animals, environment

Opening a Bee Hotel

purple Pea flowers

One of every three bites of food we eat is derived from plants pollinated by bees. And bees are in trouble worldwide.

Stingless Native bees on a paperbark tree

As pollinators, bees along with other insects play an essential role for our gardens and plants, fertilizing plants so they may begin producing fruit and seeds. Bees are very important because:

  • 70 of the top 100 most popular food crops are pollinated by bees
  • 80% of all flowering plants on earth and pollinated by bees
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Pesticides, parasites and climate change are diminishing bee populations worldwide and we can help them.

How?

We can help them with organic gardening practices, planting flowers to attract them and provide them with shelter, so at the Home by the Sea is opening a Bee Hotel.

Someone staying overnight
plant, weed, flower,garden
blogging

Gardening with Alkaline Soils in Coastal Areas

Having a home by the sea has many advantages, however, one disadvantage, is the poor quality of the soils for gardens and the difficulty in growing plants that thrive in coastal areas.

Coastal soils are often sandy and have poor water retention ability but might also be heavy, salty and highly alkaline. This means their PH level is about 7 or above, which makes growing plants quite tricky.

Flower bud

If I wanted to grow Azaleas, Camellias, Magnolias or my favourite flowering shrub: Gardenias, for example, the coastal soils would need organic and chemical* help.

*Please note growing azaleas, camellias, magnolia and gardenias will require a specific fertilizer or may wither or develop yellowing leaves, without the right conditions.

As some of my garden had already been established, adding large quantities of peat moss, compost or organic matter wasn’t going to be a viable option, so in order to change the PH of the soil, I needed to look at other options.

It’s always best to test the soil’s pH level and follow instructions to the “T” when using anything to change soil pH.

If your soil is highly alkaline, adding sulphur, peat moss, sawdust, or aluminium sulfate can help neutralize it.

Adjust soil pH slowly, over time, avoiding any quick fixes. You can simply add plants suitable for alkaline soil. Read more about Plants For Alkaline Soils

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/plants-for-alkaline-soil.htm

Damage to Plants from High Ph Levels

The first warning sign that the plants in my garden were suffering from a high Ph level was leaves turning yellow with a green midvein, evident firstly with the alkaline sensitive Gardenias and later, the Murraya, or Mock Orange, and some of the small Cupheas bordering the garden.

My next step in remediation was to stabilize the Gardenia, in situ, with an appropriate chemical fertilizer suitable for the sensitive likes of those plants and plant out more alkaline-tolerant species, as well as add organic matter where possible.

Lots of blue colour in this garden. Westringia (a native Coastal Rosemary), Juniper, Strelitzia and of course, Lavender. All plants that thrive in coastal areas.

Within a few weeks of applying the fertilizer, the Gardenias and Magnolia had shiny new green growth. I applied a general fertilizer to the Murraya and the Cupheas and although slower, they are responding with new buds.

Growing Lavender in Coastal Areas

Lavender plants are a sound choice for coastal areas as they relish well-drained sandy soils and don’t mind wind. The ones I planted thrived in soil that had an upper layer of very sandy alkaline loam with an underlying, also alkaline, clay. They are especially beautiful now, in full bloom. No fertilizer needed, or signs of alkaline damage, so far.

Lavender plants make spectacular borders and vary in height: Lavender dentata, for example, grows to a height of 60 cm and can be pruned to a ball shape lightly after flowering.

Growing Your Own Lavender Plants

Lavender blossoms make excellent cut flowers,or can be used in dried flowers arrangements or potpourri. After flowering, I remove the lavender flowers from the stems and pot up the trimmed down leaf tips and place them in potting mix after first dipping the ends in rooting powder and then seal them with a plastic bag for several months. After that, you should have some established new Lavender plants.

It’s really a plant that keep on giving.

Lavender is known for its therapeutic properties.

Growing Olive Trees in Coastal Areas

Contrary to popular belief, Olive trees do not really have troublesome root systems, and as they do like coastal conditions they can also tolerate alkaline soil, well, provided it is free draining. A great choice for a coastal garden particularly with their grey-green foliage.

