Thursday, 16 November 2017

The best use for newspapers

Work in the garden continues - fortunately I have the lovely Kay who is a champion weed remover and who appears to be able to bend and crouch happily for a couple of hours at a time.

She has made great strides in clearing much of the rampant spring growth - she is certainly much faster and more decisive than me, that is for sure.

Her coaching was that if I wanted not to be paying her to come a re-do the job constantly (the growing season in Waikanae ceases for a 5 minute period on 32nd July ...), I needed to mulch bigly. She added to that coaching that newspaper below the mulch suppresses weed growth. So a call went out for newspapers - David and I don't buy them anymore as we can adequately depress ourselves by using our internet access to read how the world is going to hell in a handbasket - why get the hardcopy version of the same good mood suppressants?

So Bruce and Gary, as purchasers of a daily newspaper, have been co-opted into saving theirs for us; and Kay has re-activated her newspaper collection from friends to be re-purposed at Cafe Rata. She also brought a large stack of A4 papers she was about to put in the recycling.

I already have a large stack of mulch out in the driveway - such a stack that I have needed to reverse the car from the road into the garage as I currently don't have the space to turn in front of the garage.

So work has commenced. First I place some paper, and if it is a bit breezy, I wet the paper with the hose to lessen the chances of it blowing away. I then plonk buckets of mulch on it from the wheelbarrow which I have pre-loaded. Pause, stretch the back and repeat x lots.

It all looks rather lovely.
The beginnings of the newspaper and mulching.
And more mulching ... See the lovely clear mowing strip?
Well, it did, until the pesky blackbirds and thrushes came along scratching and flicking in their greed to find bugs, beetles, worms. I am amazed at how strong their flicks are - a bit like kicks and flicks in the jive: I am sure that contestants on Strictly Come Dancing could learn a thing or two!

I started writing this a week or so ago and then got distracted.  But I am back now.

The sight of mulch spread randomly over the brick mowing strip and the lawn was driving me nuts so I went off to buy some garden edging for Rob and me to install. It is about 150mm high (6" to people in the UK and US - isn't it ironic that the US is so wedded to imperial measurement ...👍😜)

It was a two person job - I made a cut with the spade, Rob cleared out that channel and inserted the edging and I collected buckets of potting mix to ram down and keep it firmly ensconced. There was a slight difficulty as the bricks have concrete behind them, so the edging is not right next to them. That required the purchase and planting of small seedlings to soften the line and cover the dirt that is in front. OK, so now the thrushes and blackbirds can continue to rootle around in the mulch and I won't have to go out and clean up after them all the time.
There are pansies, alyssum and a couple of other types of small plants (names unknown to me) in there now. The rooster is one of several china birds protecting the base of the lemon tree from marauding thrushes and blackbirds ... I have several white teapots that I may paint eyes on to exacerbate the scare tactics ...

It was such a successful technique that I have replicated it along the driveway garden - that one I was able to do myself as the concrete was straight-edged - it had been boxed on construction. That one too is looking great, so the last one to be done is the strip of garden along the back of the house - the birds just love it there as they can rootle around in the shade and find shade-loving bugs. And of course such bugs aren't on the surface and need to be excavated for ...😟😡

Needs a sweep, but you get the idea. More daisies and osteospermums are required so I am transplanting a couple of the latter from another part of the garden where they aren't so spectacular, and I have about 7 daisy cuttings on the windowsill in the kitchen working hard to develop roots! In the garden in front of the fence are the cosmos which are the result of two seasons' seeding from wildflowers sown back in 2015 - a few cornflowers also come through, but the cosmos are the most hardily evolved as repeaters!
The newspaper and mulching are on a temporary halt at the moment - my back is getting sore from all the bending. And I've been doing planting as well, so something had to give. But the good news is that the heap has reduced to the extent that I can now reverse the car out of the garage and turn to head out and away for shopping/breakfast/shopping/visiting ...

David is being called in to assist with news-mulching - he doesn't like gardening but is happy to help with tasks that don't require him to differentiate between weeds and plants, as well as those that don't require him to watch where he puts his feet! He's been clearing the area below our cabbage trees just off the driveway - Rob had used it as a bit of a dumping ground for garden detritus when the bin and bags were full; and the arum lilies we discarded thought they were being relocated and sprouted like mad things, dammit. David's done a sterling job - digging the area over and sifting the soil to remove any pesky lily roots and corms (right word?) We are going to add 80 litres of potting mix and some horse-poo tea to the sifted soil as it looks fairly lifeless to me, then I will sprinkle seeds over it and hopefully, in a few weeks it'll be hey presto - wildflowers!!

David's pile of sifted dirt with potting mix at the ready. The horse-poo tea is in a bucket in the shed - keeping away from the flies. Under that slab of concrete there is probably a water bore - we could get it operational again, but it would require plenty of money and digging and the latter would put the cabbage trees at risk. We'll just have to keep using town supply for watering the garden.

Caitlin's rose - looks and smells beautiful. It always flowers at this time of the year - tomorrow is the ninth anniversary of her death, and I will have some of the roses inside.


Catherine VK4GH said...

How many layers of newspapers were recommended as a mulch layer? (gardening blog 6 months, canal boat blog 6 months)

Marilyn McDonald said...

Hi Catherine,
Kay says about 4-5 layers.
Cheers, M

Carol said...

Your garden looks great Marilyn. I do like cosmos, osteospernams and roses and would like to see a picture of your cabbage trees, they sound 'interesting'!