Thursday, February 4, 2016

Backyard Project: Hugelkultur Bed Construction

Here is Tom making soil to place in the garden beds. With the bucket, he scoops and fluffs up a mix of top soil planted with a green manure crop, compost, crushed rotten logs and shredded prunings.

Making Hugelkultur Beds
The Huglekultur Bed gardening concept was developed in the Austrian mountains by Sepp Holtzer.
This is how Tom makes them.
First he scrapes out a trough within the shape I have marked out with wool (see the centre bottom in above image). Then he fills the trough with logs (see the top in image above).

He covers the log pile with the growing medium he has mixed up.

Then he adds more logs on top.

He covers the logs with the soil mix and shapes it to the outline I laid out. 
Finally, he gently pats the soil in place with the excavator bucket so the raised bed holds its shape.
Tom made 3 Huglekultur beds this afternoon and in so doing transformed this area of the back yard.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Food Forest:Life in Syntropy

An inspirational video as we work on Phase 1 of the restoration of our property.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Backyard Project: Studio Garden Beds

Ron cuts a log to size with the chainsaw.

Tom places it to make the first side of the raised beds beside the studio porch.
He has also begun the foundation of the path leading to the studio.

He uses the hand-like attachment to nudge the log in place.

Tom selects another log from his sorted piles.

Ron cuts it to size.

Tom mixes up different materials to make a rich soil.

Two bucket scoops of soil and the bed is full.

In less than an hour, the 2 studio raised beds have been made.
Another hour later I had them all planted in pink, white and purple spring bulbs. I want to see some colour come spring. I will probably move the bulbs elsewhere later because spring bulbs alone don't make a self-supporting ecology of plants.
Ron is spreading foundation gravel for the path under the arcade.
It was an excellent morning's work on the Backyard Project.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Backyard Project:Studio Retaining Wall Pops up Like a Mushroom

A retaining wall is needed to stabilise this slope.

First Tom steepens the slope by digging out the extra soil which will go elsewhere.

The first rock is placed.

The second rock is manoeuvred into the right position.

Before long I can see from my studio window the first layer of rocks is place.

Previously Tom had sorted all of the rocks according to the shapes of their surfaces, putting them into his building block categories.

By early evening, there is a new retaining wall in place.

Tom has placed the rocks together as though they were an interlocking puzzle. It looks as though the surfaces have been cut to fit together.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Backyard Project: Rocks - Big Rocks and Little Rocks and Other Materials - Check

Tom ordered rocks - big rocks.

Tom checking to see what he has to work with.

Others materials needed to build a garden.
*Topsoil - Tom scraped off and piled up all of the top soil when clearing the site before studio construction began.

I planted the pile with green manure plants to protect the soil from rain erosion and to add biomass, nitrogen and other minerals to the soil.

The deer thought I had laid out a smorgasbord for them. Luckily they didn't like all 10 of the different seeds and some remained to grow.

*Rocks -Tom piled up the bigger rocks as he came across them while clearing the site but these weren't enough in amount or size which is why he ordered truckloads of huge rocks.

*Logs - to make a special kind of raised bed.
*Decayed Logs (shredded) - to add to the soil mix for the garden beds.
Tom has all the materials placed where they won't get in the way and where he can reach them when he needs them.
Now the Backyard Project construction can continue.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Backyard Project: Transplanting, Building, Shovelling, Back-filling, Capturing

Some of the transplanted plants we wanted moved to other garden beds around the house to fill in gaps.

Tom scooped them up one at a time and put them in our little tractor trailer.
Ron and I planted each plant in a pre-planned flagged spot. 
We had to work fast to keep up with Tom.

While waiting for us, Tom built a small rock edge between Gunilla's garden and the track.

Tom had dropped a pile of soil as far back beside the studio as he could reach.
It made Ron's job a lot easier.

Ron is back-filling over the studio's gravel-covered perimeter drain. 
It took many wheelbarrows of soil but I see he is still smiling.

At the same time, I was supposed to be in my studio working. With all of that activity going on outside the window I didn't work very well. I constantly went outside with camera in hand to see what was going on. It was all so exciting and I couldn't believe how quickly tasks were being done.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Backyard Project: Continuing with Scheduled Tasks

Task 4: Ron secured a line to the pontoon in the middle of the pond. Tom attached the end  of the line to his machine and pulled the pontoon to the edge of the pond. Ron is now cutting up the pontoon. I'll tell you more about this project later.

Sorting and Staging Materials
Tom has to always think ahead so as not to box his machine in behind his work, to not have materials in the way of where he needs to work next and to have easy access to the materials he needs.
Here he has sorted into piles transferred plants, decayed wood, a collection of found rocks and logs.

Tom scoops up a plant that has spent the summer in the temporary garden bed after being moved out of the studio footprint.

The large bucket is able to carry so much soil with the plant that I think some of the plants hardly notice the move.

The native plants are transplanted to Gunilla's Garden.

This is the last remnant of the garden bed that made way for the studio. Miraculously these plants survived the construction. Tom scooped them up and put them in Gunilla's Garden too.
While all of this activity is going on I am supposed to be in my studio working but I am fascinated by all that is going on and spend most of the day out on the porch watching and taking photographs.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Backyard Project: Tom arrives with his excavator

Next on the Backyard Project schedule is the earthworks and garden bed building.
Tom Mann, Pioneer Excavating, arrived with his huge excavator.

Ron and I made up a flow chart to synchronise the order the jobs needed to be done. It was a useful exercise for us because we had to make lots of decisions and it clarified what needed to be done. We took Tom around the site to explain each of the tasks and that was all he needed. He knew the task order because he understands the capability and size of his machine so well and he has had a lot of experience with this type of project.

Task 1: Move the piles of wood.
I was amazed when Tom moved the 2 piles in 4 scoops after it had taken Ron and me many hours to collect up and stack the wood.

Task 2: Remove 2 Cryptomeria trees.
These trees would continue to grow much larger causing long shadows across the sunniest areas where we want to grow food. They are a Japanese mountain tree and don't fit within our ecosystem. According to permaculture philosophy, they are not multifunctional enough in this location.
Tom's machine made short work pulling them out and crunching them up (see the above image).

Task 3: Getting the logs out of the pile.
Tom's excavator has a hand-like attachment he manoeuvres with great skill and delicacy.
We didn't want compaction around the sensitive root areas of the trees. Tom's huge excavator has a very long reach so he didn't have to go far before he was able to reach in between the tree trunks and carefully pick up a number of logs.

Ron and Tom inspect what is left after the solid logs have been removed. The rotten pieces will be invaluable when added to topsoil to make the new garden beds. Tom went back in and cleared out most of this material as well, leaving some as food for the standing trees.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Embroiderers Guild of Victoria 45th Anniversary Afternoon Tea

45th Anniversary Afternoon Tea

The Tea Wagon/Trolly

Barbara Gilbert's embroidered tea cosies covering teapots

Special tiered cake stands

Fresh scones were served with strawberry jam and clotted cream

Cake Stands

Cake stands made from vintage plates and crystal/cut glass dishes and vases

Silver, porcelain and ceramic teapots with milk jugs and sugar bowls.
The anniversary was celebrated in style.