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Finally we are getting decent rain....albeit with a price tag.

My garden was devastated by the October/November heat  and lack of moisture and little mulch to be had. So I started replanting and rejigging. Changing the plan.Engineering for the heat and the dry.

Unfortunately, last week's storm cells hit us hard and my seedlings were shredded by golf ball sized hail.

So the rain does come at a price...

What survived  and what I've planted since is beginning to add promise to  the rejig.I'm looking at the garden from 2 metres down to the soil and across the beds as a sort of complete entity, rather than just looking at the soil.

Planted out are jicama, winged and snake beans; more chokoes and strategically located Arrowroot, Indian shot (Indica) Cannas and sunflowers for  Summer shade (and a mulch resource). And everywhere I've planted pigface cuttings -- mainly  Carpobrotus glaucescens (Eastern Pigface) -- but also the southern variety, Carpobrotus rossii, as well as PurslanePortulaca oleracea. They're my ground cover living mulch. Leastways that's the plan: a carpet  of succulents.

So shade above via climbers,  and succulents below, with mulch and shade  serving stuff in between. In sync, my frangipanis have come back to life -- so I'm hoping they grow fast over the period of hot weather to come.

In the mix I've tripled my Katuk plantings with hedges of the bushes running every which way in the shadier spots. You can never have too much Katuk.

My cucumbers are coming on -- now occupying my mounds which grew such a great crop of spuds this year. I'm hoping the  contour won't require me to trellis them.In the mnix: anew plat out of zuchinis.

In a succession of 'containers' the KangKong is growing well -- just so long as I hand remove an infestation of 24 spot ladybirds almost daily. And my Jerusalem artichokes are doing fine: spreading out and now more than a metre tall.

Also 'contained': I planted out sweet potato in an old bathtub after it was clear that I couldn't keep the water up to the plants in  garden beds.

I suspect there are more spuds to harvest but I didn't mark all the spots where  I originally planted seed potatoes so I'm still discovering nuggets  in the earth.I'm also growing a 'yam', that has taken off in several spots -- but I've forgotten its species. That's a surprise for later.

Of the standard veg fare what's growing is limited to chilli peppers --both hot and sweet -- rocket, basils, the parsleys are surviving, and chicories. Still delightfully confident in their growth are my forests of curly leaf kale. 

Like the Purslane, I'm finding that the edible hibiscus -- Aibika -- is easily struck from cuttings and , as far as my stomach is concerned, is a tasty little number.So there's another plant that I'm planning to spread around a lot by parking it in the beds.

the garden still looks dreary -- as though it has suffered -- the pain shows.But give it time...
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My gardening year in review: the first annual PolyVegg Garden Awards

Carpobrotus glaucescens (Eastern Pigface)
First up I gotta say that this year I got myself a garden. Like some toddler struggling to walk for the first time, this year my garden became a garden that had ecology on its side.

There were worms in the dirt. Green things grew. Some even took off.

So this year was the year of the greens.

Best Green of the Year  Award, 2014

Much as I appreciate the capacity for Kale to play the celebrity and be a popular market stall standard (green smoothies indeed!), this year the prize for best green goes to Warrigal Greens.

While I love eating Warrigal Greens and find them very versatile in a spinach and silver beet sort of culinary way, they also grow ever so well in my all-the-way-down sandy -- beach nearby -- soil. It's manna from heaven. Easy care with a garden bed rambling habit.
Possible New Years resolution: write the Warrigal Green Cook Book....

Stunner of the Year Award: Sunflowers

There's no competition here: Sunflowers. Sunflowers took my garden skywards   to shine on high like Alice's Wonderland. They made the veg patch mesmerising to look at. They cast shade and glorified the dirt.

Hereafter, my garden is going to be a living, shimmering sea of yellow dedicated to Van Goth's missing ear.I'll just keep throwing sunflower seeds, of as many kinds a I can find, at it.

Mind you, harvesting the seeds ahead of the Sulphur Crested Cockatoos is a hard ask. How do they do it? How do they know that a la carte parrot food is on the table?

