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I did use the cactus as much -- see image here -- and have since planted climbers and nasturtiums among the stems.
Since I spent a good couple of days messing about outback, I'm a bit overwhelmed by the verdancy. This here patch has a mind of its collective own.
I am also adding more containers with different plants as an experiment in possibilities. Since I can dig up and blend my own potting mix -- I am more confident dealing with what was for me the conundrum of container gardening.
Indeed, despite these tweaks, I have seedlings coming on but not enough vacant space available to plant them out. Ethiopian Spinach especially -- and I haven't yet planted more radish or corn seeds.
One challenge is that I have tomatoes raging hither and yon. Feral tomato plants sure takes up space. I am looking forward to the harvest nonetheless.
But returning to the container issue -- this is a big deal for me. A question of confidence. For once, via these vessels, I am amply self-sufficient in herbs. I may have over 30 milk crates in production, but now I've enrolled my terracotta pots -- 20 cm radius -- and slightly larger plastic ones into the business of production.
While I know as we heat up coming into Summer that pot maintenance is sure to be harder -- the other advantage of containers is that they can be shifted into shade and semi shade as required. So I've cleared open space with this purpose in mind.
The other tweek is that I've made sure to increase the flowers in my garden per a cottager template. Sunflowers per my norm, as well as Nasturtiums and Marigolds -- but I've added other species like Cosmos and the like and the gorgeous bee magnet, Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans). It may be poisonous and irritating to the skin -- pity about that -- but it sure is a good bang for your bee-attracting buck.
I've spent day after day doing my hi jinks next to some of my sunflowers and what with the glow and bee buzz, the experience of this daily matinee has served me well.
Then the cockies come... Like the great cycle of life.
I'm also working on a new hack.
In the image -- Layer upon layer ..-- there's my next door neighbour's huge cactus: Peruvian Apple Cactus. The fruit may be negligible, but the species is also called 'Queen of the Night' and in flower it is stunning.
A bee magnet each morning while still blooming into the day.
My neighbour doesn't know what to do with it and it shades my patch something brutal. So I've volunteered to cutt it for mulch.
Trusty machete in hand.
I've walled the beds in cactus lengths as edging and will now begin to cut sections to lay side by side on my perennial strips. It's a succulent, so it isn't a termite magnet so much (although old stems get a woody inside).
Unlike Prickly Pear -- if left horizontal, the Peruvian cactus will not root -- so as a mulch it has some advantages. Slow to rot down too.
I've used it to protect plantings in the chook pen from the birds' scratching. In some places, I've laid down stems to deter the dogs from digging into the chook pen itself. Here on sand, any fence can be dug under.
So all those vicious spikes are useful.
Succulents have unappreciated attributes if merged with soil. I use cut Prickly Pear paddles to make my weed tea brew and I gotta say that slime is good to go.
Yuca and Aloe Vera are brewed into fertiliser.
I'm thinking that I'll cut the Peruvian cactus stems into 30 cm pieces and lay them out on the beds between plants like pavers. Then maybe throw some wood chip mulch on top as grout. With the hexagonal shape, you could even build a hut with them. Like LEGO.
Vicious walls though...
To plant a new plant/seedling -- all I need do is lift up a cactus paver and make a hole in its place for plant insertion. I have cucurbits in mind for this.
Nothing leaves my place -- I try to recycle everything. Tree cuttings I leave to rot inside the chook pen as I can't afford to spend the time cutting the branches into smaller bits. Wait a year and you get a rotted pile of detritus you can garden with.
My neighbour (on the other side) also throws his banana stems into my chook pen.
ASIDE: once upon a time I was a puppeteer -- Punch and Judy mainly --with an interest in gamelon and Indonesian puppetry (Wayang) which drew me to the wonderful attributes of banana stems. A banana stem is a wayang 'stage' and the puppet rods are inserted in the stem flesh.
In the garden beds, banana stems are easily divided up and laid down as edges or as mulch. Same principle as the cactus -- minus the prickles. It is a big deal in Syntropic Horticulture.
Even by my jungling standards -- 'tis a very dense business outback. I'm prepping myself to go and explore every nook and cranny to see what's hiding in the undergrowth. You can see the sunflowers & marigolds -- but I've also planted a range of cottager plants. With what I've got already blooming and the plants that have gone to seed via flowering -- the bees are crazy keen on the patch.
It's getting noisier...
Hypothetically, this should not be so. Hypothetically, the Scurvy Weed should be invasively competitive with the vegetable plants. But with the weed mat and cardboard, the hack sure works around that presumption. Also, the immense growth has so clearly micro-climated the patch -- especially with the Vetiver clumps acting as underground pumps. I splash a bit of hose water at it after I plant out the seedlings, but otherwise just once per week with the bore water. Although post that, I'm always keen to rinse any salt off the leaves with fresh water.
Your patch keeps on getting more and more interesting, and more and more productive, Dave. Go Jungle!
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