This blog will talk about some recent issues we've had with space conflict. Over the past few months, the university has re-done the path next to the garden and added in new lighting. This is great, but it has made things a bit difficult for us! This is how we've managed the issues presented by these works:
1. Rubbish from building site
We've had quite a bit of rubbish thrown into the garden, including the expected bits of plastic, food wrappers and cigarette packets. What we didn't expect was the building materials that ended up in the beds! This has included sand, bits of metal, and pieces of brick and concrete. Most significantly, 20+ bricks were dumped on top of our native edibles bed, crushing some of our Chocolate Lilies (Arthropodium strictum) and Yam Daisies (Microseris lanceolata). We never seemed to be there at the same time as the contractors to talk to them about it, so we left a friendly note explaining the importance of the plants and removed the bricks. After replacing the plants, we placed small bamboo stakes in amongst the new plantings to avoid more waste being dumped there. This was reasonably successful, with only the occasional brick dumped on the bed afterwards.
Now, several weeks after the works have been completed, we are still finding rubbish (mostly concrete chunks and plastic) in the beds. All we can really do is throw them out. Aside from rubbish being unsightly and potentially dangerous (someone could cut themselves), it's important to remove as much as possible (even small pieces) as they could alter the nutrient levels and friability of the soil.
Our Granny Smith apple tree was slightly in the way of the temporary fencing used, so the contractors tied its branches together to move it out of the way. While they meant well and we appreciate them not snapping the tree, they tied it up extremely tightly with a very thin, very tough cord (like thick dental floss!). This cord cut into the flesh of the tree, so we had to remove it. Since then we have kept an eye on the health of the tree and looked out for signs of infection in the branches, and thankfully, it seems to be unharmed.
Similarly, three blueberry bushes were in the way, but unfortunately they did not fair as well as the apple tree! The fencing was placed directly across our perennial edibles bed, and three blueberry plants were either snapped or uprooted. The uprooted plant was transplanted and given lots of water, but sadly it didn't survive (see below right). The branches that were snapped off the other two bushes were used as cuttings to grow new plants in our greenhouse. We are yet to see how they go!
In order to install the new light and run power to it, a large chunk of our perennials bed was cut into, as well as the entire front of our native edibles bed. This not only directly destroyed plants, but presented challenges for the rest of the bed while the gap was there as soil next to the holes eroded and fell in, an issue both for us and the builders!
The holes dug ranged from approx. 40-80cm in depth, digging through the top soil as well as the underlying clay and rock layers. This soil was replaced, but of course not in the right order! The layers are now jumbled up, and who knows what impact this has had on the nutrient levels of the soil. We will endeavour to do some testing on this soil soon to see what the effects are. In the meantime, we have mulched the area to reduce the chance of weeds coming up and to stop it from looking too unsightly.