Surprise of the Year: Potatoes

I've seldom grown spuds before but this year I became enamoured with South Pacific mound gardening practices and planted out some seed spuds...in some serious looking mounds. It was a little late in the planting norm to do so, but within two months I  got myself a feed and I've been harvesting delicious 'new' potatoes ever since.

What an abundance! No other crop has been so giving for the space and lack of attention. So here at the PolyVegg backyard garden, the every day spud is also the tuber of the year.

Greatest Disappointment of the Year: Sweet Potatoes

After growing a  4 metre long patch of sweet potatoes for a year, when I came to harvest, I got not one edible sized  tuber.

Not one!

I had harvested leaves for stir fries and such -- but underneath: zilch.

Aside from the sandy soil issue, the aetiology no doubt rests with the drought. Sweet potatoes need more water than I was able to give them. Obviously a lot more water/ a lot more love.

I will persist because last year was good -- OK at least -- in the tuber business underneath. And I do like sweet potatoes.

Fruit of thy Loins the Year

This is definitely the year of the succulent. Ye olde standard dry weather plant and the sort of tucker  we may have to all get used to in a hotter, dryer  region. Despite my growing conditions, indeed, because of them, I found I could cultivate Dragon Fruit. Most other fruits -- aside from citrus, passionfruit  and mulberries -- suffer in my soil because there ain't much down there to root for. I may be fig hopeful, but in the meantime it's nice to know that the Dragon Fruit cactus feels at home enough to produce. 

So succulents rule...

Discovering of the Year in Review: Pigface

The humble beach strewn pigface is a surprising plant. As a ground cover it takes off wherever I embed any hacked off cutting.It then grows and grows and GROWS....!

A carpet of succulent greenery with flowers on offer. It's a torturous jungle with stems overreaching each other to go places. The irony is that in its reach out activities, it seldom drops roots and even these are shallow and loosely anchored. Invasive you could not call it.

It's a benign occupation.

I was watching my pigface ramble all about as I played God and snipped bits off to transplant when it struck me that pigface was sure to be my best of all possible living mulches. It is so easy to contain and control it. Just break off bits here and there between your fingers.

So in the garden beds this is the plan: wall to wall pigface. And get this:
Pigface can be chopped up with a spade and dug into the ground. This works sort of like water storage crystals and reduces hydrophobia (water repellency) in sandy soils.
Talk about all my Christmases coming at once! What a great 'dig-in' mulch option!

The other great thing about pigface is that the southern native pigface, Carpobrotus rossii, is, like Warrigal Greens, a potentially popular bush tucker ingredient. It often goes by the indigenous name, KarkallaSnowy River Station is shipping loads of the leaves by plane each week to the Netherlands! The market term is 'Beach Banana' and it fetches upwards of $50 per kilogram!. 

 I'm not yet enamoured with the taste when raw, but the fruits are really tasty.

Looking towards the year ahead:tasks and perspectives, hopes and possibilities

This succulency has turned my head from a ready reliance on standard annuals and in celebrating the the engorged leaf plants, my attention has been drawn to two novel possibilities: Samphire and Purslane.

Samphire may not thrive or even grow this far north...as the preferred edible species is Rock Samphire, Crithmum maritimum, whose ancestral home is the British Isles. But I'm trying to grow it.
There are similar 'samphires' in Australia but I've yet to explore the botanics.
I'm more hopeful with my embrace of PurslanePortulaca oleracea  which is a feature of Turkish cuisine --and I love to cook Turkish. The Portulacas thrive in my garden usually in weed form. When they have a mind to, Sun Jewels Portulaca grandiflora take off . So I'm planting out Purslane, like the Pigface, as a ground cover which is also very edible.

I  have many other experiments in train -- all with exotic names, most arfe not common in our menu -- but they are for now, only working hypotheses. It remains to be seen if they thrive in my conditions.

What will grow is Katuk  -- last year's star veg and garden winner. My ongoing passion is to turn my space into a Katuk forest -- hedges  of the stuff every which way. 

