So many projects, so little time. It seems as though there are just not enough hours in the day at the moment. There were so many things I wanted to achieve in the garden before the New Year, but with all of the hot weather, everything is taking much longer than expected. Patience is not one of my strong points and I am itching to start work re-landscaping the garden at the front of the house – a project I have had on hold for the last six months. Unfortunately, my better half insists that before we start, we need to finish our second chicken tractor, replace the tree guards on all of the trees in the orchard and plant out the last of the potted native trees in time for the rains…I think I may be waiting a while!
After a lot of issues over the years with pawpaw plants rotting, we recently discovered (thanks to a self-seeded pawpaw in the vegetable garden…) that they absolutely thrive here in raised Hugelkultur beds! We had wanted to add some kind of bed in front of the pig pen and had a lot of logs to clear away that had fallen along our road during the year, so a giant Hugelkultur bed along the entire length of the enclosure seemed like a great solution to a lot of problems. It is a massive task as we are digging a trench 1m deep and about 20 metres long and moving a lot of heavy logs, but I am hoping we will finish it in the next month. Once complete it will be home to 5 paw paws, a babaco and a whole range of perennial plants.
The greenhouse converted earlier in the year from part of the storage shed is turning out to be the most productive place on our property, so much so that we are considering adding a DIY polytunnel to our garden in the future to extend our covered garden space. We are harvesting fresh tomatoes, peppers, salad leaves and herbs every day and will soon have okra and rosella and aubergines too. Many of the plants that grew poorly in the harsh rainy environment of the clearing are lush and productive here and it has made our dream of self-sufficiency seem much more attainable.
The rest of the garden is also doing well, we have so many courgettes and pumpkins that we have more than enough to share with the dogs, pigs and chickens every day. We are harvesting pineapples, cherry guava and panama berry and many of the other fruit trees, including the capulin cherries, grumichama’s and black sapotes, are bursting into flower. The most magnificent flowers are those of the dragon fruit (pitaya). It is a shame the flowers are only open for one night as they are truly stunning to behold. I’m currently working on a blog post about growing dragon fruit in pots so if you are interested look out for that in the next month or so.
I discovered a tiny day old guinea fowl roaming around the food forest alone last week. We had a similar incident once before, but our guinea fowl are abysmal parents so generally don’t sit on the eggs long enough to hatch anything. I have moved this little guy into a brooder in the house as he needs to be kept warm and dry. I made a fake mum from a swiffer mop head and he loves it. Once he is old enough I will move him back out with the others, I’m hoping he will be the only abandoned keet I find this year as we currently have three other guinea fowl missing and I’m pretty sure they are sitting on eggs somewhere!
The young keet is not the only bird in the house at the moment. The second brood of swallows raised in our bedroom have fledged and are catching bugs during the day in the living room. I suppose at least they are earning their keep after all the mess they have made! The sunbirds rebuilt their nest on our front deck and the female is sitting on eggs and the cassowary is regularly visiting our fruit trees for a feast. My favourite wild visitor however, is the joey of one of my rehabilitated pademelons. I released the mother, Dora, back into the wild earlier in the year and have watched this little one develop from a tiny pinkie to a furred and fairly independent joey. It’s wonderful that Dora has turned out to be an excellent mother, given her rocky start in life and the fact she had me rather than another wallaby as a parenting role model!