Saturday, November 30, 2013

New A frame pumpkin and zucchini trellis

Again Pinterest had provided inspiration for my garden. Lately I have found myself searching for gardening hints only on Pinterest. I admit I go through phases where I concentrate on gardening, or cooking, or craft. I don't seem to be able to balance them all in between work, housework etc.. Life.

So I find I binge on one or the others for a while. When I get tired of that, or its all going swimmingly I'll move on. Right now its all gardening, with a little harvest cooking thrown in. Not overly surprising on the eve of Summer.

Every year I grow zucchinis - they go well here. I have had great success with golden nugget pumpkins too. I always feel I am too pushed for space to plant vine pumpkins though.  Vertical growing sounds like the answer.  And Pinterest provided the concept designs.

I showed Howard a couple of versions, well that was it, off he went under the house to see what we had. Like the other projects we have completed this week, this was built completely from materials we already had.

He has made me a gorgeous A frame trellis to grow my pumpkins and zucchinis vertically. We dug its legs down into into the vegie patch for stability. I have planted a mix of seeds zig-zagged under either side of the frame. I just need the seeds to germinate and thrive to do justice to Howard's carpentry.

I'll keep you posted as it grows. I'm excited about this.  I feel lucky too. Thanks hon.

In the background to the right you can see the rockery I built last year to encourage lizards to my garden. I haven't seen any mind you. Thyme, flat leaf parsley and marigolds are now going well in this corner. 

Teaching soap for Wild Rumpus

Today I ran my soap making class with 12 enthusiastic students at Anchors Aweigh Art Studio near Wollongong. The organisers at Wild Rumpus were great to deal with.  I loved teaching the class.  I used to teach quite a bit and it was great to get back into it share a homespun skill.

Soap making seems a complete mystery but its actually very easy, the equipment will be found in every kitchen and the ingredients from any supermarket. Sure you can buy exotic ingredients like Almond Oil and Shea butter but you don't have to.
We talked about soap before getting in and making a batch of goats milk and olive oil soap together. Everyone took home a cake or two of there own along with instructions on how to make it themselves. I hope everyone does give it go, that they feel they know what they need to.  

Howard was a great help assisting me all through the class, washing up and being WHS officer.  A lot of students were interested in milling soap so perhaps we'll offer to teach that too.

It was a nice way to spend a Saturday morning!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Harvest time inspires potato and broccoli soup

This afternoon I weeded my vegetable patch. After months of dry weather and needing to water every week, we've had rain, rain, rain.

I harvested potatoes, peas galore, garlic, onions, leeks, broccoli and flat leaf parsley.

I was very excited to make use of my new potting shed to wash and trim my harvest.  Instead of carrying all that dirt upstairs into the kitchen and traipsing back downstairs to the compost with all the trimmings, I used a bucket of hot water on my potting bench to clean up the lot. The chickens got lots of greens out of it too. I love the surprise of digging around in the garden to see what is ready to eat!  I had no idea what I was going to eat for dinner but now I have soup planned - one that will use a bit of everything in my basket except the peas and blue borage flowers.

Er, seconds?

Recipe for potato and broccoli soup

2 large potatoes
1 large head broccoli
flat leaf parsley

Wash, peel and chop 2 large potatoes.
Wash and chop large head of broccoli.

Place in a large soup pot with just enough water to cover the vegetables.  Boil until tender. Drain vegetables, then puree in a blender.

Add dollop of butter to saucepan, add peeled and chopped garlic, leek and parsley. Saute until just cooked. Add pureed vegetables with milk to correct consistency. Heat. Just before ready to serve, stir in a handful of grated parmesan.

Enjoy!  I did.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gorgeous potting shed practical and so cute!

Ah how cute is this! I have the nicest, most homespun potting shed. I am so, so happy with it!
For weeks I have been researching photos of potting sheds on pinterest for inspiration.  I scoured op shops for bits and pieces to make it even cuter.

