5/52: rescue of the robber bird

Netting the plums for protection against birds appears to have been somewhat in vain.

the bird netting was supposed to prevent this

While it may have put some off, on a number of occasions I have found a bird on the wrong side of the net. Obviously my method of application was not perfect. In retrospect I should have made sure the net was tied underneath the trees. Next year I will try to prune so that I can do this.

Some fly in, peck a few plums, then manage to get out. However, one little colourful bird was not so lucky. Noticing a flurry of wings, I found this rainbow lorikeet caught in the net, where he must have panicked and turned a number of times, ending up almost being strangled by the net.

a flurry of wings

sharp little beak

Although he was actually a robber, my love of animals won the day, with compassion and mercy overcoming my annoyance at his thievery, prompting my rescue mission. At least he appeared to be smiling for the camera.

With some help, we managed to untangle part of the net, and what we couldn’t do manually necessitated the careful use of scissors.

smiling at his rescuer

After the rescue, I held him for a photo, which I surely deserved, after which he flew off to safety.

rescue mission accomplishedIf that wasn’t enough, the following day there he was again, assuming it was the same bird. Look closely to see if you can decide whether it was the same one, but this time there was even more tangle, and when he was trying to talk no sound was coming out, so it must have been like a noose around his neck. The blue on the underside of his belly looks a little lighter in one photo, but it could just be the time of day and amount of light available.

magnificent colouring

second rescue mission achieved

This time his wing seemed to be a little damaged so we put him behind the shed so he could take his time to recover from his shock, and avoid our cats.

behind the shed recovery

The whole exercise prompted me to pick the rest of the crop of plums and remove the netting, because that was easier than a third rescue mission.

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4/52: the race of the rogue tomatoes

Interestingly, the rogue tomatoes that have sprung up seem to be doing better than the seedlings that I bought and planted. Perhaps a seed that nestles itself into the ground with no human help has Mother Nature on its side?

In any case, I am looking forward to these tomatoes ripening into fine specimens.

rogue tomatoes rogue tomatoes looking good

3/52: minimising english ivy

woven ivyTrying to yank out huge hunks of ivy doesn’t really work, because with years of growth the vines are interwoven and become stronger and almost impenetrable. You need to tackle it in stages and small quantities.

The way I do this is to sit on a cushion and work in the area immediately in front of me, which saves stress on both the back and the knees. Headphones for my music and a sun visor complete the image.

think ergonomicallyTaking up a small handful of vine, I snip both ends, and put them into a bucket or bin. Do this a number of times and then you can pull up the roots more easily. Continue the process until you have had enough and the recycling bin is fed.

tools of the tradetools of the trade

take hold of a clumpgrab a handful

cut at each endsnip each end

sometimes thicker secateurs are requireduse secateurs for older, thicker vines

a handful to recycleanother clump for the recycling bin

then dig out the rootsdig out the roots

off to the recycle binthat won’t grow again

Countless hours have been spent by me working on downsizing the ivy population. I have equated managing the garden with eating an elephant before, and once again, little by little is the key.

break on thruthe last part made me think of the lyrics “break on through to the other side”

the path is clearthe finished path

mulchedanother area completed

It has been worth the effort, with a good sense of achievement at the end, but why can’t we manage to just keep on top of things in the first place? Because:

1) we are human and

2) life gets in the way

Perhaps we should be a little more gentle on ourselves and our expectations.

2/52: planting palms

Since we purchased a number of palms, the next step was to plant them. Hopefully they will fare well, as we have had extreme temperatures of late of almost 40 degrees Celsius.

I had originally contemplated adding another bluestone wall to section of this area, but when I removed lots of ivy I discovered a few rocks underneath. Adding the two larger bluestone blocks has provided enough of a barrier that a structured wall is probably overkill, much to my labourer husband’s delight.

Nevertheless, with his digging skills, guess who had the task of planting all the palms? That was obviously a rhetorical question.

first palm planted

The first palm planted was a Canary Island palm, Phoenix canariensis.

second palm planted

The second palm,  Phoenix roebelinii went in. I was excited because my tropical garden was finally under way.

my tropical garden in the middle tier  The rest of the palms will feature in further posts, as I have to pack.

Another trip? Yessiree, a New Zealand cruise, about which I will later be blogging on Travels with Princess & Quiquinou.

1/52: yum – plum jam

After netting the plum trees and picking about a kilogram of less-than-ripe plums just after Christmas, I allowed them to ripen up for a week or so, before making jam yesterday. I am really happy with Batch #1.

plum jam

This morning I picked another two kilograms, concentrating on choosing fruit that was peeking through the netting and tantalising birds.

some plums too close to the net

After doing this, the net is now providing a better barrier for the rest of the fruit as it ripens and becomes even more appealing to our winged friends.

removed the protruding plums Having just made one batch, suddenly I have another basketful awaiting my attention.

2 kg of plums ready for jam

As plums ripen, it may be necessary to add some pectin, the setting agent, such as lemon, tartaric acid, or even a commercially bought jamsetta. Less mature fruit has plenty of pectin but requires more sugar. A mixture of fruit is good, to provide enough pectin and enough flavour. My first batch has a rather thick consistency, proving there was plenty of pectin available.

This year I am committing to posting weekly on princessprattles.com, usually on Wednesdays. That way I can have “weekly on Wednesdays” in my head as a reminder to myself.