Happy Father’s Day and happy day to me

Happy Father’s Day for yesterday to all the fathers out there around the world, whether or not your country celebrates Fathers Day today or not. πŸ™‚ Continue reading

I hate weedmat

I hate weed-mat. 😦
I detest weed-mat. 😦
I loathe, despise and abhor weed-mat. 😦
Just in case you are in any doubt, I cannot stand weed-mat! And when it’s covered in pebbles and a tonne of weeds are growing on top of the mat (yeah, highly effective isn’t it 😦 ) and it all needs to be moved in order to do what we want to in the garden, well it is wretched, frustrating and non-recyclable rubbish. And our front garden is riddled with the stuff!

This is just one pile of weed-mat. There are still 3-4 more piles of the stuff lying around not to mention the bin is loaded full too. Oh, and there is still an area that would be 50m2 to clear of sand and gravel before we can pull up what appears to be thin plastic weed-mat.

This is just one pile of used (and now useless) weed-mat. There are still 3-4 more piles of the stuff lying around not to mention the bin is loaded full too. Oh, and there is still an area that would be 7 metres by 7 metres to clear of pavers, sand stones, sundry rubbish, weeds and gravel before we can pull up what appears to be thin plastic weed-mat underneath. And it must come up if we are to plant there too.

Happy Father’s Day to all those Aussie Dads out there. We spent our Father’s Day making Dad earn his keep I’m afraid. πŸ˜‰ We have ripped, torn, pulled, tugged, lifted and dug up several different types of weed-mat today, installed 1 of the 2 cherry tree beds (the separation is to allow for a tap that runs through next to our old front steps) and started on the second one. We planted out our strawberries (I’ll pick up more of them on sale up at Diggers some time this week πŸ™‚ ) Β and I also planted out 8 raspberry canes. I bought the Diggers raspberry collection so I have 2 each of Autumn Bliss, Chilliwack, Sandford and Williamette. I also dug up and moved a handful of Erlicheer bulbs that I missed digging up last autumn and replanted them in a more appropriate position.

The blueberry bed is looking good and holding up well considering there are a few bolts that need fixing. I have 5 bushes, 4 varieties in there. There are 2 Brigitta bushes, one at either end, and one each of Denise, Northland and Blue Rose.

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Just one of 2 frogs we found whilst moving sleepers and weed-mat, both re-homed in the creek.

We also extracted the last of the stones (I hope) from the edge of what was the rose garden and is now the cherry bed and repositioned them along the top of the now drained pond. The old path has been mostly lifted up – terracotta pavers – and moved outside Martin’s shed which has been up until now a bit of a muddy mire. I also managed to get a top rail in place to cover where the old front steps were which is now much safer for anyone taller than 120cm at least. πŸ˜‰ The wire and hooks are ready to go once I exchange the crimps for some the right size.  😦

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The first cherry bed running alongside the front deck, lined with rotting lucerne and awaiting soil and cherry trees (I have a Stella to move and a few more to purchase).

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Moved pavers with the sand and blue plastic underneath. The sleepers are being reused to form the edges of the cherry beds.

Basically, we have worked our (not so) little hippy butts off today and I for one am utterly exhausted. Narf7, the motivation bug clearly sank its fangs into me early this morning as we have achieved all this despite me starting the day with a migraine. πŸ™‚ Thank goodness for paracetamol, ibruprofen and coffee (ok, not so natural but oh so necessary). The kids have enjoyed another day running around and have have helped with watering in the berries, moving lucerne biscuits (calling them biscuits was less effective this time round – “fool me once Mum” says Jasper) and of course playing and running and having a blast. πŸ™‚ The most help they gave us actually was to help us fill in our giant driveway puddle with gravel collected from various areas of our front garden. The puddle is no more. πŸ˜€ and the kids are happy and muddy. πŸ™‚

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8 little raspberry canes all in a row. The woodpile still remains. I MUST learn not to make such grand plans.

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And the strawberries and rock border along the pond edge.

This week I hope i get the chance to rip up the weed-mat underneath the stones to the east of the ex-path as I plan to build the asparagus bed there and I would dearly love to get that done although with Monday afternoon at gym and visitors on Tuesday and Wednesday I am not holding my breath. Next weekend though we simply MUST move those logs as the fruit trees really NEED to be in the soil now. Hmmm, maybe I should move logs this week instead. So much to do!

