Revisiting and seeing with new eyes after being away.

We have just returned from a month-long holiday in New Zealand and it is nice to come home and revisit things I haven’t looked at closely for a while and ponder on how much we have done in such a short space of time. We had been anticipating our return would be to chilly and rather wet weather, but we find we have entered into a lovely balmy Indian summer. Great so we can get stuck into a clean up and tag jobs that need doing in the garden before the winter really sets in.

The leaves have begun their descent down to the ground so the cycle of breaking down and being returned to the soil in the form of compost and leaf mold next season can start. These few were on the deck, just the start of a continual fall for some weeks.We mow over them first before placing them into collection bins strategically placed around the yard and let them break down over the year to then spread over the garden. A sprinkling of lime and blood and bone between layers is also added and sometimes lane clippings too.  Still plenty more up there! The pin oak in the front yard has a nice soft leaf that is much nicer to handle than the English Oak out the back. There are signs of winter bulbs peeking through. Some sooty mould and scale is on some of the citrus trees and although I sprayed with Eco Oil before we went away, another couple of coats will be needed I think to really knock the scale off the orange tree. This mandarin tree has gone berserk since the fence has been extended, must be a nice little micro climate for it. It’s now heading into its fourth season and it is loaded this year, last year we only has 3 fruit! This pear tree was planted July 2013 and is starting to look quite established and espalier shape is taking form nicely.Even though there has been a couple of branches snap, they have regrown well once I tied grafting tape around them. I still need to install a support to the fence though! Some of the first plants we put in were 20 Camellia sasanqua ‘Asakura’.  They were reasonably well established and the ones that were planted down the western fence line are doing a great job screening the fence. Quite amazing when you see how much they have grown in the next pic.The flowers are in full bloom at the moment and it is great looking out at them from the bathroom and bedrooms. This is the same spot now but the exteno where we have increased the bathroom size comes out into the area a bit. It’s often the little things that I missed most. We hadn’t had a proper clothesline since we moved in, a small one that could just take 2 loads of washing and this was moved when the exteno started. Clothes horses chased every drop of sun and also drove me nuts. I enjoy hanging out clothes, must be the methodical nature of it, so I really love having a proper line again that will take everything we happen to throw at it. Australian made too, extra bonus! Some of you may have seen on Instagram the gorgeous picture of the gingko biloba trees we saw around New Zealand. This is our little one, but as I say, plant trees for the future generations, not for today. The little flowering gum is again showing us how stunning natures can be. This flowers every other year and I could look at it every day. The garlic I planted before we left seems to be a bit patchy with appearing. I’m wondering if this is due to the fact I covered the bed with netting to prevent the birds scratching everything up. I’ve done some filling in the gaps and discovered quite a lot of bulbs are just about to pop the surface so if I end up doubled up I’ll transplant the extras. This works quite well when the plants are young. The leeks, turnips, beetroot and lots of self-sown tomatoes seem happy. I have removed the tomatoes and weeds since this pic.

There are capsicum aplenty in the greenhouse. Time though for a bit of extra fresh air and an anti fungal spray. I’ve used both a milk one and a baking soda one in the past but the milk one seemed to perform better. A few straggler tomatoes ticking over. This bok choy has really taken off, I sometimes find it bolts but not this lot. Planted a few days before we left and now ready to use. The celeriac in this bed is also doing well and you can see a little bit of ‘miners lettuce’ peeking out from under. Jon from Herbalicious nursery told me I would never have to replant it. Great as a salad add and also some greens for Rene. A moulting Rene is happy to be out again.   I love these little daisies. When you go away and come back you see things differently, I am a bit re-motivated to get back into the exteno finishing off and to plan the next 2 rooms being the bathroom and a spare bedroom. I am also ken to get the courtyard area landscaped. Just a few more things to keep chipping away at!

 

So, 2017. What is planned?

We knew 2016 was going to be a big year and it was. Our first grandchild (I cannot believe he turns 1 on Saturday), a wedding, an overseas trip to Greece and Turkey, our exteno close to finished. In what was an unplanned and somewhat hasty move I decided to pull the plug on a job that was sending me nuts. Best decision I could have made and most importantly, yes, I have a kitchen. A kitchen with everything in the same room, an oven bigger than a pocket handkerchief and a space that is a delight to work and entertain in.

img_1617  Consequently, I find that I am spending a huge amount of time ‘playing’ in this new space. I do struggle some days trying to justify my ‘playtime’, but then remind myself that it has been a very long time since I have had the opportunity to really enjoy being in the kitchen. I love the fact I don’t have to get anxious about fitting whatever I decide to make into a tight timeline but can cruise and enjoy. That is a little hard to get used to but I’m practicing a lot at getting it right!

Because of this my vegetable garden has also been a bit neglected but things seem to be taking care of themselves pretty well considering. A bit of water has been splashed around on those really hot days but the wicking beds seem to be doing their job well. The basic food stuffs are growing  and starting to bear,  tomatoes, capsicum, eggplant, cucumber, pumpkins, chills, beans and herbs. I must add some salad greens next week. I made this little video doing a tour of the veggie patch.

