The January garden

I can’t believe it but 2014 is already 1/12th over! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Where did January go I ask you? Likely up in steam given the hot weather from the other week and again heat is forecast here to usher in February. Continue reading

Advertisements

Chooks and Bunnings and more besides

Another weekend over and another heap of things still to do but also things achieved. I swear the to-do list never gets shorter but then again we do keep adding to it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Continue reading

Gardening between the showers

It’s rather soggy around here at the moment due to a fairly substantial amount of rain (17mm this month) that has been falling this week. Aside from the gale-force winds and sideways rain the weather has been simply delightful. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Continue reading

Tired

I am tired. Exhausted, pooped, weary (my Papa used to say he was weary – sorry, nostalgic moment ๐Ÿ™‚ ), 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 ๐Ÿ˜› ).

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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

Theย radishesย 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 ย in the half wine barrel of water. They’ve had bike washes (they had their balance bikes and rode them through their bike wash ๐Ÿ™‚ ), 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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?

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.ย 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 ย 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.

Operation Homestead: Days 5, 6 and 7.

These are not my seeds but this is exactly what my seeds look like. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s been a mostly quiet week. Our sunflower seeds are sprouting. I think we have 10 out of 18 in under a week which is amazing. The pumpkin and corn seeds we planted the other day are swelling and fit to burst (some of them swelled out of their soil lol)

Today has been a busy one though. The morning was spent pulling apart the trampoline in order to take it up to Ballan. Pulling off those springs was hard work as my shoulders are now snidely reminding me. This time at least it is just pain from overworked muscles as opposed to injured ones. The trampoline was pulled apart, the slide dismantled and the BBQ has had its wings removed and the lot was then loaded into the trailer and is now resting at the new house.

I have also gathered my supplies for tomorrows produce swapย in Ballarat. I have empty egg cartons, some strawberry jam, sourdough starter with recipes (I need to write them out tonight) and some home saved organic grey and butternut pumpkin seeds. Here’s hoping people are interested. I’m hoping to grab some eggs and maybe some fresh veggies or even seedlings and a wonderful experience. It’s my first ever swap and I am very excited. It will be just Orik and I going and hopefully a friend and her baby too. ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait although the early start from here is not looking so fun. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Tomorrow is the plan to get in the last of the veggie beds so there is compost to be purchased and boxes and newspapers to be got too. Martin is also planning to mow everything (again) which is just as well as the grass really is getting quite long and I saw on a Facebook page today that the first snake of the year was sighted in Ballan yesterday. A rather cross Tiger Snake I believe. I’m really not too keen on the legless reptiles (read that as scared silly) so everything that can be done to discourage them will be done. *shudder*

Well, off to get things sorted for the morning and get some arnica rubbed into these aching shoulders of mine.

What are YOUR plans for the weekend hippies? Do share. ๐Ÿ™‚

A 4th birthday and the making of a jacket

My baby boy turns 4 today. Or, another way to look at it is, I became a mother 4 years ago today. At 2:03am on August 8th 2008 I first met a pair of crystal blue eyes attached to what was then my red headed baby boy. We’ve so far, managed to keep his birthday in line with our lifestyle choices too. His gifts have either been made from sustainable materials or have been second hand or upcycled (or all of the above).

Martin is from the UK originally and his family are still over there so rather than pay exorbitant postage fees and rack up carbon miles, Omi transfers some money for us to buy the children a gift. We decided to give him some tools from us which will help him in assisting us when we move to Ballan. He is now set up with a child sized metal wheelbarrow, rake, hoe and shovel and he already has some gardening gloves and will get other hand tools too when I find them.ย He also just opened a lovely gift from his Nanna – a set of dominos and a card arrived in the mail with some chives, sunflowers and radishes in there too. PERFECT for him to grow and the radishes will provide some nearly instant results too. Reckon I might see if we can grow 5 to an orange juice container. ๐Ÿ™‚

Boring jacket

Other than that I made him a jacket. Well, upcycled his existing denim jacket is probably more precise. It was a great denim jacket that someone had clearly outgrown which I picked up for a few dollars some time back. It was however, bland and in need of some personalisation. So, since Jasper loves diggers and construction vehicles and such I added some decorations. And thanks to my friend Emma from Made Emwho made the buttons for Jasper’s birthday too. They absolutely make it all work.

And the back

Anyway, we’ve done some gardening today too – planted Rocket, Pyrethrum (a natural insecticide plant) and some Chamomile. Not sure how the Rocket will go as the seeds are well past their best before date but hey, waste not want not and if nothing sprouts I can use the soil for Jasper’s radishes. ๐Ÿ™‚ Off to cook the requested pizza for dinner – could be interesting as I only have ham, salami, onion and cheese.