Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday gardening chores are done too

Wow have I been one busy girl today. I'm just out of a hot bath, sitting in front of a raging fire with a cold glass of Prosecco (Italian champagne), cheese, crackers and my laptop so I can tell you about my day.

I went into town (ha, its truly only a village) and begged some scraps for the chookie girls from the local fruit and vegie shop.  I hung up a bunch of green pick for the girls, when I locked them up this evening it had barely lasted 30mins. But for once I have enough for the week.  Whenever Scarlet got into the vegie patch today she pecked at my celery so that's a bit of a hit.

Howard carted the whole load of firewood to the backyard and I stacked it. It will keep us going through the rest of this winter and spring and probably into the next winter. We will have visitors this Christmas from up north who always think its colder than we do so the wood will help them through too.  I don't know how much wood this is but it took a couple of hours to move.  My stacks are not up to Swiss standards - we saw some magnificent wood piles around Interlaken. There's some gratuitous travel talk for you!
But I did collect a great basket of kindling.

After that I spread the soil given to me last week in the beds and mulched. I weeded this bed as planned yesterday.

I pulled out the weeds and grass but left some of the dry straw like stuff. I added three wheelbarrow loads of soil over the top.

Once I spread the soil over the mulch I planted cauliflower, broccoli and kale.

I added horse poo to what will be my pumpkin patch, mulched again. Planted some onion seedlings, watered, weeded.

My chookie girls had a lovely day out, scratching and pecking around the yard. Whilst I was mulching their coop with hay I popped the girls' food bowl on the coop's roof. I was really surprised when Kate jumped up to eat and Scarlet followed her.

My doggies have had a good day in the garden, the girls were out all day, the cats are happy. I am tired and have some very sore muscles after my hard day stacking, weeding, digging. Sore but satisfied. It feels so wonderful to have achieved something with the weekend. Happy kids, happy garden: happy me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Saturday morning chores are done

Its Saturday morning. As always after the working week there are many chores to be done.

The winter wardrobe of black, black or black is washed and on the line.

The chicken coop is clean and full of clean mulch and shredded paper.
The chooks are out and scratching around. This is Kate.
Scarlet likes to get into my garlic patch.

The compost is refreshed and layered. I re-read my compost book recently. I'd forgotten coffee is an accelerator for the compost (not just people!). I took a lidded bucket to the coffee cart at my work and had it filled with used grounds. There's an idea for a free and easy resource for you.  So I've put in some coffee and wet the whole lot with a bucket of water.

Tomorrow I am very keen to finish my vegie patch. I have to weed and mulch this area

and this bed.
This is the last overgrown bed.  Then its maintenance only. I am so very pleased with how its all going. I still haven't planted my berries as I have been worried about frost and I have these new seedlings to put in.

I have plenty of mulch waiting to be used.

But tomorrow's biggest task will be to move this huge pile of firewood off the driveway. 

Our house is poorly designed in that access to the backyard is very limited. I can't predict how many wheelbarrow loads this will be but they will be carted across the carport, down a slippery, steep path and across the backyard to where we stack it under a verandah.  Think of the exercise and the warmth of course.

Tonight I will make yoghurt, muesli and bake bread for tomorrow. All very homespun and homely.

But right now, I am off to work for the afternoon.

Whatever you are doing today, look for the joy and smile.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Growing seedlings in peat pots

I am experimenting with jiffy/peat pots.  

I have planted lots of different types of beetroot seeds in the pots. If you haven't used them before, the idea is that you plant the whole pot which will then compost into the garden.  These aren't really peat but compressed cardboard.

So they are great to use with seedlings that don't like being transplanted or having their roots disturbed.
I have planted both traditional beetroots: crimson of course and more exotic varieties. I have burpee golden which are a wonderful yellow colour that doesn't stain, as well as the fabulous Chioggia which has concentric white and red circles. Chioggia hale from the Veneto, on the outskirts of Venice, my favourite city. 

Soaking the seeds in warm water first helps them germinate. I am pretty sure I have killed them in the past by having the water too hot. Warm not boiling is the answer.

Beetroot is one of those wonderful year round crops. You need to plant frequently so that you have a constant supply. You don't want them all to be ready to pick at the same time.  They are slow growing, well here at least.  So I am planning almost for Christmas.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A big pile of dirt

Robertson, my home village, has been promised a sewage scheme for 20, maybe 30 years. A year ago we were told the new tank would be in by Christmas. Then at least 4 weeks ago that it would be in that week.
Yet I got a shock when I got up one morning last week to see this happening in my backyard.

 We were asked what we would like to do with the left over dirt from the hole for the tank. Being keen gardeners, naturally we said we'd use it. I didn't think it would be such a BIG pile!
The lawn could do with being top dressed and re-seeded. That won't make much of a dent. So I'll transfer some to my garden beds. That's going to be a very big job. Shovelling and carting.

