Monday, 13 April 2015

The leaning tower of water

Today the sun was shining and the weather was sweet. It was almost the perfect autumn day.
Various flowers enjoying the gentle autumn sunshine today
Over the past few weeks the water tank that supplies water for the chickens has started to tilt over at an unusual angle. It is a bit of a problem for the chickens as when the water tank is full it weighs around 2,150kg (4,740 pounds). That means that if the water tank fell over onto the chicken enclosure it could possibly destroy it taking out the chickens as well! Just to add insult to injury, the valve on that water tank failed for some unknown reason and has started leaking water.

The leaning tower of water tank and its dodgy valve
The water system for the chickens is great because it uses no energy. Rainfall is collected on the steel roof of the chicken house and then channelled into a steel gutter. From there, that rain water is directed into the top of the water tank via plastic pipes. At the bottom of the water tank a pipe then takes that water into the chicken enclosure which is then accessed via a normal garden tap.

However, when the valve on the water tank failed, it leaked all of the stored water until the tank was empty. It looks good, it just doesn't work. On a positive note, the large rhododendron next to the water tank was quite pleased with all of the extra water over the past few weeks and has put on considerable growth.

A couple of Australian / Canadian friends visited for lunch yesterday and I volunteered one of them to assist with repairing the water tank situation (thanks mate!). 

The pipes were disconnected from the water tank and then the water tank was removed. A thick layer of rock crusher dust (granite) was then placed onto the area where the water tank was going to sit and the area was levelled flat using a long spirit level. The faulty valve on the water tank was replaced as well.

When the water tank was lifted back into place, we heard a strange crunch sound. Fortunately, it wasn’t Scritchy the boss dog underneath the tank – although that was a likely possibility. We’d broken one of the pipes that fed water into the water tank off the roof of the chicken enclosure. Anyway, after a couple of minutes of repair work which involved replacing the broken elbow (that is a fancy name for a right angle bend in the pipe) all was good again.

I filled the water tank up today from the house water tanks and the chickens now have drinking water again. It is worthwhile mentioning that the area is now much drier and I’m yet to receive a complaint from the now thirsty rhododendron!

Scritchy approves of the now vertical water tank with a brand new valve
The previous day I’d purchased a third of a cubic metre (0.43 cubic yards) of rock crusher dust for the water tank repair job. That was a serious over estimation of the requirements as there was plenty of material left over in the trailer after the repair had been made. What to do with all of that rock crusher dust? I remembered that rock dust is an excellent fertiliser so all of the excess material was thrown onto both the garden herb and flower beds.

Excess rock crusher dust sits in the trailer ready to be used as fertiliser
All of that fertiliser must be doing something here because this week, the tea camellia appears as if it will soon produce flowers. This is the fourth and final time I intend to try a tea camellia plant here as all of the others have died. Still, with each plant death, I’m learning what those plants don’t like here. What they actually do like is a completely different question! This final chance plant is protected from the summer sun by the shade of a Japanese maple. It is also protected from the cold southerly winter winds by the house and very well established geraniums to either side. The Vietnamese mint behind the camellia may provide some protection from light frosts. If this tea camellia dies, I’m giving up on them!

Tea camellia looks as though it will soon produce flowers
With the almost one inch of rain received here during the past week, one of the Jerusalem artichokes fell over. Now, it is worth mentioning that a year or so back, I picked up a box of the tubers and planted them all over the place. There must be at least 50 of the plants happily growing here. It was a bit of a surprise then to discover just how many tubers one Jerusalem artichoke produces because when the plant fell over it dislodged only half of the tubers growing beneath it. The photo below shows the half of the tubers that were dislodged from the soil whilst the other half are still in the ground. Help! Has anyone tried any good recipes with the tubers that they’d recommend?

The box containing the harvest from half of the tubers from a single Jerusalem artichoke plant
Excavations continued this week for the flat site for the new wood shed. Observant readers will note that the old tree stump has been considerably reduced in size too. Hopefully the excavations will be mostly complete over the next week and then construction of the wood shed can commence in earnest.

Excavations for a flat site for the new wood shed continued this week
The firewood bay was filled up again today and I thought that it might be worthwhile showing one of my favourite tools here at the farm. This favourite tool is the electric log splitter as it makes splitting the very hard local timber (Eucalyptus Obliqua has a density of 650kg/m3) here really easy and quick. Plus given the farm relies on 100% solar power off the grid, the electric log splitter uses energy that would otherwise go to waste.

My favourite tool, the electric log splitter

Happiness is a full firewood storage bay. It is like money in the bank!
How did the house get here?
Almost 5 years ago this month, the external walls of the house were mostly covered with the very heavy fire rated plaster. At this time of the year, the weather is starting to turn cooler and wet and it was a bit of a race to have the steel roof sheeting installed by the plumber whilst it was actually still possible to do so.

In the meantime, the timber industry association had developed a roof design that could survive the very difficult 30 minute fire test. I had no other choice than to build the roof as per that design. The roof here is certainly one of the more unusual roofs that you might happen to see in a house.

What you can see in the photo below is that 15mm (0.6 inch) flooring plywood was laid over the roof supporting timbers. Specially made steel flashings were installed over any edges or ridges. They were a bit of a nightmare to design and specify and there was only a single supplier on the northern side of Melbourne that could make them in the quantity required. At that point I had a bit of a freak out as the sheer detail almost overwhelmed me, but I got through that – with a bit of help and luck – and a nice editor! Fortunately, the flooring plywood meant that walking around and over the roof was a relatively easy process so construction was quite fast.

The detail involved in the roof construction was extreme due to the fire requirements
The photo above shows that the fire rated plaster which is installed onto the external walls butts up against the steel flashings. It is all a very detailed and very clever design.

My work on the roof was complete and the plumbers could begin
And then one day my work on the roof was complete and the plumbers could begin their work.

The plumbers didn't have it easy either as they had to install a fire blanket that sits over the plywood. In addition, butting up against all of those steel flashings was a commercial grade mineral wool that they also had to install. Yes, this is the stuff found in and around industrial furnaces and the like. It was very hard to purchase this stuff and the designers specified that only a single brand and product could be used and no others could be substituted.

The steel flashings and mineral wool work to stop embers from entering into the roof space. The plywood provides a support for the fire blanket, which is there as a last resort should any embers actually enter the roof space. The walls are sealed with fire rated plaster to the steel flashings and so embers are unlikely to get into the walls.

The roof sheeting goes on top of all of these layers so that the roof is fully sealed to the outside world. It was no easy feat for any of us!

