Plant Pot

Black Bird Nest in Plant Pot

Black Bird Nest in Plant Pot

New Path to Tread

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.

Small Garden Path - Hobart Backyard Farmer

Landscaping Update

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 ūüėČ

Hobart Backyard Farmer Landscaping Update 4

Hobart Backyard Farmer Landscaping Update 2

Hobart Backyard Farmer Landscaping Update 2

Hobart Backyard Farmer Landscaping Update 1

Fishy Business

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.

Hobart Aquascaping 1

Always a work in progress, this 4 foot tank has had a bit of a trim back on the left hand side, leaving it looking a little unbalanced at the moment. The sand substrate, perfect for the “earth eater” on the left, who loves to grab it by the mouthful and sift through it for food. All of the plants in here would be loosely considered to be epiphytic, preferring to be attached to driftwood and rocks instead of being buried in the substrate.

Hobart Aquascaping 2

This 3 foot tank has what seems like an unorthodox, soil substrate, capped with sand, proving an ideal environment for the root zone of the plants. Kind of over-run by a couple of plant varieties, it was originally setup with caves in mind, with plenty of hidey holes for a few different species of fish that enjoy a break in the shadows.

Hard at Work

Because I don’t want to be hard at work brush cutting, and weeding, and also don’t want to be walking around in multiple feet of grass, I am putting in the hard work now of building paths and garden beds in parts of the backyard. As well as hopefully reducing some of my tedious workload, we should end up with more beds, an easier terrain to work on and, a nicer looking garden.

The location is against the south side of the northern fence line, making it one of the shadier locations in the garden. A couple of camellias in the tiered beds against the fence should increase privacy a bit, as well as, make an attractive floral display at the right time of year. The raised red gum bed now has raspberry canes in it, ¬†insurance against last years poor crops… I really do need to weed the existing bed.

This time of year, with the shorter days,  it is only really a few hours on a Saturday and Sunday that I get to hit the garden, with construction being the major focus. Here is the some of the work up to now, I will update regularly as work progresses.

Making Garden Paths 1.1

Making Garden Paths 1.2

Making Garden Paths 1.3

Making Garden Paths

Making Garden Paths 1.5

A little path to double as an edge for the garden bed on the right. Constructed from old bricks that I had dug out of the garden and stacked up the back. Almost just chucked them, but it it was worth the extra effort.

Making Garden Paths 1.6

Making Garden Path 1.7

I Don’t Always Grow Big Pumpkins

But when I do….

How to grow pumpkins in hobart

The vines producing the largest specimens seem to be self seeded (if only I could grow as good as nature), which probably grow as a result of burying veggie scraps in garden beds. Not always popping up where I want them, they are still always welcome, as they store and feed us right through winter.

My daughter though, who lists her favourite food as brussel sprouts, still manages to complain every time it is served, with the exception of soup.

In Ground Worm Farming

I definitely seem to have run out of the will/ability to come up with witty, and borderline inappropriate for my audience (beyond borderline, and, what audience?) titles for my posts. But, in all honesty, even I can’t work with ‘worms’ without going to places that only my family and friends would tolerate, and then, only just.

Based on the perceived difficulty of separating worms from the worm compost generated in my worm farms, and knowing that there was all that goodness just sitting there, not benefiting the garden, I got to thinking about a lazy man’s option…being a lazy man and all. I have been trialing two of these in ground worm farms for a while now, with the oldest one having been in production for about 5 months.

Pretty basic technology, I cut the bottom of an 18 litre, food grade bucket, buried it most of the way into existing garden beds. Added some food scraps and straw and added some composting worms from the existing worm farms. I did however come up with quite an advanced method to prevent rodents from entering the bucket. The intention was to pull the buckets up eventually, leaving behind a good dose of composted material, but I am thinking I should have drilled holes in the side of the bucket to allow nutrients to leach out during the composting process.

The results so far are inconclusive. There is certainly decomposition going down, but I am unsure how much the worms are contributing to the cause, with a bunch of other critters having been sighted in the buckets, and noticeable lack of worms in one of the buckets, the other, after digging around a bit, showing a few, fat adults. Maybe they moved out, but, why would they leave a home of food to face the big wide dirt world? They might also just be hanging in the depths where I can’t rifle through? (That is how I spend my days) Time will tell.

I think though, there will be benefits in the long term from adding well composted organic material  directly to garden beds in a sustained manner such as this. I do currently bury food scraps into newly dug over beds, but it is a generally once off for the season, before planting a crop. With this method added to that existing practice, it should result in being able to introduce more organic material into beds over the season, resulting in better, more nutrient rich soil. I will keep you updated.

