Invaders! Plant problems and a magazine review

Invaders! Invaders! Red alert! Red alert! Red alert!

I picked off the aphid infested leaves for the chooks.

I have my first invaders of the insect kind in my garden. Well, in my gutter gardens to be exact. My gutter garden has been going great guns and we have had several harvests from the lettuce growing there. The rocket is not far from harvest either. It still hasn’t made it to its final home and isn’t even hanging up. My husband – an engineer – felt the existing hooks weren’t strong enough to carry the weight. I have to concur but it isn’t worth new hooks before we move so it’s currently resting on some chairs. So, once we move I will have some strong hooks installed and the garden will be hung up. I can’t even take it up until I am able to get up there at least every 2 days to water it either. Frustrating, as the 4 sugar snap peas planted to grow up the wires, are starting to be in need of some support.I may have to provide some temporary stakes I think. Well, anyway, as I tried to deal with Orik who was feeling grumpy and destructive due to being tired, he grabbed a lettuce leaf and tore it (no big deal as the chooks can have it) but I noticed that there was something on the back of the leaf which wasn’t up to the standard of the other leaves. An aphid! So this is the first time I have had to deal with pests in the garden. Dr Google and Pinterest are always a great help and I found this page with a recipe for a natural aphid insecticide. It is safe enough that it wouldn’t be a problem if my kids ate the leaves, although they may find it doesn’t taste so great. We would still wash before eating but I love the fact that we don’t absolutely HAVE to!

My poor sick lemon tree

I’ve had some other issues I’ve needed to look into too. My new lemon tree which I bought at CERES a few weeks back is looking a little unwell and has lost many of its leaves. Again, Dr Google has helped and I am thinking that my poor plant is probably hungry. Lemons are high nitrogen feeders so time for some grass clippings and a top up of compost I think.

Next health check is for my avocado trees. They have been grown from seed by my parents and I am hoping to be able to supply most of the Eastern Seaboard with fruit from them. My parents tree is a prolific bearer so here’s hoping they have passed that wonderful trait on to their progeny. Well, all three of the trees have some leaves that are looking pretty sick, one in particular. A quick look on Dr Google and it appears I have not sufficiently neglected my tree and I have possibly given it too much water! You have to laugh – killing it with kindness (and not very much kindness at that). Apparently they are very sensitive to change, so a car ride for 40 minutes and the loud noises that emanate from my children have probably sent they 3 dears into full on panic mode! I shall move them to a semi-rain sheltered area on my deck then leave them until the Ballan move. Here’s hoping the drier conditions and easily neglectable position will help them recover before being moved and transplanted out.

The almonds that are no more.

The fourth problem I have had to deal with this morning is more in the nature of a small child. Someone thought it would be fun to pick the growing almonds off my almond tree and throw them around the garden. I have lost several of what was a fairly prolific second crop. Last year the poor thing grew 3 almonds that never reached maturity. This year I was overjoyed and a little dismayed to realise it has like 20-30 fruit growing nicely, and all of good size too. Sadly I now have around 10 less! My dismay at the fruit is due to the fact I had assumed it was not self pollinating or able to fruit and had decided not to repot it in winter to take to Ballan. Now I have missed the chance until probably May next year, by which stage we shall probably have tenants in the house. I’m not sure yet if I will be able to take it with us, which I would dearly love to. If I can, both the almond and the apple (of unknown cultivar) will come with us. Ah for opportunities lost.

My 34th birthday has thankfully come and gone with little fuss again this year (I absolutely despise my birthday). I received a wonderful gift from my family though – a selection of gardening magaines. And it is one of these that I wish to share as I have found it informative and helpful for beginner gardeners like myself. The magazine is Good Organic Gardening and it came with an extra included called The Organic Backyard. It is, as it says, “Your complete guide to growing  vegetables and herbs”. I was able to sit down, with the crop rotation information chart I found on page 26, as well as the vegies A-Z (pages 31-78) and plan out what I was planting where and with what I would plant it. Excitement much?

Carrot top seeds

Sunflowers and pumpkins

Other news to report is that our planted carrot tops appear t be setting seed! STOKED!, my corn and pumpkin seeds are doing well, my watermelon seeds didn’t appreciate being transferred into their newspaper pots so I am hoping they recover before I plant them out in a couple of weeks, zucchinis, more tomatoes (I’m hoping for a glut for canning and bottling), more sunflowers (great for the chooks to eat and hopefully we can have some for us too), tomato seedlings are all doing well in their newspaper pots although they all need a little more sunlight than they get so I have a new tray on a chair that gets moved to the sunlight patches system that seems to be helping. My mandarin is also in full bloom so hoping for a prolific first crop.