Then yesterday afternoon I was putting away the chooks when a backhoe drove past along the back fence. I looked up in surprise and was greeted by a laconic wave. A few minutes later he was back, "Would you like me to put some soil into those garden beds for you? Its like caramel, such good soil and its going to get dumped." Sure why not, terrible to see it go to waste. It turns out that a lot of people couldn't find a use for their soil so it was dumped over the back fences. This man was collecting it to be trucked away.  He neatly deposited one bucket of soil in each of the four beds closest to the fence. The soil level was very low and a bit compacted.

Now all I have to do is rake it flat and mulch over the top and there's another four beds all ready for spring. 

A nice little bonus and helping hand for my garden.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

New things for my chickens

Following on from my workshop with Jill Cockram last weekend I have been gaining confidence in chicken husbandry. Thanks to Cath Blakely and Shellharbour Council for the opportunity to attend the workshop.
I have been hanging up green pick. Today I gave them nasturtiums.

They have a bowl (actually a small tomato punnet) of shell grit. I am thinking a clip on budgie feeder might be the best way for the shell grit or they'll knock it over.

And to make them lovely smelling chookies their nesting box and house is strewn with lavender! LOL. Actually it is to keep away lice.

Its all so easy. I'm enjoying trying out new ways to keep them happy and healthy.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Winter garden update - asparagus crowns and more

My vegetable garden has never looked so good in the middle of winter. I am doing jobs I wouldn't normally do until spring. Now I realise why spring is so overwhelming and why I never do as well as I hope. I started too late!

I have spent a few hours in the garden every weekend for the last 6 weeks at least. Today was no exception.  I had a very productive day that I am so happy about. So I wanted to share an update with you.

A few years ago I tried groing asparagus but gradually it all died. After a gap of several years I thought I'd try again. I feel very confident that I can get it right this time.  You can grow asparagus from seed but I'm too impatient for that! I have bought mature crowns. They look like some alien sea creature.

I filled a garden bed with 2 bags of mushroom compost and 2 wheelbarrow loads of homemade compost. Thanks chookie girls!  Last year my beds where very compacted and dry. I poured bags of bought compost on top to be able to plant. Then in autumn I left piles of garden rubbish, weeds, stalks etc on top of a couple of beds I wasn't using. I scraped away the twiggy bits and found that the soil was beautiful soft and rich. So I just piled the mulch on top. Asaparagus are notoriously heavy feeders.

The crowns have long spindly roots that need to be buried 25cm deep. That's a deep hole to dig. I found a stick that was roughly a foot long to help measure.

The asparagus won't produce spears for months so I've planted some radish seeds down the centre of the bed. They will grow and be harvested quickly. This is called catch cropping - fitting a quick grower in amongst the slower. The catch crop is harvested before it competes for space.

I've spread a layer of lucerne mulch over the top to keep the soil moist and further enrich the soil.

Quickly, I also planted red cardinal silverbeet - I've ever seen this variety before, and mustard greens in amongst my existing silverbeet. I need even more leafy greens as we will have to share with the chickens. And a couple of punnets of snow peas. This was the first crop I grew in this garden and they went so well! Lucky they freeze.

Whatever you are doing this week, I hope you win at it! Keep smiling.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Homemade muesli: gluten free variation

Made more muesli today. I've never been a muesli eater before but I am loving my homespun version.  I eat it with my homemade yogurt. I pack it up before I leave home and then eat it a couple of hours later at work. The maple syrup reacts with the yoghurt and goes all caramally.  Yum!

Today's version is only a little different but gluten free.

Mix together oats, LSA (Linseed, Sunflower and Almond meal), sunflower seeds, pumpkin kernels, pecans, vanilla, cinnamon, maple syrup and apple juice.  Bake until all golden brown. Keep stirring every now and again to make sure cooked through. Cool then add sultanas and chopped dates.

Store in an airtight container when cool.

For more detailed instructions please check my earlier post.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Creating a new rockery in my vegetable patch

I have created a rockery in one corner of my vegie patch. I read that rockeries attract lizards and lizards eat snails and slugs so that's perfect!

I started with some broken pavers.

Poured on mushroom compost and added stones around the outside. I didn't want to waste good rocks in constructing the interior of the rockery but they look great on the outside.
I have planted Cretan Savoury, a Mediterranean herb that loves dry feet. It felt ironic to be planting this in light sleet. Its a nice sunny corner so it should be fine.

It looks a bit messy at the moment as the compost has spread but it will bed down. I'll keep you updated as it grows.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A winter weekend of gardening

I've really been connecting with the soil lately and loving in. I wonder how I ever let life get so busy that I forget how important it is.

To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.
~ Mahatma Gandhi

I am doing lots of weeding in the vegie patch. I have beds but also some open areas. Its the open areas I am concentrating on. I have weeded and mulched with mushroom compost and lucerne. I have added new paths through these areas too.  Today Howard helped me by whipper snippering. It makes such a difference and makes it all feel a whole lot less hopeless.

The first area will be my berry patch. I have plants that I ordered from The Diggers Club. Lots of different varieties of berries. I am very excited and also very nervous that they will fail. Well, I can but do my best.

The other will be a pumpkin patch.

I planted out some white onion seedlings today too.

So in total I have celery, beetroot, garlic, cauliflower, onions and strawberries in my winter garden.

How does your garden grow?


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