Olive trees take about 7 years to produce fruit. Sadly, we had to leave a beautiful olive tree at our former location, when we moved to the ‘Home by the sea,’ one that was close to flowering and producing olives.

The tree was about five years old and about 3 metres tall. It was not in a position of full sun, but we do live in the sub-tropics, so the sun is stronger here. Olive trees seem resilient to pests, so are a great choice for coastal and Mediterranean-style climates.

Plants suitable for Alkaline soils:

Some other plants that cope well in Alkaline soil types are listed below.

Herbs/Vegetables for Alkaline Soils

  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Potato – my plants are thriving. Just pop them in and watch them grow.
  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Celery

Parsley can be used as an edible border plant as it is a splash of greenery and handy for use in making Tabouli or salads in the kitchen. It is a herb that does like alkaline soils.

parsley in the garden
My Sweet potato and Rosemary plants – the Mock orange in the right hand corner of the photos still has some alkalinity damaged yellow leaves

Shrubs and Trees for Alkaline Soils

  • Viburnum
  • Cotoneaster
  • Mock Orange
  • Honeysuckle
  • Spiraea
  • Hydrangea
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Juniper
  • Olive Trees – as long as the soil is free draining.

Enjoy creating a Coastal Garden

Sunrise
building

It’s All Happening at the Home by the Sea

The workers have really ramped up the action a notch.

This is happening just outside our backyard, right now.

Perhaps the tradies are getting a bonus to finish before Christmas? the MotH asks.

Tradies or Tradesmen?

I’m not sure if other countries call workmen on construction sites:-‘tradesmen.’

We don’t either.

In Australia we always like to shorten things, especially names, so tradesmen and not called tradesmen, but “Tradies.”

If someone says they will, “See ya in the arvo,” or “See you thissarvy”– they don’t mean they will meet you in some seedy bar in town, they mean they will see you after lunch, in the afternoon. If I was to say to a friend, see you in the afternoon, I would almost sound British!

But I digress.

Tradies might be Electricians, Carpenters, affectionately also called ‘Chippies,’ Plumbers, Crane drivers, Tiler’s, Glaziers, Concreters or anyone that performs a trade and often this is related to construction.

These guys and girls, do a certain amount of study at a vocational college but most of their training is practical, on the job. It is usually an apprenticeship of three or four years. They are often very fit, strong and heavily tanned young men and their language is often colourful.

So whatever you do, when you visit Australia and the Home by the Sea, don’t ask for few ‘chippies’ with your meal! See you later on thisarvy!

P.S. There goes on view to the East!

seachange graphic logo
building

Sea change Completed

The wind in your hair, the smell of salt water in one’s nostrils, and the laid back lifestyle. That is what we think of we most of us think of living at the beach.

Four weeks ago, we moved to a home by the sea, after more than 35 years living in the suburbs but that wasn’t the original plan.

The key to the Door

After selling the house my husband had built with his own hands, we went looking for a minimalist low maintenance lifestyle close to family and friends. We were, for quite some time, set on re-locating to a townhouse in the inner city and having a weekend flat at the beach. The Minimalist Inner city lifestyle. Close to restaurants, all kinds of services and facilities and unfortunately, the sort of place, workers and commuters all love to live. So it is busy, too busy for us now that we are nearing retirement and the quieter lifestyle that provides.

Sometimes, the universe intervenes. We searched and searched to find the right townhouse for us. It wasn’t there. Or, if it was, someone else got there first and outbid us. I must admit we had a contract on another, but it didn’t feel right and there were problems so the contract was terminated. We decided the townhouse hipster lifestyle wasn’t for us. All the time, the universe was sending us here, to the sea, where we wanted to be.

The city life Millenials love

The adult kids moved out, as there was no way that they were going to live up near the beach, some 20 kms away from the trappings of work, friends and the inner city lifestyle.

So it is quite a change – a sea change to move in to the house we have been designing and building for the last year.

There have been frustrating times, and some problems along the way, but overall the building process was a lot of fun. And we made it. Yay!

