Friday, October 12, 2018

I do love

having frogs living in my garden. We have several frog ponds and I keep a couple of bowls filled with water in sheltered parts of the yard in the summer as well. We have several species and I don't even mind the motorbike frogs (Litoria moorei) with their chorus of  "Hello, ladies. Care to join me and make beautiful babies?" that's going on every evening.  It sounds like this and, when there are a number of males trying to entice females to lay their eggs in the ponds as there are at the moment, it can get rather noisy. When I went out last night one handsome boy was draped over the edge of one pond while another was spread out on the surface of the water while they alternately called. They must be successful in attracting mates because there have been tadpoles all year regardless of whether it was breeding season or not and much to the delight of a certain Miss Two who spends considerable time squatting at the side of the pond trying to get them to come to her.

So it's established that I like having frogs around. What isn't so much fun is where they spend their time when they're not trying to attract a mate or having a dip in a pool. I've been doing a lot of garden work lately and in the past few days I've had numerous encounters with frogs all over the yard. Bear in mind that these are quite large frogs - they commonly reach 10 cms in length - so unexpectedly coming across one can be startling to say the least. I've found them snuggled up under potted plants, in the water wells of water well pots, among plants in the garden and sunbathing around the ponds. One of the sunbathers was tiny - about the size of the first joint of my thumb  - and its time in the sun had turned it as usually happens with these frogs from dingy brown to a pretty cream, green and gold. Then there were the two who were sleeping in a large pot under a pile of smaller empty ones - I'd left them out overnight - until I started to lift the pots out to plant up some seedling tomatoes. I don't know who got the bigger fright them or me as the frogs flung themselves around trying to scale the side of a 45 cms high pot. I tipped them out but truth be told all they had to do was calm down and they'd have had no difficulty scaling the side since they can easily climb up to 2 metres - trees, shrubs, even brick walls don't daunt them. These weren't the only ones I found in unexpected places. Yesterday I picked up a cardboard carton I'd been using to carry plants around to various parts of the garden the previous day and woke another into a panicking rush for cover.

I think Pisces is getting used to my shrieks as yet another frog and I meet unintentionally. I must have been louder than usual with this morning's encounter, though, since he came running when I accidentally stepped on a frog that had settled in under a piece of old shower curtain I'd been using to protect some plants the day before. Luckily I hadn't put my full weight down so the frog escaped relatively unscathed but I wasn't as lucky as the frog since I jarred my knee trying not to hurt it.

Monday, October 01, 2018

You Want To Know How I Spent My Day?

Of course you do - or maybe not. On the off chance you do this is how it went:

After I checked my email - still not working, darn it - I went out to the garden to discover the seeds I planted a week ago are well and truly on their way. There are little curls of beans already breaking into leaf and lots of other goodies. It reminded me I need to order some mulch so I can spread it and the sheep manure that arrived a few days ago around before the seedlings are ready to put in the grounds. This addition of organic matter is essential for us to be able to grow anything much here on the coastal plain. When we first moved in there was nothing but grey sand lacking almost all essential nutrients if you wanted to grow anything but local indigenous plants. I've been piling organic matter in now for years and while it's still sandy and so not very good at retaining water - hence the need for mulch, now we have worms and other creatures that signal it is much healthier.

I love this time of year when everything seems to be rushing to grow and I've even found some 'volunteer' tomatoes where I dug in some compost ten days ago. We don't have a freezing winter here so there are always veggies to pick and flowers to brighten your day. When it hits late August things really get going. The wildflowers - and we have glorious displays of these - burst into bloom, ranging from great carpets of colour to delicate orchids hiding away in the bush and they are a great tourist attraction. In a couple of weeks we'll be visiting family a bit north of here and on a visit at the same time last year the blue leschenaultia - one of our most stunning flowers - was everywhere painting the roadside verges a vivid blue. I've been trying to grow it in my garden for ages but it prefers the gravelly soils of the hills to our depleted, limey sand here near the beach.

You're probably wondering what any of this has to do with how I am spending my day.  Well, I've been investigating the Bokashi composting method. I already have compost bins and a worm farm which help a lot in enriching the soil and anything I can find is composted or fed to the worms but there are still things that don't work for those methods. For instance ideally you shouldn't compost citrus or onion or feed them to the worms which do not like them one bit and dairy, meat scraps (not that we have any of these) and bones are not compostable. The appeal of the Bokashi system - which I remember vaguely hearing about a while back - is that it will take and compost all this kitchen waste and more. So when Virgo mentioned she had invested in a Bokashi bin and how well it was working I was tempted.

The thing that put me off was that you have to use a special activator and I wasn't keen on having to regularly pay out to make compost. So that's what I was doing the research about and it turns out you can make your own activator. Yes! But, oh, most of the methods were extremely vague, made huge amounts that I wouldn't be able to store or were very complicated. I delved deeper and now I'm very happy to find a simpler method which will let me make my own activator. There are a number of bins available on the market - or you can make your own. Nope, not doing that. I'm more than happy to leave those sort of activities to people who actually know what they're doing instead of cobbling together something that in all probability won't work as well. So the next step is to get my activator ready - it takes a few weeks with a number of steps none of which are very time consuming and some periods of letting things ferment. Then I'll invest in a bin. I'll let you know what happens.