Such an option is in train...but for now I'm imagining a very different garden to the one that occupied my mind's eye a year ago.

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The shock of the heat. The bitterness of the dry.

Two months ago I thought I had a great garden.Productive.Verdant. Fecund with flowers and produce. I thought I'd solved so many gardening challenges.

So it seemed....

More fool me.

In the mix, underneath, my polycultural veneer was gasping for moisture and when the rains failed to come as they usually do this time of year,as they had not the months before,  death stalked the beds.

As Frederick Engels pointed out:
“Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each victory nature takes its revenge on us…"
So I've been busying trying to rejig my horticulture -- trying to generate a new template that can work within my all too obvious limitations.

Trying to recover my pride.

This is why in some circles there is a push to shift agricultural practices to more sustainable habits in response to quickening Climate Change. Permaculture deals with this challenge through design protocols and by  relying on perennials rather than shallow rooted annuals.

 For my part, I suspect any  solution is all about context...and maybe time-of-year.

It's the real estate adage: Location. Location. Location. Where you're at. Where the sun is at. Where each plant lives.

What is to be done?

I considered my options...What I want is a harvest through Summer -- a Summer that  is promising to be very hot and very dry.

So I've decided to focus on some primary plantings:
  • Katuk (Sauropus androgynus): Now that I've worked out how to strike Katuk from cuttings, I'd gladly live off this tree vegetable every day.So long as I keep these bushes in as much shade as I can throw, they are sure to reward me. So outback I'm planting a Katuk forest.
  • Rock Samphire (Crithmum maritimum): A seaside plant that 'should' survive in my coastal conditions despite the weather.If it takes to my patch,I'm planning to make it my No #2 garden preference after Katuk. Samphire is a novel vegetable enjoying a major culinary comeback such that it currently sells for $70/kgm! I can corner the local market! "Only Samphire stall in cooee!" Become a player in Samphire futures. I have two small plants from which I'll take cuttings  and one seedling I grew from seed.Potted up for now...I'm really looking forward to the time they go local...and I make my first million by cornering the market.
  • Pigface  (Carpobrotus): This I can grow! Sold -- and even exported -- as Beach Banana or Karkalla Beach Succulant  -- my major interest was deploying this benign plant as a garden tool. I grow Carpobrotus glaucescens  -- the native Angular Pigface -- whereas the marketed variety is Carpobrotus rossii -- native to WA and southern Australia. I'm not a fan of  the astringent taste of what I grow. In the meantime, I've decided to use its keen spread as a living mulch. Coat the beds with Pigface and I'm protecting the underneath.It's easy to control and lightly rooted so planting other veg among the succulent leaves is easy.
  • Warrigal Greens (Tetragonia tetragonioides): Bingo! Another easy grow. Does really well in my  sandy soils. My plants have died down this weather and maybe are seasonal in  habit but I'm hoping to  utilise it more aggressively through the cooler months as a ground covering mulch. As a veg, I love it. The point being that as I run out of mulch each year I can fall back on Pigface and Warrigal Greens as an in-house living carpet for whatever else I plant.
  • Kankong (Ipomoea aquatica): AKA Water spinach... which suggests it needs water -- so that's seemingly a contradiction given my theme. But Kangkong is easy to  grow in containers  so long as you keep the soil moist. I grow it in part shade over Summer as much as I can. As cut-and-come-again greens go, I don't think I've found it's equal. As long as the weather is hot, and you keep it hydrated, Kankong delivers. Easy to divide and transplant too. One Kankong goes a looooong way
  • The Climbing Army: Now that I have a ready supply of bamboo canes, I can move my garden skyward in double quick time. Snake Beans, Choko vines, New Guinea Bean, Jicama, Climbing Yams and Winged Bean have all been booked on the the bamboo pole express. Accompanying the skyward push are Giant Sunflowers. My scheduling is a bit off as I should have engineered this elevation earlier but I've obviously been suffering from naiveté.
  • Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) : Not that there's anything wrong with Sun Jewels (Portulaca grandiflora), the oleracea option is tastier.It also grows well in a dry gardenscape. Purslane is culinarily  versatile and  an active participant in the garden bed. Maybe it can match the pigface family as a cover?
That's the main game. Then there are my experimental indulgences:
  • Cucumbers: I love cucumbers! Is there anything as tasty as a sun ripened warm cucumber? Is there!? I get the English obsession with these delights...and cucumber sandwiches...and pickles..and the yogurt thing: Tzatziki or Cacik.  My Zucchinis were OK this last year so I'm hoping that the cukes will come on. Water demanding of course, but I plant them close to my terracotta pot watering stations and indulge them with mulch so they get the irrigated on a hot day and hang onto it.I'm growing 5 species. So it's me vs the possums.
  • Queensland Arrowroot (Canna edulis) and Indian Canna (Canna Indica): Sure you can eat the Qld arrowroot root but these tall plants -- and their shorter 'Indian' cousin -- are booked for supplying me with harvestable mulch.I harvest my lemon grass  for mulch but this year my lemon grasses have fagged out because of the relentless dry. So you canna do better than canna...(such is my proposition).
This year I have delighted in a great potato crop.The productiveness of what I planted only a few short months ago has been thrilling. Despite low levels of irrigation I am amazed at what I've been able to harvest. 

Spuds rule!

On the other hand, my sweet potato crop has been very absolutely disappointing. Sweet potatoes  require water you see, and that ain't been there. I guess I'll need to work more on making better soil -- and irrigation -- before I can rely on sweet potatoes again...

In the meantime: other tubers get planted.

We live and learn as nature takes its revenge.

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In the bamboo grove

On a hot day there are a lot worse places to be than within a bamboo grove.

You can bring your Zen songbook and chill out.

I recommend such visits if your locale is short on meditative space.  My personal preference is a grove of Sheoaks as you get more wind ambience through them. 

The whispering...

But then my bamboo visit today was about harvest.

A feral stand of running bamboo accompanies my local railway line and I've been visiting this noxious weed space over the past 5 years in order to harvest canes for odd jobs. This species is not the best quality cane to be had from  these grasses, but I can  still get 18 months out of a harvested bundle.

Bean poles. Trellising. I also use it for canoe masts and curtain cranes.
Canes as cranes....
Given that I have a range of Summer time legumes, choko and yam vines on the go, I'm planning to take my garden skywards on bamboo lifts.

 Since I live on sand which doesn't hold a pole vertical too well I've learnt that the trick with bamboo 'uprights' in the garden is to first ram in a metal pole -- like the 1 metre long segment rods you get for tents -- and lash the bamboo cane to that.

I get a supply of these metal things from my local tip. Totally recyclable in a way that wood is not in the garden.

Works a treat. Just ram the bamboo cane into the soil a little bit -- then lash -- and that way you get less rotting at the stem edge.

After a short time in the grove, I came home with 20 canes.
HARVEST with a pruning saw. TRIM with secateurs. CUT to standard lengths.BUNDLE with ropes. TRANSIT on top of the car. 
The more I have/the more uses I seem to find for the canes.

Happy fella.

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Mulch me! We grow and kill stuff only to learn.

Keen as I was to aggressively advance my gardening options I had to go interstate for a week and while away...
while away... [boo hoo]...my garden was devastated!
October 2014: 7th highest temperature and 9th lowest rainfall on record in conditions of already declared drought.

My labour intense garden suffered big time.

While we are STILL in drought  -- the dry conditions had destroyed my usual supply of mulch.No grass clippings have been dumped on my nature strip for months.If it wasn't for my large Silky Oak dropping its leaves on the garden beds during September, my soil would have been  naked and even more exposed.

In a twice it happened. I went from great garden to daggy garden in just one  week as all the nasty factors kicked in to sabotage my green thumb arrogance.

Fortunately, I had  asked that my seed trays be watered while I was away...so I had another generation to plant after the beds dried out and crisped up.

So with hindsight -- and 2 weeks on is hindsight enough -- let's explore the problem of my dead plants.

