Planning & plantings.

With the school term break upon me, once I recuperate from the incredibly heavy-duty term and the massive task its been getting through the EOFY (End of Financial Year) this year,  I will have time to get a few jobs done both inside and outside. Although, if the weather stays like this it may be mostly inside I think!

I made a start at the weekend mainly because I had a lot of seedlings I started a while ago that should have been tended to. They were looking a bit sad and in dire need to spread their roots, I was determined they would not be wasted so spent a fair amount of time planting. There is a mix of coneflower, various poppies and other cottage garden plants in this lot. SeedlingsIt’s not the planting that takes the time, it’s all the other jobs you find along the way, such as trimming back perennial clumps (the hedge trimmer is great for this), dividing and thinning out plants, weeding, trimming suckers off the magnolia and feeding and adding compost to the bed.IMG_4500Hopefully, this bed will be full of cheery, bee loving flowers in spring and summer.

IMG_4533Time to check through the seed packets and plan what I need to use and what needs to be started at this time of year. Any old seed will go in, might only work as green manure, micro greens or chook food. Nothing goes to waste-it’s better to try to get some sort of return from it than to throw it away! All my attempts to be really organised and systematic with seed just seems to head out the window when I see something I like or someone offers to share!

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Reclaimed bricks

Our neighbours demolished an old garage and generously offered all the old red bricks to us. They’ve been stacked out the front for a while and needed cleaning, a job Mr ATMT started at the weekend. They are still stacked in the front yard, but mostly ready for using in various landscaping projects we have planned.

IMG_4507A few of the other jobs I have planned for the break are:

  • Put new wire on the chook house-small enough so sparrows don’t treat it like a smorgasbord fly through restaurant!
  • Set the greenhouse up so I have much better growing space. Thinking of putting a couple of wicking beds in there.
  • Clearly mark out fence line around veggie patch-Design gate and fence
  • Plan fruit tree planting sites and plant
  • Set up new bench in berry house for the strawberries
  • Clean up the strawberry pots, plant up runners and top up with good compost etc
  • Clean out the old stables/shed
  • Sort out back corner of yard where old timber and building stuff is stored
  • Build some potato planting boxes
  • Succession planting in the veggie patch beds.
  • Put more support wire over broad beans
  • Give the worm farm a service-take out castings and generally refresh it.
  • Clean up the garden shed and give the tools an oil, sharpen and sort out.

Gee, getting tired just thinking about it. Haven’t covered much in the way of inside reno jobs have I! If it’s too crappy outside I will endeavour to get the hallway wallpaper finished ready for painting and work out a colour scheme for the front ‘snug’. Piece of cake really!

 

 

Oakley Doakley! What to do with this?

We have a magnificent pin oak in our front yard that has a heritage overlay on it. This means we can’t chop it down (as if) and the only things we can do are keep it safe for us and the community. I actually believe this was a major reason we didn’t have any competition when purchasing the house. That doesn’t bother us because we just love the fantastical magic this tree has to offer. It would be a perfect ‘Faraway Tree’ just like Enid Blyton’s stories that I still occasionally read when I want to go into a ‘safe & secure’ place. This tree was apparently planted about 61 years ago, you may be mistaken thinking it is a lot older by the girth of its trunk. hang on, I’ll just measure that……………..4.6 metres circumference around the base.

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I think it’s fair comment to say this is the tallest tree in the residential part of our town, if not it would be damned close. We have cockies, magpies, parrots, galahs and all sorts of other birds treating it as a stop off point to wherever they are headed and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I laid down on the ground and just pictured myself as a little kid, off to another world wondering what goes on up there and imagining a whole fantasy world of goblins, witches and fairies. This tree is and should be considered an absolute beauty. To all those locals who complain about the leaf drop, get over it! Celebrate what nature offers and drag your feet through those magnificent leaves, hear the rustle, feel the softness and rejoice when it tells you when seasons are changing by the change of colour. Green, gold, orange, brown and then the most gorgeous, almost green when spring is on the way.

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As much as we love this tree it does limit what we can plant underneath it and what we can do with landscaping in the front yard, I would love some ideas on how to create a bit of a garden underneath this beauty, does anything survive?  Feedback needed please.

Sourdough tales

IMG_4539I’ve been experimenting with the 1,2, 3 method to make sourdough and am very happy with the results. Because I am so limited with kitchen (none), I can only stick to basics. I did these loaves in the oven to our STILL FOR SALE house, could have done with another hour or two of proving, but they smell divine and taste pretty darned good. Can’t wait till I get an oven (and  kitchen)!

Winter is about to set in and I’m ready for it!

 

 

Lamb, oranges and leaf mold.

Citrus is in!

I pulled up the blinds in the lounge this morning (yesterday really) and noticed how many oranges were now singing out to me to be picked. Excuse the photo, it is taken through the 90-year-old glass!

Orange tree

With 2 of our 3 kids and their partners coming for tea I needed to think of a way to put some of these beauties to use. From another angle, you can see how this tree is loaded with fruit. I’m really chuffed as the first season here we only had 2 oranges that were like golf balls and as dry as a ….. Lots of chicken poo and water later and this is now a really valuable asset. Need to work out a plan, as its root zone is right where we are planning to build  a fence.

Orange Poppy Seed Cake and slow cooker roast lamb!

Dinner menu for the family was Slow cooker roast lamb, greek style roast potatoes served with carrots and broccoli freshly picked from the patch. I’d taken a leg of lamb I bought from ‘Wayne the great’ at Trafalgar Butcher Shop a couple of months ago out of the freezer to defrost, cut some slits and put garlic, rosemary into them and then rubbed some, chopped oregano and mint over it and poured some olive oil and white wine and lemon juice over, let it sit for about an hour turning a couple of times, then into the slow cooker.

