When we moved into our rental property, there was a big section up the back of the yard that was full of knee-high weeds. It didn’t look pretty. But it looked better then than it does now! Before we knew it, the weeds had just about taken over the back section of the yard and grown to be taller than me!!! (And I’m not short LOL). Mate, it was a jungle out there! And VERY overwhelming.

One day my good friend Melissa came and we got started on mission-weed-destroy! We removed the weeds from along the garage wall, and to our dismay discovered that underneath them were massive root systems – basically, they were tree trunks sawn off just above ground level! It seemed our problem was even bigger than we’d at first thought! I have to admit I felt pretty disheartened. And more so when all the weeds grew back again! (I won’t forget how sore my arms were after the day of hacking into the weeds, and it was pretty annoying that it was all for nothing!)

My mission then became about finding out what the weeds actually were and how to get rid of them. I really didn’t want to have to use poison, especially because we plan to grow food on this land, and also just because I like to do things a la naturally, as much as possible.

After much internet research I discovered that the weeds are a category 3 noxious weed called Green Cestrum which grows as high as 3 foot. It spreads most rapidly during spring (when we moved in) and also spreads more if the trunk is chopped down but not fully removed or poisoned. The previous owners had obviously chopped down quite a few of these bushes/trees, which has actually made the problem worse. Bummer!

Anyway, our lovely landlord, James, ended up offering to join us in a working bee, so yesterday was the day we donned out workboots and got stuck into it (AGAIN!). This time we managed to remove 3 entire root systems as well as a whole bunch of the spreading weeds. We’ve really only just begun, but at least we know how to tackle it now!

Here’s a small section of the yard, showing some of the weed spread and a small section that’s been cleared
Here’s a small section of the yard, showing some of the weed spread and a small section that’s been cleared
Here’s one of the exposed root systems – well, part of it!
Here’s one of the exposed root systems – well, part of it!
Gone! Woo Hoo!
Gone! Woo Hoo!
Look at some of the nasty buggers we pulled out. Bigger than your average bindii, hey!
Look at some of the nasty buggers we pulled out. Bigger than your average bindii, hey!

It was an AWESOME feeling to get that huge patch cleared (see the first picture!)

Post Script: We actually ended up leaving two plants & their runners because we ran out of time, and they are beginning to spread again! Grrrr…… Apparently the previous residents chopped some of the plants down but didn’t remove the root systems, so they’ve just spread like wildfire and we’re still trying to get on top of it!

It’s often the things we try to forget about or cover up that do the most damage.

Garden Surprises!

Our little passionfruit plant looked a bit sad for a while there, but seems to be doing ok now, in spite of a lack of attention! Meanwhile, I thought I’d tell you that a little while ago we found what appears to be figs growing on what appears to be a fig tree! They look and smell like figs; let’s hope when they’re ripe that they taste like figs too! I think a fig feast will be in order, and we might need some friends to help us eat them, cuz there are SO many!

Today I also found another surprise treasure growing in a pot of lovely compost given to us by our good friends, Tim & Ruth Schloss. As you can see, the tomato plant we’d planted in the compost is dead (whoops) but look what IS growing!


If you can identify it, let me know! To me, the most novice of all gardeners, it looks perhaps like some kind of climbing bean or pea? It definitely has tendrils, and a cute little yellow flower that I hope will grow into something edible! I love the way that learning often happens in surprising ways and surprising places!

Backyard Wasteland to Edible Food Garden

We recently had to move house (for the 3rd time in 2 and a half years) because (again) our landlord sold our house. This time we’re in a long-term rental with a wonderful landlord who actually (believe it or not!) wants us to use the yard for chooks, vegies etc. Yes, that’s right: he WANTS us to! This is a dream come true for us, because we’ve wanted to do something like this for SO long, but it’s usually difficult, if not impossible, when renting.

The challenge is that the backyard currently has a massively overgrown weed problem, coupled with plain grass on top of hard dirt! The weed problem has been overwhelming & getting us down a bit, and as we’ve started to get rid of them we’ve discovered an even bigger problem: huge root systems (as in, TRUNKS!) that we’re going to need to get rid of too!

Whilst feeling overwhelmed and disheartened about that, we figured it might help if we actually PLANTED something! So today we did it. We planted a passionfruit vine!! We chose the one part of the yard where there actually ISN’T weeds, which made it heaps easier.

