I have to confess I’m a fair weather rider. I had to just about force myself to go for the first ride for the season the other week: it was a lovely day, but as I rode it got chilly. Today was the first of the “I have to go for a ride” days where every muscle is itching to go for a ride. This time I decided to take the old rail trail:
Today I did a quick 20km. The first half is mainly downhill, which is nice and relaxing. Then the home stretch is 5 km or so of the old rail line, all with a moderate gradient up. Then a bit of a downhill to unwind the legs again followed by a couple of serious hill climbs then home and a nice cold beer :)
You can see why I make excuses to go for a ride in the afternoon :)
Oh, but today I was slightly hesitant. It just felt like a day to see snakes on the track. There were none on the rail trail, as it looks like they have only recently cleaned up the edges. But there was one on the road and I missed it by a foot or two as I zoomed down the hill at 50km/hr. Funny thing is after I passed that one I was feeling more relaxed as I figured that was my quota for the day :)
Today, as I glanced out my office window I noticed a King Parrot in my garden. These guys are incredibly brightly coloured, almost fluorescent. I’ve been wanting to get a photo of one of these for a while, so I ran outside with camera in hand:
I grabbed my camera to help me identify one of the birds in my garden. Great thing is I can look at the photo and then use cool sites like Birds in Backyards to help me identify them later. This is the fan tailed cuckoo, easily identifiable by the yellow ring around the eye. The song call here differs from the recording on Birds in Backyards: here the call is longer and not rapidly repeated (much nicer if you ask me <g>)
In that last photo that’s a big fat juicy worm he’s about to gulp down.
T’is the season for the birds and the bees. These bees were busy on the tree lucerne. I’m not sure what species or variety they are, but I think they are honey bees, not our native bees. I’ve never noticed those orange parts on the back legs before, but they all had them.
The garden has been pretty quiet up until now. I haven’t had much time to do much outside, and what time I did have was spent on fencing and cutting wood etc. As this is the main plating season I thought I should take a moment to talk about tools and structure/layout (talk about geeky <g>)
First off, my favourite tools:
The tool on the top right, the #2 hoe, has got to be my favourite. I use that to form all my raised beds, and to dig in the weeds and crop residues. Great tool. It’s about 6 to 7 inches across the front cutting edge which I keep sharp with a *** file (no seriously, that is what they call the files). You can still buy these kinds of hoes readily here from the big hardware stores such as Bunnings, and they have a smaller model as well.
The dutch hoe (top left) or push hoe as they are often called is great for weeding paths and knocking down young weeds between the rows. They are getting a bit harder to come by here. Worth keeping an eye out for and grabbing if you see them. If friends have one, ask if you can try it out.
The nail rake is for the finishing touches to seed beds. I also use a much bigger nail rake with 6 inch tines on probably 3 or more inch spaces. The big rake I welded up myself, primarily as a stick rake but I use it for the first pass or two at forming the beds after the final hoeing.
Here’s an example of a bed that has just been seeded with beans and corn.
Note the bed on the left is what I call a weed bed. I “compost” in situ by making every third or fourth bed a weed bed that gets the near by waste (saves me a lot of time instead of carting stuff around). I then go and chop that with the hoe. This picture is another weed bed that has been chopped once.
Since that photo I’ve given it a sprinkle of lime and a few days later a sprinkle of manure fertilizer. It’ll get another chop or two with the hoe in the weeks ahead, then a levelling with the big rake, then a final rake and it will be a seed bed like that on the left :)
This process works well for me, as the soil is poor sandy soil, so incorporation of organic matter into the soil is a must. you might notice the weed bed seems narrower than the in use beds; that’s intentional as I mound the weeds drag the outsides in. As it gets chopped it flattens out and widens a bit. Then when I drag the big rake over the beds, it runs at an angle, dragging any clumps to the outside, hence widening the bed.
So far I’ve sown bush beans, some more broad beans, blue lakes and rattle snake climbing beans, just a small stand of open pollinated corn, some more carrots and celery, sugar snap peas, and three variety of snow peas. What was really nice was the bush beans, one variety of snow peas and the broad beans were all from seed I previously harvested. It’s great having handfuls of seed instead of just a few.
And talking of seed, last year’s beetroot and silverbeet are coming into seed now:
This is my small garlic patch, of which I will probably get bulbs from for the next planting and so on :
That black pipe is T-Tape, a form of broad acre drip tube. I have half the garden using that at present, and will be switching the entire veggie patch to it later this month. Because it is a dripper, rather than overhead spray I hope to get water usage down and also limit any early blight. The downside is I need to get some mulch to make it really effective. On the plus side though the frogs who get disturbed when I weed, might have homes all year round <g>
Most of the fruit trees have finished their blossoms and are now in early leaf. The strawberries look like they’ll be happening soon :)
The lawns are growing a heap now too.. more than the kangaroos can keep up with, and I’ve had to use the mower twice already this season !
There’s lots of life, frogs, lizards and worms etc, and the local magpies and kookaburras are getting fat.
The kookaburras are also singing a lot this time of year. And even though they’re probably mating calls or something, it’s such a funny song/laugh, you can’t help but giggle a little when you hear them sing. Listen to this, and picture then having just told each other a good joke:
More on kookaburras at Birds in Backyards.
Actually, just as I pasted the above hyperlink a kookaburra started to laugh outside my window. :)
The weather…. Well it’s been a mixed bag. August was good and back to the way the weather is meant to be with some reasonable rainfalls. Then September was dry, driest for a hundred years or something like that. But the last couple of days have had bit of rain with them. I think it is becoming the big unknown. Still, I’ve dusted off and oiled up my bikes, waiting for the warm sunny weather. Day light savings is here so it doesn’t get dark till almost 8. And everything has that lovely fresh spring smell and feel :)
This year’s joeys well and truly out of the pouch now. This little guy is the first in the herd:
To give you an indication of his size I got him and his mum to stand up straight back to back:
Now his mom will growl at him when he tries to get back in the pouch, but he was definitely doing so just the other week. Amazing given how big he is. He still goes back for a drink:
From my office window I watched him play fight with his mom today (no photos, sorry) . That’s part of their growing up, wrestling with their paws and trying to lean back enough on their tail to get a kick in. All part of making him ready to face the world on his own: