Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Storm damage

Rainfall Sunday 27/1   133mm
Rainfall Monday 28/1   25mm

Ex tropical cyclone Oswald has certainly affected us way more than the Brisbane floods of 2011. We have been without power for  2 days and are barely managing to keep our fridge and freezer cool with a small petrol generator. The garden has suffered with 4 medium sized Kauri trees falling over in the gale force winds. There have also been multiple branches broken off various Eucalypts and some Sheoaks have toppled over - one just missing the wood shed. The weather is ok again but hot and humid -  we are both using the local Leagues club where there is free internet and aircon.

The Tamarillos are also on a serious lean and will need cutting down.
The most urgent clean up has been done - removing a Sheoak that was  blocking the driveway but the rest can wait a few days for hopefully cooler conditions.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Garden update -new bore

rainfall past 24hrs : 45mm

rainfall whilst away:  85mm -  apparently this fell a day or two just before we returned from the trip

raining steadily today and wind seems to be increasing

The vege garden was not watered whilst we were away. The rhubarb in the freezer box has died - sort of expected. The rosella leaves are showing severe signs of a mineral deficiency or pH problem - I will check this when it stops raining.

The climbing beans have died back considerably but the tumeric is doing well - it seems to like the soil/conditions here.  I have a cucumber (from memory - it is only just starting to flower and set fruit)  that has also powered away - it is spreading over the path up  a pole and along the netting that forms the roof of the vege patch.

Whilst we were away we had a bore installed - good water was found at 22m -a flow of 3,000 litres/hr and fairly low salt -  I will have it properly tested next week.  Putting in a bore is a bit of a gamble -  we were lucky as our neighbours nearby also were putting in bores at the same time and had problems with sand and much higher salt and iron content

The idea is to use the bore to refill our tanks when needed, especially if the water  test report is ok. This will allow us to do lots more watering, especially the fruit trees and around the house, this year now that we an have "unlimited" water supply.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bulbinella and Macquarie Island Cabbage

Anne and I are just back  from a trip to Antarctica from Bluff to Hobart via the Snares, Auckland Is (Enderby) Macquarie and Commonwealth Bay (Mawson's hut etc). Whilst the trip failed to land anywhere near Commonwealth Bay  due to the pack ice and we missed Macquarie Island to pick up the French yachtsman adrift in a life raft we still had an "interesting" time seeing lots of ice, icebergs, ice, icebergs, ice, the odd penguin - Gentoos - fleeting glimpses of whales - Sei, Fin, and Humpback, and lots of pelagic bird species (Albatrosses, Petrels, etc). One thing I wanted to see was the Bulbinella in flower on Enderby but once again our luck was out as high winds made it too  risky to walk to the area where  it mainly thrives.  However the Macquarie Island Cabbage was in flower near the landing site:

Stilbocarpa polaris - Macquarie Island cabbage

This photo of the Bulbinella in flower was one we took on our last visit to Enderby Island:

Bulbinella rossii
There are some really interesting megaherbs on the subantarctic islands and it is a privilege to be able to visit and see them in their natural environment.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bursaria in flower, Carting water around the garden, Sacred Kingfisher

A plant that is thriving with neglect in our garden is Bursaria spinosa. We purchased several  from Indigiscapes awhile back and some of them are starting to flower for the first time :

Mangroves to Mountains book gives it a common name of Black Thorn, whereas the  label from Indigiscapes calls it Spiny Box. We are referring to it simply as Bursaria.  It seems to be an important food plant for butterflies and cover for small birds so it is satisfying to see it performing well here. I will plant quite a few more in the area where it is thriving to create a real thicket to encourage the smaller native birds.

We are in the midst of a dry spell and I am carting water around the yard in an attempt to keep  some  recently planted native grasses and the like alive.  To save having to return to a tap point too often I am using a 50L  rubbish bin and garden cart to move water :

It works well as most of the movement I need to do is downhill on the driveway which helps minimise spillage - I don't bother with the lid.  When I am near the plants needing water  I use the bucket.

The  rhubarb experiment is working well so far - the plant seems less stressed and has a couple of new leaves appearing :

I fill and freeze 3 empty milk containers each night and place them near the plant mid morning to try and reduce the temperature somewhat. It feels cooler but I haven't taken an actual temperature near the plant to compare with air temperature outside.

Whilst having lunch we heard a thud of a bird hitting a lounge room glass door - on investigation it was a sacred kingfisher that had come to grief.  It was standing on the verandah decking stunned but after about 15 mins it flew away  - hopefully without any permanent injury.

Scientific name:  Todiramphus sanctus