Plumbers begin to install the roof sheeting before the weather turns cold and damp
To be continued…

The temperature outside here at about 7.00pm is 11.4 degrees Celsius (52.5’F). So far this year there has been 189.2mm (7.4 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 163.4mm (6.5 inches).


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - That was quit a tale of the chicken waterer. I wonder why the soil subsided under the tank? Undetected old tree trunk, slowly rotting away down below? Bet you will be checking the tank with that level, from time to time. I found a really nice five foot level buried in the blackberries.

Four times for the tea? Yup. You've given it your best shot. My one tea plant that I ordered for a trial run should show up any day, now. Got a space prepared.

I've never had Jerusalem artichokes, but the one I planted is showing shots. I understand they are mild, so, I'd say, use them in anything you'd use water chestnuts in.

Nifty log splitter. Back when I had a wood stove I used something like this ...

Only mine was a hand made, job. Can't remember where I got it. Picked up at an estate sale, somewhere. I still have it. Moving with me from place to place, just in case I ever have wood heat again. You attach a rope to the top and bottom so the top doesn't go flying off. Nothing so nice as that "crack!" sound when a well seasoned piece of wood splits.

I screwed up my post, yesterday. My fault, entirely. So, it was lost. Looking at my notes, nothing to important.

I have heard you can roast dandelion roots to make an ersatz coffee. As the chicken run is looking pretty barren, so far, I collect leaves for the chickens. I was familiar with Cochineal as I once had some Red Factor Canaries. They were genetically breed so that if you mixed Cochineal in their food, they turned a beautiful scarlet color. Hmmm. I've always wanted to be a red head. I wonder .... :-).

Turns out our library had one copy of "Five Year Engagement" sitting on the shelf of our farthest flung branch. It will begin wending it's way to me.

Looks like the new well might be a dry hole. Landlord says he'll sell some timber, this summer, and try again in the fall. Water out, again, this morning.

Egg production has fallen from 50 to 28 in four weeks. After a lot of investigation, I think it's because of my two broody hens. I didn't realize that that can affect the whole flock. Most sources say to just keep collecting the eggs until they get tired. Did that. But, now I've begun to gently "break" them. One seems to have got the idea, the other is digging in her claws. I think I might be on the right track. The other hens peck at them, a bit, for hogging the nests. Lew

Jo said...

Well done on the tank save, but remind me not to pop in for lunch at your place!

All the best with your 'Last Chance' tea camellia. I'm sure this is redundant information, but all the camellia family prefer slightly acidic soil, plenty of pine needle or leaf mould mulch, coffee grounds or tea leaves added when available.

Also, if the leaves start yellowing they often respond well to a dose of iron chelate - but then redouble your efforts to lower soil ph, because it will be high ph preventing uptake of iron - however, if you have happy, green-leafed rhododendrons growing, then your tea camellia should thrive in the same conditions.

I had to give up tea a couple of years ago, which almost killed me! But I was very low in iron, and was advised that tea prevents iron absorption by up to 90%. I switched to rooibos tea, which I like even better now. It turns out that whatever is causing my low iron, it is not tea, but now tea tastes too bitter compared to rooibos.

Unfortunately, rooibos only grows in South Africa, and as far as I can find out, can't be grown outside its place of origin because it relies on a symbiotic soil bacteria to grow..

Curses. So, however hard it is to grow tea, it at least appears to be more manageable than growing rooibos.. and due to the climate changing it looks like rooibos might not survive for very long.

I am clearly going to have to wean myself onto something easier to grow in my back yard..

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

A leaning water tank is certainly unnerving!

Cochineal: I believe that they crush the insects for the red dye. I also think that it is not used here any more; chemical dyes being preferred. Not sure that I would agree.

Rhododendron flowers are lethal to most insects (I believe). Not good for bees if you want the honey. I was told that honey in Nepal should be avoided for this reason.

Jerusalem artichokes: I use them boiled and roasted just like potatoes. I don't peel them though, not even when roasting them. They do cause stunning flatulence. I think that using vinegar a bit when cooking them, is supposed to stop the flatulence. Try the internet. They do provide a serious amount of food in hard times.

No 1 daughter has just hauled a fish box up from the beach. These wash ashore and I like them for growing things in.


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks. Things can go wrong quickly without prior notice. ;-)! I reckon the rats digging has upset the original balance of the water tank, and water from the leaking valve helped as well. The faulty valve is now sitting in the kitchen waiting for some quality time to pull the thing apart and see what went wrong.

You're spot on though about the rotting old tree trunk in the ground. Nice find with the 5 foot spirit level too. I'll bet there is a real treasure trove of stuff all about your place. There was a burnt out old car (from the 1940's) here originally as well as all sorts of other things. Fortunately the local council accepts waste steel for free - as they sell the stuff off to recyclers in China.

Incidentally the insulation batts here are made from glass fibres and some of the batts have actual things in the weave, like old telegraph post insulators. Weird.

Usually, I can't be bothered after 3 plant deaths, but, err, well, I killed the third one through stupidity so perhaps there is an element of guilt at play? It will be really interesting to see how the tea camellia grows in your area and I hope you provide the occasional update? Camellia's usually grow really well here - they have even produced seeds this year and those seeds are huge.

Thanks for the advice. How good would water chestnuts be? Yum!

Interesting. How did your log splitter work up your way? I'm assuming the local maples and stuff are quite straight grained? I grow a few sycamores here and someone, somewhere told me they have a very twisted grain which wood (sic!) be a nightmare. One of my neighbours swears by this Fiskars manual splitter: Manual log splitter. It is a good splitter and when I used it, it didn't feel very different from a very sharp axe.

When a log splits cleanly and the inside grain is dry and seasoned, then you know you are sourcing the most effective firewood - the local timber here is slightly yellow/pink. My gut feel here is that it is the younger trees that produce the best firewood. The older trees, not so much. The firewood collection process here is a good opportunity to thin the forest and select for the very best trees to form the eventual overstory. Only the very old trees here support birds, animals and insects anyway because they have hollows which result from fallen limbs.

No worries. I do enjoy our daily conversation. It is admittedly difficult to write an entry and reply as well.

You go first and then you can let us know whether roast dandelion is a worthwhile coffee substitute? I'm dubious though... hehe! Speaking of red hair, and this is another film recommendation (apologies, I realise that I'll get my just desserts from those two) but have you seen the film "About Time"? Truly one of my favourites.

