The final countdown.

Nothing like a post named after a classic 80’s song! As I listen to the lyrics it gets me thinking. We have only one planet. If we screw it up beyond its ability to support life what are we going to do? Venus, the moon, Mars and all the other theoretical colonisation planets and satellites are just that, theoretical only. Dreams of “maybe one day” but not even close to reality as far as I know. So, even if it isn’t the final countdown to blast off into outer space and planetary colonisation, it is the final countdown for the health of our planet. We, all of us, really need to change our thinking, focus on a sustainable lifestyle that doesn’t use up all our resources. If we use up all the oil resources today what will happen if we really do NEED it? And I mean must have it or face extinction level of need. Hmmm. I don’t think we’re verging on extinction of our species quite yet but it would be nice to know there is still some fossil fuels left in case of emergency.

Anyway, I digress. The final countdown in this instance referred to the countdown counter on the left of the page. Counting down until auction day. And we are not just into single digits either. We are into the final week! 6 sleeps! I feel like I used to feel when I was a child counting down until Christmas! And even our children are excited. Jasper keeps asking when we are moving to “Balland” and loves going in the “Balland house” as he calls it. Allegra is just as excited and talking about “Bee-And” often. And Martin and I are planning, discussing, working out and figuring in all we need to for the move and necessary repairs, renovations, additions and general logistics. You would think it was a sure thing the way we are planning.

I am ready and rearing to install my garden beds and have made several improvements to the plain 6 or 7 raised beds I had planned. I think I am now up to 10 beds and a pallet retaining wall planted with strawberries and herbs to surround it and keep out marauding children and chickens. The chicken pen has been mentally upgraded at least once too and we are knee deep in discussions of sheds, fences, paint, kitchen designs (I have never been in a position to plan an entire kitchen), wardrobes, floors and numerous other bits and bobs. It’s a good thing Ballan is an hours drive away as when we drive up and back on the weekends we have had a tonne of time to plan, discuss and work out what’s happening. Exciting times.

And in order to be ready to plant out as soon as the beds are ready and compost delivered, we planted some more seeds this morning. This time we tried a nifty variation on the milk cartons we have been using that came up in my Pinterest feed this morning. The link had referenced 2 other links which are here and here. And since I had about 10 milk and orange juice bottles waiting on the bench I figured it was a sign that we needed to sow some more seeds. This time we planted red cabbages, hyssop, more tomatoes (I FINALLY have one sprouting from the first planting too), some more radishes and some chives, the last 2 being the seeds given to Jasper for his birthday. He was really excited to see the radishes that had sprouted too. And I’m excited by the carpet of rocket seedlings which I sowed thickly as I didn’t expect much to happen with the seeds being so past their best before date (about 8 or 9 years I think). We will be rolling in rocket in a month or so I think. So excited to be seeing results in our improvised little nursery. 😀

Speaking of results, I am seeing bubbles in my sourdough starters too. I fed them both yesterday which means I made a paste of 1 1/2 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups of filtered water (needs to be free of chlorine) and then add 1 1/2 cups of the original starter (or whichever quantities you use but keep them equal portions) so they are happy little wild yeasts. More feeding tonight and then again tomorrow and hopefully I can bake on Wednesday or Thursday. Excited much?!

It’s been such an exciting time in the lead up to the auction, the preparations, the learning, the reading (more on that next post) and discussions with like-minded friends like Corrie-Lyn over at Homesteading on a one dollar dream but I am so ready to get out there, get moved in and get homesteading!

 

Gardening with my children

As previously stated, I’m not much of a green thumb. Well, I haven’t been until now. It seems the gardening bug has finally bitten me hard enough to keep me infected. Well, here’s hoping anyway.

I’ve spent the last 2 days trawling eBay for my seeds. I was determined to avoid anything genetically modified although I have purchased a hybrid sweet corn which is apparently a natural cross (I don’t mind this so much but would have preferred an heirloom variety). I’ve had a wonderful time deciding if I should get traditional heading broccoli or one that grows more like the florets I would cut it into, and which of the wacky and wonderful colours to buy them in. Did you know that there are heirloom varieties of brussel sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower that all come in purple! I decided to go for a traditional cauli but the purple broccoli I just could not go past. And Martin opted for purple sprouts too (they’re bought for him to eat after all, I don’t like them).

