No reason for radio silence

Except that I’ve just not got around to posting. πŸ™‚ Just a quick update post of what we’re doing and where we’ve been. πŸ™‚

We started off 3 weekends back with a visit from my Mum who stayed Friday until Sunday. She and I visiting Newlyn Antiques via a quick stop in Daylesford and both of us bought something antique. I simply could not resist purchasing a lovely doll from the 1940’s (I think) who was found face down crying on the chaise lounge where she had been placed after a very sad granddaughter of one of the staff was told she could not take dolly home. I picked her up to have a look, saw a very sweet doll with a lovely squishy, cuddly body and a darling face and best of all an extremely affordable price tag. I carried her around in my arms much to the amusement of the other staff. I just cannot carry a doll in any manner that would be inappropriate to carry a child. Habit I guess. πŸ˜‰ She will meet her new mummy in 7 more days when that new mummy turns 4. πŸ™‚ In the meantime she needs nappies and an ergo carrier made for her. πŸ™‚

Mum headed home on Sunday morning after her holiday and we enjoyed her staying as much as she enjoyed visiting. The weather had been appropriately cool so the fire was on for her to toast herself against, blankets on the bed for warmth and grand kids clambering on her just enough to ensure that none of her nerves are in anything other than working order. Nothing can find a pressure point better than a small child determined to climb on your lap to listen to a story except maybe 3 small children all vying for that same sacred lap space. πŸ˜‰ She left behind several memorised nursery rhymes and great memories as well as a few small toys. Nanna will be Nanna I guess. πŸ˜‰

Nanna read stories are the best! I think she read about 8.

Nanna read stories are the best!Β 

I harvestedΒ Β½ my garlic the other week, a little prematurely so it turns out but not by much. I filled Β½Β a wheelbarrow! πŸ˜€ Currently they’re in the shed taking up space on my clothes racks as they dry out so I can plait and hang them. Some of the heads are huge, others tiny. I planted a whole stack of varieties but my demarcation between varieties wasn’t permanent and in the end I realised I don’t really care which variety they are. Soft or hard neck is enough info for me, and tasty. So, to save next years seed garlic I plan to try a clove from each of the good-sized bulbs and if we (that is, Martin) like the bite and flavour then we will save the rest to plant. We’ll work from biggest down until we get enough for next year then we’ll just eat the rest. πŸ™‚

A large wheelbarrow full of garlic

A large wheelbarrow full of garlic

We replanted the vacated beds with Painted Mountain corn,Β Β a multicoloured corn saved by a farmer in Montana and it’s a good all-rounder. I doubt it’s as sweet as the F1 hybrids mostly sold these days but I like the fact that it can be eaten from the cob, dried for grinding for cornflour or even popped. I figure that the more uses a plant can be used for the better we will be set up should the predicted collapse happen this year. πŸ™‚ And they’re mega pretty too and pretty pleases the eye of my 3 fussy children which in turn means more food eaten and less wasted.

Half harvested, half planted. Overlapping the planting didn't work here as the few marigolds that had come up were displaced by digging up the garlic. No big issue there though.

Half harvested, half planted. Overlapping the planting didn’t work here as the few marigolds that had come up were displaced by digging up the garlic. No big issue there though.

I also planted pumpkins in each corner of the beds andΒ Β½ way along each edge too. I’ll repeat that planting in the other 1Β½ garlic beds when I harvest them in a few weeks. When the corn make their appearance and reach a manageable size I’ll plant a bean seed at the base of each. These 3 plants are the best known companion planting combination. The beans climb the corn and fix nitrogen in the soil (which may or may not be available to the corn – I’ve heard conflicting info there) and the pumpkins provide a living mulch and suppress weeds. It’s also great to get 3 crops from 1 space. πŸ™‚

I have had a bed fallow for a few weeks in which I planted some mangel wurzel seeds. Related to swedes and turnips, mangels are eaten when small by people or grown out large (think larger than a human head) and chopped up for animals during cold winters. Goats can’t eat much of them but they’re a traditional fodder crop for cows in the UK and the practice carried across to the Americas where winters are too harsh for the grass. I guess there was little need for them in Australia as mostly grass seems to survive the winter, even if it does grow slower. Still, I like the experiment of growing them. πŸ™‚

