Friday, 30 March 2007

The Map is Not (Quite) the Terrain

If your eyes are strained clicking the plan above will open a larger one, hopefully in a new window. North is actually to the bottom of the page, East is to the left...

So what is it you're looking at? The short answer is four years of growth from a bare patch used for motorbike riding and infested with miniature horses.

The grey box up in the top right corner is the house, around it mixed gardens of ornamentals and herbs, along with a few specimen trees. We're on a hillside, the front of the place, to the right, is the lowest point, the top left corner the highest.

Below the house is the sheep yard, well, at the moment it is. Two lambs are slowly fattening toward roasthood in the dappled shade of some box elder and myrobalan plum trees. We've put in a mighty oak, hoping it will feed off the septic leach field and grow big and strong, but it suffered the ignoble fate of becoming sheep fodder. Thankfully it's slowly returning to it's former glory, all two foot of it that it had.

Moving to the left we travel through the vegetable patch, which gave us a fair serve of tomatoes and heaps of chillies this year, despite the drought (more correctly "thanks to the bore") though very few zucchinis in comparison to previous years.

The bottom of the map, the North fence, is home to a row of tall gums, which whilst majestic, serve to suck the life from a good portion of that area, as well as casting an inconvenient shade over prime growing land. We've elected to put in a laneway up the side of the block to accommodate them.

All the coloured green circles are the fruit trees in the orchard. The block of nine trees and the triangle slightly to the left is our first two years of effort, three apples, five peaches and an almond tree, two Japanese plums, a Valencia orange and a quince. The sharp sighted will notice two extra blobs in the triangle. The rest of the trees to the left, plus these two blobs, all arrived last winter, and with the exception of a pear, all have survived the drought, again thanks to the bore.

In addition to a few more 'normal' apples last years additions included some authentic apple cider apples possessing great names such as 'Foxwhelp' and 'Brown Snout'. A prune, pear, seedling walnut and hazelnuts of various sorts rounded out the locally obtained products.

After poor results obtaining locally any of the more unusual varieties of tree we were after we were able to get hold of a few on our list, a Coe's Golden Drop, a Sloe, and and a Greengage, shipped all the way up from Tasmania, thanks to the marvellous Bob Magnus They were a late order and the season was well under way by they time they arrived but have done very well considering. This year we've planned ahead and already put our order in, so our trees should arrive in early winter, rather than mid spring.

The blue blobs are our pond and intermittent 'stream' i.e. it runs when I need to fill the pond and feel like running the hose up that far. One day we hope to get some form of renewable energy device to power a pump to circulate the water for us, but that's way down the list of 'wants', we don't even have tanks yet, which would almost qualify as a 'need'.

Still on blobs (blobs on blogs, very Dr Seuss) the grey blobs above the pond and orchard is our quarry. We are blessed with an abundance of exposed basalt outcrops, along with a great deal of not-so-exposed boulders strategically positioned in all the places we hope to stick a fork or spade. The mattock and bar are our most used and abused gardening tools.

Right next to the pond is the red square that marks the greeny-blue coloured chookhouse. We've got a permanent high-security run that they are always allowed in, night and day, and then one day-run, in which they are allowed to browse occasionally. The plan is to create at least another one of these and rotate between them. We currently have some Dorkings, and one each of Barnevelder and Spangled Hamburg hens.

The rooster is a bit rowdy, they haven't been allowed out into the main yard since he chased one of the younger sons across the orchard last year. It's one of those memories that son will carry with him forever. There have been calls for a culling over the issue, but so far I've been able to resist them.

Out of 6 chooks we're lucky to get an egg a day, so we suspect we've got an egg eating chook. The plan is to rig up a mobile ark and cycle the chooks into it in small groups to see if we can catch the culprit.

To the right of the chookhouse is the berry patch and vineyard, though it only possesses two grape vines so far. An abundance of raspberries, and currants make up the bulk at the moment, though our three blueberry bushes are doing well, and the youngberries are coming along nicely enough considering conditions. The currants are interplanted with strawberries, and we have a single row of coloured perennial cotton that we're trying out. It's done well enough, but once the frosts arrive I doubt it will be so perennial. We've got enough seed now to put in a bigger crop next year in any case.

Just above the berry patch is a brown box, our borrowed glasshouse, that was almost finished last weekend. There is perhaps enough of a tale in that to make a post of it's own, so I'll save it for later torment. Our ducks, Khaki Campbells, live in the little blue box just to the left of the glasshouse. In reality it's marginally more comfortable than it looks on paper, but only just. It used to be the chook run, and was destined to be a potting shed before we discovered how swiftly ducklings can grow. One day they may move to more suitable quarters up near the pond.

The only place left to describe is the top left section of the map, above the blobs that are the rocky outcrops. Our aim, once we have done some earthworks to help retain soil and moisture up there, is to plant it out to wild timber and bigger trees, to provide shelter from southerly winds. There are currently two olive trees and a black walnut up there. I've read that olives are suited to rocky hillsides, so I'm going to test them out. I also had a cork oak but it didn't make it through the early part of summer, so I'll have to try again with that.

There used to be a seed company many years ago (well not that many, maybe ten or fifteen years) that sold a great selection of tree seeds, including all sorts of oaks. If anyone knows of something similar, please let me know!


Scarecrow said...

Wow Geoff!
Thanks for the wander around your place. Very interesting!!
Love the map!
I will keep an eye out for that glasshouse post.

Geoff said...

Thanks for taking a wander around!

Anonymous said...

We are not worthy, we are not worthy!

Geoff your place is wonderful, I hope the Nano Farm is as great looking in four years time. You should be proud of your work :-D

Lucky-1 said...

I found you blog on Scarecrow's blog and I am very impressed with your place.

So I am about to take a cuppa round with me and stroll around your place.

m said...

Hi there ..I have had a very enjoyable lokaroun your garden ?? farmlet ..???. LOve the ducks and the great photos .Nice to find other aussie garden bloggers ...mind you the central west nsw area is killing me (that is to know where exactly , ).. I"m in oh,sorta sw slopes /edge riverina ...not that you'd know it ..all the dust and dry .
We have a farm ..mainly sheep /cropping ...