Newbie Alert! *waves*

Newbie Alert! *waves*

Hi All, Help! I can't make it cut! Mods...?? I am a newbie gardener, (you've been warned), and I would love to get some on going tips and advice on my garden endevours. BUT FIRST, a little be about me..I live in (exotic...not really) in an area that is reletivly dry. We get around 600mm (or approx 20in?) of rain a year. The house that I share with my significant other (also known as John, but occasional answers to Skattie) is on a farm (we rent) and is rather exposed. The house faces almost due East and the wind blows almost constantly from thesouth-west. I love this house dearly and even though we are renting we are planning on living here for a good few years at least and I cannot bear the bare garden (ha...bad pun!). So...I have made a few gestures towards greening the place up...but any more hints and suggestions would be GREAT!.

I'm 26 and I live in South Africa. I live with my significant other, John (also answers to Skattie) and out two SPCA cats, Pepper and Fluffy (not original? Wait till you see her tail when she's excited!) The house that we rent is on a farm in the Eastern Cape. Our particular corner of paradise is located in a dry-ish area, we get around 600mm (or 20in?) of rain a year. The house faces almost due East (great if you like waking up at 4am...which I don't) and the garden is very exposed to the constant south-west wind. It's pretty empty save from some big-ish trees and shrubs all of which I will be keeping. It's fenced off from the surrounding patch of natural bush and general farm-y type work areas (sheds, tractor garage and the like). I ideally want to grow a hedge type thing for some privacy, and then attract birds and other beasties to the garden (I am an avid bird-watcher as is John ). I like flower beds and bright fragrent things, but all of these will need to be super-low maintenance and they will need to be very hardy and waterwise. We both work full time so we typically have the weekends only to work on the garden (and the house!) Our landlords provided us with three big bins for compost which includes all kitchen waste as well as grass clippings and leaves etc. We have a borehole, but our landlords have asked us not to use the water on the garden as it's too brackish and the subsequent salt buildup will slowly but surely wreak the soil. We have a watering can and a big rainwater tank that must make do. So, now that you all have some background, let me tell you what I have done. I have planted a few things, not much, mostly because I have NO idea what I am doing although the veggies that we planted on a whim did rather well! I've managed to sort of lay out one bed, but it's not doing very well, mostly due to water issues. I also have 1 small rockery and a bird-bath/feeder with succulents, which is doing ok considering the neglect! I'd love to get some advice on all aspects of gardening, from ideas on what to plant (indegenous only, SA has enough problems with invader species!), design tips, problem solving, and generally ideas from people who've been there and done it, and got the dirty grass-stained T-shirt to prove it! I've posted some pics of the garden as it is now...and I will keep updating these as we get more successful and hopfully, greener! Our front yard. The big tree stays-no idea what it is, but the birds love it! You can see our little bit of natural bush out to the right of the pic...

The back yard. We've made a veggie garden since these pic were taken. I will try to update. The big tree is an orange tree which provides LOTS of fruit. There's a small area for my herbs behind the green screen.... The concrete thing and the green thing are both rainwater tanks. The concrete one leaks. A lot of stuff is wilted cos of the wind....it's a learning curve!
Thrips, pesticide and veggie contamination

Thrips, pesticide and veggie contamination

Calandiva

Calandiva

we have VEGGIES!!!

we have VEGGIES!!!

Garden update…

Garden update…

My first seedlings!

My first seedlings!

Because you all do it so well!

Because you all do it so well!