18 April 2011

All's well on the home-front

After such a long time without posts, I have to start somewhere. So this is a just quick update of a few recent goings-on. But that's not to suggest there's really any excuse for my long silence. One simply gets out of the habit of posting. And as with letter-writing in the 'olden days', the longer you put off writing, the harder it gets to start.
On the home front, the news has been all about...RAIN. And lots of it. In the last four months alone, we've had more rain (1865mm) than in all of 2007 (1700mm) when eastern Australia was in the grip of drought. Of course, 2010 was was the year this state's drought finally broke: we had 2760mm of rain last year, 745mm of which fell in December alone! That had devastating consequences in many parts of Queensland this summer, though thankfully not in our area. Up here in the hilly hinterland we are relatively flood-free, though water poured down every hillside, including from the hill above our block.  

 I lost one whole bed of vegetables to the excess run-off, except for the row of Asian khon khang which was just getting started at the front of this bed when I took these pix. Eventually it ran riot over the whole soggy bed, and spread out over the path but everything else died. 

So in recent weeks Nev (a handyman who is truly deserving of that title) has helped to correct some drainage problems. (Well, 'helped' is not accurate; he did ALL the work; I was only the planner.)

Water can now flow freely over rocks, into the drain
Nev dug out the bank where water flows down from the hillside above our house, and replaced the clay with stones. That should prevent mud from clogging up the good drains I already had running down that side of the property – deep rock-filled drains with agricultural pipe at the bottom, that take the water away down toward the dam at the bottom of our property. In time I hope these rocks will discolour to a warmer shade. But as long as they do their job, I'll be happy. I expect a lovely waterfall here the next time we get big rains.

Raised vegie bed with additional rainwater drains
That problem bed in the vegie garden has been raised and a new drain added all around it – with ag pipe at the bottom of a deep trench filled with stones. That should direct water away from this vegie bed and down into the paddock, joining up with another drain there that channels water coming down from our driveway and parking area. The bank of soil we left alongside the vegie bed drain, still covered by tarps here, will be mulched next week.

Eventually I may plant the khon khang along that bank, and an armful of it is already taking root in a bucket of water, ready for transplanting. This Asian green is good in salads when young, and can also be added to stir-fries, though it hasn't much flavour itself and has to be jazzed up with sauces. But it's rather vigorous, so must be kept away from dams. Up here near the top of the block, it won't do any harm. And it will grow well anywhere other vegies would drown. 

My relatively new lemon tree, on the hill above the vegie garden, is carrying a nice little crop in its second year since planting. I just trawled through my plant tags but couldn't find one for the lemon, so I can't tell you the variety. But they're big, smooth, thinly skinned fruit with lots of juice.

Just alongside the lemon is a little grove of lady finger bananas. We've just finished the first bunch of the season, and there are another three bunches almost ready to pick. I have to cut them down green or else turkeys, possums and flying foxes eat some and damage others. A green bunch will usually ripen in a week or two. But after the first week, unless I'm giving some away, I put half the bunch into the fridge to delay ripening. Otherwise we have a glut of bananas all at once, then none for weeks. And with so much of the state's banana crop wiped out by this summer's severe floods, we're relying exclusively on our own supplies this year!

Also on the hill above the vegie garden is a thriving little batch of peppermint. I'm the only person I know who has always had trouble growing mint. It's supposed to spread so easily, as this one has. But in the past it hasn't liked something about my soil or my climate. But in this very wet year, I planted one punnet of mint and it just took off. I pick large handfuls every afternoon and make us a pot of mint tea. And I'm about to harvest even more to make a few litres of mint sauce before it dies down in the coming dry winter season.

 But none of this is the really important news I hope to be posting this week. So watch this space closely in the next few days...


Nan said...

'Bout bloody time you get back to this! But as you say, the really important news is the one I'm now waiting for from you!

Chartreuse said...

Check back here tomorrow for that news....and maybe a photo!

Stafford Ray said...

Welcome back. The garden adjustments look good. If I had a bunch of bananas right now I would auction them off and buy a new car!
Hope Allen is not behaving himself!

Chartreuse said...

Definitely not, S.R. But I'm used to that.

Anonymous said...

La Nina is having one last laugh as the rains continue to pour down around here! Those lady fingers look great :)

About me

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I started this blog in 2009 when I became a full-time caregiver. My husband had been diagnosed a few years earlier with primary progressive aphasia. Over the next four years until his death in 2013, we went on a journey of discovery about this rare condition. My blog is about what I learned, how we both coped and how the journey deepened our love and appreciation of each other. Allen’s journey is over, but mine goes on.