Well, I've seen people dye their dogs down under too. I'm seriously uncertain whether the rowdy lot here would appreciate that sort of attention. Imagine Beau but blue... It's life but not as we know it! ;-)!

Very good. Your library system is a constant source of wonder. It is pretty sad down under on that front. I hope you enjoy the film too. I'm uncertain that my mate appreciated the reference and perhaps you will see why shortly.

Sorry to hear about the dry bore hole. Wow, can you sell timber from your land? Seriously, I'd be shot if I tried that here.

Haha! Sorry, but seriously welcome to my world. The silkies went broody four times. Each time takes them out of egg production for 21 days. Very interesting too, because the other chickens here peck them for being out of the laying box... It is only the chickens that are lowest in the pecking order that go broody in the first place. Rumpole (do you get that reference?) the boss chicken would never be seen dead broody - let alone the enforcer chicken - who's true name must not be mentioned.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

Thanks and seriously I'd put you to work too! And you'd enjoy it! hehe!

I do try to make these things as fun as possible whilst imparting skills.

Many thanks for the advice. The soil here is acidic being surrounded by tall messmate forest, so azaleas, rhododendrons and camellia's all do really well. A long time ago an old timer told me that here and the Dandenong's were the only places on the mainland that rhododendrons self seed. In the very thick of the bush higher up I have seen a very old rhododendron plant and it is well over 150 years old and has survived quite a few bushfires. It will be around long after we're all gone.

Thanks for the hint about the iron-chelate and I'll keep a close eye on this plant.

Ahh, rooibos tea. How funny because I'm slowly reading through the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency book series and they are forever drinking rooibos tea! Too funny. Glad to hear that you are enjoying the tea too. There is always only six degrees of separation!

Lots of leafy green vegetables are very high in iron. I'll tell you a funny story. As a mostly vegetarian a few years ago I used to donate blood (it is just too far now to travel nowadays) and they'd sometimes say: "Did you have a barbeque last night"? They tested your iron levels before the donation. Your soils may be low in iron though which means that your leafy greens may be slightly deficient?

I'd heard that about the rooibos too. Not good.

Yeah, too true. Lemon scented tea tree makes a very refreshing herbal tea as does lemon and/or lime balms too. All of which will thrive in your area. I grow a lemon scented tea tree and it is really nice just to munch on some of the leaves.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah, it is! One of the larger tanks here (24.5Kl) is slightly less than vertical but seems to have stabilised over recent years. They are a worry.

I'm definitely with you on that. Humans have a long history of consuming insects as a food source, so it doesn't have the yuk factor for me. When I dig out witchetty grubs (which are a moth larvae) I feed them to the local birds, so they love it when I start digging and once a local kookaburra had eaten so many grubs that I could catch the bird and give it a pat - don't think it enjoyed the experience very much though.

I've read that rhododendrons are a bit of an invasive pest in the UK. Is that true? The bees are not very active at that flowering time of the year anyway. Incidentally I grow the plants because they are one of the few - along with citrus - that the wallabies refuse to touch.

Thank you for the advice and that also matches what I have read. The whole thing sounds like a scary experiment, still they do provide some excellent calories though. Potatoes grow just as well here though, and they avoid the whole flatulence thing which would make for unpleasant company.

Fish do make excellent fertiliser, and you are very lucky to live near the ocean. I hope that you are getting nice weather for your birthday celebrations. Did they make a cake for you? Looking into the crystal ball I see tira misu (or how about a lumberjack cake) in your future. Oh, all right, I reckon you'd be an apple tea cake person? Hope that you are having a lovely time.



orchidwallis said...

hello Chris and Lewis

My grandson is sitting next to me, reading Ripley's omnibus believe it or not. The perfect book for a 12 year old boy. Oh, the joy of a child who goes to ones bookshelves.


orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Dogs mercury and herb robert are flowering.I spotted a tiny yellow flower on a skimpy long plant but haven't a clue what it is; perhaps there will be some more of them to help me.

I don't suffer from a yuck factor re food either. Haven't actually tried anything alive and wriggling. I mentioned before that I have eaten cooked witchetty grubs, very nice.

I have seen horrendously invasive rhododendrons in Ireland, massed all over hillsides. Haven't seen anything that bad in England but it could well be a problem somewhere. The wallabies are probably wise.

Birthday is not till Friday. We will probably go out on Saturday when son and No2 honorary son (who is coming for the day maybe) won't be working.

Apple tea cake, good heavens! Chocolate, coffee or ginger I think. No cake being baked for me, not fun to do in someone elses kitchen. Mind you no2 daughter is a patisserie chef. She doesn't earn her living that way anymore as she lives too far out from the sort of hotels in which she used to work.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - There was an article in our paper a few days ago. I guess the American recyclers have fallen on hard times. Mainly, because of port strikes (can't ship the stuff out to China) and the cheap oil. And, plane old glut.

Hmm. Let's see. Woods we have here for firewood. A lot of alder. Cedar, but it burns hot and fast. Lots of fir. Of course, everyone wants maple and fruit woods. And, since we have so many trees around, it's pretty available. I can remember one piece of wood that was so twisted that I had a bear of a time getting it to split.

Oh, you can usually log your own land, here. But, it's complicated. Permit fees, taxes, an eye to environmental laws. Don, my landlord knows the ins and outs. And, he hired a logging company that takes care of most of the fiddly bits. He knows which outfits to hire, and which to steer clear of.

Our library system had multiple copies of "About Time." I put a copy on order. Am I detecting a trend? Romantic comedies? :-)

Beau is already blue. He's part Blue Heeler. :-). It is bizarre what some people do with their pets.

I think the chickens peck at a broody hen that's out of the box because she's monopolizing the real estate. :-).

We have lots of native rhododendrons, here. Up in the mountains and down by the sea. Whole forests of them. And, domestics all over the place which don't seem to spread. None in my yard, but over at the Abandoned Farm there's a huge, scarlet stunner. Some light pinks. All my hummingbirds disappear from my feeders and head down the road when the rhodies are in bloom.

Heads up, Chris! You can also make liquor out of Jerusalem artichokes. I know no more than what was listed in Wikipedia.

I picked up a book called "Homegrown Tea; An Illustrated Buide to Planting, Harvesting, and Blending Teas and Tisanes" by Liversidge. It looks pretty good. The illustrations are beautiful and it's got a lot of good photographs. But, I haven't had a good sit down with it, yet. Lew

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris and all,

I planted my two new tea camellias yesterday. Sometime in the next six months I'll have to go to the website of the nursery from which I purchased them to find out what tips they have to get them through winter. The paperwork from the nursery mentioned that winter winds can dehydrate the leaves too much. My previous plant hasn't put out new leaves till June. We'll see if the two new ones work the same way. If so, that makes it important to get as many of the leaves already on the plant through winter as possible.