My major mistake was not to have mulched up.I knew I was running dangerously low on mulch  but I failed to seek other resources to carpet the beds. I do rely on a lot of cut grass -- if only to build up soil from sand -- but from June to November  the supply dries up -- coinciding with the driest period of each year. Reason: the grass does not grow.

My solution: I'll need to grow and harvest my own mulch supply  while sourcing other materials to supplement. In the two weeks since my return I've been  trimming bushes and trees, and mixing the cuttings with torn up soak newspapers/junk mail/cardboard to make my mulch go further. I had used lemongrass as mulch in the past but these have also suffered during the dought.

My shade failure: The early onset of hot weather also exposed my plants to a lot of unrelenting  sunshine. I do have a shade program based on the growing of Frangipanis...and tall sunflowers. But the Frangipanis aren't tall enough yet and have not as yet fully sprouted leaves. So they're useless this early in the heat. While I'm loving the 2.5 metre high sunflowers -- I didn't  grow enough of thse to really shade the area I needed to shade.

My solution: I need an ongoing  Sunflower program with plants ready to plant out as seedlings through most of the year. That  cut Sunflowers are so easy to grow and make great mulch is another plus. That they also serve as bean poles -- makes them even more useful...Then there are the flowers of course. (And yes I have planted Jerusalem artichokes as well --so I guess I need to think : sunflower and artichoke family.)

My seed and seedling mistakes: this year I had experimented more with direct sowing of seeds and my results have not been so good.My soil is still too sandy.I've also tended to plant my seedlings regardless of conditions pending.

My solution: I now prefer to sow seeds in flats and transplant. But even  there  I find I have a better chance of success if I pot up most of my seedlings and plant them out when they are more vigorous and the weather conditions are more opportune. This puts me in greater control. I just wait until  the situation is preferable, then I plant the  seedling in the garden bed. I can do this because I'm now using paper pots I roll myself and planting out is a simple business of burying the pot -- plant and all. Potting up like this also gives me greater control over my polycultural options. I can plant a thriving plant next to  another thriving plant I target with companionship in mind.Potting up also means I have an extended planting window. Given that I'm now resource chunkier mulches , my little buried paper pots seem to survive quite well in all the detritus.

My foolish watering habits:I survived the dry Winter by hand watering the garden. This works fine when its cool but when the temperatures rise it's an indulgence. 

My solution:  I think I wasted a lot water.Yes, despite my low use of it. Instead of far too frequently  hand watering the garden I should have filled up my terracotta irrigation pots more  often so that their water level staid high. As it was I was filling them up only when they emptied -- and in doing that I was undermining the gravity dynamic that irrigated  the garden beds. These pots really do work  but in our conditions they need a good mulch covering of surrounding soil and a better top-up regime.

So there: Mea culpa. We grow and kill stuff only to learn.

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Poly Plus Plus Polyculture

The garden is awesome!

Being Spring and warming up fast, the take-off is accelerating as more plants start doing their stuff. 

A botanical explosion from the ground up. 

It's the flowers that really register this the most. After months of shades of green, the flowers I planted are now blooming and their heads  a dazzling splashes of colour in the garden beds like  a cottager panorama straight out of  Alice in Wonderland.

They're ready to talk back...

Sprinkled in the garden beds among salad greens, tomatoes, herbs and kale the flowers have changed the address to a bee supermarket.

Plants tumble over each other competing for light and space in a jungle that intensifies daily. 

Dominating this understory are the tallest sunflowers I've ever seen -- let alone grown!
They are Jack-and-the-Beanstalk sunflowers -- with stems as sturdy as bamboo canes -- forming heads that in a week's time will open and challenge the glory of the sun. The 'look' is sure to be amazing. 

John Perceval:Potato Field (my fav Australian painting)
In the past all I've grown are sunflowers thieved from poultry mash. But the real McCoy  types are sure to be something else and I am now committed to always having a variety of sunflowers in my garden. Aside from the look they are great shade plants and already  serve as rent-a-bean pole...just pop in a sunflower seed and step back.

