Friday, 20 December 2013

Shading the hive on hot summer days

Believe it or not, Melbourne can get pretty hot over the summer months. The temperature hit 40 degrees celsius the other day.

Our backyard hive gets a fair bit of afternoon sun during summer.  There's a large water tank to the right of the picture below (about 1 metre from the side of the hive) which provides some shade but when the sun is high in the sky the hive is in full sun from around 11 am.  It's completely shaded by 3 pm but that still leaves 4 hours in the middle of the day where it catches a lot of sun. Relocating the hive elsewhere in the garden isn't really an option as we don't have another suitable spot. There is always plenty of water available for our bees, however on hot days we also install some temporary shade to assist the 'girls' in their efforts to cool the hive.

It's nothing fancy. On the night before we place 2 bricks on top of the lid, then a large piece of cardboard, followed by 2 more bricks to secure it. This makes a kind of cardboard umbrella.  The first layer of bricks allows air flow between the lid and the cardboard which assists in cooling. You'll have to excuse the dark photo below - it was taken in the evening after the cardboard was installed.

It's certainly not a pretty setup..........but it helps, and that's what matters. 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Logs as tables

I like the trend of using logs to make side tables or stools.  It's something that we plan to have a go at with wood that we have collected.

Some lovely examples are quite rustic:

While other examples are more refined:


I think they all look great.

Images 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 56 | 7 | 89 | 10

(I can't find the original source for images 3 and 7 -  if you happen to know, please tell me so I can attribute the image accordingly)

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Backyard Inspiration

Espaliered fruit trees are a great way to grow fruit in small spaces. Trees can be trained to a variety of attractive shapes and grown against a fence or wall, as a free-standing tree or even as a potted plant.

In addition to saving space, espaliered fruit trees have other benefits. These include good light to the fruit (which helps improve development), ease of picking and ease of protecting the tree against frost or birds. It's much easier to net an espaliered tree.

If you are training your tree against a north-facing brick wall, you may be able to grow varieties that would normally require a warmer climate.

Here are some lovely espalier examples:

espaliered apple tree forming part of a fence

espaliered apple

espaliered pear

Belgian fence style espalier

candelabra style espalier

espaliered fig
horizontal espalier

espaliered lemon

fan shaped espalier

potted espaliered orange

And how's this for handy picking? Just lean out the window and grab your pear .....

Hallstatt, The Austrian Lakes District

If you are interested in having a go at espaliering fruit trees you'll find plenty of how-to information on the internet - e.g. instructions for espaliering apples can be found here

Maybe you have a spot in your garden for an espaliered fruit tree?

Images 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 67891011

Monday, 2 December 2013

In the garden .....

A while ago we started edging some of our garden beds using rocks that we'd gathered for free.  It's still a work in progress - some of the results can be seen here.   

Here's our latest haul of rocks which we scored for free via gumtree.  We got them locally from someone who just wanted to be rid of them - a good example of reuse and recycling in action, wouldn't you agree?  

Incorporating this lot into the garden is going to keep us busy for awhile.