Mangel wurzels also known as mangold wurzels

I picked an onion, some potato onions and a fresh garlic the other week, before the garlic harvest as I wanted to see how the onions and potato onions have gone. Eye watering! πŸ˜€ The garlic however I’d come across an interesting recipe for fresh garlic (found here) or more to the point, 3 recipes. πŸ™‚ I just HAD to try them out and I can’t say I’m disappointed. The fresh garlic has a flavour that’s best described as more immediate. It’s lacking in the subtlety of normal garlic but it was fresh and zingy in a way like ginger. It’s not a huge difference but it is different. And better than that is the fact that there is more of the garlic that can be used. The outer paper on garlic we know is still fresh and viable and it can be sliced and diced for soup, like onions. The stems are also green and can be eaten like spring onions. The paper around each individual clove they recommended to simmer lightly and then puree with 1/2 the weight in good olive oil to make a sort of aioli or garlic butter. It didn’t work too well with just the papers from 1 head of garlic but what I did make was delicious. It would be divine spread on toasted sourdough bread served with French onion soup or tomato soup I reckon. Moments like this I miss bread. 😦

Speaking of bread, we’ve been gluten/most grains free for a while now and I’m loving it on the whole. I do miss the convenience of toast for breakfast when I can’t be bothered cooking and there are times the therapy of toast or ease of pasta would be great but I do NOT miss the crippling cramps or the challenging behaviour. No, my kids haven’t developed wings and a halo each overnight but there has been a dramatic improvement with the removal of gluten. We are officially now one of those families that are difficult for whom to cater. πŸ˜‰ No worries though, we happily self cater. πŸ™‚

We’ve also worked our way through the broad bean bed, 1 large harvest followed by several other small ones. Still they keep coming. πŸ™‚ The kids had a blast podding them and we had visitors, the lovely family from the New Good Life blog, Barbara and her 2 daughters. They also chipped in divesting the fat broad beans from their pods which was a lot o fun with us all working away. We had tears at home-time so I cannot wait for another play date. In the new year methinks. πŸ™‚

Podding broad beans

Podding broad beans

Dressing up is the best!

Dressing up is the best!

We’ve also spent some time cooking up Christmas treats. I gave quinoa rumballs a go from Quarter Acre Lifestyle‘s blog. I must admit I made 2 adjustments. Firstly I rolled half of the balls in cocoa as they weren’t overly chocolately and I know some like them rich. The rest I added some sultanas into the mix and rolled them in coconut. I love my rumballs full of fruit. The best ones I ever made used coconut rum (it’s all I had) and were loaded with glacΓ©dΒ cherries and sultanas but as we are now both gluten-free and refined sugar-free, compromises must be made. These treats are on the menu for my kids πŸ™‚ Here’s hoping the extended family appreciate them.



I have also made a variety of other Christmas goodies, all gf sf recipes and I’m hoping to share them soon. A blog of links isn’t all that good reading though so it will have to wait until my brain is functioning a little better. πŸ˜‰

Saturday saw us taking some time out as a family to attend the Back in Time festival in Gordon. The fair was filled with stalls promoting local services and products, a few 2nd had stalls, plant stalls and of course the foodie stalls. There were also some rides aimed at younger kids. Allegra was insistent about riding the swing carousel. When it got really high her little face looked a bit worried but mostly she grinned from ear to ear. It was rather funny watching this tiny little blonde girl in her lilac dress swinging around but when she got off I realised I was shaking like a leaf. Jasper was all keen to go until he saw how high it went. Orik found the single gap small enough to slip through, fortunately whilst the swings were stopped and empty and the ride operator was kind enough to pop him on and give him 3 or 4 rounds on low-speed. He had a blast. His face dropped though when the ride stopped. The 2 older ones then had a go on the jumping castle slide whilst Orik went in the other jumping castle with the other littlies. All 3 had a great time as did Martin and I. πŸ™‚

The expression changed depending upon the speed of the ride.

The expression changed depending upon the speed of the ride.

Skirts and slide do NOT mix!