 

So what are the plans for 2017?

Painting is definitely up there. The windows, both new and old all need painting. Mr ATMT is planning on cracking on with painting the outside of the house and that is huge.

We are heading to New Zealand for  4 weeks a little later in the year so I am looking forward to eating (and drinking) our way around both islands at our own leisure.

As always there will be tinkering in the garden with setting up a couple of new areas, moving an old building (the visiting dentist’s room) to create a courtyard off the kitchen and tarting up the front yard a bit.

Bread-lots more bread! I really want to focus on developing more and more skill with sourdough baking. I am concentrating on milling my own grains, using lower hydration starters and creating more baked goods using sourdough. Things such as muffins, pastries, crackers (dry biscuits) and more. These are some sourdough croissants,

15936863_10155014395349455_8363030558073077763_oThese loaves are made using my home milled whole wheat and blending it with organic white flour.15800610_10155009828704455_2292718470782370349_oI have so many friends who want me to do some classes that I need to plan and work out the logistics of how this can happen.

I also want to get back into cheesemaking. I won a few awards at the Red Hill Show many years ago and have done intensive study at Gilbert Chandler University in Werribee. We dug out these old awards when moving ‘stuff’ out of the dentists room we are moving.cheese-awardsI stopped making cheese for a couple of reasons, due to arthritis I had undergone joint fusion in my fingers so I was a bit nervous about lifting 20 litre containers of hot liquid without incident, it was overtaking our home (the old home), kitchen, lounge-room and garage and the family were having to live around all of the paraphernalia and then there was the change in health regs and it became increasingly difficult to source a milk supply from local dairy farmers. This last point is going to be a challenge still, as many of the dairy farmers have opted out of dairying due to the hammering they got from major supermarkets squeezing the cost down to a point where it was just not viable. I would never be able to sell my cheese but is a process I loved doing and friends and family that ate the results loved it. Ah, our nanny state……. one wonders how Europeans have survived for so long.

These things along with spending time with our delightful little fella will take up more time than I imagine now. I might fit in a bit of work too, who knows what the wind will blow in?

 

 

 

 

 

A quick whip around the patch.

I haven’t done a post for a while on what’s happening in the veggie patch/garden. This is most likely because I haven’t really been doing much out there. With us now being into the third season of establishing the garden, we are finding that it is much more about maintenance rather than building new areas. We are still working on developing paths, contemplation spots and have yet to start tackling the front yard so it won’t be all sit back and relax for a while yet.

Peeking into the greenhouse.

I have a couple of sugar baby watermelon seedlings that appear to be happy and growing well. These may just take over the entire greenhouse!

Sugar baby watermelon
Sugar baby watermelon

One of last years capsicum has over-wintered well and is throwing flowers with some baby caps appearing, this is much earlier than usual.

Capsicum flowering
Capsicum flowering

I have taken some cuttings from the perennial Rocoto chilli and these seem to be quite successful. I’ve used the method similar to planting laterals that are removed from tomatoes that grow so well.

Rocoto cutting
Rocoto cutting

There is a flower on the mature Rocoto Chilli. It was very rude and wouldn’t look at the camera!

Rocoto flower
Rocoto flower

Out in the Patch

The flowers on my Souvenir de la malmaison rose have suffered badly from the excessive amounts of rain we have experienced but it is growing nicely.

Souvenir de la Maison Rose
Souvenir de la malmaison Rose

I have however, had some good results from the roses in the laneway but I didn’t get a good photo. The lilac is magnificent! First time flowering this year and I am in love.

Lilac
Lilac

This years garlic crop is looking terrific.

Garlic 2016
Garlic 2016

The shiitake mushrooms are giving the best yield in quite a few years. I think the high rain and humidity is just what they demand.

Shiitake
Shiitake

I have some baby figs, YAY!

img_0045and some baby apples.

Apple babies
Apple babies

This button lettuce is proving to be a lovely variety. It is working well as a ‘pick as you need’ lettuce and bounces back quickly. The silver beet and kale behind it is all that remains from the last planting. I need space for tomatoes!

img_0059In the berry house, the raspberries, loganberries and thornless blackberries are all flowering profusely.

Berry house
Berry house

and the grapevine is starting to cover the climbing frame on the roof well with lots of grape clusters evident.

Grape vine
Grape vine

I have some pretty little daisies that bees and hoverflies just love and it is making me smile every time I see it.

Happy daisies
Happy daisies

All in all, it’s looking pretty good.

img_9909I trimmed a lot of the parsley stalks that were threatening to seed, picked some lemons from our new tree, found some beetroot I didn’t know about (too woody for roasting but I think it will be ok as a dip), some new potatoes, some self sown garlic, mint and herbs and we had enough to throw into a salsa verde for tea.