The bare rooted trees needing planting are 2 apples, a pear and a nashi pear although the nashi is in a small pot. I also hope to get 4 or 5 sultana grape vines to plant along the fence and I have a Purple Elder to plant out too. It’s a big ‘un though (6mx6m) so I need to do some thinking before making any commitments as to where to plant that one and I am hoping that some judicious pruning in its earlier years will see it reaching less lofty dimensions. The berries and flowers are fantastically medicinal though and the flowers will also do their bit for attracting pollinators to the garden. Oh, and I still have seeds to sow. Seriously, Spring is an insanely busy time for gardeners. Fun though. πŸ˜›

Well dinner has just pulled into the drive (Indian take away no less!) so I am off. πŸ™‚ Stay well hippies. I hope you enjoyed the first day of Spring as much as we did. πŸ˜€

Yes, it's still a mess and I cleaned up after the photo was taken but you can see where everything fits together here. Cherry beds against the deck. Blueberry bed beside the area we're leaving bare for wood deliveries and guest parking, the area where the pavers are will have another raised bed there for our asparagus and then beyond the existing hugelkultur beds will be this years straw bale beds and later on, more hugelkultur beds.

Yes, it’s still a mess and I cleaned up after the photo was taken but you can see where everything fits together here. Cherry beds against the deck. Blueberry bed beside the area we’re leaving bare for wood deliveries and guest parking, the area where the pavers are will have another raised bed there for our asparagus and then beyond the existing hugelkultur beds will be this years straw bale beds and later on, more hugelkultur beds.

 

Tired

I am tired. Exhausted, pooped, weary (my Papa used to say he was weary – sorry, nostalgic moment πŸ™‚ ), worn out, buggered, stuffed, knackered, all done in, fried, zonked, shattered. I am also elated, stoked, happy, pleased, proud, satisfied, contented, over the moon. It’s been a busy weekend.

Achievements this weekend include finishing the chook pen. Ok, so it’s not quite ready for them to move in but the fences are el completo, the door is up, although not yet lockable and the nesting boxes and perch are in. The nesting boxes are an upcycle job from junk existing left at the house. It was one of those shelves that are all boxed in (if that makes sense) so it’s been turned on its side, I’ve attached (ok, Martin attached) 2 bits of 2 by 4 to stick up in the air and after a large hole was drilled through, a piece of chopped down poplar branch was jammed in and drilled into place. Total cost? A few cents of electricity to run the drill and a few screws, non of which were actually bought for the job but lying around from previous jobs. It weighed a tonne so a bit of Egyptian engineering helped us manoeuvre it into place.

Rolling…

Rolling…

 

Rolling…

Martin also managed to get Trevor working again. He’s since mowed most of the grass flat again and made it worth while digging out the whipper snipper again too. The garden is looking a LOT neater and the snake risk is much lower. This has definitely been on the brain a lot of late as there is a snake road kill on the road into town that has had us both on the watch. Now that the grass is too short for them to hide in though we are both beginning to relax. Well, at least a little. Sadly, Trevor hit a stump and broke the belt that runs the mowing attachment. He can’t mow right at the moment but he’s earned his keep hauling a hole lot of crap and junk out of the creek. Sadly the fallen tree was a little too ambitious. Worth a try though.

I also got stuck into some planting. With the help of a few more loads of soil, the north and east sides of the chook pen are tyred in place (take THAT Mr Fox) and planted out too. There are a few tyres on the south side so, planted in anti clockwise order are: 3 tyres of marigolds, oregano, curry bush, thyme, rosemary, 2 with pyrethrum, curly leaf parsley, 2 more pyrethrum, then the rest either have sunflower seeds or sunflower seedlings planted. They will become chook food once ripe and hopefully a wonderful beneficial bugs only invite too (no shirt, no shoes, no service unless you’re a beneficial bug πŸ˜› ).

These are some of my marigolds. More to be planted in the tomato beds and in the rest of the tyres along this south side of the chook pen when I get more soil and newspapers. πŸ™‚

My pot-bound and water starved oregano has responded well to being planted and watered (funny about that) and the curry bush I struck from a sprig a few years ago.

Wonderful smelling thyme which was also very potbound and neglected before being repotted in anticipation of the move and is thriving even more with just a little love, next to the rosemary I also struck from a sprig of a rosemary that was all woody and near the end of its life (it died within 6 months of me taking the cutting)

2 pyrethrum, a parslet looking a bit sad and sorry for itself and 2 more pyrethrum. They will make a wonderful and natural organic and safe insecticide. Well, safe for us anyway. Sorry bugs.