Sunday saw Jasper and I out for a Mummy and son breakfast involving bacon, eggs, tomatoes and sausages. More sausages than a little boy could eat! πŸ˜€ Afterwards we headed down to visit Lynda from Living in the Land of Oz to pick up some cupboards she no longer wanted which in a house with limited storage are most welcome here. πŸ™‚ In fact they’re in and half filled already with Christmas crafts, gifts (not that the kids know that πŸ˜‰ ) and some of our crafting supplies. A tour of the veggie garden revealed a few changes, discussion over passionfruit vine growing (we both have very slow-growing vines) and whilst we chatted we all gorged ourselves on the delicious platter of fruits and bowls of yoghurt Lynda put out for us. A lovely healthy snack. Thanks Lynda. πŸ˜€

Yesterday saw a real taste of summer with 35Β°C to enjoy. We slapped on the sunscreen and hats and hit the garden after a careful look around to make sure next doors resident tiger snake hadn’t come to visit. My goal was to re-pot the tomato plants, ranging between 2 and 6 inches in height and all in desperate need of re-potting since they were still in the seedling tray in which they’d begun their life. Jasper and Allegra helped me with filling all the various pots we could find with soil and then we started planting them out. The larger ones we tried to give a pot alone but the smaller ones had to share, 3 or even 4 to a pot for the tiny ones. I have 2mΒ³ of lovely compost in the drive way awaiting the beds designated for the tomatoes to be weeded. When they’re ready and the soil in them I shall replant the tomatoes out but until then they simply refused to wait any more. After a couple of hot days in the greenhouse, the tiny amount of soil in the tray dried out and as a result we had less to pot up than we could have. 😦 As it was we have 52 tomato plants to plant out. Those, including the 15 or so out the front will hopefully be enough.

Cheeky smile

Cheeky smile

Carefully watering each, speaking words of endearment to each plant as she watered.

Carefully watering whilst speaking words of endearment to each plant.

During the potting works, Allegra kept up a steady stream, telling me how much she loved tomatoes and how this one or that one were a boy or a girl and how she loved them. If kisses help tomato plants to grow then my tomatoes will definitely be the best in the world! πŸ˜‰ They all received a good dose of seaweed solution (yes I know I should have used worm wee but I didn’t think about it until I was half way through Lynda 😦 ) and a thorough watering in, being temporarily housed around the edges of the bed planted out with sweet potatoes. They’re not up so the tomatoes won’t encroach on their space.

Sweet potato tubers planted in the middle - the slips were taking too long so I took a shortcut - less productive but you get that.

Sweet potato tubers planted in the middle – the slips were taking too long so I took a shortcut – less productive but you get that.

A big pot of little pots. Easier to carry.

A big pot of little pots. Easier to carry.

I was given this old kitchen shelf thingy ages back by my mum that has no place in our new pantry so it’s been in the greenhouse for seedlings trays to sit on but as most of my greenhouse is garden beds it just sinks into the soil. I’d had an idea that I could hang it from the roof of the greenhouse and yesterday, using a little scrap wire I had a go at doing just that. I can only describe the results as easy success. πŸ˜€ If it keeps the mice from eating the seeds I will count it the best thing I’ve ever done! I’ve a couple of tomato plants on it at the moment, strength testing.

If it works I'll cut off the legs of the thing and look for more racks to hang all along. They're high enough to dodge most of the plants growing underneath so call that space saving.

I’ll cut off the legs one day but I’m on the lookout for more. I reckon those plastic bread trays would be even better. Anyone have some spare?

