Upcycled Self Watering Pots from Styrofoam Boxes

Water-loving Peppermint grows happily

Water-loving Peppermint grows happily

Growing water loving plants in a hot, dry environment can be difficult, especially if you forget to water everyday. Self watering pots (i.e. those with a reservoir of water in the bottom) help a great deal, but are often very expensive. The solution is to make your own using large styrofoam boxes and bits of stuff rescued from the waste bin. Very cheap, very easy and you gain extra environmental Brownie Points for the up-cycling. Your mint won’t know the difference ūüôā

With a Little Help From My Friends

Early October.

Early Oct. It took 6 weeks to get this far

What a difference six weeks can make. In this part of the world it is the span between the last frosts of Winter, and the first heat of Summer. It is the critical window that makes the difference between success and struggle. Between bumper harvest and watching the fruit of your labour cook on the vine.¬†This Spring Beloved was away on business. I missed him terribly, not the least of which because I found juggling work, parental responsibilities, financial squeeze and life-dramas left little time or energy when it came to¬†the garden. ¬†I braced for the disappointment of shelving my¬†more ambitious plans, consoled myself with the thought that pea-straw sown with alfalfa, buckwheat and clover¬†as¬†green-manure is still productive .. in a way. I hadn’t counted on Beloved, or the generosity of his many fans and supporters who refused to accept my compromise.

Filling in the Gaps

Thoughtful Spot in Winter. The gaps are obvious

Thoughtful Spot in Winter. The gaps are obvious

I often sit under the Golden Elm and watch the sun come up. It is my “Thoughtful Spot” as Pooh would have it. I like to listen to the garden¬†as the night shift retires and the day shift awakes.¬†¬†The flights of nocturnal moths are made perilous by hunting parties of micro bats who seek their roost just before dawn. The possums who hold riotous parties seek their hollows in nearby large Eucalypts. Wood ducks hurry their tiny wiggle tailed broods to the local creek as¬†amorous frogs finally fall silent.¬†Roosters and Honeyeaters of many species sing their welcome to the Sun. The air is cool and perfumed with the blossoms that have decided to get a head start on Spring. Most of the local native species are currently in bloom, taking advantage of late season rain and early season warmth. The only thing that disturbs my pleasure is the weedy gaps in all of this greenery. They jar the senses. They remind me that this is a neglected space. They goad me to do something.

First things first .. food

The future vegetable  patch in mid-June

The future vegetable patch in mid-June

Now that the unpacking of the house is (mostly) done, it is time to get this Summer’s vegetables underway. The enormous empty bed on the Eastern part of the backyard¬†is earmarked for vegetable production. Most of this area is in full sun from¬†mid morning until early evening, so it is perfect for all of the sun-loving Solanacea, as well as leafy greens, seasonal¬†leafy herbs (parsley, coriander etc),¬†legumes, melons and all of the gourd family. Of course the perennial Mediterranean herbs rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano etc will all see this as paradise too. So let’s get to work shall we?

New Beginnings

This Golden Elm will be my Summer Palace

This Golden Elm will be my Summer Palace

Someone loved this place once. Happy hours were spent dreaming grand dreams, sketching, endlessly revising plans, drafting and re-drafting. Days passed poring over plant catalogues and descriptions. Garden rooms were carefully laid out and decorated. Vegetative furnishings carefully selected for colour, form and function. Flowers, shrubs and trees were positioned and tended.  This was a magnificent space. Every direction one turned delighted the senses. There is something to capture the eye, or tickle the nose, draw you around the next corner to see what you might discover. So much joy here. With our recent move, and the destruction of my own garden, I can sympathise with the wrenching loss that must have been felt when leaving behind a place to which so much of oneself had been given. It must have been heartbreaking.

Monsters in the Garden; Invasion of the Red Weed

“..¬†the Red Weed grew with astonishing vigour and luxuriance. It spread up the sides of the pit¬†..¬†afterwards I found it broadcast throughout the country¬†..¬†Red Weed clung and grew with¬†frightening voraciousness, its claw-like fronds ..¬†covering field and¬†ditch and tree and hedgerow with living scarlet feelers, crawling! crawling!”

~ H.G.Wells. The War of the Worlds 1898

Spring. New shoots  appear

Spring. New shoots appear

Madder (Rubia tinctoria)¬†is one of the¬†oldest fodder, medicinal and dye plants known to man. It is still widely cultivated for the production of Rose Madder, dyes in shades of pinks and reds produced from the dried roots of this little Monster. With visions¬†of my own¬†gorgeous¬†hand dyed¬†wool and silk¬†threads, I contacted a heirloom seed exchange to obtain fresh¬†seeds. A few weeks later a package arrived in the mail, containing a few dozen and a handwritten note. “Watch this one, it will take over if you aren’t careful”. ¬†¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†