In ground worm farming - Organic Gardening 1

In ground worm farming - Organic Gardening 2

Stew? That is what my phone suggested it might be…yum

That’s not a Selenicerus, this is a Selenicerus

To put a context around the post title, you might need to refer this earlier post within which I proudly doted over my first¬†queen of the night flower (Selenicerus Grandiflora). I was able to drop into the Cairns Botanical Gardens a while back and came across this Selenicerus species on the way out. Makes mine seem a little… underwhelming. More pics from the trip to come.

Selenicerus 3

Selenicerus 4

Tomato Time

A noticablly late season, and unhealthy plants due to planting too close together, I wasn’t expecting a bumper crop. We are not doing too badly though.

Tomatoes in Tasmania

I’ve Made Some Corny Jokes In My Time

Budda boom

Grow corn in hobart

Queen of the Night

Not a fancy, romanticised name for a prostitute, but, instead, for a cacti. Queen of the night, or Selenicereus grandiflorus for the very fancy is an, according to Wikipedia epiphytic or lithophyic (tree or tock dwelling), night blooming cacti.

I have had this specimen for probably a decade or so, living in various conditions, until moving it into its new home a few years ago, it seems happy. It is not how you might imagine a cacti, with long, branching stems featuring aerial roots, creeping off around the place. This is the 1st time I have seen mine flower with a single, large, pleasantly scented flower, true to reputation, only lasting a single night.

Queen of the Night Cacti Selenicereus grandiflorus 1

Selenicereus grandiflorus 2

Waverley Wildflower Walk

We went for a stroll (sounds leisurely and splendid hey?) on the Waverley wildflower walk over the weekend. I had never been on the walk, which starts, and funnily also ends behind Mornington. Mostly open grasslands and woodlands, with sections of it forming a part of “The Charles Darwin Trail“, which aims to ¬†follow in the footsteps of Darwin’s time in the area. Amongst the interesting display of native flowers, I was most interested in the orchids. A few unopened sun orchids were noted (they only open in bright sun), but what really caught my attention were plentiful displays of these Diurus orchids, which, from looking at photographs, and for those boring or interesting enough to care, might be Diuris Sulphurea.

Diuris Sulphurea

Diuris Sulphurea 2

Composting Revisted

I picked up a couple of new raised beds recently. After much digging and leveling, they have both been installed, one filled with existing soil, the other one though, being a little on the entirely empty side. Ideally I was just going to fill with straw and grow potatoes, but with current straw prices, availability and a ute that is on its last legs, I reconsidered that idea. I had better buy up on straw this season.

What I do have after such a wet winter, is an abundance of lawn clippings, so I thought I would try my hand¬†again at composting, now that I have a big raised hole. I have filled the hole with fresh clippings, sheep manure, cow manure, which, given all the sticks, might not have arrived directly from the cow, and sugar cane mulch (which I thought I would try it out given the price of straw). The theory is that the pile of fresh grass will start to break down and turn into a literal hotbed as I have seen piles of grass do. I will then start feeding it with the other materials, turning it over with a fork daily or so until, I don’t know, I have something resembling soil that I can grow what already feels like, late potatoes. I can add those to the list of late everything else that has yet to be planted. I will keep folks updated on the progress, with instagram quality photos of a pile of grass and poo.

On another note, I caught a snap of my favourite little visitor to the garden, a Superb Fairy Wren. These guys seem to be seasonal visitors the the garden (not to the region though), but appear to be hanging around more this year than previous years. I would love to entice them to be year long residents.

Composing in the garden hobart

Superb Fairy Wren Hobart

How to waste a long weekend

I am qualified to answer that question, as I am a habitual long weekend waster.¬†Starting with big dreams of tidying the yard, and sometimes even bigger dreams of tidying the house¬†and a multitude of tip runs¬†to rid of all the clutter and crap, which I can only imagine results in, I don’t know, joyous skipping and whistling. I wouldn’t know, I never quite seem to achieve it, or normally, even start it.

It might be because I am inherently lazy, a dreamer, or too busy? On this occasion, for 30 minutes or so this weekend, it was because we went on a short walk to O’Grady’s falls, a child friendly walk at the bottom of Mt. Wellington. I have heard that, due to all of the rain we have had, it is a good year, not only for weeds, but for the native orchids of Tasmania. Bringing me in a round about way to the point of this post. Because no-one has ever said, “we would like more orchid posts”, here is another orchid pic. This time, a type of Bird Orchid. I have never come across these before, but mind you, I don’t go in search of them. The plants could be seen, I reckon by the hundreds on the sides of the tracks leading to the falls. a closer look, a few can be found sporting these cute little flowers.