Instant high rise.

And everyone of them faces, as sunflowers do, the house and the back verandah where we eat our meals.

Seriously, where else can you get an securely anchored 'trellis' that climbs to three metres in a month of Sundays before channeling the glory of sunlight?

My mound garden -- my hillocks seeded with potatoes -- are now looking bare as the potato plants have raced ahead and are now dying back after just 2 months in the ground. Spud die off looks bad. As though the exercise had failed to thrive. But the harvest from underneath is something else [(sample:  Dutch Creams (pictured left)].

I had seldom grown potatoes before but  the taste of a freshly harvested spud is the ultimate in earthiness. 

In places among all this contour I have zuchini sprawling about, and some attempts to kick start my cucumber career. Cukes are a culinary passion of mine -- a cuisine essential --and accessing, via cultivation, some of the many varieties is going to be my  Summer hobby.

So long as I can keep them away from the possums....and get them to have sex with one another.
The grape size tomatoes seem to be everywhere. Those I don't sell or use 'fresh' I prefer to dry in my dehydrator. This time around my quest is to determine which small fruit tomatoes grow best in my soil --although I'm pushing the envelope. Grape toms go OK, like weeds do -- but the larger toms tend to suffer easily from disease. 

The Sweetleaf/Katuk is coming along and leafing up; the black mulberry has produced some huge fruits this year and most of the cuttings I planted as a hedgerow around the chook pen have struck; all the chokoes have taken root(I'm choko obsessed -- do you think 8 is enough?); the kankong have finally  settled into their new abode (a succession of car tires with plastic underlay) and are now fleshing up;the Moringa is away, now climbing skywards as is their keen want; the Warrigal Greens seem to be sprawling everywhere at my feet and are now beginning to set seed (will share); the taro is at home (in the valleys between the hills) as is the climbing yam; 'sweet potato alley' is doing alright (leastways I have had no complaints from that address); the Dragon Fruits cuttings have taken(they seem to appreciate my sandy soil, esp when I pair them with Pigface carpeting) and the frangipanis (I have over 20 located for the primary purpose of shade) are all extending the tips of their branches with the announcement that they are still  very much alive, despite their Graveyard and Zombie reputations, and signing on for the season to come...Can you imagine the outlook when they all bloom through the months ahead? Looking out back it's  a bit gob smacking to ponder.

What failed more than succeeded thus far are the root veg -- Watermelon radishes, carrots, and some of the beetroot. Reason? My soils are definitely too acid and I should have realised this before I planted my root crops. 

Wallum soils are registered acidic soils ..,. and I guess I'm gonna have to start monitoring my pH especially for those plants that like their dirt on the sweet side. Ah science!  like ants it gets into everything.

As I've mentioned elsewhere I'm producing most of my own seedlings rather than direct sow. While I plan to add seedlings sales to my market stall I'm much taken with the DIY newspaper pots. And selling seedlings in quaint paper cups is a niche thing.The really extend my flexibility: have garden/will travel/settle anywhere I decide.

Green nomads.Biodegradable wallpaper.

That's important as every part of my garden is under cultivation.Poly plus plus polyculture. It's like parking cars -- being opportunistic waiting  for, then grabbing,  a vacant space.

But the more I turn over the soil in order to sow direct, the more I encourage weed growth. And since we are at a time when there has been no mulch -- grass clippings -- for months, weed infestation among struggling young plants is a close as a tool scrape away.

As the garden takes off  --really takes off  -- like I never imagined -- I've celebrated the fact by turning my last patch of grass (it would be an obscene exaggeration to ever refer to it as lawn) into a sand pit. 3 metre square -- I mined golden sand inside the chook pen to create an oasis  within all the verdant happenings. Sterile yellow  granules in their trillions aint that far down. We live on a sand spit at the mouth of a river after all. That's our geology. We've got sand mines in the neighbourhood.Now I have  my own  sand garden to remind me of all that past accumulated underneath.
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My space at my place

I'm keen to celebrate 'my space'. Not the online Myspace that got done over by facebook but my space.

