Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Our Backyard

  Most of our backyard has been taken up with fruit trees, vegetable beds and herbs.  However, at the back fence an area roughly 10 metres by 3 metres has been occupied by what I would describe as a woody shrub gone berserk.  It was about 7 metres tall!  As the thin branches near the ground fell over they would take root and expand the whole thing.  I had a path on the lower side of the bottom vegetable bed, but the growth caused by rain for the last six months has made the path inaccessible.
  We eventually realised that pruning the growth would be a huge job, and would come back to haunt us every year from now on, and therefore the whole lot should be removed and better use made of the thirty square metres.
  This is what it looked like:                     (click to enlarge)

  You can see a "cave" behind the bare plum tree which is silhouetted in its darkness.  I cut this out to see where the back fence was and determine if a couple of family working bees could handle the whole job.  There was no back fence!  It had been destroyed by the growth!  The amount of mulching would be far beyond what my little electric mulcher could handle in six months.  We therefore rang around to get quotes, consulted the neighbours, and organised for the "Tree Musketeers" (there were four of them) to do the job.
  When they finished the view was still similar because they only cleared to the fence line and much of the growth was in the neighbour's yard.  The neighbour, Lee, is in a nursing home after breaking her hip and the house is empty, but Doortje negotiated with her carer and Lee agreed to get her portion of the growth removed, and we would organise the new fence.
  Once the growth was removed (to "ground level"), we still had to have a working bee to grub out the stumps along the fence line to keep the fencer happy.

It now looks like this:                                (click to enlarge)

  To compare photos, the olive tree on the left and the lemon tree on the far right are visible in both photos.  The piles of rubbish are the result of herculean effort by Daniel, Monika, Helmy and Perran.  The whole yard up to the bottom of the deck has been in shadow during the winter, but is now open to the sun, and although the new fence will cast a shadow, it's certainly a great improvement.
  The plan now is to build a chook yard in the available space, which will mean no/low maintenance for the area, fresh eggs, and manure for the compost bins.
  I'll update this post as the work progresses.

Update 15/8/11

The back fence is built and the chookyard is nearly complete.  It now looks like this:

The chookyard measures 2.9 metres from front to back - effectively the depth that we gained by removing the old growth.  The lemon tree has now been pruned and has room to grow, and we've added a nectarine tree and an apricot/plum cross in the space between the chookhouse and the olive tree.  This will soon be all chook yard.

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