Spring Project Central

There’s been so much going on at Edgefield lately, along with a busy work schedule, that allows no time to write this blog (my usual, boring lament)! As cliched as it sounds, spring fever has gripped me and, by association, Jeff. We are powering through our big jobs/infrastructure list! It helps that with both of our consulting businesses going well, there’s actually some money in the kitty for discretionary spending, something we haven’t had much of for a while.

Bike race track and extending the driveway

The boys are happy little campers now that they’re finally off their bike training wheels (hooray!) and they have a new bike path of compacted Ferricrete that loops from the driveway around the top of the block. Hugo’s scratched up knees are testament to the thrills and spills of the racetrack…Henry, not so much. We also extended the driveway partway up the block with a 3-point turn for backing up trailers to the four new compost bays Jeff built from recycled pallets we had stockpiled from the house build.

Fruit Trees

I was late in finalising my orchard plan and when I finally made it down to the lovely Joanne at Guildford Town Garden Centre, the winter bare-rooted fruit tree stock had been well picked over and they had started to bag up most of their remaining stock. Still, I managed to purchase five of the trees I wanted to add to the two heritage apples I had sourced from Poppy’s Patch in Mount Barker and a double grafted Nashi from Tass1Trees. A very expensive truckload of poo (Vegetable Concentrate) from Green Life Soil Co. later and we were in business.

Recently planted:

  1. Apple Dwarf “Pinkabelle” Pink Lady
  2. Nashi Multi-Graft “Nijisseiki”/ “Shinsui”
  3. Peach “Crimson Rocket” columnar
  4. Nectarine Dwarf “Flavortop”
  5. Plum Dwarf ‘Mariposa’
  6. Plum Dwarf ‘Satsuma’
  7. Apple semi-dwarf ‘Adam’s Pearmain’
  8. Apple semi-dwarf ‘Sturmer Pippin’

Still to come:

  1. Almond Semi-Dwarf “All-in-One”
  2. Apple Dwarf “Granny Smith”
  3. Apricot Multi-Graft “Moorpark”/ “Trevatt”
  4. Peach Dwarf “O’Henry”
  5. Pear Dwarf “Bartlett/Williams”
  6. Pear Dwarf “Beurre Bosc”
  7. Avocado ‘Hass’
  8. Persimmon ‘Fuyu’

My good neighbour Tony once again came to the rescue with his excavator to save our poor backs on this heavy clay soil. So with holes dug, we planted the trees in mounds, staked and fenced them off individually to protect them from our rather large and intimidating neighbourhood kangaroos.

Moving the ATU blackwater reticulation to extend the lawn

Edgefield has undergone many, many design iterations and in the latest round we extended the lawn in a long triangle further up the block. (See recent post: “Guilt-free green lawn”.)

Water strategy

FINALLY, we’re making headway on our perennially perplexing water problem: how to sustain this thirsty, abundant garden we want to create into the future? We have explored ALL our options in detail:

  • Scheme water
  • ATU
  • Existing wells (2)
  • Magnetic water conditioning device
  • Rainwater tanks
  • Bore
  • Sub-surface drainage capture

To make sense of all these options, their viability and cost effectiveness, and to finally make a decision on a way forward, we engaged the services of Nigel Thompson from Earth and Water who Jeff had worked with some years ago on an eco-village project in Chidlow. He was highly knowledgeable, slightly quirky, but genuine and friendly. We discussed everything including soil, plant biology and chemistry for two hours before even heading outside. Anyone who knows me will laugh at the thought of me discussing chemistry but I actually surprised myself with how much I knew. I kept up with him on (almost) all of it!

Anyway, at the end of it he flipped over a piece of paper and in minutes scrawled a design based on average calculations of our water use and centred on using our existing two wells as our primary water source. Let’s hope they continue to recharge throughout summer! The plan goes something like this:

  • install a water conditioning device on the wells to combat the poor water quality and a submersible pump to pump to a small holding tank
  • scheme water will be used to top up the well holding tank when/if it runs dry at the end of summer (they’re currently overflowing)
  • a 30,000L steel tank for our household use/drinking
  • dripline irrigation for the intensive veggie patch, orchard and other small areas bordering the house, plus separate “germination sprinklers” on a separate station.
  • 2-3 new taps

I’d hoped the advice we’d received earlier that a bore would likely be saltier even than our wells would prove to be false, but Nigel concurred with the bore guy. No silver bullet there unfortunately. So we are now waiting for a quote from Earth and Water to implement the plan before summer hits with a vengeance! Hand watering is taking me close to an hour already and I’m doing a light job in this balmy weather.

Solar panels

We have a consultation tomorrow with Jeremy from Solargain to talk installation of solar panels on our lovely north-facing roof. While the feed-in tariffs are pretty average these days, for Jeff and I who work from home during the day while the sun shines, it makes sense as I understand it. I’m looking forward to learning more about the details and ticking another major box on our “road to sustainability” list.

I’m so excited about the progress we’ve made recently on Edgefield. It is coming together beautifully.