Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Life in the Hill Part II

Last friday I introduced to you a new garden I'm working on; a rocky hill (really just a rock pile from debris that was cleared) that needs some life put back into it.  On one hand, the hill does still look like this from afar...

However, take a closer look, and you'll see all of the seedlings starting to really take shape.  First, all of the Jap Pumpkins I've planted, in three different places...

Above and below, you'll see eight Jap Pumpkins still remaining in the area that I initially planted all of the seeds; and since then have transplanted (another eight in total) seedlings to different areas.

The image above also gives you a perspective of the structure I just put in place today, getting ready for the young snow peas coming into their own beneath the 'fence'.

And last but not least, another bunch of pumpkins coming up.  These guys are Pumpkin - Baby Blue, one of the many varieties in the Cucurbita maxima species.  As a matter of fact, this species is said to have more cultivated forms than any other crop...this one happens to be a Baby Blue variety from the Americas.  The Jap Pumpkin seeds were collected from my last harvest (in a different area that I've been working to revitalize) but these Baby Blue seeds were purchased from Eden Seeds.

I'll continue to keep you posted as the life I'm adding back into the hill continues to rebuild itself and the soil beneath.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Life in the Hill

Living on a 35 acre property means there's always space somewhere to do something new.  A few weeks ago, the hill in the picture below was nothing but molasses grass and piles upon piles of pebbles.  Well away went the weeds, the pebbles are slowly being used to ornament other gardens, and say hello to the food!

Digging with a pickaxe was like quarrying for minerals.  I made some level surfaces, approximately 1m x 1m each, and then mixed together some different soils and nutrients to add some life back to this hill.  The large amount of soil you can see on the bottom of the pile is organic garden mix we got (10 barrels full) from Wards Landscape Supplies.  On top of that is about two kilos of Biochar that we purchased at The Living Earth Festival.  Also in the mix is about a kilo of organic Dynamic Lifter.  Mix it all up, and you have a perfect combination to add as a base layer for any plants you want to put in.

My friend Nino gave me some zucchini seedlings.  I have to admit, zucchini had never seemed to do so well here (anywhere I've tried it on the property) so I was a bit reluctant to accept these, but nevertheless I thought they would be a great ground cover while this soil is being reinvigorated.

And finally, one of my favorites, Jap Pumpkin seedlings are just starting to come up.  I planted about 12 seeds, not knowing how well they would take to this soil, but it seems they've all decided to come up and I might have to spread some of them apart by creating more level planting surfaces along this hill.

For now, I'm happy knowing this hill is still alive and is ready for more of my gardening efforts!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Grow Your Own...Mints:

Dear Grow Your Own,

As promised yesterday via Twitter, some photos of the mints growing around here:

All of these guys are pretty recent additions...the garden mint is just starting to find it's way through the multiple openings in this terracotta pot.

The mint basil (I happened to get this plant at Byron Bay Herb Nursery) is a great mint variety to add to your collection when your basil just doesn't seem to do so well (mine is pitiful).  The leaves are a bit softer than regular basil, but this herb is a perfect substitute.

Finally, the youngest of the bunch is this peppermint which I just found out is a hybrid of spearmint; the two aren't as different as I thought.

My theory is similar to yours, it's best to grow your own.

What kind of mint do you having growing in your garden?

- Nick

Monday, September 16, 2013

All Things End - Day 4

It's true, all things do end.  'They' say, "all good things must come to an end".  I think, all things must come to a good end.  Today, our last day exploring, for now.  So far we have toured our way through Days 1, 2, and 3 of these impressive and inspirational gardens.  As these plants, trees, flowers, and bushes continue to grow year after year, they begin looking after themselves and doing what nature intended.  Something that keeps the gardener moving and grooving is tending to the unconventional pots and planters used around here to protect more roots  The plants are truly here, there, and everywhere.

Another entrance to the interior of the Z House lends its space to a Stag Horn Fern and repurposed clay sewer pipes.  Cordylines have found their home in two rather large pipes.

With the sun shining in we can nearly picture the wooden lattice casting it's shadow onto the fern.

From up above (on the roof, and as the sun sets) we can look north towards the Brisbane River.  The native wisteria is really starting to take hold and will soon create quite a barrier for the roof.  I'll let the wisteria do the talking from here...

So, my friends, I hope you have enjoyed my first interpretation of the gardens here at the Z House.  With all of the growth and new life that manifests around this block, you know I'll be back for more.  I admit I went a bit trigger happy with my camera during this first weekend of shooting.  Fortunately, that just means I will be able to highlight other aspects of this space in the future.  For now, we've made our way through (almost every inch, sorry I forgot the Chinese Lantern Mr. Z) what's growing in the soil here.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

What's For Dinner? (First Tomato Harvest)

You couldn't possibly have thought I'd let you have the fourth day of our ongoing Project in Brisbane. While we've been spoiled to some beautiful gardens from an urban paradise, things around my vegetable garden aren't looking too shabby either.  While this certainly isn't everything going into tonight's dish, our first tomato harvest proudly calls for another installment of What's For Dinner?

