Posts Tagged ‘Poly tanks’

Yellow garden, five years on


A rainy Sunday in Quorn

We get so few of these as most of our rain falls in the night. But a lovely day, soft rain without a breath of wind. Perfect to sit on the outside sofa and watch the cats and local birds do their thing.

Reduce your risk of bushfire in the garden – Part 2

7 ways to reduce your bushfire risk in the garden.

Let’s face it, for anyone living in southern Australia (or any gardeners living in the various dry lands around the world), sooner or later you will have to face a fire at some point. But there are quite a few things you can do to protect your property, and because people like lists, I’ve made one!

1. Don’t plant gum trees or conifers close to the house, as lovely as houses nestled in the bush may look. These trees are potential fireballs and Eucalypts are said to burst into flame in high temperatures, ie those caused by an oncoming fire front.

2. Assess your risk. Where do you live? Is it heavily wooded, turned over to vineyards or mainly grassland? Which way do the winds come from? Make sure you get to a local bushfire information night before fire season comes, and find out what you can about your own specific conditions. Here in Quorn my winds come mainly from the southwest, with hot winds coming from the north (the scary ones) and cool ones coming from the southeast some mornings. My main risk here is grassfires caused by lightning strikes. While I shouldn’t have to face a huge fire front, my local deputy fire chief tells me that if the hills were to burn I would be at risk from spot fires caused by embers, and would need to keep an eye on the house (wood) should embers land on it, as we would be within range of ember attack.

My mother in Fairview Park, Adelaide, on the other hand, is mainly alright as the hills are to the east, except if the gully winds blow, as they did the other night. She only found out later that the local pub had been evacuated, but so far has lived to tell the tale.

One day it will be our turn

One day it will be our turn

3. Plant fire retardant plants.

Trees include: Kurrajong, Carob, Peppercorn, White cedar and most deciduous trees. A friend’s father who lived through the Canberra bushfires (January 2003) said a plantation of deciduous trees at his local park saved his house.

Shrubs include: Myoporum, Oleander, Old man saltbush (which surprised me).

Ground cover plants: Gazania (as weedy as it is), Lippia, Myoporum, Agapanthus, and pigface, anything fleshy or full of water.

4. Build that wall. A stone wall is an impenetrable line of defence.

5. Plant a lawn, if you have enough water for it.

6. Choose your mulch carefully, as bark will burn. Spread lots of shale, and keep it free of weeds. Save those woody mulches for the garden beds further away from the house.

7. Keep your property tidy. Keep the grass cut, have your woodpile away from the house, and try not to store too much flammable junk under your verandahs (a note to self here). Keep the gutters free of dead leaves – do this in spring.

It would also be good to get some fire fighting equipment, which I must do, but knowing me, I’ll only get to it when the hills burn, and may find it in short supply on that day.

Reduce your risk of bushfire in the garden – Part 1

At this time of the year I often wonder what I’ve done in choosing a place with such difficult growing conditions. Then there’ll be a big fire or flood somewhere and I’ll remember the benefits.

As I write the biggest bushfire in the Adelaide Hills since Ash Wednesday 1983 is raging, only 5 km from my mother’s home in the northeast suburbs of Adelaide and even closer to our dear friends the Toholkes near Birdwood. A day these people have dreaded has arrived and I pray they are safe, and their wonderful house and garden full of order too.

Toholke garden

Toholke garden

I had been living here at this house for five months when Black Saturday happened (7th Feb 2009 in Victoria), and that tragedy has shaped the garden more than I probably realize. Soon afterwards I researched what plants burn and what plants have fire resistant leaves and gardened accordingly.

The Wall

The Wall

This little wall makes me feel safe, as it is on the north side of the house, where the hottest scariest winds come from, as they did yesterday – it was apocalyptically hot.

The yellow garden

The yellow garden

The rather large shrubs in the yellow garden are Myoporum montanum, a nice fire retardant plant, as is Old Man Saltbush (Atriplex nummalaria), the grey leafed shrub to the left of it. This bed is to the West of the house, from where all our dry storms come around November.

South of the house.

South of the house.

The rather large expanse of shale spread around the south and southwest of the house is there for a reason – when the wind swings around after a nasty north wind, it comes violently from the southwest. The southwesterly also comes up each afternoon during summer except in a heatwave, and firefighters around here have had to deal with these winds many times as fires head towards towns and houses in the Flinders ranges after starting in the hills.

This deciduous tree and pigface may not even catch fire let alone burn.


Random acts of violets

The first violets are out and they have reminded me of the Boston Marathon bombing, which was about a year ago. Charley Boorman made me smile with his tweet, “So sorry To hear about the Boston Explosions. Our hearts go out to those who lost their lives. What a cowardly act of violets.” I do not know whether his dylexia was at work here, or whether it was one of those auto correct jobs, but the phrase racketed through my head for several days.

Random acts of violets

By the tank.

Somewhere in a Kate Llewellyn journal (Burning), I read that the scent of violets rises up when a saint’s tomb is opened. I would like to think that the same kind of thing happens to murdered people. God protect us all from random acts of violets.

A Year for Bushfires.

I’m tired and fed up, we are all worn out at this time of the year, and there is nothing but hot weather ahead. The town pool needed repairs so there is nowhere to swim, and my big white elephant of a new tank sits there still waiting to be filled. Even the November storms are failing us this year. Most years if early spring is dry we can rely on a few cracking good downpours to make up for it. But this year, nada. This was supposed to be the year that I would no longer have to go to the town standpipe to get water for the garden. Huh!

Instead the storms have been dry and instead of rain there has been fire. A big bushfire is still burning near Port Lincoln as I write this, the second one in two weeks down that way. Two weeks ago smoke from fires all around the place covered the hills here, and a couple nights ago we woke to the smell of smoke from the Coomunga fire that is more than 300km away.

In January there was a big fire near Wilmington, which kept us all busy for a few days, here it is.

But gum trees in the area as I drive around are looking green and are growing regardless. It is said that trees go green when rain is on its way. I think it has something to do with underground water being released as the air pressure drops. But I am not sure if I am merely misreading these signs as they do put out new leaves this time of the year regardless. We shall see.


Food Garden Fails

One thing that I’m not so good at is growing food.

Some weeks ago I attended a Community Foodies workshop and found myself seated next to a woman who not only can grow anything, but she gets her kids to eat it and like it too!

Even though I gave excuse after excuse on why I was not getting such good returns, the lady was still incredulous when I said I had managed to grow four artichokes in four years.  Because she grew 16 the first year.

My excuses begin with the climate; too windy, too cold, too hot, not enough rain.  Unfortunately  for me, she has the same disadvantages. That’s when I mention the poor clay soil, which she also has.

The truth?  It’s me. I’m lazy.  Can’t be bothered watering, I mean to bring in manure but never get around to it.  I tell myself things like, “when I move the garden closer to the house I will do better etc”  But when I did this, I still failed.  My new one is “once the new tank has water in it, I’ll be able to just turn the hose on” etc.  You will have to wait and see whether things improve.

Broccoli ‘fails’

Finally I pulled out the last card I had up my sleeve, and told her that I had no trouble growing silverbeet/chard etc and that I liked to hide it in things like lasagne because the kids ate it all up then without complaining.  But of course she doesn’t have to hide it from her kids, they gobble it up boiled!