I’ve bought rainbow carrots, black skinned watermelon, purple beans, purple cabbage (seems to be quite a purple theme in both vegetable and in my choice of varieties) as well as some other less traditional food plants. I’ve bought nasturtiums which are pretty, easy to grow and the leaves and flowers are both edible. The baby leaves are quite nice, albeit spicy as I remember from picking through my grandmothers garden but I think the larger leaves were a bit too bitey for me as a child. I thought the children would enjoy enjoy growing sunflowers too (as would I as I have never grown them either) and I’ve also bought dandelions. Yes, the bright yellow flowers with their “clock” seed pods. The flowers, leaves and roots are all edible and the roots can be harvested and used as a coffee substitute.

This last point is one of the reasons I bought them. I LOVE my coffee but all coffee where I live here in Melbourne comes with some usually substantial carbon miles, even more so for decaf if it has been decaffeinated using Swiss water technique. Once peak oil strikes, coffee is going to become very very pricey and probably an excellent source of currency. Yes, some coffee is grown in Australia but it is not going to be anywhere near enough to supply the caffeine addiction of Australians. Having something I can replace it with would be great. Anyway, I figured it’s worth a try. The leaves and flowers can all be used in salads too and I believe there are also medicinal uses for dandelions. I fully intend on growing them in a gutter in order to prevent my garden beds and lawn from being taken over by what most of us consider to be a weed though.

I’ve also bought hyssop and marigolds. Hyssop was an impulse buy as apparently it attracts insects but repels white cabbage moth and I know that white cabbage moth can decimate brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbages) so I figured it would look great planted at the end of my vegetable beds and be nice and useful too. Marigolds are a wonderful red, orange and yellow flowering plant and although I’m not sure if I have the correct variety, I know Calendula is another name for it (or at least some of them) so I may have a wonderful healing herb on hand as well as something that is great when grown with tomatoes.

One of my other main objectives over the next 2 months is to get my children, Jasper in particular, interested in gardening. So far so good. We started with growing alfalfa in egg cartons cut lengthwise which had added pipe cleaners and drawn on eyes for hairy caterpillars. Surprisingly and happily I discovered that Jasper enjoyed eating the sprouts too. Win-win there I’d say.

Our second foray into kids and gardening was to sprout the carrot tops we’d cut off from our heirloom carrots we’d blanched last week. The helpful point here was that many of the tops had already sprouted so I just popped them in a cloth lined tray and kept the cloth damp (out of paper towel). Some have done well, others not so well but today we planted them in soil. I know they won’t grow a new tap root (the part we eat) but I am hoping to be able to grow them to produce seeds which means I will have scored some heritage organic seeds for nothing more than the price of some potting mix, a little water and 2 milk cartons, 1 apple juice carton and an orange juice carton which is what we cut down to plant them in. I am all out of pots. Apparently they should grow into quite a pretty ornamental plant too so another win-win here.

Jasper and I also had a bonding day a few weekends ago where we went to Bunnings and bought a pot, potting mix and something to plant in it. Completely Jaspers choice – he wanted to plant some flowers. He chose 2 punnets, 1 of yellow toned violas and 1 of black violas for tiger flowers.we planted them together and we water them together when they need it. I am very much looking forward to masses of flowers to reward him for his hard work.

gardening with childrenOur next gardening job will be to plant our seeds to have seedlings ready for planting out once we’ve moved as I plan to get in our veggie beds the minute we get settlement on the house (planning ahead much for a house that we haven’t even yet purchased? lol). We will start planting our seeds in 2-3 weeks. Until then I need to keep our thumbs green so I am looking for some more kid gardening ideas. I’m thinking egg heads with alfalfa hair for a start but I could use some more ideas. I also plan to make some newspaper pots for growing our seedlings in which I think the kids will love helping with that, and we might try and grow some spring onions from the cut tips too. I also want to try and sprout some cannelini beans or borlotti beans (depends which I have in the pantry), some chick peas and even some chia and quinoa, all of which we could subsequently grow to harvest.