Then in just one day, Howard and I turned it from the dumping ground under the verandah:

to this organised and pretty potting shed.

Howard chopped the top off our old entertainment unit to make me a new potting bench. It was a lovely piece of furniture in its day: retractable doors to cover the TV, a glass door to cover the stereo. But in this day of flat screen TVs it was redundant, heavy and bulky. It has a new lease of life here as you can see. The shelves on the right were here when we moved in: a steel frame with vinyl covered chip board shelves that were all swollen and disgusting.  Howard fit left over, recycled flooring to make shiny new shelves.
I washed all the pots before replacing them, organised by size, on my new shelves. I know exactly where everything is for the first time in gardening history. The blackboard is an old picture frame I bought for next to nothing without glass and painted with chalk board paint. 

The quote is from the sublime Audrey Hepburn: Those who garden believe in tomorrow.  
The tray holding gardening tools came from an op shop, the tea pot with succulent from the lovely Laura. 

I bought new galvanised bins for chicken feed. Originally I misguidedly bought plastic ones but the local rodents ate right through the lids. Take it from me, go steel and ensure the lids fit tightly.  
The rest we had, just cleaned and recycled.

I love gardening so much more now that I have a space to potter. I potted up some seedlings after dinner one evening. I can even clean and trim vegetables before bringing them up to the kitchen. 

A little planning, a lot of recycling and a lot of courage and look what you can do.

New home for our chickens: a great garden compound

Howard and I are holidays for a week. Applause please!

We are spending a week at home working in the garden. 
Despite rain we are going well on our to do list.
One of our top priorities was to move the chicken coop from the back garden into a spot 
along the side of the house.
The near side fence and gate has been here all along. Today Howard added a second gate higher up the path.  This little corner has just been wasted space up until now.  We put up mesh under the house and voila the chickens have a new compound.  Benny is checking it out.
We gave the coop a huge spring clean, emptied, scrubbed, sprayed with eucalyptus oil and moved it to its new home.  They have clean shredded paper in the egg box, sawdust in the straw yard, a sparkling clean water bottle.  And so many green weeds to eat and scratch out. 
We could take bets on how quickly they get rid of it all!  First job done.
Another job that has waited years was pruning this monster waratah. It has gotten taller and taller over the years until, as you can see it towers over the house.  We had two but the other collapsed one wet, windy weekend. This one was at risk of the same fate. It has finished flowering and is yet to produce buds so now was the time. Howard sawed this down by hand!  The biggest job is still to come as we chop up and mulch the smaller bits tomorrow. The bigger bits will become firewood one day.
Here's the new view from our verandah: Kate and Scully enjoying their new home and the shorter waratah that will quickly thicken up and give us beautiful blooms to enjoy.
Good day's work!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Exeter open gardens

Today we went to the four open gardens at Exeter, here in the Southern Highlands, completing the trifecta of gardens at Robertson and Bundanoon.

Sadly they were mostly disappointing.  The last however made up for the others and I am glad we did experience it last, to end the trek on  high note.

A large garden called Allways was truly delightful.  And the volunteers on the gate were friendly and kind and offered to mind Benny so he didn't have to stay in the car.  My photos do not do it justice.

Monday, November 4, 2013

I now believe in UFOs

Isn't this an amazing cloud! There was a bunch of them floating over the paddocks of Bowral but this was the most spectacular. I believe it is called a lenticular cloud, but come on, surely this added to the UFO legend.

Stuffed cabbage rolls

A new tradition: preparing Tuesday night's dinner on Monday night.
This week it is Savoy cabbage rolls stuffed with spicy lentils and topped ith a tangy tomato sauce.
The cabbage came from my neighbour's spectacular vegetable garden.

Why the tradition? Howard works Monday nights so I ususally just have left overs or something on toast. Tuesday nights I go to a dance class and get home late. It helps to have something ready to pop into the oven. 


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