The kids and I also had a go at making a kitchen window herb garden but I’ll save the details for a post over atΒ the Pint Sized Permies. πŸ˜‰

Today was spent with a trip to Bunnings for Christmas gift craft supplies and then a trip into the dreaded shopping centre as K-Mart (oh the horror) sell the necessary gift for Dad cheapest (can’t share – he reads my blog πŸ˜‰ ) More on the crafting again over at the Pint Sized Permies. πŸ™‚

Anyway, there’s my not so quick update on the last 3 weeks. I think with just under 2500 words I’m rivaling a Narf7 at her little black duck best. πŸ˜‰


21 thoughts on “No reason for radio silence

  1. narf77 says:

    Yup…I am using more pictures now so you WIN! :). The seaweed solution is a good all round plant conditioner. Add the worm wee as well, the more the merrier ;). Again, I feel positively exhausted just reading one of your posts. You are like some kind of manic street preacher on steroids girl! I need to gets me a passionfruit vine or two (and plant out my chocko) and will make sure to plant something dead underneath it to ensure it goes mental and I earn the envy of both you and Lynda D ;). It looks like it is all stations go in Ballan…here in Sidmouth it’s a slow progression to normalcy as I am still a bit shell shocked after the late push for the front with studies. Looks like there weren’t many of us that finished the course (I wonder why? πŸ˜‰ ) but we did! The garden is doing its thang and I am about to create new garden beds today. I noticed the horse poo advocate is back in the area and so I should be able to get more horse poo to stockpile. SO much to do and so little time! Good to see SOMEONE has a handle on Christmas, I haven’t even contemplated it much aside from thinking about what to take to the girls impromptu new family celebration and tradition of having a family get together on Christmas Eve so that everyone can do whatever the heck they want on Christmas Day…suits me! :). Keep getting out there and dirty so the rest of us can live vicariously through your hard work πŸ˜‰

    • Not that I was really aiming to win! πŸ˜‰ Until you started mentioning word counts I hadn’t even noticed the word counter on the page! lol
      Yeah, you grow a super passionfruit you horti student you. I’m planning to “mulch” mine with some poopy straw from the goat shed and see how it likes them apples. Some of the stuff pulled out a few weeks back most likely so I don’t burn it to death with ammonia and nitrogen. πŸ˜‰
      Have you still not planted out that poor choko? And its not dead? Or 20ft tall in a pot already? I wonder how they’d go in a pot… Might give me the climate necessary to grow them Or maybe I could attempt it in the greenhouse, turning it into a shadehouse with internal shade… If it makes a bid for freedom through the roof vents then all fine and good, the frost will kill off the escapee tendrils but I might just make harvest that way. I have a space in there so I reckon I might just give that a go. πŸ™‚ Nothing to lose right? πŸ˜‰
      Your studies would have left me in a quivering heap with no energy left to even wake up I reckon. I’m impressed with what you achieve whilst studying too!
      I envy you your poo too. πŸ˜›
      Christmas frightens the crap out of me but if I don’t it doesn’t get done. We also have birthdays in there – Allegra on the 11th, Nanna the 20th and my nephews are early Jan and early Feb. I usually do the big run of commercial shopping (not everyone appreciates second hand or homemade gifts I’m afraid) and get the lot over and done with. I also have to buy the kids Christmas and Allegra’s birthday gifts from my MIL who sends money in order to thwart the postal system. A lot of eBaying! I despise shopping centres these days!
      I’ve got a lot of my own posting to do and that should sort out Christmas and before the “Oh crap, Christmas Eve shopping” moments I’ve had in the past. Lessons learned the hard way, believe me.
      As for getting out and dirty, if the rain has stopped, bung on a jumper and a hat (where did summer go?) and go plant that poor choko!

      • narf77 says:

        Lol…the choko says “hi” waving from the glasshouse along with the 2 mango trees that survived the winter nicely and seem hell bent on growing like topsy in this lovely warmth we are basking in today. I don’t have to worry about Christmas any more aside from how I “want” to. The kids are grown and no-one has to be told fibs. I remember Madeline asking me about Father Christmas when she was about 12 as someone had told her that he didn’t exist. Up till that point the ex and I had been buying gifts from us, and a sack from Santa each so the kids were rolling in gifts and when I admitted that he didn’t exist Madeline ran away crying calling out “you lied to me!” Bethany didn’t care but Madeline is still pissed at me for fibbing all of these years later. We will do the quiet lovely tasty spesh Christmas food but just enough for one meal and will swill it all down with something exotic for the day and then it will be over and done with for another year. I really like the idea of the family pre-Christmas the day before as that way you sort of get 2 Christmases and everyone gets what they want :). Now I just have to hope that the ebay gifts that I ordered for the girls from Korea get here before Christmas! They were sent on December 2 so that’s a good sign :). I am off to plant Audrey 2 (choko) right bleeding now! I found 30 odd possum sucked loquat seeds on the side of the road this morning after my HUGE walk with Earl and am going to stick them directly into the ground all over the place…surely 1 or two will grow to fruition (and fruit). Earl sends slobbers but only because of that mention of that delicious goat poo…he would LOVE to roll in it πŸ˜‰