Sunflowers…

… More sunflowers…

 

… And even more sunflowers! All for chook food. πŸ™‚

I also planted out another of my no dig beds. This one is currently half full of purple sprouting broccoli seedlings. I will add some other brassicas in there too to fill up the bed. Only one more to plant out now, the second tomato and capsicum bed. I’ll also be planting some more marigolds in there as they are of assistance to tomato plants from what I’ve read. The tomatoes all got a water with Epsom Salts too. It’s supposed to be liquid gold for marties. We will see how they like it.

Kind of hard to see and some were looking a little worse for wear but we will see how they go.

 

My tomatoes and capsicums… Some are doing really well but some of the capsicums are looking pretty sad and some of the tomatoes haven’t grown much.

The mulberry tree is absolutely covered in fruit too. I am most impressed and will be planting a LOT more of them (they’re water hungry which makes them a good replacement tree for the silver poplars and they can be harvested for us to eat (and thoroughly enjoy I might add) as well as providing food for the chooks with any fallen fruit.

Not bad at all for its first year planted in our garden.

And even more on the higher shoots

TheΒ radishesΒ are growing well and I may also have a few carrot seedlings coming up. It’s hard to tell at this point and they may well be radish seeds that got washed out of line. Time will tell.

Ooo I hope they are carrots.

Beans and spuds are doing very well too.

The kids have had a ball too. They’ve spent a good deal of time in various states of undress or swimming attire and playing Β in the half wine barrel of water. They’ve had bike washes (they had their balance bikes and rode them through their bike wash πŸ™‚ ), baby wash (Orik seemed to enjoy it too), a couple of friends over to visit and a lot of running around and playing.

I also had the pleasure of meeting one of my blog readers today who is a resident (and a rather new but extremely knowledgeable one at that) of Ballan. I’ve come away relaxed after an hour off from the kids and working, well welcomed to Ballan by jelly slice and a simply divine hot chocolate from Michellez cafe (near the butchers) and feeling like I know some more people and things going on in the community. I was also introduced to some further locals and I feel very much more like a local now too. We discussed blogs too. Check out her blog here. The offers of help have absolutely blown us away too. Thank you so much!

Anyway, my brain is totally fried and I can no longer see to type so I’ll pick this up in the morning.

Night all.

 

Slept like a log! Best nights sleep in ages. Can’t imagine why. πŸ˜‰

So, what else happened on the weekend? Well, our chooks have been on the blink as far as laying eggs goes. I was pretty certain they had a hidden stash but I had been unable to find it. They haven’t been showing any signs of being broody – in fact I think they’ve all decided to be career chooks this year. If I’d seen signs of dedicated desire for motherhood I may well have sourced some eggs but alas it’s not played out that way yet. Anyway, on Saturday, through sheer luck I happened to be doing the egg hunt and just happened to see through the grass and spot an egg. I pulled away the grass then ran inside to get 2 egg cartons. I found 15 eggs! Yep, 15! Not a bad haul from 3 girls who probably lay ever 2nd day each. The best bit is they all passed the float test. πŸ˜€

15 pekin bantam eggs to add to the 2 I collected this morning and the 2 others I had in the fridge… I also have 15 organic eggs I’d ordered (Aussie Farmers) before I found the giant haul. 34 eggs. Quiche?

I’ve also noticed that more of our ‘fwowers’ are coming up. The ‘sturshuns’ have popped their heads up, the ‘I yisten’ is well and truly up too. I’m hoping to move my seedlings up to Ballan this week as we are at the point I can begin to move up a LOT more boxes so I think we might end up doing a few more trips each week which will allow me to water the seedlings when I’m up there.

We’ve also decided upon names for the various areas of our property. Our house has been named, as has the chook house and the veggie garden. I’m sure the shed will earn itself a moniker once it’s built too but in the meantime, I’m off to go and make some signs for the chook shed and veggie garden. I’ll share details once they’re done and not before so no asking. πŸ˜‰

Well, the morning has disappeared and it’s time for lunch. I have small people reminding me of this fact with increasing frequency. What is it about 4 year olds who are permanently hungry? Bread rising, yoghurt culturing, about to start souring a chocolate cake starter too to trial sourdough chocolate cake (it seems almost anything is possible with sourdough).

So, what did you all get up to on the weekend?

Another day of sowing seeds

I got to spend the day in the garden. Well, on the deck and with my fingers in seed raising mix at least. It was glorious!

