What is this thing? I mean, I know what the thing is, but what is the thing doing here all by its lonesome self? To me it looked like a sad lonely little box which was sitting on an asphalt footpath in an inner northern suburb of Melbourne. I took a really good look around the area and I could see that the box had no friends at all. None.
The box was a really well constructed raised garden bed measuring about 1 foot by 3 foot. In the raised garden bed I noted the following plants growing: Nasturtium; Eau de Cologne Mint; Lemon Thyme; Alpine Strawberries; Lavender; and Flat Leafed Parsley. As a stark contrast, all of the small gardens in the surrounding houses were full of ornamental plants. There was not an edible in sight in those front yards - unless of course you'd enjoy a nice rose hip tea?
I like raised garden beds and have over a dozen of them here in constant use and they are great for growing annual vegetables. Did I mention that yields from raised garden beds are exceptionally good? No, I did not. Well they are. In fact, I have plans to obtain more raised garden beds over the next year or so.
So what the heck was this raised garden bed doing stuck out on the footpath, growing a collection of plants that whilst technically edible, are so low maintenance that they probably could have been planted in the drain next to the curb? No doubt they will go to seed and end up there anyway. It just makes no sense whatsoever. In fact I actually made the very witty observation to the editor: "What the (a very family unfriendly word that begins with F, and sounds a lot like the word 'chuck') is this?"
|The author stands behind the lonely raised garden bed looking bemused|
Back in the days when I lived not too far from that street, I actually did dig up the lawn in my front yard and attempt to grow vegetables there. Of course, being naive, I didn't understand that green leafy vegetables are almost impossible to grow in composted woody mulch. And what do you mean that I have to water them during summer? They're plants, surely they'd just grow by themselves? Apparently not so. Fortunately, I have learned a thing or two since those heady days. Plants sure are complex.
It doesn't take too long to notice displays of social value, mostly because being mainly for display purposes, they're easily seen. Good marketing, I reckon! I've encountered a few people recently who have extolled the virtues of electric vehicles. Now, I reckon electric bikes are a great idea, and they make sense to me. Electric cars on the other hand are so expensive and have such limited range that they make little to no economic sense to me.
But electric cars are such a great display of social values. They scream: "We're so green, we could drive this vehicle and emit no pollution. Oh my goodness and dearie me, of course we charge the vehicle from the mains electricity!" Down here the majority of the communities mains electricity is derived from burning fossil fuels. If you've ever taken a look at a brown coal fired power plant, and I have, well, let's just say that it's not a pretty sight.
In this instance, people are confusing the potential with the reality. Sure, you could potentially install a solar power system on your roof and use it to charge your electric vehicle - but the system won't produce enough power to do anything else at all in the household. And that is assuming that the solar power system is big enough in the first place, because most solar power systems that I have seen installed are simply too small to charge an electric vehicle. It is also worth noting that roof designs for houses I see constructed are simply not well thought out enough, or even large enough to support a really huge array of solar panels (my own included). The panels for huge solar power systems, simply won't fit on most houses with their available roof space.
Fossil fuels are just so good, quick and reliable that we tend to think that all other energy sources are good, quick and reliable too. Unfortunately, they're not. I know that for sure as solar PV panels won't produce any power when it is snowing:
|The author with solar PV panels in snow from back in August 2017|
|A dark day for renewable energy. Cloudy and still!|
This week has been such a strange week of weather for mid Autumn. Earlier in the week, the daytime temperature reached 36'C (97'F) and that was crazy hot for this time of year. But by 11pm that evening the air temperature had cooled down to only 24'C (75'F) and that would have been a hot night for summer, let alone mid Autumn! Note that Autumn in Australia runs 1 March to 31 May, which I believe is different from the spring in Northern Hemisphere countries. How unique are we!
|11pm mid Autumn 24'C / 75'F is simply crazy hot weather|
|Over an inch of rain fell over the mountain range beginning Saturday lunchtime|
|The author and the fluffies crash out one quiet afternoon due to the lingering effects of the flu|
Last weekend my friends with the epic shed gave me three point of lay chickens. How nice is that? They breed chickens and supplied us with three very good looking birds. Left to right in the next photo: Light Sussex; Indian Game; and a bird with some Faverolles in its parentage.
|The three new chickens were confronted at the door of the hen house by the toughs|
|The brown Araucana chicken gives the newcomers 'what for?'|
Surprisingly enough, despite both being ill, we actually managed to do some work about the farm. We were keen to complete the corrections to one of the concrete staircases that were begun last week. The concrete stairs constructed last week, had all cured during the week. All that remained to be done was to pour in a couple of wheelbarrow loads of crushed rock and lime into the cavity that will form a flat landing between the two sets of concrete staircases.
I carried about nine crate loads (three wheelbarrows worth) of crushed rock and lime down the stairs and dump it into the cavity which will form a landing. Each crate contains eight full shovel loads of crushed rock and lime.
|The author dumps a crate load of crushed rock and lime onto a cavity that will soon form a landing|
|The crushed rock was smoothed out and it forms a landing between the two sets of concrete stairs|
|Local crushed rock with lime was placed around the water tank that was installed last week|
We had a huge boulder to hand near the new water tank, and so we set that into the upper edge of the garden bed and extended the path a bit further down the hill.
|A large boulder was set into the edge of the garden bed and the path was extended down hill a bit further|
|Several hundred strawberry plants were planted on the strawberry terrace. How good do the lavender look?|
|A tree frog shelters from the sun on this huge pumpkin|
|Pumpkin, watermelons, eggplant, and capsicum (peppers)|
|Our first ever quince, and the mandarins are getting bigger this year|
|I dug up a few horseradish roots|
|Olives are prolific|
|A tea camellia sits between a blueberry and a Chilean guava|
|The Poopy-quat is doing very well|
|With winter fast approaching the many citrus trees are producing fragrant flowers|
|This geranium is a stunner of a colour|
|Geraniums produce a huge diversity of flower colours here|
|I've begun to grow nasturtium through the existing garden beds and it is tough as (edit: tough as what?)|
|Looking at this garden bed you wouldn't know that we went almost ten weeks with hot days and little rain|