The average last frost date here is supposed to be April 15. I generally wait till the last week of April or first week of May to plant tomatoes because the latest recorded frost in St. Louis is about May 9, and I want to make sure the work I put into growing the seedlings isn't ruined by frost. Since I've been gardening I have noted frost as late as April 30. On the other hand we have had the last frost as early as March 12 (that was in 2012). I'm in the middle of a large continent with no east-west running mountain ranges. We get spring and fall battles between cold air from Canada and warm air from the Gulf of Mexico or the Southwest US. That's the main reason for the relatively late last frost date here.

We got another 2" / 5 cm of rain last week after I wrote. That kept me out of the vegetable garden while the soil dried some. I'll be working on planting vegetables starting soon after I finish this comment, and I hope for the rest of the week if we avoid getting more soaking rain (which I hope we do). No dryness or drought here!

I'm glad you were able to correct the water tank lean. We chose a winder-than-tall tank to receive the shed roof runoff. Lean is less of an issue with that style of tank but the tank's footprint is much larger. Always a compromise to be made ...

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Your grandson clearly has excellent taste in literature.

Yes, herb Robert grows here too and there are some remarkable claims about the medicinal properties of that particular plant. Dogs mercury produces a very nice carpet of plants in your under story. It looks a bit like a mint or even a very low and spreading form of balm of Gilead. What a name too. There is absolutely no chance of that plant growing here at all. The soils are acidic here.

Years ago, I went to a truffle information day and had a lovely time and made a few long term friends too. Anyway, around here they have to apply massive quantities of lime to the soil in order to increase the ph. as truffles prefer a basic soil. The oak trees don't seem to care one way or the other and even now they sell trees inoculated with the fungus.

Glad to hear about your food bravery! The grubs are meant to taste very good, but I gift them to the local birds that enjoy them and in turn they tolerate my presence on their turf. The local magpies are notorious for swooping anything and everything, but they don't seem to cause me trouble.

Yes, I'd heard that too. I've seen them in their native rhododendron forests in Nepal and it is funny but, the old hill station gardens up this way have a similar feel and look around their 150+ year old rhododendrons.

Glad to hear that you are enjoying yourself. It is not every day that you turn 30. ;-)! Hehe!

Ah well, I was sort of scratching around for an English style cake and apple tea cake sort of sprang to mind. You'd probably prefer the tira misu then.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Wow, I hadn't heard of that. Of course with commodity prices falling that is hardly surprising. Did you see the link I left over at the ADR about zinc? Not good as zinc is used in all sorts of metal protection applications.

Do you have port strikes? A long time ago here the Painters and Dockers Union was a force to be reckoned with. Nowadays, I'm not so sure. The Australian punk band The Living End, whom are actually quite good documented the demise of the Union in the song: The Living End - Roll on. As they said: "You'll go back to work tomorrow, meet your new replacement son". It is a bit rougher than Dexy's midnight runners, but then there you go.

Well the soft woods do burn fast and hot so I'd sort of avoid using them – except as kindling. What do you mean by a fruit wood? The entire forest here is hard wood - every single species, but the maples have certainly established themselves here but they form the very shady under story. Those ancient daisy bushes here are about the hardest timber of the whole lot.

Interesting. Here it is a no go zone - regardless. The powers that be are absolutely feral about logging for saleable timber or firewood. But then that gives them the ultimate excuse to not manage the forests as well. There has to be some sort of middle ground?

Well, I do believe that you may enjoy that film. Alright, I have to out myself as being a bit of a fan of the romantic comedy. The guy that wrote and directed that film is one of my favourites. He has had a long history with the genre, and well, I also admit that his back catalogue is also worth the time. I'd be interested to hear your opinion of the film? I guess that means that really deep down under the crusty hard exterior, I'm a bit of a softie?

Yes, it is bizarre what people do to their pets. Well they have red heelers down under too. Oh no, another film recommendation based on a more or less true story: "Red dog". This is surely going to come back and bite me with interest... ;-)!

Do you have one or a couple of laying boxes? I have four boxes for sixteen chickens and they seem to cope with that. Sometimes they lay eggs on top of the broody lady and she takes it in her stride and just accepts the extra egg. I reckon that is how it works in a flock. One chicken supervises the eggs whilst the rest of the flock goes about its business? Dunno.

There is a native rhododendron too down under, but not very prolific. It would be something to see up your way when they are all in flower. The bees get into their flowers too here and they are very early season.

Ha! Pretty much anything that was once alive can be turned into alcohol! Too funny. I once read about some dude that turned leather into alcohol - it is really the sugars that make the brew. Still, it would make for an interesting experiment. By the way, I've got: mead (honey), lemon, ginger, and strawberry/rhubarb in the bottle happily fermenting away. My recent guests were a bit in awe of the production, although the lovely kiwi person that provides the bottles was a little bit horrified by the quantity of bottles provided over all the years – and I hid some of them too. Honestly though, I am in absolute awe of the processes that were undertaken in the 19th century in order to provide any significant quantity. Wow, respect to them!

Please share your insights into the whole tea growing process. As it is slightly colder in your part of the world than here, any tips would be appreciated.

The last gasp of summer is here today as outside it is almost 18'C (65'F) which is just weird at almost 9pm. Last night an electrical storm was so bright and close that it woke me up - to disconnect the various antenna's. It was like the paparazzi with their flashy cameras were outside the house...



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Ha! Glad to hear that you are also up for a bit of plant punishment too! Yes, they say the same thing here too: The tea plants will cope will cope with low temperatures and frost, but not strong wind as well. Incidentally, the same thing is true for avocados (type A) which are cold hardy down to -9'C (16’F), but they will not tolerate any wind chill at that temperature. I have that fact from a very reliable source (I have two of the trees here and they seem very hardy).

Exactly too, well fed and well established plants are much hardier than stressed plants.

Yes, your last frost is quite unexpectedly late. Do those competing prevailing winds make for a highly variable climate during summer too?

That is a whole lot of rain which would be happily received. I hope that it is slightly warmer and drier up your way now? Glad to read that you are getting your spring/summer vegetables in the ground now. Yum!

Everything is really a compromise with infrastructure. If a person had unlimited funds to throw at problems... The wide water tank is a very good idea and would be much more stable than the taller ones – most of the larger ones here are wider than they are tall too.

