Pasture Plans

The house is finished, except for a few minor items like the concrete for the verandah which hasn’t been poured yet, and only 2 of the 5 water tanks being in place as yet. We are days away from being able to move in. Days!

The valuer is booked for Wednesday morning, to come and verify for the bank that the house is actually there, complete, and connected to the power and water. Then (so the theory goes) the bank pays the builder, the builder hands over the keys, and we move in. Very exciting. But being here in this limbo of not-quite-finished is also very frustrating; it’s so very close now that every additional delay hurts.

To distract myself – not that I need that much distraction at the moment, being mid-way through my first real research project for my Masters of Sustainable Agriculture course – I’m planning some landscaping.

The raw earth where the greywater system and leach drains were dug in and buried is going to be a heat-magnifying desert of red gravel this summer if we don’t do something about it soon. There isn’t time to put in any robust perennial groundcovers, never mind the longer term plan of leafy deciduous trees to shade the area near the house. There won’t be any more trucks driving over the area now, but we’re already seeing the warm summer weather starting. In the time we have left of spring, there’s really only one option which is likely to work: pasture.

Some sort of annual dryland pasture mix, which can hold the soil down and shade the ground a little. Build a bit of organic matter, and get some soil structure happening for the fruit trees I want to put in where the greywater outlets are. It’s close to the house, so I’m thinking stone fruit – all those delicious, juicy, summer treats which attract fruit fly if you don’t watch them constantly and manage it. Annual pastures are quick to establish, unlike perennial pastures and groundcovers, which can take months or years.

My problem is that I know literally nothing about lawns and very little more about grasses in general. I did some research a couple’ve years ago about legumes and symbiotic nitrogen fixing bacteria, but if you were to ask me what pasture plants are best for which soils and climate zones, I’d have no idea. My current plan is to get a range of varieties sold for the 400 – 600 mm rainfall band, for livestock farmers to seed their pastures, and see how I go. But the number of options is a little daunting.

There are dozens if not hundreds of varieties of clover, a handful of native grasses which look promising, and the various pasture grasses sold commercially – of which there are also dozens of varieties. If I could get lucerne established I’d be very happy, but I’ll take anything green at this point in the game.

I’ve contacted a couple’ve rural seed suppliers, and I’m hoping to pick up some seed at the end of this week. I’ll post updates as the project progresses.