3 strawberry flowers!

My seedlings and Minnie cat watching over them

Other than that I am watching Jasper chasing butterflies, Allegra is swinging and Orik sleeping. The sun is shining and it’s a lovely day.

Fruit trees

We are down to 1 sleep! 1 more sleep until we bid on the start of our new life. I dreamed about the auction last night. I dreamed that I was busy doing something and then realised just as the auctioneer started on the “going… going…” Gut wrench! So, I woke up with the jitters and nerves this morning. Thankfully a friend was coming over and we planned a trip to either Collingwood Childrens Farm or CERES. We chose CERES and off we went. After discussions with Martin we had decided to buy our fruit trees and have them ready to plant out so I was given a licence to shop. Not as dangerous as it sounds, I’m not a huge fan of shopping, unless I’m op shopping but I must admit I had a good time choosing my trees and varieties.

I bought a cherry tree.

2 apple trees, A dwarf Red Delicious and a dwarf  Red Fuji and they both cross pollinate each other. Just need my Granny Smith now.

And a dwarf peach tree. Absolutely stoked to find this variety too. It’s a prolific bearer and prized for it’s bottling properties which is for what it is primarily wanted. Can’t wait to harvest and bottle my very own peaches! 😀

A mulberry tree which I plan to grow next to our chicken yard so they can gobble up any fallen berries. As I sit here looking at the picture I can smell my Nanna’s amazing mulberry pie in my memory. That 20+ year old memory is why I decided to plant a mulberry tree.

A lemon tree which has some big boots to fill. I am used to trying to figure out what to do with a surplus of lemons every year so I have high expectations of this fellow.

And some sultana grape vines. I am hoping to be able to dry some of our own sultanas in the future. We go through an awful lot of ‘tarnies’ in our house.

I still have a few other trees and berry bushes to get but I’m not in such a burning hurry now that I have these. I would like my apricot tree and olive trees in this year too but it doesn’t look likely to happen. For now though, I am a happy camper. We just need to unpack them all from the car in the morning. Oops. :/

Oh, and there is a 50% off sale on bare rooted trees at the moment too. Time to get down and grab a bargain.

Well, my sourdough is in the fridge ready for baking in the morning. The car is packed, the snacks are ready by the door for loading when we load up the kids, Martin has the bike and accessories ready, now just to try and get some sleep then get kids ready in the morning then off to Ballan we go. The last 6 weeks had seemed a very long time to wait 6 weeks ago but now that it’s here I can only say time has flown. I will let you all know how we go tomorrow. Wish us luck. 😀

A family Eco day.

Saturday was a bit of a mad rush. I had decided to try and cram several things into the day and by some plans changing last night there was a few extra bits needed doing today as well. And of course I just had to have a sleep in too. 😉

The morning was the Spotswood Primary School Farmers Market, our local farmers market and as we had not been in a few months I was determined to pop down and pick up some veggies. We made it down there and stocked up on some lovely fresh veggies, then headed off to CERES for lunch and a wander around.

Have you ever been to CERES? Down in Brunswick, it’s build on a decommissioned landfill and it’s an absolute heaven of organic fruits and vegetables, an organics shop where you can buy in your own containers and in bulk, a nursery and a small market area. There is a bike co-op, chickens galore, a rammed earth tyre retaining wall in nature of practice for building an earthship and oh so much more. It is absolutely mind boggling how much ecological information, sustainable practice and organic produce is packed into 4.5 hectares (just over 11 acres). It is an amazing place and there never seems to be enough time to explore it properly. Sadly there was not enough time this time either, but we had a lovely lunch and grabbed a few snacks and bits before heading off to Ballan to check the house out again.

The rest of the afternoon was spent looking over and seeing if our castle in the air dreams will fit onto the reality of the house (they should YAY :D) and then a trip home with chicken and chips for dinner (can’t believe people STILL use polystyrene containers :() and a late night after baking bread and cupcakes for Sunday’s party.

Apart from chips in polystyrene (absolute evil for the environment as it can’t be recycled and nor does it break down) I feel we didn’t do too bad in caring for old Gaia. We took most of our own snacks, the ones we bought were organic and our car gets very good mileage per litre.

So what did your Saturday entail?