        • My pooey straw just got turned into hilling up potato mulch. I took a little peep and they’re about the size of my 1st joint on my thumb at the moment so I’m hoping they’re big enough to bandicoot for Xmas. Might be baby spuds but I reckon it will be MY spuds. πŸ™‚ The parsnips won’t be even close unless they explode in size in 3 weeks. Nor the carrots. Even the baby carrots are unlikely to be of size. 😦 Still, I’m working on Martin to chop a duck – it’s different to a chook he says. I have broccoli frozen from my garden although the peas are done and dusted for the year. I doubt the beans will mature in time but I can deal with what we have. πŸ™‚ There will be herbs and rocket and radishes and maybe even a few home grown strawberries. I’m happy with that. πŸ˜€
          Unbelievably warmth is only possible today from Ignisa and the oven. It is hailing if you can believe it?!?! just loving Summer so far. 😦
          Yeah, the challenges of eBay. They’re wonderful as long as no deadline looms. lol Loquats are DIVINE and a mild but noticable sedative so bring in on! Let me know if it works on dogs. πŸ˜‰
          Tell Earl that poo is MINE! He can chase the lizards around your horsepoo. πŸ˜›

          • narf77 says:

            Don’t let the other ducks see you, ducks aren’t like chooks, they are smart and will remember. I picked up some wonderful looking black radish seed in Hobart. I got all kinds of weird and wonderful including purple heading artichokes, White Dutch runner beans, Tomatillos, Salsify ‘Sandwich Island’ (whatever THAT is πŸ˜‰ ), Scorzonera (a long black root aka oyster plant), rosella and the black radishes. Probably NO hope of getting most of them in this year but that won’t stop me :). I am eating my strawberries as fast as they turn red (in order to stop the blackbirds from helping themselves). Hailing?!!! Lovely here πŸ™‚ Earl isn’t allowed in the veggie garden any more after digging his weights worth of dirt out of the garden. He needs all the chook poo he can get ;).

  2. Fran is so right….how on earth do you do so much with your kiddies to look after! Your garden sounds so productive (1/2 your garlic filled a wheelbarrow?!) and I haven’t even thought Christmas yet let alone do anything constructive to make it easier near the time eg shopping, cooking….
    LOVELY nana pic πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    • Not quite on the garlic front. 1/2 my garlic filled just over 1/2 my wheelbarrow. It would have been packed to the gunwales if I’d harvested it all. πŸ™‚ Martin loves garlic so plenty is needed to geep us going. Last year we bought 3kg of organic garlic and it didn’t even last 6 months. 😦 8kg is probably a years supply. I’m hoping we have 8kg but time will tell.
      The garlic harvest and corn planting afternoon came at a price, namely the ingestion of large amounts of rapadura sugar by 2 enterprising kids who climbed the pantry, permanent marker on my kitchen bench and soap everywhere in the bathroom. Orik ate half a fruitbowl of fruit too, the price of which we both paid in different ways about 2 days later. Tomato planting day involved keys in my pocket and locking the back door although I did have to let jas back in for something where he promptly ate half my honey (leaving the rest in strategic places for the joy of its stickiness – floor, door handle, couch etc 😦 )
      Mostly I try to get at least the older 2 involved in what I’m doing. Orik is only 2 and not interested and not really of much help yet either but both Jas and Egga can, when the mood strikes them, be incredibly helpful. πŸ™‚ It also helps keep them out of trouble (a little).

      • lol, this makes them sound like a bunch of little monkeys let loose in a home πŸ™‚

        • They are kind of like that sometimes. Energy to spare and more than enough brains between the 3 of them (if they co-operate) to outsmart me much of the time. 😦

          • And just think…one day you’ll have 3 teenagers πŸ™‚ Ah, the joys….lol. I think your kids look very happy, healthy wee people, you sound like you are giving them a great life and good on you. Hard going it can be but it will all pay off when you see them parenting their own kids one day with what they have learned from you…then there is that karma thing!!!!

