Tag Archives: planting

Adding an Olive Grove

olive-grove-6A milestone birthday saw the gift of 6 olive trees to be planted at the retreat. Two of one variety and four of another. In my enthusiasm, I have left the labels in the shed, so am not sure about the actual variety.  I have been assured that there is a difference between table olives and oil olives. Either way, I’m sure I’m going to learn how to work with the crop. (Update:  they are Kalamata and Lecchino)

Presently there are plenty of flower buds on 3 of the trees.  Apparently the olives are too bitter for birds to be attracted to them, but I have observed a olive-grove-5large flock of cockatoos in the olive plantation down the road, so if I’m serious about getting a crop, I’m going to have to net them.

With the heavy clay soil waterlogged at times, I decided to work on the soil and wait for better weather before planting them out.  After the holes were dug, a liberal application of gypsum was applied and dug into the clay. Previous applications have worked well in conditioning the soil along the lines that mark the labyrinth.

Each visit since June, the soil has been turned over and the holes re-dug, partly to aerate them and partly to allow the winter rains to reach deeper into the soil and to get the gypsum to mix in with the clay.   With a revitalized Oak tree at the entrance to the labyrinth & possibly another acorn germinating at the northern edge, I decided to put the olive trees about olive-grove-7a metre out from the labyrinth, spacing them out…3 on each side, resulting in approximately 5 metres between each tree. That should give them adequate space to thrive.  The soil on the Eastern side is quite poor and very hard to dig as it is heading toward a section of the hill that has quite a bit of scoria, and I’m hoping that the addition of the gypsum and compost will be adequate.

The composting process has been improved and composted buckets have been transferred to a large compost bin and topped up with extra sawdust. Some early warm spring days have resulted in some good quality soil. This was well mixed into the previously dug holes and the trees planted. olive-grove-4

John, our friendly neighbour, advised that wallabies are partial to olives, so some sturdy wire was purchased and the trees surrounded by this. Also taller stakes were used as I have observed the kangaroos using the stakes around the oak trees as chin scratching poles!

Planting done…..an appropriate addition to the 7 ring Cretan labyrinth and I’m hoping that the energy of the labyrinth will help to nurture these Olive trees.….

One day, far into the future, long after the labyrinth path has subsided back into the paddock there will  be a small olive grove…..



Autumn Planting

first of the home grown oaksProbably not the best time of year to start planting, but on advice from a friend that is wise about these matters, I put in the first of the home grown oak trees just after the first Autumn Full Moon.

The soil was just a shade softer than concrete. It’s a heavy clay and as the summer sun has dried out the moisture and the grass has died back and gone crispy and crunchy underfoot, a pick was required to loosen the soil.  After digging just four holes, I was dreaming of a mechanical auger to do the holes for the next 10 or so trees that are waiting to be planted out, until I read the reviews on several sites and forums.

The first of the composted toilet bins has gone beyond 12 months of “cooking” in the sun, so once a deepish hole (around 500mm) was dug,  half a bucket was tipped into each oak tree hole and mixed with the soil to help with drainage and feed the trees. Surprisingly, there was very little odour, so I assume that the composting has been successful.

the first of the pomegranate treesStakes and tree guards were put around the two Oak trees and the two Pomegranate trees that were planted and watered in well. Another acorn was planted directly into the ground next to the passionfruit vine which on this visit was looking decidedly unwell. I had planned to move it to a less sunny spot as “full sun” up here is equivalent to baking and crisping!

Having discovered that a reasonably liberal sprinkling of gypsum throughout the labyrinth has made the soil there a little easier to dig, I will take up a couple of bags on the next visit to apply before putting in the next trees and see if it works it magic again.

The driveway has a collection or avenue of native trees such as wattles, eucalyptus and pinwheel hakeas as one heads up from the roadway towards the cottage and shed. Most of the property was pasture at some stage, with a remnant stand of Bull Mallee trees at the high point and some tall eucalyptus trees on the lower slopes, which I usually refer to as the  “wild area”.  One can choose to continue driving along the fence line or turn east along the edge of the “wild area” towards the astronomy dome which sits like a lonely Dalek in the paddock.  It is along this area that I will create (if nature and the wildlife allow) a deciduous avenue of oak trees -perhaps in the future they will become the backdrop to a garden of a house yet to be dreamed of, let alone built. Planning the future plantings and ensuring a good water supply for the cottage, the labyrinth and the trees changes as the land reveals itself takes time and careful consideration.

