Friday, 23 November 2012

Lizards and pumpkin beds

There is so much to write about, so much activity and also so much wildlife to report on. I have decided to focus on just two things today - lizards and pumpkins. So first lizards.

"If I sit very still you will think I am a piece of bark".

This handsome lizard is sitting on the tension pole of our home fence line. I first noticed him/her while I was making a few mounds for my pumpkins and melons - but more of that later.

I started taking photos of this lizard from quite a distance, but s/he let me get very close. It obviously thought I thought I would think it a piece of wood. It's about 18 inches long. It's still sitting on the fence as I type.

Yesterday I also spotted a big goanna in the front yard. I have pasted a photo here from wikipedia - I didn't have time to take a photo of my visitor. They can get to 2 meters in length, but yesterday's lizard was probaby 1.5 mts.

The goanna was very interested in the nesting dirrijirris (willie wagtails). Thankfully for the dirrijirris, I startled the goanna and it headed off into the long grass while being swooped by a magpie, then headed up a tree.  Note to self -  goannas and chickens.... hmmm a problem on the horizon.

There is another lizard I have noticed around the house.  One has take up sunbathing on the front steps.  It is quite a robust spotted skink . Again I have no photo.

And  now to pumpkin beds. I am rather hastily trying to get some vegetable beds made and veggies started. I am probably taking too many short cuts but I am desperate to get started. I hope there is some sensible method in my madness, although there may not be. I have never grown pumpkins before but I am guessing that they need a rich mix and need room to sprawl? And a bit of drainage to avoid that mildewy-ness that other cucurbits get?

Today I decided to convert a large 'waste' pile of prunnings, dried grass, lawn mover clippings and ash from the wood fire into pumpkin and melon beds.

I raked the dry material into three separate piles and topped the piles of dried matter with soil from the pile and lots of sheep poo. This is available in abundance in a deep layer under the shearing shed. I suspect I will never exhaust the supply - it's enough to make a gardeners heart sing.

I am hoping that with some time, these piles will make a nice home for pumpkins and melons -  the pile and the poo making a good rich soil.  The mound looks like a mini  mallee fowl mounds so I am hoping that their method of incubating eggs will also result in great pumpkins.

I planted seeds that came to me from Bek -  two different pumpkins -  Buttercup and Australian Butter and a melon - Tigger. Thanks Bek! Let's see how they go. As pumpkins need a long season to mature and as Highfield is quite frosty, I will push these pumpkins as fast as I can once they are up, with liquid manure and nettle tea - plenty of nettle weeding to do.

Anyone got any pumpkin growing advice? And melons?  And does anyone have any tips in keeping the chickens safe from goannas - they are so strong.


  1. Lovely lizards! I have seen a goanna (when camping near Melrose) voraciously going after a galah's nest. They look almost mercenary. Just lately we seem to have a blue tongue taking up residence in our suburban Adelaide garden, which I'm taking as a good sign. Looks like you're enjoying your rural setting :-)

  2. I do love a lizard. As much as I love goannas I know also to be respectful of them . They are so powerful and seem so single minded. Blue tongues are so lovely. They remind me of my childhood. They have a lovely nature. Lucky you!

  3. Ohhh, lizards! It reminds me of when I was young and had a pet blue tongue 'Lizzie' (very imaginative name!). 'She' would curl up on my shoulder under my jumper and snuggle in. Will your anti-snake device keep the lizards away too? That would be a shame but I think I'd rather be without the snakes, thank you very much!

    I have absolutely no pumpkin growing advice - they are a dismal failure for me though I will try again this year. I think I need to get them in earlier - I'm often late getting stuff in and need to work on my timing. But there are only so many days in the week!!

    1. Sweet memory of your lizardy friend. I believe that the anti snake devices only work on snakes - that's what the promo says. But I wonder if anyone out there has experience of these anti snake devices? I wonder if they work?

  4. What exciting wildlife. I occasionally get blue-tongue lizards in the garden (I think they come over from the nearby river) but that's about it. On the pumpkins, my limited experience is that they will take over whatever space you allow them, they love lots of manure so they will adore the mix you've cooked up for them. They also like lots of water and I've always mulched them well about 30cms around the planting area. I just planted mine this weekend so I don't think you're too far behind. Ditto for the rockmelons on manure and moisture, you can't give them too much. I can't wait to see how they grow.

    1. When I was a kid, there were blue tongues(and red belly black snakes) in our yard. Thanks for the pumpkin and rockmelon advice. Must mulch more when they are up I think.

  5. Goannas are just beautiful aren't they, I do fear for the chooks though. Hope the pumpkins do well, every time I've grown them they just go wild, or fail completely - always dependant on how much sun they get..

    1. Yes, I too love goannas, they are such big animals and so powerful. Oh well, I am going to have to make a very secure chook house - snake, fox and goanna proof! And perhaps see if alpacas protect chooks from goannas as well as foxes.

      I can sense a pumpkin failure coming...



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