The Moving process, of course, is not at all fun. Most of our old furniture didn’t fit into a townhouse – so we disposed of it. We had so many boxes packed away in storage, and a lot of new boxes for the new furniture. They all had to be unpacked and removed.

But that is all behind us now. The boxes have been recycled, the packing materials dumped and we settling into our new routine.

The Universe was right, and we were lucky to find the right piece of land, negotiated with a builder at the right time and voila, now our house is our home.

Now we are ensconced in our new house and we are happy. We’ve met many new neighbours, many in the same stage of life as us, and travelling to work hasn’t even taken near as long as I thought.

The MOTH is busy with little tasks around the house, and happy again, and the Schnauzer is thrilled she has a yard to play in once more.

Would I build a house again from scratch? Yes, most definitely.

Would I move again? No, definitely not.

So here we stay! We are putting down roots.

Us
blogging, building

Nearly There

Welcome Home

Set for ‘Practical Completion’

We have a Practical Completion Date for the Home by the Sea, and it is very close.

Moving date will actually be a further couple of weeks after that. That gives the builder a chance to fix up all the defects, (hopefully none or not too many), prior to handing over the house keys to us and us handing him the big fat final cheque!!

It is getting exciting, but also somewhat daunting knowing what I have yet to do, before I can lay my head down on the bed in my new home by the sea.

The Carpenter returned to re-do the beautiful Western Red cedar roof on the alfresco area, and on the front panel above the famed and maligned cornerless window.

Just awaiting a ceiling fan and lights

You can see him there hard at work, cursing and teasing me a little good heartedly for making him re-do the section at the front. He is a lovely guy, despite all his intimidating skeletal tattoos!

And for all his tattoos, I asked him if he would let his young daughter get a tattoo when she grew up.

“No way,” he said shaking his head emphatically!

“Good luck with that,” I thought, under my breath.

Further progress included the installation of the Energy Efficient Air Conditioner (an absolute must in northern Australia). Yay!

I won’t have solar power again for a little while, so the less we use it, the better for the planet, right? Mind you, the breeze that persists at the water’s edge might mean we can save a little of the planet’s ecosystems and shut it off for most of the year.

We see that the house has had a QA check and they have found some, well many spots to touch up with the paint. So there are blue dots of tape sprinkled throughout to identify the spots that need fixing with paint.

The bathroom mirrors and shower screens were installed. And I now have somewhere to hang my towel and toilet roll! Yay for that!

The stairs also were dressed with timber grade handrails this week.

All the timber work is to be stained in a teak colour.

The Lows

We discovered that the lovely oak bedside tables we purchased for a reduced price, during a closing down sale won’t fit in our master bedroom with the existing bed frame. Darn it all.

They can go with the two lamps I purchased that were also a mistake. The MOTH took the opportunity to remind me that I had purchased seven lamps this year! Surely not.

**Lesson learnt here. Don’t buy furniture or lamps, without measuring accurately and before your house is complete.

The Highs

We have a resident Mamma Kanga and Baby Joey in our park and sporting fields. Eager to find some freshly watered green grass, I spotted them safely tucked away behind the fencing this morning.

I think we need a name for them.

Do you have any suggestions?

building

We’re Cooking

Why we are Moving to the Home by the Sea

I am anxious to receive a Practical Completion date for the Home by the Sea, particularly after a rather intrusive incident at our rental townhouse which was detailed over at Something to Ponder About – [StPA]. Should you be interested in how to save a ton of money in real estate advertising fees and piss off a rental tenant at the same time, for no extra cost, you can read about ‘Mrs The World is My Oyster,’ on my other blog.

Despite not knowing exactly when we might be moving in to the Home by the Sea – we do know that the painting is complete and most plumbing and electrical fittings are installed.

Today, I met with the Electrician to position the pendant lights in the lounge area. He was such a very young man, to be in charge, but obviously highly competent at his job. It is a shame he had a long time girlfriend, as I do keep an eye out for a good quality future son-in-law. [lol]

The taps have been installed and we could have indulged in a shower or bath, if we needed to do so. We passed on that opportunity today as I forgot my towel….

The pendant lights were installed over the Island bench and the Oven and Cooktop are in!