LambGreek style roast potatoes are one of my favourite ways to serve spuds. Due to my limited kitchen, I peeled the spuds, cut them to required size and microwaved them for about 8 minutes, still a little firm in centre but a little soft on outside, shake to roughen them up. I made a coating of equal parts olive oil and lemon juice, chopped some oregano and put the potatoes on a tea towel to cool. These were going into an oven dish to bake about an hour before dinner was served.

Greek roast potatoesCarrots quartered lengthwise and cooked with the lamb, broccoli cut into florets zapped with some peas then topped with chopped spring onion and a little melted butter and S&P.  Didn’t get a shot of the finished dinner, but I served the lamb shredded off the bone, roasted spuds, carrots and broccoli and peas dressed with a reduction from the slow cooker juices. Yummy!

Dessert was an orange poppy-seed cake made with our oranges served with cream. I’d been saving this recipe for about 8 years. Not being big dessert or cake eaters (kids never got dessert or cakes) I wonder why I am now keen to bake. Maybe its getting older, or living in an old home that has brought this out.

Orange Poppy Seed cakeLeaf mold time!

We keep resisting the big clean up of leaves until they have all fallen but it gets to the point where it is just too overwhelming and we need to attempt to regain a sense of control. I must admit having the plan this season to blow them all into one spot has proven to be a great time and energy saver. Notice the fence line where leaves go up to and see the next picture, gives some sense of the volume.

Oak tree leaves16 mower catcher full loads later, chopped, added to the bin in layers with lime, blood and bone and compost in between layers, watered  and sit back now to wait for it to magically turn into beautiful leaf mold which can be spread where needed.

IMG_4447 IMG_4448So many people comment on what a pain it must be dealing with these leaves, but I reckon if you love the trees you have to relish everything that comes with them. While we can manage them I intend to do so.

 

 

 

Visit Daylesford-Happy Birthday Liz!

I never quite understand why we have to celebrate the Queens birthday. I know technically we are under the rule of the British Monarch (and I do have issues about that), but her birthday isn’t even close to when we are forced to take a long weekend so I never quite get it. I do however get how important it is to take time out in often stressful lives and times when we are exposed to undue, often unreasonable pressures placed upon us in our working life. We have both been under the hammer recently so it was great to be able to take advantage of the long weekend, hitch up the camping trailer and head west to the picturesque township of Daylesford. Daylesford is the spa capital of Victoria and has much history relating to the gold rush in its past. We didn’t care, all we wanted to do was chill out and get away for a couple of days. Mission was successful, except we came home feeling more stuffed, I think the relaxing process  had started to kick in! A few extra days would have gone down a treat!

We braved the traffic leaving Gippsland at 4.30 and had arrived at the Camping Ground at 8.15, not bad considering we had to go through the city where the traffic was choc-a-block. Did a basic set up only that night, opened up the top of trailer so we had a bed, had a glass of wine and were asleep by 9.30 I reckon. Next morning we set up camp, putting up the awning and annexe, making sure the fridge etc was going and headed off to explore. No agenda, just went on the breeze. On Sat was firstly going to the Daylesford Farmers Market, it was a good market. I got the impression it was quite new, we picked up some lovely goodies including cheese, sourdough bread, olives, a small lemon tart and we ate an exceptional kransky sausage ‘d and served in a roll with onion and a native berry sauce.

Check out the colour of these golden beets!

IMG_4411The market set up at the Daylesford Primary School.IMG_4410How’s this for carrot colour? Heritage varieties I believe.IMG_4412Sourdough bread and some cheese, both good. The lemon tart wasn’t that great, wait for my review on my Worlds best Lemon Tart Facebook page!IMG_4433We also visited the Convent Gallery, a beautiful historic building that takes you right back to days of old. I did somewhat embarrass myself here by singing a Cants style song (Monty Python style) while entering a small ante room only to find the room full of people when I turned the corner. Think they may have picked up on my lack of religious respect!

Convent galleryThis window is hopefully similar to what we will have on the back wall of our kitchen once it goes ahead. Will be able to look out to the oak tree and hills beyond.IMG_4424Beautiful garden at the Convent Gallery.IMG_4422One of the many historic buildings in Daylesford.IMG_4418Main Street of DaylesfordIMG_4414I normally like to excel myself and be a bit daring with cooking when we camp, but this time we were both so ‘stuffed’, I packed the slow cooker and before we ventured out on Sat I threw in ingredients for a green curry and on Sunday spaghetti bolognese sauce. It was great coming home not having to think about anything more than cooking some rice and pasta. We were again, extremely comfortable in our Outback Camper and celebrate the decision to purchase this 4 years ago. It is however getting a little cold for camping without heating, fires weren’t allowed at the campground so it was early to bed in the toasty sleeping bag. We did a naughty sneaky and lit our Cobb Cooker which is a small unit designed to burn heat beads or small briquettes. I’m not really into gadgets but the purchase of this for a song off Ebay a few years ago has proven to have been well worth it. Great investment, you can cook a roast using only 4-6 heat beads, safe and can also grill etc. Found out is also works beautifully as a heater!

Cobb cooker

 

Happy family celebrations!

Happy indeed! While we were away our younger son proposed to his girlfriend and got a YES! We are so happy for them and proud of the man he has grown to become. From the day your kids are born you just want them happy, positive and for me the other wishes were that they are tolerant, non-judgemental of all people and had a strong sense of humour. Proud to say all three of our kids have these qualities and I am honoured to be a part of the lives journeys. Congratulations D&A! Oh, happy birthday Queen Elizabeth too!