Oh yeah, I just picked the very first harvest of Chilean Guavas the other day and they tasted like a cross between lemonade and strawberries. The plants themselves are very cold hardy and form neat hedges like an English box hedge. Yum! What a surprise.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Frost! We had a frost, this morning. I carefully noted it on the calendar for future reference.

Peak zinc? No more sunscreen? :-) .

Fruit woods. Apple, pear, etc.. That old volunteer apple that came down in the pasture across the road would be a prime candidate. Quit a few of the trimmings that came off my apple tree would be good. Pity I can't burn wood. Maple, not a fruit wood is also good. Got a lot of that, well seasoned, kicking around the place.

The Dockers (called longshoremen, here) are one of the few unions that still have teeth. If not outright strikes, they do slow downs. I come from a strong and long union background. Not popular in this neck of the woods. Some of my friends rave on long and hard about unions. I just keep my mouth shut. If I want to keep them as friends.

LOL. Films. I generally avoid anything described as "heartwarming."

On tea growing, I have no insights. This being the first tea plant I've ever had. Glad it didn't show up yesterday. If I'd popped it in the ground, transplant shock and all .... and then the frost. Well. In fact, now I'm thinking about popping it in a peat pot on the kitchen windowsill to baby it a bit before I put it outside. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris! I finally have time to let you know how very, very much I have been enjoying this blog. I look forward to it every week - even more than ADR (and that's saying a lot!). You - and all of the commenters here - are such nice, smart people. It's a joy to be able to tap into such wisdom.

Pam in Virginia

Jo said...

Chris, I have planted Chilean Guavas in a little hedge like a box hedge across one end of our courtyard. It is quite the conversation starter as those berries are SO delicious and hardly anyone has ever tasted them before. Apparently Queen Victoria had them grown for her in Cornwall and made into jelly for the Royal toast..

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I hope the frost looked nice too. Your calender is starting to sound very organised. ;-)!

Yeah, that is weird, but that is exactly what I thought too. Zinc cream... What do they say about great minds? It is the metal protection side of things that grabs my attention. Many roof sheets are actually zinc-alume down under.

It is a pity you can't burn that fallen and pruned timber for firewood. Electric heating here would break the solar power system, whilst gas would probably break the bank!

Yeah, I've heard similar stuff here about the unions. They do perform a useful function, but sort of lost the plot with the demise of manufacturing in this country. I have no doubts that the professional body - that I have no option to avoid - no longer works in my benefit or the benefit of small business. It is disturbing to watch and pay for!

Yeah, me too. Heartwarming sounds like a marketing term. My heart is already warm! Maybe they're trying to say they can wake the dead? Richard Curtis writes quirky and enjoyable films, he'd probably make an excellent eccentric!

A peat pot in the kitchen sounds like tea camellia paradise to me. They will apparently withstand some frost, but must be kept out of the wind (from experience here).

The weather has turned colder here and it looks as though it may be a washout over the next few days. The dogs are cooking their heads in front of the wood fire and I've got some muesli cooking in the oven. Seriously, they're trying to tell me how hungry they are every time I go to the oven and check out how it is cooking...

I'm still looking for steel sheeting for the new shed, so I may head out over the weekend to pick some up at a house wreckers.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

That is high praise indeed! Many thanks and glad to hear that you are enjoying the blog.

Scritchy the boss dog, popped her head out of the comfy bean bag in front of the wood fire to say g'day too!



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

Thanks for the info. Clearly you are in good company because Queen Victoria was a lady of impeccable taste if she enjoyed the Chilean Guava's so much.

They really are that good. I'd never tasted a ripe Chilean Guava before and it was an amazing taste.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Frost here, again, this morning. Light and burns off, pretty quick. We're supposed to have a run of good weather. Mowing! :-).

Forgot to respond to how many laying boxes I have. Six for 11 hens. But, the three lower ones, they don't like to use. Stuff drift in there and my fastidious hens don't use them, much. I should have mounted them higher on the wall. I could tell myself I was worried about mice and such hiding under them, but, I think I just didn't think of it. :-). So, I need to move them up the wall a few inches and put in skirting. Eventually....

LOL. Yeah, it was a real wake up when I finally trigged to the fact that solar isn't really possible for heating. Recently, I did see some kind of a doohickey that if you hang it in a south facing window is supposed to produce heat. If I remember correctly, a 150 square foot room will have it's temperature raised by 25F.

Yeah, burning wood is one of the few regrets I have about this place. But, it has so much more going for it. When I get good sized pieces of wood, I cut it to length and add it to the stack in the woodshed over at the Abandoned Farm. I suppose someone will use it, someday.

Yeah, unions were effective and looked after their members, back in the old days. Not so much, anymore. "Lost the plot" is right. There are still a few good ones around. Lew

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

Just enough time to answer your question before I go outside to re-plant peas ...

It's winter, not summer, when the competing winds create variability in our climate. Summer is reliably hot, the least variable season of all. The jet stream goes north far enough during the summer to bottle most of the cold air up in Canada. In June it's possible but rare to get a low temperature in the 40 to 50F / 4 to 10C range. But from June 25 through August 28 the record low is 50F / 10C or above. The first couple weeks of September are generally warm too, but by the end of September we could get an early frost. More usually our first fall frost is in the second half of October. The growing season is about 200 days long.

Winter, on the other hand, is the most variable season of all due to a jet stream that is usually south of us but can wander north of us. We can get highs of 70F / 21C or a little above even in December and January, and 80F / 26C or a little above in February. On the other hand, we can also get lows of -10F / -23C or a little colder in all three months. (Average high is usually about 40F / 4C and average low about 17F / -8C in January.) It's a tough plant that can take those conditions! If the wild swings in winter temperatures don't kill a plant, repeated soil freeze-thaw cycles will. Both effects combined make it impossible for me to overwinter even the hardiest vegetables unprotected in the garden.

I think I may have to put up a wind barrier around the new tea plants and mulch the soil heavily for a good distance around them to get them through winter. At least that's the current plan.

heather said...

Hi Chris-
I've previously only eaten Jerusalem Artichokes raw or roasted, but last night I had a restaurant meal of chicken and artichoke risotto that was garnished with crispy slices of fried sun choke. They added the most delicious, nutty flavor. Probably not something I will duplicate at home, since I almost never deep fry (what a mess)- but it was a special treat. I wonder if you could oven roast thin slices, tossed in oil, for a similar effect? Something like potato chips. Or do you say crisps?

