Friday, 7 December 2012

Garden Map

I used ancient technology married with new to make a  garden map. First came Google Earth, which gave me a birds eye view and the outline of the block, which I then put on a transparency and used an overhead projector to project it against a wall and traced it onto a large sheet of card. Then a scanner to get it back onto the computer complete with tree names and garden bed plantings.

I'm trying to find an easy way for quick reference and to show the history of where what has been planted where for rotation purposes. We discovered that this section of the property is about a third of the block, the rest is paddock and it's an almost perfect wedge out of the pie.

There are heaps of programs online to plan your garden, does anyone use them, have any preferences?

Saturday, 1 December 2012

A call for best community projects and initiatives

Some of you may know I coordinate a community centre, the southern most centre in Australia actually. It's always a challenge and there always seems so much more to do than there is time for. I'm always keen to find new ways to engage the community.

We've run Medieval Mayhem four times and it's now a community owned project and thankfully I don't have to run around in Maid Marion gear every year. We have the Dog House, a community workshop, an alternative energy group (brand spankin' new), hopefully we may get to convert a petrol vehicle to electric and heaps more. has some of what we do listed. To be honest I haven't updated it in many months, since then we've been running the mobile phone apps training, a film project with youth documenting the importance of Year 11 and 12 (high schools don't have Year 11 and 12 in Tassie, which means some of our rural kids are travelling 4 hours a day to attend college in Hobart), and about to launch a horticulture training project.

I'm currently working on writing up 250 great ways to engage with your community. I'm half way there. Anyone have a favourite project, event or idea of something that have done, or have seen that they're happy to share?


We're always trying to find truly environmental ways of cleaning and I saw these and had to have a go.  They smell. They smell unpleasantly. I'll have to add a few drops of something essential to the water to try and offset this. Apparently they go in a little calico bag (four or so of them) and then into the front loader detergent spot and will last three or four washes. I've yet to have a go.

In Queensland, and now here, I grow soapwort, we've used it to wash our hair, but never in the wash, I always thought my clothes would come out with a tinge of green, but maybe I should try again.

They're $20 a bag, and no, they don't grow in Tasmania, so they will be a once only experiment.Anyone used soapnuts before?

Best darn little chook house in town!

The mudbrick chook house I built is now a tool shed. The four doors leading onto four different garden beds has been in use for the past three years and the ground needs a rest.

So the chooks are now in what we commonly refer to as the pig snot paddock. The pigs first started off in there and someone told us that there's an enzyme in pig snot that encourages soil bacteria and great growth. Not sure if it's true, but the paddock now has a name.

We needed a new chook pen.  Enter, Trevor, king of the chook pen design and installation. With bits of this and nothing purpose bought he tacked it all together, insulated the walls and ceiling, ma-jiggered this, ma-jiggered that, and now here it is.

The first night we had to wait till the chooks were sleeping out in the paddock and nab, grab and throw them inside. They've got the idea now and have happily adopted their new home.

There were two roosters. But one didn't make the transfer. They've been fighting and generally going at it spur and beak for too long.

Instead Trev and I wait for Caleb to bring a friend over, we hand them the machete, tell them to make it quick and as stressless as possible and we'll make them a nice chicken stew. The young, it seems, are less concerned about the sanctity of life than us oldies.  Though it doesn't make them any more inclined towards gutting and plucking.

Passion for fruit

One of the things we miss from Queensland is the abundant sprawling, crawling, hang off your every word if they could passionfruit vines. I've planted four or five since coming to Tasmania, but the graft always died over winter and the rotten root stock would take over and threaten to become an environmental weed. It also took a while to realise that they weren't much pleased by our highly acidic soils and a tweek or two to the pH was in order.

I'd almost given up when I came across the black Norfolk which wasn't a graft.  It was planted in the greenhouse where it is now  producing not just flowers but wee fruits too.

Passionfruit butter - here we come! Or is that counting my passionfruits before they hatch?