Operation Homestead: Days 5, 6 and 7.

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

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 swapΒ 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. πŸ™‚ Can’t wait although the early start from here is not looking so fun. 😦

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. πŸ™‚

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.Β 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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚ Off to cook the requested pizza for dinner – could be interesting as I only have ham, salami, onion and cheese.

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.