Added to list of plants to investigate: Chilean guava. I have a sort of ornamental guava here, which nonetheless tastes OK, so I could probably pull it off... I am always on the lookout for fruits that aren't too much work.

--Heather in CA

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Another frost. Is it starting to get a bit late for frosts or do you see them during the in between seasons? Glad you didn't plant the camellia as it wouldn't have like that at all.

Six laying boxes is a good number for your quantity of birds. The chickens can sit on top of the boxes here too and a few of them sleep up there at night in the straw. Are yours open at the top? They can be a bit fussy about the strangest of things.

Well, it would make a good story! Anyway, I had no idea about the rats and field mice etc. either. They can enjoy their wins for the time being, but they'll get their just desserts! Mind you, the rats will probably just adapt to the new conditions and we may end up back at square one.

All in good time for your boxes. You know it is really hard trying to figure out all this stuff in advance, I'm sort of more or less just trying stuff now to see what may happen. It seems as good a system as any. Who would have thought that the boxes being too low to the ground would have put your chickens off using them?

Speaking of which, I'm heading out tomorrow to check up on some recycled / used steel cladding for the wood shed (plus I'll get some extra sheets if they've got them). The editor has been rather firm about no multi-coloured steel sheeting on the new shed, so hopefully it goes well?

Oh yeah, no possibility at all over winter. Now summer has so much extra sun, it's no worries! But winter is not good. Once we get into May, I'll post the daily energy intake from the solar as it will be quite enlightening. I read once about some French dude that set up a massive compost pile which was I think about 10 cubic metres (about 11-12 cubic yards). It was big anyway. The clever guy ran copper pipes all through the compost heap, pumped water through them and used the heat generated by the bacteria to keep his hot water warm and you could probably run a hydronic radiator off it too (maybe). Toasty!

The solar hot water panels don't produce much heat for about 4 months of the year, but the rest of the time they are quite handy. The wood fire is going tonight and the dogs are happily cooking their heads. Scritchy tends to end up a bit dopey after too many hours in front of the fire... It possibly may explain a thing or two! ;-)! Does Beau camp himself out in front of the heater when it is on?

That is a thoughtful act with the firewood. No place is perfect, you just sort of have to live as best you can with where you've ended up. There are a lot worse places than either here or up your way!

Exactly. They haven't helped themselves by having some serious scandals down here recently with expense claims. The things the officials were claiming were probably best described as: "of a personal nature". If I was in that Health Services Union and saw the shenanigans going on with my money I would have resigned. My professional association lot were thorough enough to ensure that I had no option other than membership and then they promptly forgot about us all at the bottom end of town. Oh well. Is it a wealth pump when it becomes that dysfunctional?

I'm going to pick some of the medlar fruit tomorrow. They taste really nice but are a very old school fruit which I’m not sure people think about much these days.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Glad to hear that your vegetable patch is drying out a bit after the recent rain. How good are peas? I assume by "re-plant" that they have fallen over? The wildlife don't hesitate to rip plants out of the ground that they really enjoy eating, so sometimes the plants get a bit of help falling over...

I've been planting mustards (green and red) today. Most of them self-seed now (although I collect seed as well) so it is just a job of transplanting them about the place.

Wow, we're at a reasonably similar latitude to where you are (except it is upside down here). Thanks for the excellent description of your climate too, it really helps build a mental picture of your garden.

Yes, the winter temperature swings in your garden are quite severe. The wind chill would really add to those cold days as well. Still, you have a very long growing season and access to water during that time so it is a good spot to grow things in.

Be careful with the mulch as mulch and compost can attract frost. Truly. Can I suggest a sturdy hessian arrangement over the tea camellia during winter? One that won't blow away in the wind. The plant may require a year or two to get established. Lots of feeding during the growing season too. It was the cold winds (and one I accidentally killed) that knocked the previous couple of plants over.

I look forward to hearing about your beautiful garden as the growing season gets underway.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

I hope that your spring is pleasant and that you get some rain.

Thanks for the awesome food suggestion. I don't deep fry here, but can sometimes cook things that way in olive oil and I reckon olive oil tastes better than lard or other plant oils anyway. Yum! You see a lot of palm oil in products here and I don't like the taste of it.

The Chilean Guavas will grow very well in your climate as they don't mind a bit of heat. One of them was moved in high summer here and it didn't skip a beat. For some reason the seedlings for them are really cheap so they must be easy to propagate. The taste of the berries is superb!



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

Forgot to mention: It is chips down under. Not many people say crisps.

The other one is we say: biscuit, but I think you may call them cookies?

PS: I'll try the chokes over the next few days and report back.



Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris: Thanks so much for reminding me of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. I have the series, but haven't read them since they came out. Now I look forward to doing so again.

Inge: Thank you for the thought of keeping a diary of "What's Up?".

Thanks to all for the reminder that I had better hurry up and order my tea camellia. I have never tried one; I have a feeling it may have to live in a large pot and come in for the winter like my mango. Maybe I'd better get two: one for out and one for in.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - No frost this morning. Those two frosts are a little late, but not unheard of. Not bad. Didn't even singe the tulips.

My next boxes have a slanted top, so the Ladies can't roost up there. Their night perch is a collection of peeled tree limbs in a ladder like configuration. About 4 feet wide.

Yes, I've heard about running pipe through compost heaps to get heated water to heat a house. I've also seen plans for sub floor heating systems (water in pipes) running off solar water heating units.

I always had a wild idea in my head, if I ever had a place of my own. Build on a south facing slope. On the slope put in several units, mettle that, on a side view look like this l__l . Inside those, put in mettle pieces that are like /\ . All interior surfaces black. Cap the whole thing with glass. Run the top end into the house. Cap both ends with screen to keep the critters, out. Plant deciduous plants to shade them in the summer. Maybe throw in some small solar fans to help move the warm air up into the house. Anyway. Wild idea.

Well, if multi-colored steel sheets are all that's available, you could just paint them. Although, going from say, electric purple to light blue might take many coats. Unless you have a product, down there, as we do here. Ours is called "Kills" One coat and "stuff" won't bleed through. A sealer coat. Obviously, the Editor is a lady of taste and discernment. :-).

Beau really doesn't get a chance to toast his brains. He pretty much an outside dog. I do bring him into the laundry room at nights if it drops below freezing. Given his venerable age. :-). After carefully making sure Nell, the cat, is safely stashed in the bathroom during the transfer process. Lots of drama if they catch sight of one another. Beau seems to know the drill. Straight to the laundry room with no encouragement. I give him a doggie bone and tuck him in for the night. Never makes a peep and has never made a mess on the floor. Lew

heather said...