Where I spend a good part of my time.
Boasting a spacious, open plan living and reclining area with access via sliding screen door to the 'veranda' and vegetable garden, offering a stunning and elevated view of the sky. Open both ends to the cooling breezes. Surrounded by birdlife, with on hand laundry and walk-in kitchen but a doorstep away. Within a stone's throw of poultry, clothes line and a wind sock. The location speaks for itself. Can be used as a car storage facility at resident's discretion.No body corporate fees. Current tenants two dogs. (Hair drop manageable. Straw broom supplied).
Over time I've tweaked the setup a bit. I've changed my preferred  seating option to a light director's chair, for instance...and I've added a torn rag rug for the floor to keep my tootsies warm over Winter...

The mix works, despite being a garage. 

Through the back curtains I can pass thru another screen or curtains to the garden where I spend a lot of my outdoor time doing stuff.It's like living outdoors -- in a tent, caravan, hut or shed -- as I can moderate my atmospherics by closing or opening curtains, windows, roller or screen doors and such.

 A true Balinese indoor/outdoor room.I even open out to a forest of frangipanis...

Over Winter the design worked extremely well and I needed to have the heater on only  a few times at night.

It was cosy. Surprisingly so. No drafts. No chills.

Curtaining  did that. Not only do curtains insulate, but  I can simply pull curtains back and forth to alter temperature and light.

With concentrated spaces like this you gotta keep up with the housework.  You need to sweep and keep your stuff in order.It also helps a lot not to have too much gear. Keep it simple. Live light...and customise. 

I know where everything is in my 'den' because there isn't really that much of it.  All of me that 'fits'. ..no more/no less.

Each time I enter the space from the outside I'm impressed by how cosy it feels. No 'interior decoration' in play. Just function and ambience.

My space. One room. In use: furniture I appreciate and am attached to -- that have served me loyally for years.
  • Aunt Mary's Laminex kitchen table (circa 1950s)
  • Aunt Mary's wardrobe...old.
  • Cheap Ikea metal shelving .
  • A German-style night and day.
  • My mother-in-law's Director's Chair
  • ..and a chest of drawers I don't know where from.
  • A poof.
  • Aunt Mary's old blanket storage box.
  • My daughter's hand-me down Apple Mac
  • ...and a gorgeous retro side table my wife mosaiced.
What more do I need?

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Samphire groweth in scepter'd isles

I just planted some Samphire....

You say what?

But in King Lear we learn its ecology:
"Come on, sir. Here’s the place. Stand still. How fearful
And dizzy ’tis to cast one’s eyes so low!
The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
Show scarce so gross as beetles. Halfway down
Hangs one that gathers samphire—dreadful trade!"

In the US, Samphire has been born again as 'Sea Bean' pitched as a delicious, seemingly new age, salad, stir fry and frittata vegetable.Here, it's grown commercially in salt marshes along the Snowy River...watered by the tides.

And since I truly love Warrigal Greens (aka New Zealand Spinach), Samphire is my new must-have bush tucker. Point being that both Warrigal Greens and Samphire are coastal plants prone to mangrove wetland habitations...which is my neighbourhood.

And while 'gathering Samphire' was a Elizabethan trade we have our own local species in our own scepter'd isle....

[Ah! my first great Shakespeare speech --'Richard II']: What jingoism!
"This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands.."
Obviously hardly the stuff of Scottish independence and long before the onset of current neo-liberal preferences...but I'm sure Tony Abbott would have felt right at home excepting the bad time of it the catholics were having.

Henry XIII (Queen Liz's father) delivered a campaign against Popery in similar spin mode as our own Islamophobes in Canberra. ..and for similar reasons.

Irony is that under Henry XIII the 'nationalisations' and sacking of the monasteries was privatisation in reverse and the wealth garnered greatly imbued the English state and ruling class. En route Henry invented capitalist banking by allowing the charging of interest on lent money...thus changing the religious codes against usury.

