30 May 2016

May 2016 - lots of hard work

This month has been very busy, and we have been working hard. Aside from the usual - work, walking the dog, hobbies, small amount of social life, we have been making plans and working on the land. The house is due to arrive in August, and before that we need to get our earthworks done, but we can't book that until the resource consent comes through. That should be quite soon though. Until then, we are working on the triangle of land that is furthest away from the house site. At first it seemed like an impenetrable mass of bush, with a steep, bumpy slope all covered in weeds. However, we soon found that the bumpy slope was actually a steep bank, where the previous owners had tossed all the green waste the last time that the land was worked on, leaving piles of tree branches with weeds and vines climbing over them. The impenetrable mass of bush was actually just a few trees, covered with a strangling vine. Here's the before shots:

This area is going to become my vegetable garden, and there's a lot more space there than we thought, now that we've cleared most the rubbish away. The neighbours have been dumping their compost down there for the past 15 years or so (the pile of brown stick-looking things is leaves from their banana tree) and they also had a pumpkin patch in that cleared area just this last autumn! The pumpkin patch was gone by the time we bought the property officially, but do you think they took all the vines away to their own compost pile? They most certainly didn't! The first fence that is going up will be on that border, because with the clearing done their yard is right there, and we want some boundaries. Plus, the lady reckons she's scared of dogs and Cher can't tell the difference between our land and theirs. The problem with putting up a fence is that they clearly don't realise where the boundary actually is, and our fence will cut across 'their' grass and the area where they let visitors park their cars. So that will be a very delicate conversation. We'll probably get on to it quite soon, before the house arrives, and just get it over and done with.

Now here are some after pictures. It looks sort of messy because removing all of the vine took away some of the branches and foliage of the trees (but most of the green in the images above is the vine). We also removed a sycamore. Now you can see that there is actually a lot of space under the trees there. The post with the mailboxes will have to move, otherwise it will be behind our fence. The sign for the construction company also has to go, we're not providing free advertising space for the neighbour's business!

So in the group of photos above you are looking down the bank that is shown on the left of the below photo. Now here we are looking from one end to the other, and you can see through the trees at the end to the street (so looking back to where the mailboxes above are sitting). We couldn't show a before shot of this view because all you could have seen was weeds and gorse. It looks quite messy, we have a long way to go. A retaining wall will tidy up the bank on the left, and the flat area below that will be garden beds for vegetables. Dividing our section from the neighbour's will be a tall trellis for beans and peas (in addition to the boundary fence that is). Under the trees will be the chicken house and run. And where I'm standing with the camera, and to the right of me, is a sunny spot where we can plant some fruit trees and maybe have a small glasshouse.

This weekend I'll take a couple of photos of the ever-growing pile of garden waste. We will have to hire a mulcher, there is too much of it to get rid of. We will finish clearing the spot above, it needs raking out. Above (to the left) is some very lumpy ground where all the dirt from the original excavation was dumped. We plan to smooth it out and add our own fill to it, from our site scrape, then plant grass. Hopefully within a month or so you will be able to see the shape of this garden area taking shape.

Now we have begun to tackle the other side, as we might as well get together as much as we can before we hire a mulcher. Up top there is another pile of branches that have just been dumped - only part of it is on our property but we'll have to move it all so that we can plant a hedge or something there. There is also a fair bit of gorse around the edges of our native bush area, below where the house will be. We've cut down some and planted a tree, and we'll get rid of a bit more just because we can really, and so that we have easier access to the patch of natives. There is a lot of just one type of exotic tree growing amongst the natives, I don't know what it is but I think I only want one example of that, so all the rest can go and be replaced. Slowly though, trees are expensive. 

Next month I will post photos of the other side, and point out what we will plant where, and how we will change the shape of the bank eventually. And just so you know, it is not just one neighbour that we are complaining about here, it is three different neighbours. One has not spoken to us yet. One has a construction company - and their sign is on our property, along with a pile of bricks that they best move real soon, or we will use them. And both these two have their mail boxes on our property. The last is the one that has been using our property as their compost bin, and whose yard crosses onto our section, and who is afraid of dogs. So it will be a delicate transition for us, so as not to really piss everyone off before moving in!

And as a parting shot, here is a picture of some cool slugs we found:

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