Thanks for the wet weather wishes, Chris, but the "wet season" is pretty much past here; sometimes we get a shower in May or June, but usually not enough to spoil a picnic. We probably won't see real water falling from the sky again until around Halloween.

Thanks for the clear-up about chips and crisps. I get confused sometimes by how "Britishisms" apply in various parts of the former empire- I've got that chips as in "fish and chips" in London means what we would call fries here, and I read about someone in opening a packet of crisps, which I think we would call a bag of chips… The sun choke chips that I had were so tasty, I can't wait to hear how your experiment turns out.

Yep, a biscuit is totally different than a cookie here. Biscuits are wonderful baking-powder-leavened, fluffy, unsweetened nuggets of goodness, best eaten slathered with butter, and honey if you are feeling crazy. Or homemade jam, of course. Something like a scone, but feathery and soft. (Can you tell I'm a fan?) Not that I've got anything against cookies, either… Or scones, for that matter...

I like the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series too, and also Smith's "Sunday Philosophy Club" series about a Scottish lady philosopher. (I gather I may have just broken some sort of site prohibition against recommendations? Sorry.) I find them wonderfully soothing fiction, with plenty of gentle philosophy to chew on afterwards.

Will see if I can get the Chilean Guavas from my local nursery. I also have a friend who's into growing all kinds of crazy fruit. He just might have some and would surely let me take some cuttings, or maybe seeds, since they sound so easy to start.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

It is an excellent read. Just finished the second book and he tells a very clever tale. I like how the characters gain depth as the books progress too.

Yeah, it was the winters that killed the previous two tea camellias and it is probably warmer here over winter. The old timers used to do the same thing with citrus - but my lot seem to happily grow and fruit outside during the winter.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Nice to hear. Tulips are very hardy, but the local bulb farm guy told me that the rats will happily eat them - and that is pretty much what happened here - as they'd get eaten one at a time systematically. Do you get a lot of them growing at your place? I was thinking about mowing here prior to the bulbs starting to show their faces in another couple of months. Mind you, there is a box of various bulbs here waiting to get planted out in the orchard - the local bulb guy made me an offer I couldn't refuse.

I'm a bit frazzled tonight as I drove north of here to pick up the very hard to find steel sheet for the new shed and haven't really stopped all day. I reckon you'd like a visit to a house material demolition yard. Man, with all of the stuff there I was going: Wow, look at all of the projects! Had to put the brakes on purchases...

Your chicken roosting arrangement would be a lot cleaner than the top of the roosting boxes. Everyday, the straw has to be cleaned and topped up.

Some people use underground pipes to provide cooling here, whilst in the areas that have hot rocks (Portland, SW Victoria) they use the ground heat to provide hot water. So it is a good idea and once it is setup it doesn't really cost much to operate.

That sort of heat collector actually works. Angus who posts comments here has just set one of those collectors up on the roof of his house. If you wanted to get funky you could try the following arrangement: Gordon's crater. The photo to check out is about 2/3rds of the way through the thread. Gordon has placed several evacuated tube solar hot water panels on the side of the hill at his place and that would generate a huge amount of hot water for domestic and heating purposes. He runs aquaponics and the hot water is useful over winter for the fish and plants.

An interesting suggestion but, metal paint costs a King’s ransom down under, so it is best to avoid that whole issue in the first place. Honestly, we stripped the wrecking yard of all of their steel sheets today, but it may not be quite enough yet... I'm really not sure. They were pretty happy to offload their supply onto me, but the old guy that ran the place said the stuff was as rare as hens teeth - and I don't reckon that he was joking. Of course the discernment issue was never in question in the first place either. hehe!!! Too funny, thanks for the laugh.

Beau sounds like an awesome dog. Cats can be a bit temperamental. Years ago I used to have a cat that would sit in the hallway of the house and dare the dogs to walk past him. If they did he would pounce on the dogs and claw them. Still, at the same time, the cat treated the boss dog as his protector and friend and they would happily sleep together. The cat was devastated when the boss dog eventually died and he never quite recovered from the loss and died a few weeks later of a broken heart.

PS: Sir Scruffy would never dare to make a mess inside, but Scritchy would occasionally consider it to be a viable option if outside conditions were unfavourable...



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

Sorry to hear that. I worry about your part of the world as I understand all too well the climate risks that we both share.

Ahh, well a bag of crisps would be a bag of chips here. But fries may occasionally be either fries (if they are cut into very small and thin slivers of potato), but mostly they are just chips. If you were to order chips with a burger here for example, you could probably expect that the chips would be quite chunky. Potatoes grow very well in this part of the world.

Yeah, I'm looking forward to trying them out too and will let you know how they go. I'm a bit uncertain of the well-known side effects of that plant, but time will tell.

Yum! Scones are awesome with fresh jam and a side serving of fresh cream. You are making me salivate thinking about them. In Melbourne, there is a small Victorian era boathouse which cooks batches of fresh scones (not frozen and re-heated, but actual fresh out of the oven) for the patrons. It is charmingly shambolic too and very hard to believe that it is only 5km from the city centre: Fairfield Park boathouse.

Yeah the guy tells a delightful tale that is often far deeper than people realise. No worries, the whole book and film recommendation thing is just an "in-joke" for regular commenters. Basically, it is an acknowledgement that there are only so many hours in the day. JMG handles recommendations by writing: I'll check it out as time permits - which is also a nifty response as it says much and nothing at the same time.

They must be easy to propagate as they cost very little to purchase here and they are seriously drought hardy. I reckon they enjoy a good feed though. You are lucky to have such a friend close by and I hope that you obtain as much diversity in your plants as time and space permits.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The bee idea was quite an interesting one and I would never have considered that option. If there is enough time before the next colony turns up in Spring, I'm going to try and build a cross between a top bar hive and the more traditional hive. The design should hopefully, take the best from both worlds?



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - My landlords wife planted a lot of "stuff" around the place when they lived here. Bulb-wise. Tulips, daffodils, regular hyacinth, grape hyacinth. No iris, oddly enough. Or, lilac. I'm going to remedy both situations :-). Most of the tulips I don't care for. Pastels. Some patches of grape hyacinth I've separated and scattered around. I've begun to understand why so much of the plantings, here, are in tubs and other containers. The gophers and moles.

I'm beginning to think my asparagus is a wash. So, I'll have to re-dig the trench, put in some screen. Worth the effort if I can get some decent asparagus.

