Saturday, 16 May 2015

Frog in the Pond

When we first moved in there was a pond.  Not some sort of attractive water feature though, but a hollowed out concrete wall full of debris, dirty looking water, and covered over with a bit of shade cloth.

I didn't really notice it when we were inspecting and buying the house. And when we moved in I first thought it was just a bit of messy garden wall, that had filled up in the rain.  But on inspection I realised it was a planned feature of the garden, as it was much bigger than just a hollow that had accidentally filled up with water.  And then I realised - we had tadpoles!  Quite a large number of tadpoles......

But although we knew there were tadpoles there we could not work out what kind of frog they were from.  Or where said frog was to be found.  

I figured we would just let the tadpoles grow up, become frogs, and then we would take the pond out. How long can that process take?  Turns out it can take an awful lot longer than I would have expected.  And somewhat foolishly, I sort of thought that the tadpoles had been laid, then the frog parents had disappeared, and so this would be a one off process.  But as I waited for the tadpoles to grow legs and hop away I realised there were more and more of them, and there were tiny ones and huge ones.  So the frog parents were still around.

This video is fairly dodgy quality but I took it on my phone, to try to show the numbers of tadpoles we had - 

And we still weren't quite sure what kind of frog we were dealing with.  Then we realised that a noise we heard nearly every night, and that sounded like a slow drip from a drain pipe onto the tin roof, was actually the frog!  And once I googled frogs and the inner west of Sydney - I found my culprit.

The striped marsh frog is apparently very common in Eastern Australia.

(This photograph is via Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife and by Alex Dudley)

So I hadn't managed to find some rare colony of protected species.  And more of an issue - the tadpoles take between eight and twelve months to mature!  

The pond was ugly and took up precious garden space, so we decided that the tadpoles had to go.  We gave some away to a friend living near by who wanted to start a pond, and then we drained the pond.  But before we did we pulled out the rubbish and while moving the black plastic liner - we found our mummy or daddy frog - hiding in the folds of the plastic.

I didn't want to disturb the frog too much, but our messing around with it's home must have made it want to leave anyway, as when I went back the next day the frog was gone.

The pond area is now a garden bed.  And the frog is still around somewhere close by as I hear it "tocking" all the time!  

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Garden Share - May 2015

Oh dear.  So many songs could sum up this month - and all of them include the word rain!  "Raindrops keep falling on my head", "Who'll Stop the Rain", and especially the old childhood favourite "It's Raining, it's Pouring".  Sydney has been hit hard with storms and rain, and I really feel like I haven't been in the garden all month.  I shouldn't really complain, while we sprung a few leaks and have one very wet wall which needs outside repairs to the weatherboards and will eventually probably require resheeting inside, in comparison to those who lost a lot more than us we were relatively unscathed.

So while the rain has meant that I didn't have to/was not able to do any particular maintenance all month in the garden it has also meant I don't have much to show for myself for the garden share.  Same as last month, I'm joining in the Garden Share Collective (which is hosted by Lizzie at Strayed from the Table) and feeling inadequate when comparing myself to other lovely gardens.   

Rocket along with my marigolds for pest protection

The lettuce, rocket and mizuna have kept on growing and although have been raided for multiple salads they're still going ok.

The basil I have let go to flower as it seems to attract an awful lot of bees, and I feel like they might not have a lot of other flower sources at present so it seems like a good idea to give them something to eat.  Also, let's be honest, I "let" it go to flower because I haven't been bothered cutting them off in the rain.

I have about four small capsicums on one of my plants, the other seems to have not enjoyed the rain in it's pot, I think it needs a good feed of some kind of fertiliser.

I somehow have four very late tomatoes which are growing on my self seeded tomato plant - will be interesting to see how they go - I may need to hang them up somewhere to ripen as I'm not sure they will make it on the plant.

My kale - well it has been annihilated by caterpillars.  The broccolettes also have been attacked, but nowhere near as badly.  When I have the chance I have been picking the caterpillars off and squashing them, but with the weather and the vast quantities of caterpillars I have unfortunately found most of my plants completely stripped and nothing to be done.  Serves me right for being so proud of them last month and ignoring any warnings about the cabbage moth.

The potatoes in a bag experiment also seems to be going quite well, although has been completely neglected.  I think it is time to add more dirt to keep the production up, so that is on the to-do list.

The chillis just keep on keeping on.  I pick them and give them away as we can't use them all, and still they keep growing.

So that is what has survived.  And my to do list is probably exactly the same as last month, as I didn't get anything done!  I just need to add some cleaning up tasks  -

1) Get stuck into the weeding - the abundance of water around seems to have been mostly to the benefit of the weeds

2) Sweep up the leaves which are everywhere and wet and put into the compost - most are well on their way to rotting with the water around so hopefully this will make faster compost
3) Plant my garlic - this may be far too late but I have been reluctant to plant due to the water.  I am sure I read that garlic doesn't really like wet feet.  Anyway, I figure I have three bulbs of garlic, I might as well try out planting, and hope for a good result at the end of the year.
4) Pull up those late tomatoes and capsicums and plant out something else -  I haven't decided yet what to plant!  According to Lizzie's planting guide (find it here) I might look at carrots, turnips or broad beans - or maybe all of the above.....
5) Hill up my potatoes in a bag to keep the yield high.

So let's hope my next month Garden Share is a bit more interesting!  Any suggestions for what to plant will be gladly accepted as well.