Big changes-- restructuring and 'reform' akin to current habits -- but then, a few years later (in 1642) the English peeps forgot all about scepter'd isles and royal thrones, rose up in revolt,executed their king and set up a republic.

And all that time, hanging off the cliffs, or nestled under mangrove in the far off Antipodes,just within reach, were bunches of Samphire...

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Garden Mappery

Since I was out and about and outback, I decided to give into impulse and map the garden beds.It frustrates me that a photo doesn't take in the overall.Now with a simple template I can sketch out a plantation planting plan whenever I want.

Looking at the layout I think I can fit in  another citrus next to the lemon and I'd like to squeeze in another fig somewhere in the mix. The Pawpaws aren't shown, nor are my lazy banana, 6 Dragon fruits, and 2 passionfruit vines.Theres' a couple of grape vines among all this but they're hardly worth the effort.I'll let them scramble over the mulberries.

You can't see the mounds for the potato and cucurbit stems covering these hillocks. There's taro somewhere in there too. These contours have been much more productive than I expected. Sand, manure and soil thrown on top of brush cuttings with open trenches mulching in between.

The parallel East-West beds aren't so much raised as the paths on their borders dug down.
The BathTub Bed  has been a bit of a disappointment so far. OK for raising seedlings but my sand mix hasn't registered very well. Once I solve the fertility issues I'll add another two bathtubs parallel to the one I've got. Further north there sun quotient falls as you approach the house. But i reckon I could have a few potted options.

Kangkong may be growing in too much shade but the plants sit in gutted tires with muddiness atop plastic sheet underlay, surrounded by garden mint in the long bed that's primarily sweet potato.

The beds to the right (west) on the diagram are all watered with terracotta pot irrigation and the mounds to the left (east) by a 90 litre tank and Leaky Hose.

I don't  usually compost above ground, but I'm planning to locate a manure compost heap inside the chook pen.The chooks love the fauna that comes with the dollops. That means my mine -- the chook pen 'dirt' -- will be richer any time I need more soil to go. As it is there's a couple of deep holes in the run already.Sand mining on my part. Chicken cubbies.

Since my frangipanis won't be high enough for all the shade I'll need, come Summer, I'm experimenting with sunflowers and tomatoes as I find the pawpaws I planted to be very invasive: shallow roots all over. Them frangipanis are so easy to work with. Just the sort of plant to invite home to meet mother.

The Silky Oak, on the other hand, is real big. Over 15 metres high. Nonetheless the killer heat comes from the south west during Summer, and I'm trying to assuage that with selective tree plantings. At a pinch I'll add more Katuk (Sweet Leaf) bushes 'cuase you can never have too much Katuk over Summer.
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The Spring garden takes off

The Spring garden takes off!
A polycultural jungle.
Very little weed infestation. No bug problems at the moment (touch wood).
As well as greens I'm harvesting root vegetables, beans, and a ready herb supply.
Pending among all that cascading greenery is a mix of flowers ,tomatoes, sunflowers, keen potatoes, sweet peppers, eggplant and Cucurbits.

Despite the dry weather and lack of mulch supply, I seem to have solved many of my water issues. A couple 'understory' over shading problems due to impulse plantings of tomatoes -- but the close planting of different species is generally working to very good effect.
I was working in the Deagon community market garden last Friday and there the weeds are vigorously active. Mine are for now contained despite my ready use of grass clippings and manures. 
Selective watery sure helps. I rely on the terracotta pots and supplement with hand watering to plants that seem to need it, seeds and seedlings especially.I also try to keep the conduction channels open between my buried pots by moisturising the soils.All thats' required is a shallow sprinkle...at least on my sands.
Hereon in my set tasks are:
  • to skill up on the layering of plantings relative to growth height and root depth and spread.
  • to nail some essential companion planting protocols.
  • to engineer best practice for my garden between planting seeds direct and planting in flats. Each seed I sow is now sown with  tweezers. So what may seem like a mess is actually consciously planted in place -- for good or ill.
  • to master the gentle art of successive planting for scheduled harvesting.
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