Glad you found some steel sheet. Hope it's enough for the job. If not, I'm sure you'll figure something out.

Well, I watched "Five Year Engagement" and "About Time", last night. Hmm. Well. "FYE" was ok, as it was, kind of, a food movie. And, I really like food movies. "About Time" was a really interesting concept. Both movies had enough funny bits to keep me interested.

But, overall, romantic comedies usually leave me feeling a little sad. Life's not like that, for most people. I think the tag line on "Five year Engagement" was "happily ever after." Not for everyone. I think a lot of people's lives turn out like Roary, the little lawyer sidekick in "About Time." Alone on a park bench with a book ... but having a ripping good time, all on his lonesome. Or, like the playwright. Older and bitter and a little crazy. Still, not a bad way to spend an evening after a long day. Lew

Jo said...

Chris, I meant to mention - those are amazing hoops you have to jump through to get a bushfire safe house. And although I am sure you hope you will never have to put it to the test, I am imagining that all that work (and money)put into making it fireproof also means that it is excellently tight and snug in the winter?

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Those gophers and moles sound like a true force to be reckoned with. Hey, if I swapped some wallabies for a couple of your gophers, I reckon huge garden destruction would result! :-)! Too funny. You know that even in the cities here the possums run amok through fruit trees and vegetable patches. Occasionally in the urban areas a powerful owl will move in to an area and clean up the possums and then move on again. The possum population always builds up again.

Glad to read that you are thinking about some irises. They are almost indestructible here and get larger and hardier every year.

Does this mean that you have an aversion to pastel watercolours too? We're talking actual art here. The tulips tend to be way over the top. Last year I met a bloke who said that he could provide me with some tulip bulbs of a more natural and less hybridised variety that also happily self-seed, but honestly I had no idea what he was talking about, so missed that opportunity.

Bummer about the asparagus, yes the trench would collect water. Still did you know they grow asparagus here in swamps, so they may have an ability to withstand such moisture? Have you considered raised and mounded beds for them? You could sort of do the same arrangement that you've already got, but mound the soil instead. I regularly mound the soil over the dormant crowns in winter every year and they always seem to come back in spring. I've got more seedling asparagus plants to go into the ground here too. Did you try and eat any of the spears? I don't reckon taking the occasional spear would make too much of a difference to the plants despite what people say.

Thanks, dunno yet. There were about 40 sheets and hopefully I can get building the frame next weekend? I'm a couple of weeks behind and the weather is seriously starting to turn here... Brrr!

Respect for watching them both even though they’re both not your preferred genre. Yeah, FYE was a food film too. I would have really enjoyed visiting the sandwich place that the guy worked at. Sometimes I reckon that it is the passion, quality of ingredients and care that get put into food that makes a place great. I feel really bad admitting this but, upmarket restaurants leave me feeling very uncomfortable, like I'm a fish out of water and somehow I hope no one notices me there as I may be called out as a fake. And I don't like getting ripped off either. I understand completely how to act in such circumstances, but I also understand the concept of social station and am well aware of when I am acting outside of my usual social caste. Upmarket places leave me feeling cold. A very wealthy guy that employed me once took me to Vue de monde in their older premises, and whilst I enjoyed the food as it was excellent, I just knew that it was not for me.

Oh yeah, FYE. Well, the reason I mentioned FYE in the first place was that it was a closely related story to my mate, who's lady has been placed in a job in Ohio in a not dissimilar situation. He even mentioned something about going out hunting and I'm unsure whether he was joking around or not...

But of course, life is, well life, that is how it is and I'd prefer a dissensus of stories. Unfortunately, few people agree with either you and I, and when people get a bit pushy with me on such matters I tend to annoy them by alerting them to the little talked about statistic that half of all marriages end in divorce. Of course Roary and the potty mouthed play writer whom were both great characters, clearly led full and interesting lives. I am often happy to sit alone in a cafe indulging a coffee and a book and I care not a whit what others may think. Exactly, I enjoy social stuff, but I - like you do - enjoy some pleasant quiet time too alone with nature.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

Many thanks for understanding. Yes, the process was exceedingly complicated. I have a saying: The difficult I can do, the impossible... well not so much! It all was sorted at the end of the day.

Yes, the house works exactly like an esky: cool in summer and warm in winter. Even the floor boards are toasty warm. As a hint, all weatherboard houses could be retro fitted in this manner.

PS: I remember the wombles of Wimbledon common too (I can even hear the song as an ear worm). I enjoyed your latest post: Wombling



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Pastels are kind of ... girly. :-). From my totally unsophisticated and Neolithic point of view. We have (had, he died a couple of years ago) a very popular artist over here named Thomas Kinkade (Painter of Light!) who did a lot of twee little thatched cottages. Lights in the window, and all that. One critic commented that they looked like they were on fire :-).
He used a lot of pastel colors. Acrid lemon yellows that set my teeth on edge ... hot pinks. Oh, well. To each their own.

Yeah, I love iris. So ... Japanese looking. And, I can cluster a lot of blues and whites, together. All shades. I like roses, too. Natch, being born in Portland the "City of Roses." Here, there are several roses, but they all turned out to be red climbers. A bit of variety would be nice. And, one small coral red bush, oddly enough, tucked under a corner of the back deck. Completely eaten by grasshoppers last year, but coming back. Oh, and the old roses, that may have been brought out by the pioneers in the 1880s. A soft pink and white. A moss rose, of some type. I did a very surgical intervention the other day. Carefully cutting out all the blackberry to give them a head start and breathing room. When I moved here, they were completely buried, but I was told they "might" still be there. They were.

I take it back about the asparagus. Right after I wrote you, I checked the bed and there was one, big fat spear poking through. But, I think you're right about, maybe, with our clay soil, the trench just held water and they rotted. So, as they poke through, I'm going to keep mounding them up. And, maybe put a few more roots in.

Oh, I'm very sensitive to "social caste" and know just what you're talking about. I've read a lot about status in America. I went to a fancy "do" in Seattle about 10 years ago, and was told my belt and shoes were all wrong :-). When I first moved to California, back in the early 70s, I was taken to a restaurant in Laguna Beach. We were joined by a drunken lout and his mother. At the end of the salad course, he reached across the table, flipped my salad fork tines down and said "That's how you signal the waiter that he can remove you're plate." I must say, I've never forgotten THAT lesson :-).

Going to visit my friends in Idaho, next month, will be a lot less stressful. If we go out to eat, it will be in pizza parlors and small town cafes. As the saying goes, "they're comfortable as old shoes." Lew