Friday, May 28, 2010

Grapevines: Some new residents

We have been debating the appropriateness of planting some grapevines given they seem to be fonder of cooler climes, but having visited some local properties where grapevines are abundant we are sold on the idea of at least trying them out.

We are lucky to have a large fencespace at the back of the pool which faces North and has plastic wire all over it. Full sun and well drained soil is prime real estate for our Vitis friends.

We have two variety of grapes. A Menindee Seedless (bottom) and a Black Muscat (top). They are both delicious grape varieties. The vines are deciduous, don't like to be over fertilised (apparently promotes leaf growth over fruit growth) and appreciate a good cut back in Winter when they go dormant.

Grapes are a very versatile food source and can be eaten raw, jammed, juiced and jellied or turned into vinegar or wine or dried out into Sultanas (Raisins).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Paw Paw Trees: Something Rotten

On the right is our oldest Paw Paw tree. It is now about 2 years old and for the last 12 months has had some sort of creeping rot on its trunk. We know they don't like wet feet so have been careful not to over water it. We think it may be root rot which occurs if it does get too wet and is not in well drained soil but even laying off watering it completely hasn't seemed to help.

It will be interesting to see if the new Paw Paw planted in the same garden has the same problems and others planted elsewhere don't. It might be an acidic soil issue. The investigations continue...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Passionfruit Vines: Happy Campers

The passionfruit vines are going great guns and are covering the chook pen fences nicely which has the extra benefit of giving the hens extra shade during the day which they are taking advantage of.

We have had to move one of the passionfruit vines (bottom picture) to the other side of the chookpen (the one that was growing up the potting shed (next to the Banana)) to make way for the new Paw Paw Trees. It appears to have survived the transplant though has shed a number of its longer vines to do so.

The vine on the end of the chook pen (middle picture) has fruits the size of double golf balls already so we are expecting a bumper harvest.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Chickens: Mystery Solved

Well the mystery of the disappearing eggs has been solved! And we owe an apology to the reptile kingdom we naively pointed the finger at. It was an avian menace in the end. Two great black crows that were spotted in a tense scuffle with the chickens before smashing one egg and flying off with another. This may also explain the loss of feathers on a couple of the chickens as well.

Enter modern technology. I recalled reading some time ago that one way to help keep away predatory birds from your young chicks was to nail CDs, shiny side up, on the top of the chicken fence and hang them in any high set entry points. This was more aimed at hawks and falcons but I was sure the same technique would deal with thieving crows.

5 days since the installation of the wizzbang though sometime unaesthetic CD curtain and all eggs remain in the nest, the chooks look more relaxed and serenity appears to have returned to fowl central.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Paw Paw Trees: New Homes

We have planted out our four new Paw Paw Trees. Two are next to the potting shed (next to the Banana Tree, One is inside the chook pen (wired off from pecking beaks) and one is up in the garden next to the original Paw Paw Tree.

The original tree has some worrying problem at the base of it's trunk which seems to be eating out the middle of the tree (looks like some sort of mould). I will take some photos and post about it soon.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wildlife: Eastern Water Dragon

The boys found this juvenile Eastern Water Dragon which is a kind of Bearded Dragon which is pretty prevalent around South East Queensland.

"The eastern water dragon grows to around 80-90cm in length, much of which is tail. The colour consists of shades of grey or brown with a series of black bands on the back and tail and a black stripe on the side of the head behind the eye. The underside is creamy-white, although males may have a vivid red on some or most of the belly and chest. There are enlarged scales forming a crest down the middle of the head, back and tail. The legs are relatively long and powerful and the strong tail is flattened on the sides to assist with swimming.

Did You Know? Male water dragons will sometimes fight each other for territories. Such battles can become quite severe with the two combatants standing on their hind legs in an attempt to push the other over on to its back.

Habitat: The eastern water dragon inhabits the coastal water courses of eastern Australia from northern Queensland to Gippsland in eastern Victoria. It is a good tree climber and likes to laze on branches overhanging the water. If disturbed it will drop into the water and swim to the bottom to wait for the danger to pass, staying under for up to 30 minutes if necessary.

Diet: The diet mainly comprises small reptiles, worms, frogs, insects, vegetation, fruit, small mammals and molluscs.

Reproduction: Males defend a territory and a harem of females, carrying out an impressive series of head bobs and arm waves to discourage other intruding males. The females lay around a dozen eggs in an excavated hole in sandy soil above the floodline. These will hatch in approximately three months. The young are miniature replicas of the adults and are able to fend for themselves as soon as they hatch." - Source Site