Orbs like the oak tree plantingEach trip has different highlights. Often it is to note the changes of season, or to walk the labyrinth or to roam the property and catch the energy of the land. Nights are interesting, even though I have vivid dreams in the city, the dreams here are lucid and have characters who seem to have stepped out of a time long gone. Another friend who is a gifted psychic, has suggested I’m picking up on the energy of the goldrush days and the colourful characters that roamed this area back then.  Whatever it is, I’m quite happy to go with the flow and enjoy the peaceful environment and work on restoring the land gradually and along permaculture principles.

Wintry Weather

winter temperatureWinter has definitely set in up at the retreat.

The purpose of the trip was to make sure that there had been no storm damage or trees blown over in the last couple of weeks. We always seem to bring the rain with us – even in summertime – although it was mostly showers, which meant we could get out for walks.

This means mud inside the cottage and the next priority is to pave an area near the door and put a verandah up so that boots can be taken off and left outside.

Not being a huge cottage – it’s 6 metres by 6 metres – there is not a lot of floor space to have to wash, but after this trip I have decided to wash it on arrival instead of on departure;  as I’m wondering if leaving the damp floor to dry in our absence is what is causing the condensation overnight.

Friday night was a chilly 3’C outside and although there is a small wall heater in the cottage and we had a nice fire outside, it was bedtime by 8.15pm  as that was the warmest place! Saturday wasn’t too bad as the rain clouds kept the chill away, but Sunday morning was clear, bright  and brisk. Inside the cottage humidity rose to 90% and we opened up the doors and windows to air out the place…… equilibrium was reached just after midday with the temperature rising to 11.3!!

The pace of this visit was somewhat slower than before as I was finishing with a bout of the flu and the paddocks were too wet to take the tractor into. A little yabbie fishing – only small ones, which were returned – from the bottom dam…. which was surprising, although the neighbour did let us know that  he often saw people jumping the fence and putting nets in there.  A couple of larger  ones from the top dam provided an entree for Saturday night’s dinner. On a side trip to Echuca on Saturday, I saw a resin crocodile head that floats and thought that would make an interesting visual for the bottom dam – especially if it it didn’t float away down the overflow!!

Pinwheel hakeaA Pinwheel Hakea decided to turn up its toes on Saturday afternoon which was a shame as it was a good size tree. I have harvested a few seed pods and we already have 4 seedlings growing as an experiment. Pinwheel Hakea blossom

When it browns off, I will drag it to a small pile where 2 others are and burn it. Apparently the seeds only germinate with bushfire smoke and it will be interesting to see if this creates a small colony of hakea seedlings! Saturday also saw the planting of a passionfruit vine along the home paddock fence. The first of the composting toilet buckets was tipped into a very large hole and the vine duly planted on top. I think we may have to wait a bit longer for the other buckets to be used, although perhaps the holes can be dug for the proposed fruit trees whilst the soil is damp and easier to get through…. I’m also wondering if the composting process wouldn’t be quicker in the ground…..

On Sunday, a few of the wattles lining the driveway had branches broken off, presumably by some over excited kangaroos on their way through … I was fortunate to be standing quite still (I was checking my step tracker app) when 3 large roos bounded past within a metre of me. I don’t know who was more surprised ….!!  A walk around the perimeter of the retreat is about 2500 steps, not accurate as I got sidetracked going back to look at a couple of things and made a small detour here and there.

The main water tank retank leakmains a problem… there are several leaks which seem to be made worse by the increased pressure as it fills….The small tank next to the cottage only holds 500 litres and is filled quite quickly. To prevent damage from the overflow, it is regularly emptied into the big tank which would hold an estimated 40,000 litres when full. At present it is still only half full even though we have had some good rains.

The recent visitors helped to paint on a compound which is supposed to react witTank leakh the water and create crystals in the cracks to seal the leaks, but it is only partially successful so far.

At one stage there was a significant leak and a patch of tractor tube, wood and held in with a fencing post sufficed until underwater cement from mending the pool tiles at home was applied.

Fingers croOrb in labyrinthssed that the repairs can continue successfully – otherwise it will mean a new tank as this is the main water supply for the retreat.

The labyrinth was walked … the sage and the lavender continue to stay green and not nibbled by animals. The wattle trees inside the path are just about to bloom and will add to the ambiance…..

I didn’t have the energy this trip to re-define the pathway. Tiny toadstools

Just to the north of it lies what I call the “wild area”.. fenced off, it has a stand of tall gums, but mostly bush mallee and rocks.  I discovered a mossy “pathway” and thought immediately of faeries and the like….