Life at the Smith house keeps bumbling along in traditional Smith fashion. You never know what each day will bring, to be truly honest. Jacob is back from his surfing road-trip with a cold and tales of peanut-butter sandwiches by the sunset. Sara and Harlen can reliably be found whipping up red velvet cupcakes and profiteroles, teaching me cooking jargon like ‘quenelle’, or drinking copious mugs of tea. Maiya survived her week at Schoolies, with the only casualty being her stolen iPhone. Kate and Joel discovered that it is possible to buy a kilogram wheel of Brie at Woolies, and assembled the largest cheese-board known to man, accompanied by several bottles of Lambrusco. Dad brought home an inverter, a contraption that literally flips you upside down and terrifies onlookers in its similarity to a medieval instrument of torture (but is actually quite good fun, though its primary function remains unclear). Family games of ‘Risk’ extend long into the night amid raising tensions, while the weekly screening of ‘Grand Designs Australia’ continues to draw big Smith audiences. It’s great to be home.
To top it all off, time just seems to be accelerating towards Christmas. I can’t believe I’ve been home for a month already and that 2013 is winding to its conclusion.
Work in the vegetable garden is slowly coming together. The resident weeds have been evicted, and the beds are prepared and ready. Two beds are already host to newborn greens. The seed trays are swarming with tomato, pak choy, eggplant and capsicum seedlings, nearly old enough to enter the vegetable garden pre-school. On the slope, the zucchinis have shot into gangly teenage-hood while their neighbouring pumpkins, rockmelons and watermelons endeavour to catch up. Interspersed between these sprawling vines, we’ve just planted about 30 sweet corn seeds, which will eventually be able to sway over the tangled profusion below.
Poised on the cliff edge, the vegetable garden can easily become overwhelmed by the surrounding bush. The next stage in the rejuvenation of the garden was to mulch the paths between the raised beds and clear around the perimeter fence. Thus this past week and a bit has seen me carting wheelbarrow-loads of freshly delivered sawdust (from our local mill) down to the vegetable garden. First though, comes a thick layer of sturdy cardboard to suffocate any weeds. The garden is literally built on the excess packaging that comes with pretty much every product on the market today (from appliances to pizza boxes). Mum and I saved cardboard from mail packaging, the school canteen deliveries of packaged food and drinks, my sister’s job at the local pizza joint and everything in between. It was strangely satisfying to recycle all this packaging in the garden. Pouring sawdust over the top to make a swirling mix of ochre, umber and reds just seemed right.
The result – the vegetable garden looks more organised and under control. It just needs more tasty tenants, which is next on the agenda as our seedlings mature.
|Laying the cardboard and mulch layers.|
|A work in progress.|
|The finished product.|
|The mulched vegetable garden.|
Work has also begun on the back slope leading down to the vegetable garden. It’s currently a riot of tall grass, weeds, and some poor islands of geraniums and daisies battling against the onslaught. Eventually, the plan is to put in a deck extending from the pergola and barbecue. In the meantime, I’m getting stuck in clearing the slope, rescuing the stranded plants and giving them new homes in the garden, and carting in some fresh mulch. It’s going to look fantastic, even without the deck. I’ve got a bit of a self-imposed deadline, too. It’s Kate’s 21st on the 15th December and she’s having a party in the back garden, complete with marquee. I’ve decided to get the garden looking as good as possible before the big day. Dad’s already bought a magnum of champagne in preparation. I bet Joel’s already stockpiling the kilogram wheels of brie after being outvoted on his original idea of a whole pig on a spit.
|The back slope: a weedy wilderness.|