My seed raising attempts have met with mixed success. I tossed my pathetic excuses for radishes. I suspect their failure to do anything other than sprout was probably mostly due to inappropriate potting mix (don’t use crappy soil from your garden to raise seeds in and expect good results – my first lesson) and insufficient drainage (lots of holes doesn’t necessarily mean good drainage, you need good OPEN holes, not just holes that close back up again – lesson 2) and possibly insufficient sunlight (my deck faces east and gets only the morning sun and not even all of that due to trees along our north facing. Yeah I know, REALLY well designed. 😦

Anyway, I have learned through trial and error that our back patio has sufficient light to successfully grow violas but not enough for much else. My tomatoes have grown more in the 2 weeks they’ve been planted in Ballan and that includes surviving a frost, than they did in the 2 months since they were planted. I have also learned that even should the app say you can plant things in your climate, and even though they’re in a sheltered corner and even when they’re under glass (or plastic as the case may be) it doesn’t mean that the conditions are right for them to grow. If the time is right and the conditions are met however…

So, my gardening today involved piffing to the chooks about 7 milk containers of crappy soil and straggling radish plants. Some fo the milk containers had housed plants like tomatoes, hyssop, red cabbages, basil and such but all the permanent marker labels I had put on them had faded clean off so I have no idea what they are. Some I have guessed (the tomatoes were pretty obvious even at the cotyledon stage) but there are a few which could well be seeds sewn by the wind or a passing bird but they’ve been re-potted into a newspaper pot and they will be given a chance to prove themselves.

Allegra has also been on at me about pretty things and Jasper has consistently picked flowers for me (not such a problem with dandelions but sadly the fruit trees here won’t be fruiting much this year) so I figured I’d best get some planted. I also have several packs of seeds, many of them will probably self sow for next year and I have a garden of tyres to fill so it’s time for some flower seeds. Allegra helped me to sow Swan River Daisy, Alyssum (Allegra called it ” I yissen” (I listen) πŸ˜€ ), Nasturtium (ah sturshin) and Johnny Jump Ups. I know that the Johnny’s and Alyssum can sometimes run more than just a little crazy but I don’t really mind and I can always sic the chooks on them should they get above their station. πŸ˜‰ They should also help encourage the pollinators to visit – bees and butterflies, as well as other beneficial bugs. I’m also planning to plant my sunflowers in the north facing tyres and throw a pack of poppy seeds in there too so there’s more flowers right there.

I also planted some coriander seeds even though a friend gave me several coriander seedlings. I adore fresh coriander – it must be my favourite herb – but it can bolt fairly quickly and even though I often use the seeds in Indian cooking, I also use the leaves in Thai so I’m not concerned about growing too much. Besides, the seeds were years old so i don’t know how successful they will actually be.

My marigold seedlings did really well with a very high percentage sprout rate so I will have their sunshiney-maned heads bobbing at me too in a few weeks. Sadly I don’t buy calendula, although I sure will next year. I also had my third go at strikingΒ passion-fruitΒ vine even though I doubt it will survive the frosts in Ballan. I may just leave it in a pot and sent it around my greenhouse maybe. It can keep my mandarin and lemon company in there. πŸ™‚

My last job was to stake up my carrot tops. Without their taproot they are very top heavy with their tall flowers. I couldn’t find anything to tie them to the stakes though so a couple of elastic bands got called into duty. So far they’re doing the trick.

Anyway, the therapy of getting some dirt on the fingers has really helped and I am feeling so very much more motivated. Yay for gardening. πŸ™‚

A whirlwind weekend and some huge achievements

Wow! What a weekend! Again! We seem to be having a few “wow” weekends these days. πŸ˜€ First of all, let me just say….

Drumroll please…

 

 

Wait for it…

 

 

Wait for it…

 

 

Wait for it…

 

 

We bought a TRACTOR! :O

Trevor the Bolens tractor

Yes, we bought a tractor. Now before you get all “they only have a 1/2 acre, what on earth do they need a tractor for” on me, it’s ok. It’s not a big tractor. In fact it’s one of the most pint sized tractors I have ever seen that isn’t made of plastic. πŸ˜€ He is the size of a ride-on mower and that’s in fact the reason we bought him, but Trevor is in fact a tractor with a slasher/mower attachment that goes underneath. It comes off though and we will be able to use Trev for other things like towing a small trailer (still looking for that) which means he can haul wood, compost or anything else we can think of. The kids love him, and Jas helped name him.

Trevor the traction engine from Thomas the Tank Engine series.

Boys and their toys πŸ˜‰

Jasper loves Trevor

Allegra loves Trevor too

Boys and their toys starting young. Orik loves Trevor and we’re fighting to keep him from climbing up of his own accord.

In other exciting news… πŸ˜‰

We have a kitchen! Lee has finished installing the kitchen and I must say it looks absolutely AMAZING!