It took me so long to work out the best way of doing that (and in the end we’ve pretty much just bunged it in), that I’m a bit worried how long it’s going to take us to do the rest LOL! I tend to read LOTS and plan LOTS and actually DO…. little. My ideas and planning can paralyze me. I tend to spend so much time planning and learning, that I hold back from actually “doing”.

So yeah, it’s going to be a huge learning curve for all of us. But fun along the journey too, I hope. And in the end?  Well, you never know, we just might end up with some food to eat! 🙂

Digging the hole for the passionfruit, capably supervised by big brother. Actually, to be honest, he also did some of the digging. :)
Digging the hole for the passionfruit, capably supervised by big brother. Actually, to be honest, he also did some of the digging. 🙂
I really don’t have a green thumb. See! Even my gardening gloves are brown. So let’s hope this plant thrives! At least Molly’s thumbs appear to be green!
Done! See, it really wasn't that hard after all!
Done! See, it really wasn’t that hard after all!

The Channel 10 News

Declan’s been having lots of fun with the camera today, and it developed into an idea of him being a news reporter that mysteriously disappears while filming the news. I found him, with the camera set up and recording. He was “everything”: the camera man, the news reporter and the editor. We all ended up getting involved (well, everyone except Geoff, who is at work, and Travis, who is, as usual, at the beach). Brady masterfully helped develop the script to include himself and Molly and I got the job of doing the filming. (Molly even decided to wear a dress and have her hair and make up done, as part of being a “Channel 10 News Reporter”!) After a few funny attempts, this is the end result. (For what it’s worth, Molly gets the “most improved” award for the contrast between her first attempt, which included a very delayed entry of her only line and off-stage giggles during the fight scene, through to a very “polished” performance.) Look out Channel 10, your replacements are on their way! And look out Declan, the Mysterious Masked Man is on his way too!


Self-Initiated Science Fun

Just when I was getting worried about D & M’s love of all things “computer” and their seeming disinterest in other activities, they’ve surprised me today by initiating some fun science stuff all on their own, and independently of each other.

D decided to turn an unused desk in his room into his very own, personalised “science desk”, complete with some science kits, science books, a “sign” and all. All he says he needs now is a bin for his rubbish! When I went down there to check it out, he was reading a science book to M. I’ve attached some photos (hopefully – I’m such a notice at this!).


Miss M, who was drinking a cup of “tea” (milk, sugar & hot water) wanted to insulate the drink as per an activity she’d seen on the brilliant TV show, “Backyard Science”. She remembered just how to do it, with a ziplock bag (except she called it one of those “zippy” plastic bags) and some foil (aka “shiny silver paper”). I took it a step further by suggesting a second cup non-insulated, to compare the two. It was so much fun, but hard to get them both started off at the same temp. They both started off at 50 deg cel, and after 24 minutes, the non-insulated cup dropped by 16 deg to 34 deg, and the insulated cup dropped by only 8 deg, to 42 deg. Cool, huh! Guess which one she chose to drink?

Well, whilst typing this blog, D’s now also created some yummy chocolate moulds using some carob buttons (unsweetened – hmmmm?) that he found in the pantry, some sugar, golden syrup, milk, rice bubbles & almond slivers. He loves to “make up his own recipe”, always preferring the challenge to create something original for him, rather than just follow instructions. Of course, this doesn’t translate into other areas of his life at all – NOT!! 🙂

……… And it continues…….. M has just created her own “cake” – well, I THINK it’s a cake. She’s actually not sure herself. She just keeps saying “I don’t know WHAT it is, really!” Anyway, it’s about to go in the oven so let’s see…….. Now D & M are outside playing with bicarb and vinegar. Fun, fun, fun! Busy, busy, busy! Mess, mess, mess! 🙂

B is sick at the mo, so hasn’t got much energy, but he’s still managing to download some tab sheets for songs he wants to learn on the guitar. He’s currently in computer land, headphones on, guitar going……. As for T? Well, he’s hoping to get down to Dick Smith to buy some dubbing software so he can mute out some swear words from some of his favourite songs so we can listen to them in the car. It’s so much fun having such a broad range of ages in the fam!

(Oh, for what it’s worth the “chocolates” (it sounds silly to call them “carobs”) turned out pretty well. They’re soft because of the added liquid ingredients, but they taste good! Not too sweet, but nice. T & B haven’t plucked up the courage to try them yet! 🙂