Yay! Hot Christmas dinner – here we come!

The stove is an Induction model, and I am a complete novice in that realm, having only used electric ceramic cooktops for the past 25 years! I had to go out and buy some new utensils and pans. It is wide so I am hoping there will be no more juggling trays to fit in all the roast vegetables my tribe loves to eat on Roast nights.

Still to come at the Home by the Sea: Carpets, minor fixes, hand rails, cupboard shelving for walk in pantry and linen cupboard, mirrors and shower screens, as well as Landscaping and Fencing. And then perhaps, we are done! [excluding the re-do of the Cedar ceiling].

Surely not long now till we move to the Home by the Sea.

seaside pandanus trees australia
blogging, building, home

A Seachange

How does one handle change?

Change might be disruptive and jolting, a shock to the system but it also heralds new possibilities and opportunities.

I will soon be moving to a new location. A new house, new area, new neighbours. It is exciting but a little daunting.

Some of you know that we have been prepping for this move for over a year and soon it will become reality. Add to that, I will be semi-retired- whatever that means?

Have you some moving tips for me? Last year when I moved to my current townhouse, I become stressed out and exhausted. I used to be an ace at moving house, when I was in my twenties and moving flats every year or so.

Thirty years on, I am older and need some tips on making it less stressful.

I would love to hear your suggestions.

building, home

Lakes Entrance

Can you imagine two billion litres of sea water? Well it is about 1000 Olympic sized swimming pools. That is size and volume of the lake created near our soon to be Home By the Sea.

The man-made lake which is about 14 metres deep, abutts another Quay development (still under construction), behind which is the sea, itself.

The seaside housing estate sits on 143 hectares of excavated soil that has been removed and re-distributed through the estate. On a typical day there are around 160 personnel on site and 60 earthmoving machines in operation. Mind-boggling statistics.

Meanwhile, at the Home by the sea, the tilers have been hard at work, and this coming week the painting and rendering will commence!

The painting will take about ten days, apparently. Three coats of Dulux Snowy Mountains Half. It will take a bit of paint to cover those walls.

selections

I chose a neutral colour to go with the Coastal Scandinavian colour scheme. Most of the colour and tones will come from the furnishings and fittings.

More to come next week.

Cheers from Amanda

building, Uncategorized

Another Step Closer

If you have been following our building journey, at A Home by the Sea, I can tell you that we are yet another step closer.

The weather Gods were not kind to us this week, but it is becoming more and more apparent that our building team are the very best. The forecast of rain so concerned us given that our upper floor would be open to the elements and the floor is not at all weatherproof!

So we were extremely relieved when our weekly visit revealed the builders had finished the complete guttering and roof (at least the roof that is over all upper floorboards) in just one day.

Timber Frame and Roof Trusses

Great team effort guys! (and girls?) *

*Note: No sexism on A Home by the Sea.

Perhaps they tried their very best given that a week of rain was on its way. I like that they are so conscientious and pro-active. They is very reassuring. We have come this far in four weeks!

And now the remaining roof, more plumbing/electrical on the lower floor comes next!

We decided to take some time out to support local business and mingle with the locals at the Boat Club. There is a great view of the Marina from there.

The large boat in the foreground of the next photo is a Marlin fishing boat, and the official weighing station is on the right of the photo.

I have to say that view was pretty hard to take!

More next week.

Uncategorized

Framing a Storey

We have began to visit the little block of land beside the sea each week, as development is beginning to move rather swiftly now that the concrete slab and foundations are down.

Once the concrete slab had cured, and with modern technology, cement cures within a few days, so the termite shield and waterproofing can then be installed. From then, the timber frame can be erected.

Construction methods have changed immensely since the day that my Builder Father-in-law used to knock up homes in six weeks with a team of three.

Houses are larger and timber frames comes in pre-fabricated pieces. A Nail gun secures everythin in place in one day. The bottom storey was completed in just one day.

It is an exciting time, seeing all the preparations and plans emerge from the soil and take shape in front of your eyes. It is kind of like a young child growing up all too fast.

The second storey is due for completion today and the roof will be installed next week.

Looking good.