Do you remember this patch in our back garden that I declared the clucker tucker zone about a month ago? Well, I've been meaning to get back to you on that area for quite some time now. It's all done and we are patiently awaiting the abundance of growth. It turns out I didn't need that pig after all and now that I am on the finished side of the job, I must admit that it was quite an enjoyable bit of hard yakka. The amount of bricks I dug up from that bed was astounding and with the level of grunting I was coming out with as I repeatedly swung that pick down onto yet another one of those buried red oxide blocks I am fairly certain the neighbours must have thought we really had got that pig. But, no pain, no gain and now I look upon that bed with a gleeful level of satisfaction and maybe even a small level of motherly pride. I've been wanting to get stuck into that spot since we first inspected this place nearly two years ago and now as I go out there most mornings to dampen down the mulch, I have just noticed the first lot of cotyledon leaves beginning to emerge. Tuck's enjoying giving me a ribbing when he sees me drag the hose back around the front by asking whether I have been tending to my baby. Well, yes indeed I believe I have and since it will be a little while longer before we have the new water tank out there and I install a drip system to ease the watering, I shall be tending that baby for a good bit longer.
South Australia is considered to be the driest state in Australia and, Australia, is considered to be the driest continent in the world (with the exception of Antarctica). I'm not sure how those opinions measure up with actual statistic or other dry arid regions but I do know that we regard water as very precious and we try to maximise every drop. We have chosen to live in the wettest part of this driest state so, although we remain mindful of our water usage, we do enjoy some good rain over winter. We also have access to the mains water supply which is not ideal given how heavily treated it is but a necessary resource all the same. Unfortunately, even when we do have our water tanks in, it is unlikely that we will be able to be completely self sufficient with our own water harvest given the low level of annual rainfall. So we are very grateful for that mains pipe connection.
Being smart with how we use our water is essential and we do all we can do minimise any wastage. Although some what makeshift at this stage, we do have a grey water system in place to recycle the water used by our washing machine and heavy mulching in the garden is an absolute must. Especially in summer. In fact, no Australian garden should be without some sort of mulch during the hot summer months. Over the coming years there will be much more we can do to continue our efforts in mindful water usage but, like any loyal homesteader will tell you, each improvement comes in it's own time.
In readiness for our coming warmer days we didn't bother to dig the seeds in or cover them with soil, choosing instead to nestle them underneath a thick blanket of pea straw mulch. There's a mix of all sorts in there including sunflower, comfrey, bokchoy, buckwheat, forage chicory, cocksfoot, clover, linseed, lucerne, millet, forage plantain, silverbeet, subclover, oh the list goes on. I think I'll add some nasturtiums and lemon balm in there next month and have already sown some luffa along the outer back edge which will hopefully climb up that frame. Lemon balm is a wonderful medicinal herb for chickens and offers antiviral and antibacterial properties. I've never tried to grow luffa here in South Australia but had terrific success with it when we lived on the Sunshine Coast (QLD). It is such a different climate here though so we will have to wait and see how it goes.
Sometime later this month our new flock of girls will arrive to keep Frizzle company and I'll save the full story of our chicken history until then. Frizzle is our recently adopted Frizzle Bantam who has been enjoying the entire back yard to herself for the past couple of months. We'll see where the growth of this chicken foraging area is by then but I may need to net the patch off for a while to allow the roots to take hold enough before the foliage succumbs to being pecked. Right now though, I have that fabulous pile of bricks to figure out a use for. I'm thinking perhaps an outdoor oven? Would I use an outdoor oven? Maybe a fire pit? What do you think? Give the comments a go, the glitch seems to be only affecting selected internet servers and if you run into issues by all means feel free to email me your brick ideas.