NEW ZEALAND GETS WINTER RAIN and to be sure this year has certainly been wet wet wet. It is very easy to get the old winter blues. Plus at this time of the year if we don’t manage how, and where our cows craze the kikuyu grass can quickly look a muddy mess. If we let it get really muddy it is impossible for the cows to get a decent feed and the grass takes ages to regenerate.
I am sure the Hobbit can speak ‘cow’ he is a natural with them. He can stand at the gate and call to them, ‘come on, come on’ and they will come literally running from wherever they are. The truth is they know he has what is for them is a yummy treat. He buys them FibreGain, (from Farmlands) which is a high energy meal of fresh cut lucerne and freshly kibbled maize and they love it. By having the cows come on command means it is easy to move them around, and on our hilly land it is very helpful.
While the Hobbit is carefully trying to manage the kikuyu grass, to me it can be just another weed. I have over the last 7 years tried to ‘tame’ the area around our buildings, to create a bit of a garden that feels like I am given a ‘hug’ when I am walking around.
To help combat the kikuyu grass and other weeds at Fernlea and give the plants a fighting chance we have used old carpet, which was destined for the dump, as weed matting.
Old carpet is very effective weed mat and rots once the plants have grown, with the only downside being that it is very heavy to move. We used two carpets in the photo above, with the colour side down as I really didn’t want the old seventies orange to be visible! The photo to the left shows how the plants have grown after a couple of years.
Another constant challenge is the animals, when they get out of the paddocks and stomp over the gardens and eat the new tender shoots. I have found a plant that is incredibly easy to propagate and the animals don’t like, so I have used it all over Fernlea as a background and filler. It is pelargonium also called geranium, and I believe it originates from South Africa.
Pelargoniums are used in the perfume industry and apparently their leaves and flowers are edible and can be used in flavouring jellies, cakes, iced tea ice creams, so I plan to give that a go soon. For now I can plant slips knowing the chickens and cows avoid them.