Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

29 June 2009

Garden Update # 3

I've hit a problem. Literally!

The time came to put the daisies and geraniums into the patch!

So I raked it, cleared it, drew lines in the sand and made a rough plan for a layout...backplanting with the rosemary when it arrives and then dotting the daisies, geranuims and lavender in the front two thirds.
I placed the pots in their spots to make sure it looked OK. All OK.
And then I started to dig.
And then I realised why, when we came to this house, there were no plants in this patch.
You can't really get a sense of perspective with this photo. The grey bit is sandy soily stuff. To a depth of about 15cm. The orange bit is clay. The clay has not had a drop of water on it in a very long time. The clay is rock hard. The clay bent my (albeit cheap) shovel. There are no daisies going in there!


Downed tools and went straight next door to our neighbours, one of whom was once a landscape gardener and knows a thing or two about these things. After a short discussion with my friendly neighbour I figure I have five options.

1. Brick paving!

2. Forget the flowers and get a ground cover with a shallow root system.

3. Instead of planting into the ground, get lots more big pots and plant in pots. Arrange them in some funky way and then scatter gravel/rocks/pebbles around to fill in the gaps.

4. Build up the beds. Create some sort of mini retaining wall with bricks or sleepers and ship in large amounts of soil. Then plant. The roots of my plants, my neighbour tells me, will find their way through the clay and thrive. It is just a matter of having enough soil to put them in to start with.

5. Buy a bag of gypsum. Apparently, my good neighbour tells me (and Google has just confirmed it!), gypsum will break down the clay so that it isn't rock hard. It would still be hard work to dig through - the neighbour said he used a crowbar - but not impossible.



Sharon said...

We went with option four at our last two previous places of residence. Actually, back in Darwin we cut down five palm trees that were dead or dying or very very scrawny, all with their trunks quite close together. The problem was that once Jeff had cut them down, we realised we would need some serious machinery to dig out the stumps, and that wasn't possible with the proximity of the house or our finances.

So Jeff's solution was to buy a few concrete blocks and made a brick retaining wall to a height of about two feet - just under the height that would have to be compulsorily registered as a "building wall" with the people who oversee all that sort of stuff in the NT with an eye to finicky detail, because they don't want anything cyclone-un-worthy being built. We filled in between the neighbour's fence and the new wall (front and two sides) with soil we bought. We also filled the holes in the concrete blocks (can you picture the ones I mean?) with soil as well and that is where we planted quite a few herbs along the front, each in their own little "pot", then in the main part we planted more herbs as well as flowers and vegies. The basil grew into a tree and so did the chillis.

I am following this gardening saga with quite some interest.

~ Sharon

Meredith said...

Thank you for your interest. And your encouragement. In my heart I think building up the bed is the best option but my hip pocket will not allow for that option at present so I am seeing what we can do to make what we have work. And if it doesn't work, that gives us a bit more time to amass funds to develop that infrastructure.

But it is a nice new thing to be thinking about. I am thankful for your interest. And I am surprised by my own!