Hobart Bird Orchid

Hobart Bird Orchid 2

O'grady's falls Tasmania

Pleione Orchids

Just a quick, easy post, with the picture doing most of the work. I couldn’t resist taking a quick pic of these gorgeous, but obviously crowded¬†Pleione orchids.¬†Pleione are a terrestrial (ground growing) orchid which naturally occur mostly in China. Easy to grow and flower in Tasmania. The species pictured is¬†Pleione formosana.

Pleione Orchid

Sea Sparkle Again

For those of you who missed the last major occurrence of bio-luminescence in southern Tasmania, I am glad to say that you might again be lucky enough to see this really cool, natural light show. After heading down to Lauderdale canal last night, we found a much better display at the end of Bellerive Beach, just near the cricket stand/fish bar. Glowing waves, and light pulsating underfoot while walking on the shoreline. I admit, even though a documentary I recently viewed (which happened to feature Tasmania) pointed out the bio-luminescence is quite common in nature, it still does not fail to amaze me.

As I write this, I just heard the news that a friend who went seeking the show this evening was sadly disappointed, so maybe, don’t get your hopes up ūüôĀ

Bio-luminescence in Hobart 1

Bio-luminescence in Hobart 1

Hopping Mad

I would be too, with such a shabby, frog related headline…you waited months for this crap?

Anyway, i’m not dead, I haven’t been in jail, and I haven’t been on the run (for the whole time), I have just been a bit lazy and time poor.

But, after a few weekends of solid weeding, the yard is finally in a state where i can take a snap without shame, so I will soon be boring those silly enough to subscribe, with regular ramblings again.

I mentioned a frog, and you bothered to read down to this point without jumping straight to the pic? Yes, the post is about a frog. I must admit, these guys are one of my favourite visitors to the backyard. This one was discovered hanging out in the glass house last weekend.

It has actually been great to get back in the garden and on top of things after the mild, but still cool winter. Hopefully I can get you guys back reading the blog and keeping me on top of my weeding.

Brown tree frog hobart

Hobart Lazy Blogger

Yep, that’s me, my apologies yet again, I am a terrible blogger.

It has been an interesting year here in Tasmania, weather wise, with autumn really only just having begun after consistently warm days right up until very recently. The recent rain has been a much welcomed relief from the El Nino conditions that we have been experiencing of late. The struggling weeds now have a new lease of life. It is great to see everything wet. combined with the overcast days, I am reminded of my hometown of Ballarat.

Now that we actually in Autumn, there is lots that can be done in the garden, in fact, it is personally my favourite time of the year in the garden. We are picking carrots and chinese greens (Tatsoi and Pak Choi) that were planted in February. Along with the spring onions which seem to be a perpetual staple in the garden, they make for great stir fry ingredients. Interestingly, I have tried to grow Tatsoi in late winter, only to have it go straight to seed. A mid to late February planting seems to have worked most consistently for me.

By the end of May, I will hope to have my broad beans and peas/snow peas in, and then garlic will be planted in June. It is however, that same old story about which beds to tie up while considering future spring planting. I obviously need more beds.

Just because I have pics with me, the Tamarillos are going strong, perhaps with more fruit than what we can eat… We will give it a good go though.

Grow Tamarillos in Tasmania 1

Grow Tamarillos in Tasmania 2

Grow Tamarillos in Tasmania 3

If You Can’t Beet Them

Wow, what a lazy blogger. It has been over a month ¬†since i have last posted…ill have to try to do a few to make up for it!

Here is a token post with some freshly harvested yellow beetroot. I can’t recall the name of the variety, but if are not already aware, you should know that beetroots are available in an amazing range of colours, shapes and sizes. Beetroots are delicious, keep well in the ground and fridge and i’m led to believe that canning them is easy as…i might even give it a go if I can manage to motivate myself to do so.