If you've been keeping up to date with the progress of vegetables in my garden, you'll remember these tomato plants mentioned with some delicious radishes.  The raised bed these tomatoes are flourishing in used to hold a papaya tree (also self-sewn at some point years ago) that rendered this space somewhat useless.  That was, until I dug out the papaya tree (they don't do so well in this spot anyway) and made room for new plants to grow.

Just before the beginning of winter (sometime in May) I planted broccoli in this bed, and it's already come and gone.  While the broccoli was first growing, tomato plants galore began appearing and luckily I know what these little guys look like, so out came the weeds and the tomatoes remained.

It's now taken nearly four months for these plants to really develop and begin producing proficiently, but alas, our first harvest.  I know this might not look like a lot of tomatoes, but remember I'm just a self-sufficient gardener.  This load should be plenty to mix in with a salad tonight, for two.

Happy gardening!

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Front Yard, or the Back Yard, or Which Yard is it? - Day 3

Once you're in, you're in, and there's no turning back.  You lose yourself in the Z House, but it's a good thing.  You start to lose interest in which way is up and how far is south.  Here's some shots of a garden facing north, if we have to stay grounded.

There is no front and back around here, this is simply a skinnier garden with more towering trees looking to break the houses height record.  Peaking their heads above the north facing verandah are natives Celerywood and Tristaniopsis laurina.

From down below, we can see some smaller plants coming into their own.  The gardener has included multiple varieties of native Davidson's Plum.  Pictured here is a Queensland Davidson's Plum, native to northern Queensland.  It just so happens that one variety is named after the lovely town of Mullumbimby I call home (note this variety is endemic to our Rainbow Region).

While this garden is just as important in creating a harmony between earth and building, I know this area will be a focus of mine in the future while it comes into it's own.  For now, we work to continue manifesting this beautiful space into equilibrium.

Check out the Projects page to find what else has been going on around these woods.  Tomorrow, our last Day in the Z House; I hope you have enjoyed the journey so far.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Lose Yourself

Another feature (below) in the central courtyard of the Z House is a small pond with goldfish enjoying a bit of paradise as well.  Daily, they receive their dose of oxygen with the help of two fountains that create a peaceful white noise to help you relax for a while in this inspiring garden.

Below is another view of the Wollemi Pine, nature's living dinosaur.

Don't think we ended after Day 2, stay tuned as we still have two more days of touring through these wonderful gardens.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

From the Outside to the Inside Back Outside Again - Day 2

This entire block of land is utilized inch by inch to allow nature to shape it's way.  As a gardener, interested in sharing the importance of each of us getting our hands in the soil, my focus is around the plants, before the house.  However, in order for you to get a proper understanding of just how things work around here, I've done my best to walk you through as if we're on a tour together.

Welcome inside...

Just off the road is the welcome mat.  It's here that the adventure really begins.  The lower fifth of the Java black bamboo stands triumphantly with flowering plants (Zanzibar Gem) and Queensland natives (Dicksonia antarctica) nestled comfortably below.

In the above image, we can see the front garden from the perspective of the central courtyard; welcome to my favorite part.  The palm frond is hiding (sort of) what you can see below.  Hanging baskets house Epidendrum crucifix (orchids) with Amazon Lily and Silver Lady building up under the floor (window length seat) above.

Stepping back a bit we see the central courtyard from a child's perspective, which is sometimes the best view.

Head down the stairs and suddenly the house above starts to disappear.  Along the stairs and wall are Monstera deliciosa, native rainforest ferns, and climbing fig.

Down below we find Kahili Ginger, Bat Flower (unfortunately not blooming), and Hoya australis slowly making its way up the wall.

They're here and they're there, the plants really are everywhere.  The design of these gardens allows for the widest array of places to plant in.  With the help of Steven Clegg Design this gardener has been able to follow the architects request for the landscape to surround the building.

From my understanding, this central courtyard also surrounds the natural habitat of some friendly lizards (which happen to have blue tongues).  It's not rare to see these guys roaming around, building small cairns for their own natural playground.

above: with the canopy of the Beehive Ginger is Mysore trumpetvine.

The piney looking tree just reaching it's head above the trumpetvine is a dinosaur, literally.  In 1994 near the Blue Mountains northwest of Sydney, an adventurous field officer was exploring a steep gorge near Lithgow when he noticed a coniferous tree unlike any he had seen before.  After closer examination, the discovering of the 200 million year old Wollemi Pine was declared and luckily this critically endangered species has found a safe haven in this urban sanctuary.

As you can see, this garden is not only the central courtyard of the house but the spiritual core of the entire property.  With plants old and new, small and big (this Wollemi Pine will tower over the house one day, competing with the Java black bamboo), nature finds itself at peace in this soil.

below: Silver Lady basking in the heat of the day

After this set of images, I hope you understand the meaning behind the title.  Although we made it within the walls of the house in this post, we still find ourselves juxtaposed between plants and building, inside and outside.  I'll leave you with a view from the roof.  From up above we start to gain an understanding of just how well stitched this garden is to the core of the Z House.

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Add More Green by Nick Kovaleski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.