            • One day I will have an 18th and a 21st birthday within 2 days of each other with a 20 year old with LONG legs and blonde hair to parade around at both her brothers parties in front of their hormone filled friends. 😦
              My Mum is laughing at Karma now as it is indeed a bitch. If I bemoan the challenges of parenting to her she will literally laugh smugly and say “you were just like that”. Thanks for the help Mum!
              Still, 3 teenagers means 3 lots of help I don’t have to pay for so maybe it won’t be so bad. πŸ˜‰ Ah, who am I kidding. Teenagers don’t help! πŸ˜›

  3. Linne says:

    Love this post! No time to reply to everything, but I have two bits for you:
    In North America, the 1st Nations peoples who planted corn with beans and pumpkins would put a dead fish in the bottom of the planting hole, then some dirt, then the seeds. The fish provided nitrogen enough to keep it all going. When I had a garden, I used liquid fish fertilizer in the hole under some dirt and later fertilized again with it, this time watered down. Worked well.

    Second: loved the photo of the Mangel Wurzels and simply HAVE to share this from one of my ‘other’ favourite groups (did I ever mention that my taste in all things is VERY eclectic?):

    and for when you have apples:

    Enjoy! ~ Linne

    • As a fan of Melanie Safka I spent my teenage years laying candles down and wondering about that brand new key. πŸ˜‰ Have to love the Wurzels though. πŸ™‚ And a good cup o scrumpy too. πŸ™‚ Did you know my heritage is Cornish though? πŸ˜€
      I wonder whether burying bones from dinner – chop bones and the like – would work in place of fish? Although the trout heads from dinner the other night could have done the trick I guess. Still, it could be a good use for those wretched carp. The law is here that if you catch a carp you can’t release it back as they’re a HUGE pest and have decimated local fish breeds. My brother loves fishing though and catches them often so I might just send him out to catch me a bucket or 2 of carp next October for corn bed burial. πŸ™‚ If I pay the petrol and supply worms from the wormery (which I will get up and running soon) then I reckon he’ll be in. πŸ™‚

      • Linne says:

        How odd; I remember her songs and have her voice in my head forever, but never knew her name. I grew up without tv and only heard music on the radio (except what we made at home, of course). Yeah, I love the Wurzels; no accounting for taste . . . something about their energy, I think; that’s often the case for me. Am now listening to Melanie as I type . . . thanks so much!! ‘Brand New Key’, too . . .

        I did NOT know your heritage is Cornish, but that explains a lot . . . I am a HUGE fan of Mary Stewart’s Merlin quadrology (is that the word I want?) and therefore of Cornwall, Stonehenge, et al.

        No, bones won’t do it; too slow and not the same nutrients. You need the whole fish. Carp sounds good, remember to put them under a layer of dirt so the roots find them once they are established. Good to have a brother who likes to fish and who catches carp! And all for the price of a few worms . . . πŸ˜‰

        Am loving Melanie (again); one thing I liked about the Wurzels is how they took established songs and wrote their own words to the music. I did a bit of that years ago and it’s al lot of fun.

        “some people say I’ve done all right, for a girl” . . . lol

  4. Lynda says:

    Glad you like the cupboards. Awesome space hey! At least now they are filled with something useful instead of crap. I need to plant some more stuff but lack the space. I think i need a few more beds. I dont know how you do anything with 3 little kids, honest. They are go go go and if i had known that they like a story i would have sat them down for book time. I bow down to your awesomeness in all things…..

    • Linne says:

      Lynda, maybe what she needs is a few mroe kids; my Mum had nine and was smart enough to have me first πŸ˜‰ I was like a second mother from before I can remember and it was good training for when I had my own two. I would have liked a half dozen or so, though.

      I love kids who love to be read to; I’m hoping to record myself reading some of our family classics so my own grandkids can listen to me. When you do read to Jess’ kids, read one for me, will you?

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