Grow beetroots in hobart

Big Ripe Melons in Tasmania

I note that I was able to lure you in again with my, perhaps only suggestive to me, post title.  The melons, almost as if a switch was flicked, are turning yellow and ripening almost literally overnight. Home grown melons in Tasmania, I am still impressed!

how to grow melons in Tasmania 1

how to grow melons in Tasmania 2

how to grow melons in Tasmania 3

Email Alerts Broken

You have likely just received a test post email due to the testing of the automated email which Hobart Backyard Farmer performs for each post (it was broken!) FYI, you have missed out on being alerted of a couple of great posts over the past few days, so, jump on and take a look.

hobart backyard emailer

Straw Bale Potatoes

Due to the lack of watering and sheer laziness, I suspect my chicken wire potatoes experiment will be a failure (judging by the struggling, thirsty looking plants living in there). I have however inadvertently  performed another experiment with better than expected results. Before I lay claim to this technique, it is not new, and I have heard of people growing potatoes in this way, in fact, I regularly ride past a garden where a whole bunch of spuds are being grown using this method.

What I am talking about is growing potatoes in straw bales. I have read that all sorts of veggies can be grown in this way, and I have experimented with it myself  a while back, but, I believe that my bales were a bit too fresh. Last year though, during potato harvest, I discarded a few scrappy potatoes on top of a straw bale. I have noticed the plants growing vigorously over the past months, and recently dying back. The result, a nice amount of good sized dutch creams, and a harvest, unlike the normal back breaking and dirty affair, that was as easy as pulling straw apart.

I think next season, a change from this years efforts (or lack thereof), it will be straw bale potatoes all the way.

grow straw bale potatoes hobart 1

Grow Straw Bale Potatoes Hobart 2

Big Melons in Tasmania

How is that for click bait? I am sure you are sorely disappointed, unless you are a gardener in Tasmania and you are getting excited about the prospect of one day being able to post pics online of your own large, sweet, juicy melons… is this the quasi filth that you have signed up for?

The post is really a bit of an update on the hydroponic setup, in particular, the melons which seem to be doing especially well. The variety is “cool times”. These are the melons with which previously I have had the most success, but I never saw the sort of vine growth that I am seeing this year in the hydroponics setup. The fruit are also trending towards being much larger than previous grown.

I am also trialling a few veggies that I have intermittently tried to grow in the ground without much luck, including capsicum and eggplant. Chillies are making another showing, with last years Jalapenos re-shooting for another year. I believe this is not uncommon on the mainland or if brought indoors, but down here, outside, chillies are normally an annual.¬† Another chilli variety is also being trialled,¬† I can’t recall the name but I believe it rated the world’s hottest one year in some sort of competition.

Alarmingly, the cucumbers are already starting to show signs of powdery mildew. This seems early, and hopefully will not affect the melons. We did get our 1st cucumbers of the vine though, and, they were perfectly delicious.

Hydroponic vegetables 1

Grow Melons on Hobart Tasmania 1

Grow Melons on Hobart Tasmania 1

Grow Melons on Hobart Tasmania 1

grow hydroponic vegetables 2

grow hydroponic vegetables 3

grow hydroponic vegetables 4

Another New Addition

Found this little cutie with his leg caught in some bird netting (over the brambles, just to fit the stereotype). I am regretting my moment of weakness for releasing him to continue his existence within the menagerie of the backyard. Now I am envisioning a future like Mr. McGregor from Peter Rabbit.

Hobart backyard rabbit

New Addition to the Yard

We have a new addition to the yard, and he hates the lawn as much as I do. We 1st noticed the tell tale signs of an increasingly hole peppered lawn a few months ago, but until the other day, only caught a couple of fleeting glimpses of culprit. This lil’ fella is a¬†Southern Brown Bandicoot. He is the second Bandicoot that we have had take up residence in our yard since moving in… a welcome addition, even with all the holes.

southern brown bandicoot in backyard 1

southern brown bandicoot in backyard 2

Christmas Cherries

It is a Tasmanian tradition to have fresh cherries on the table for Christmas. They don’t get any fresher than staight off the tree.

Now that I have finished boasting, Merry Christmas to all.

Grow cherroes in hobart


Awwwww Again

This time with a happy ending. Another nest in another orchid, but unlike last year, these little guys left their nest this morning to face the big wide world.

Bird's nest in orchid 1

Coffee Plants in Hobart

For those of you who were enquiring about where to obtain coffee plants in Hobart….I came across a few decent sized plants at K&D ¬†Cambridge today. I think they were around $29.

Coffee plants in Hobart

Have I Posted About Orchids Before?

Just a quick post while i wait for my lunch to arrive.

I tell people that I don’t really like Masdevallia orchids. Seeing them all flowering like this in the shade house though, I might have to stop saying that.

Grow masdevallia orchids 1


Grow Masdevallia Orchids 4

Grow masdevallia orchids 3

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