Sunday, 11 March 2012

New pathways

The last of the summer tomatoes with purple and green basil.
Much of our summer vegetables are spent, and the garden is looking worse for the wear at this time of the year.  This year in particular, the weather has not been very kind to growers, with way too much rainfall, not enough sunshine and plenty damaging winds.  The garden is looking sad and weary, so we decided it was time for a clean-up yesterday.  Spent passion fruit vines were cut down, weeds pulled up in a small area of the garden (never ending activity), a huge bunch of bananas harvested, the chooks were relocated to a new veg bed recently vacated and topped up with compost, old branches mulched, a pathway relaid with sawdust and general cleaning up in the area.  My plans were so much grander and I thought I would manage to do so much more than the small area we cleaned and tended, but then we only had one afternoon!  Mike and I attended a morning workshop on preparing beehives for winter.  It was interesting, and because we don't have any bee hives, we were a little swamped with the terminology.  The other 18 attendees were all amateur beekeepers.  They all spoke the language of bees - capping, combing, brooding, swarming.............. a little out of our depth I think!  Perhaps we should have done a little more reading beforehand!!  What did strike us though, was the passion they all had for the hobby of bee-keeping!  These were real enthusiastic bee people!  And everyone was willing to share their knowledge, equipment and experiences.  We have been offered opportunities to go and check out a vertical hive, and a top bar hive (the one we are leaning toward) at different bee keepers homes.  An Austrian guy, Fridolin, or Ferdinand as we call him, at the workshop spoke enthusiastically about his top bar hive to which he added a glass side to, so that one can unlatch the side and see the colony through the glass, at work.  Sounds fascinating.

The relaying of old pathways....
The mess and entangled growth of spent summer growth.

The pathway alongside the cottage.  Time for a clean up!

The tools of a organic renewable pathway worker.  I pulled up
all the weeds, removed the superficial layer of lavender debris
I had previously placed on the pathway for weed suppression.

First line of defense is a cardboard layer, which will eventually
break down and enrich the soil after adding a weed suppression
layer.  Each piece of tape is carefully removed as it does not break
 down, including any plasticated stickers.

A pile of sticks awaiting mulching to break them down and expose
them to the micro-organisms in the soil that will break them down

Our trusty old Masport shredder which makes short work of
all the pruned branches and sticks that would normally be
a problem to compost.

The layer of mulched sticks and sunflower stems
are laid over the cardboard and finally, a layer of
untreated sawdust is sprinkled over it all to even out the
surface of the pathway.

The big bags of untreated sawdust that Mike collects from a
local woodworking outfit.  One man's junk is another man's
treasure!  It saves them dumping fees and provides us with
a solution to our weed suppression on pathways.

Sawdust is supposedly too acidic for using as a mulch around
vegetable beds or trees but works just perfectly for my pathways.
Once it has broken down on the pathways, into a deep rich black, soil
enriched matter, I scrape it up and place it on the vegetable beds.
And today, Sunday, as I write, the rain falls softly, moistening the sawdust and settling it into it's new position, and the garden soaks up some badly needed water.  I will have to start using up the fruit we are currently harvesting - apples, peaches and the last of the tomatoes........  I feel an apple cake coming on!

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