Old kitchen

New kitchen. Not quite completed in this picture but since finished

I am in LURVE! On the left are my pantries. There are 4 narrow deep drawers for storing bulk rice, flour, wheat and rye (or maybe pasta) and then the narrow but wider drawers above will hold potatoes and onions. Then there are the shelves for storing the bounty of our summers harvest (here’s hoping) through bottling, drying and pressure canning. At the moment I have taken up some of my Fowlers Vacola preserving jars but given the space in those shelves, I will need MANY more jars πŸ˜€

The rest of the weekend was filled with finishing (although not yet completing planting) the veggie gardens, digging out the grapes bed and planting about 150 Erlicheer bulbs (yes I know they’re VERY late but one doesn’t look a gift horse of 600 free bulbs in the mouth), getting 2 loads of compost and a bale of straw, setting the veggie garden gate posts in concrete and of course, the endless job of mowing mowing mowing.

My grapes are bursting into leaf!

150 Erlicheer bulbs

The last of the veggie beds, my 3 spud boxes and compost bin. Along the left hand side is the beans garden.

We planned to choose tiles and carpet on Saturday morning but discovered that, unlike the Big Smoke, shops still close at lunchtime on Saturdays and don’t open on Sundays! It’s wonderful but it will take a slight mental adjustment. We did manage to get some floor tile samples and I think we have our chosen tile but having 5 minutes to run in and choose whilst the shop owner reopens the store for you is not conducive to a thorough search of the tiles. I need to choose splashbacks and bathroom tiles anyway so hoping I can convince a friend to come with us for babysitting purposes. Not sure taking children into a tile shop is a good idea. Well, not my 3 anyway. At least the carpet shop has a play area.

Moving day looks like it will be 2-3 weeks now which is scary and exciting all at the same time. I have a lot of packing to do and we have a LOT of stuff to move. At least now that the kitchen is installed I can start taking up excess pantry items and the rest of my preserving gear.

Fencing and the chicken run are our next big jobs. I need to finish the fence that sections off the veggie garden (mainly to keep the kids out) and now that the posts are sunk and cemented in I can attack that. Then once the gate is on we’re ready to go. A friend has offered to come and help/teach us to put up ringlock fencing along the creek. Martin is madly trying to at least mow a cleared swathe where we want it to go so that we can borrow/hire a post hole digger and get the posts in. I really don’t fancy digging them by hand after the hard yakka from last time. Mark will then help us with the star pickets and the ringlock itself. We have had to take a step back in regards to the chook shed though. There is a lean to kind of shed already on the property which we were intending to convert to a wood shed but with time constraints and other more pressing jobs, as well as it being absolutely perfect for the job, this shed will become the chickens home. I still intend to dabble in superadobe at some time in the future, just won’t be quite yet sadly. I need to add in a 2nd story (divide it in half) inside the shed, add perches and keep a space to add nesting boxes in the future (6-8 week old chicks won’t need nesting boxes for a few months) and then add in a door and fence off their run. We also plan to keep a couple of ducks so our half wine barrel will become their swimming area. Fencing the chicken run will involve more post hole digging and digging a trench around a foot deep so that the chicken wire will go down into the ground in an attempt to foil any crafty foxes that may come prowling. We hope that the presence of 3 large dogs next door may also help deter any members of the Vulpes family. It’s going to be a busy busy weekend over Melbourne Cup weekend. Thanks goodness for a 4 day weekend.

The beans bed and the fencing. And the shed in the background which will become the chickens new home.

Also got my pumpkins and onions planted, and their are even more potatoes sprouting up through their lucerne bedding. Zucchinis are starting to peek up through the soil and there are even more corn plants sprouting up like little green needles. My tomato seedlings are sprouting their second set of true leaves and the siberian tomatoes are starting to poke out of the soil too. My watermelons are still deciding whether or not to forgive me for transplanting them. Their cotyledon leaves died and the stems withered a little but there are some true leaves showing so I am holding out a little hope. My capsicum seedlings are doing well and looking lush and green in their punnet and I have HEAPS of broccoli seedlings that have nearly bounced up out of the soil too. My sunflowers are also beginning to grow their true leaves and the lettuces are continuing to provide a bounteous crop. I also have 4 strawberry flowers on 1 plant! I was going to pinch them off to give the plant the best go at doing its thing but reckon the kids will enjoy far more if I let them ripen. Next year I will plant a whole tonne of alpine strawberries I think – they’re the best cold climate strawberry and are supposed to be deliciously sweet. All my other plants are doing well and I am nearly ready to harvest my first few rocket leaves too. πŸ˜€ Spring has most definitely sprung!

Well, I’m off to enjoy the sunshine with my children. πŸ˜€