Rain. Rain. Rain. Fire.

I think that may be a record in the time we’ve lived here. It’s rained every day for at least the past two weeks – and quite significant amounts too. It’s a wonder we haven’t had flooding yet.

However, undeterred, I’ve gone and bought a flame weeder. Tomorrow (rain permitting) we’ll head out to the section to cut the grass and then burn off the plants in the ground. Next week, once the burned bits have died, we’ll go across the ground with a rotary hoe and till it all up. Then we wait a month and see what germinates. Then we burn it again.

The end result should be good, loose top soil that is ready for planting and about 95% weed-free. Assuming that the rain doesn’t wash it all away. And even then it shouldn’t wash it very far.

At this stage we’re not planning on doing the whole section. We’re just doing the upper slope, and the bit where the driveway is going. This should mean that the top soil from the driveway (which is getting taken up and moved to the spot where the veggie garden will eventually be) will also be as clean as possible.

The idea of using a flame weeder is simple: it keeps the all of the nutrients in the soil, while not adding any nasty chemicals. I don’t have to worry about any residual herbicide in the ground. And the burned plant matter will keep all of that nitrogen right where we want it. In the long term it should also be cheaper and more sustainable.

Our timing is pretty crucial here. We’ve got two months before the bank want to come and value the section, to see if they’ll let us draw down the next part of the mortgage. We therefore want the section to look a bit more “done” by that point – so a least they can see where we’ve been and what we’ve spent our money on. That means I want the new plants in the ground and the driveway completed, at the very least. With any luck, they’ll then decide that the section is worth more than what we’ve spent on it… or at least that it’s not worth less than that, because we’re kind of counting on getting the next bit of mortgage money in order to get, you know, a house and stuff.

So far our mortgage broker is optimistic (which I think actually means that the constant exponential growth of the Auckland market has already raised the value of our property, even in just six weeks), but it really all comes down to one person’s opinion. Therefore we’ve got to focus on the “finished” look rather than the “work in progress” look. It feels a lot like being judged in a competition.

There is much to be done.

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