After an unusually hot and dry October, yesterday we woke to thunder and lightning and lots of rain, such a relief. There was 17mm in the rain gauge by the end of the day, and the garden is much happier for it.
My experiment for the summer- growing in straw bales. The idea is that the straw insulates against extreme heat and retains water, it breaks down over summer, and you're left with some good humus rich soil. I added compost into the planting hole.
Pumpkins coming up
The garden bed that not much grew in, with lots of manure and mulch is growing much better.
Lots of apricots on the tree
Lots of almonds on the tree
Lots of raspberries and (not pictured here) lots of boysenberries, which I think will be an early crop this year due to the heat.
This is the final cluster before Andrew was able to come home and catch it before they took off.
Capturing the swarm
These were rehomed to a lady who lives around the corner, and are doing well so far. We had another swarm yesterday, so we had to borrow an empty hive, but this lot don't seem too happy right now. Fingers crossed they settle down.
Andrew pulled out 3 full frames today, they're now sitting in a colander draining out slowly.
The kids enjoyed a taste
The almond tree is in full blossom now, and the bees are all over it. I planted another almond tree earlier this year, because they are the first trees to blossom, and we like almonds!
This year I've been working on soil improvement, particularly areas that have been very sandy and hydrophobic, and difficult to grow things in. I've added biochar, followed by aged manures, and a Natrakelp soil wetter, made from kelp. I've planted a row of sedums (autumn joy) in the above bed, and some agastache 'sweet lili' and salvia rosenwein to fill up the bed, as well as lamb's ears and aloe vera at the back. This bed grows olive trees, but was hard to keep anything else alive in there. Throughout the garden I've added 26 agastaches and salvias for the bees, and their drought tolerance.
The gardens are ready for spring
This bed is also hard to grow in, so with some soil amendments, I'm hoping that will change. I've planted lupins for nitrogen fixing, (and they're pretty), wall flowers along the back as winter food for bees, aquilegia in the shady corner, clary sage for bees and beauty, and divided up a few yarrows and scattered them around. I'll put in some productive plants along the front once the weather warms up.
A couple of our avocados, we've been enjoying them this winter
A new batch of rose geranium and patchouli soap, good marbling this time.
The kids have been back at school for a week and a half, and I haven't blogged for months, but anyway, here's some highlights from the holidays! The order of my photos has been jumbled, but here's Liv, who got to fulfill her wish of a horse ride (pony), at Koombahla park in Wallington.
And Evie with her new bike that she got for her 9th birthday.
The birthday girl with her longed for Merveilleux cake
We had our back windows and door replaced today, with timber framed double glazing. Our old sliding door had become quite difficult to open and close, and last year I discovered a one inch by about 1cm gap in the top of one of the frames, which would let in hot or cold air depending on the season, and spiders I'm sure. I plugged it up with cotton wool then, but things should be far more efficient now. They are the windows/door for our lounge and dining area, which can get quite hot in summer, especially in the mid afternoon. I'm sure a lot of winter heating went literally out the window too. I'm having trouble loading a before photo, but I'll put it up soon if I can.
I really thought I'd notice if this was going on. I was a bit shocked to find this chicken sitting on 15 eggs, hidden under the pumpkin vines. She's been escaping every day, which was annoying, I just thought she'd figured out how to get out, and so she kept repeating it because it was fun. We've attempted to block the gap in the fencing, but she was determined. One egg per day for 15 days. Today was the day to start sitting on them, and that's how I found her, hadn't seen her since this morning.