Harvest pickings
Harvest pickings

A  peek in the new bedroom.

I have decided that I will now continue working in one room at a time and it will be completely finished before I move onto the next (please remind me of my pledge when I stray). We always seem to fall into the trap of saying “we will get back to that” and it takes a very long time to get back, but no more. I am absolutely going to follow through on this! This is the new spare (guest) bedroom that was part of the exteno. Painting is almost finished, carpet is booked for laying,

img_1023We have rehung the old kitchen door on this room and that needs to be repaired and painted. Mr ATMT did the skirting in the robe space this afternoon so that now needs painting. I absolutely love this colour. The walls are Taubman’s Raincloud and the ceiling and trim is Dulux Classic White. img_1024 I have almost finished painting the window and it is looking great. The radiator that was in the old room before demolition has been cleaned and polished. This was pain, one of those jobs where you use a knitting needle with a cloth over the end to get into all the little nooks and crannies but worth it.img_1022I am already becoming aware while I write, that there will be one unfinished part of this room and that is internal fit out of the wardrobe. We will use a set of the shelving units we had in the temporary kitchen  I think. They are really good and will leave some options for the final design.

What jobs do you leave until you put the house on the market?

Garden Share Collective July 2014

Time to have a think about what’s been happening, being harvested and planned over the last month.

We are halfway through a school term break here and I have been going ‘gangbusters’ trying to achieve as much as I can while I have the opportunity.

Plantings

I have planted a whole lot of flower seedlings I started earlier in the year, these have been put into the bed that has a lane way running along it. A good spot for viewing flowers from the lounge room window. I have also planted some kale, leeks, divided up and planted runners on strawberry plants. I grow these strawberries in self watering pots, the plastic drum is filled with nutrient rich water and refills the planter automatically as needed. I’ll add a more detailed post about these at a later time.

Strawberries in need of TLC IMG_4605We’ve planted a few shrubs , one I’m excited about is the native pepper berry which should fill in a nice gap along the fence as well as giving us the opportunity to use the berries in cooking and it is a good for attracting native birds. I’m still working on a place to plant my peach tree! Just can’t decide where will be most suitable.

What I’ve been and plan to be doing.

Jobs targeted over the last couple of weeks have been to spread mulch over the newly marked out beds along the back of the yard. This is what’s left (until it stops raining), rest will be spread next week.

IMG_4609 Mulch really neatens the overall look up. I had been using these beds as a dumping ground for all the soft prunings and old tomatoes, pumpkin vines etc, knowing that they would be covered soon. Now the mulch is covering this green waste, it creates a natural composting environment which will aid in developing better soil long term.

IMG_4607 IMG_4608

I’ve started building 2 wicking beds in the greenhouse, already I can see how much more available growing space there will be compared to using the old bathtubs.

IMG_4600I’ve targeted next week as the time to put smaller wire on the chicken shed to stop those pesky little sparrows coming in. Only if it stops raining of course! We’ve had around 60ml in 24 hours. Glad the gutters were cleaned out last week! I also plan to move the shiitake mushrooms to a dedicated space  behind the greenhousethat’s not much good for anything else. Think it’s time to innoculate  some fresh logs soon.

IMG_4575Harvesting

We’ve had some great harvests recently. The broccoli is sensational, as is the kale. I’m picking celery, beetroot, snow peas, assorted herbs, silver beet, lemons, lemons and more lemons.  The chooks have started laying again after a short layoff. I had to buy eggs last week for the first time in 12 months, that hurt!

Had a great stir fry with most of our stuff and some kohlrabi that I bought from Thorpdale Organics. Never tried it before and it was sensational, absolute winner of a veg. Bought a water chestnut type crunch to the dish. Great chicken and veg stir fry was the result!

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Beginnings and ending crops.

Last weekend I picked the first broccoli of the season and knew I would have to get back out there in the next few days to pick the next lot while at its peak. Didn’t get out there until after work tonight, I have been so busy that I almost haven’t thought about the     ???…..??? (area where I grow my food) mmmm, I need a name for my veggie patch. Back to that later! Tonight I picked two good heads of broccoli, basil, last little eggplant, a good capsicum and some tomatoes from the greenhouse that are almost finished.

Autumn harvestI’m hoping to stretch out these tomatoes a bit longer so I can boast that I was still picking tomatoes in June! Every time I get home from work and go straight into the ???….??? I feel all the stresses from a usually busy, full of crap day just easing their way out and clearing my head. See those little critters in the front? Yep, Autumn raspberries!

Broccoli & Autumn Raspberries

I was very gracious and shared them (well 1) with Mr ATMT, to which he was VERY grateful. I must admit they don’t have that lush, sweet, full of flavour taste of the summer variety, but nevertheless I was happy!

So I need to come up with a name I can use as a reference when talking about where I grow things. Things like, ‘the patch’, the plot’, ‘the allotment’ have all been used to death and Mr ATMT suggested ‘The Tink Tank”. Sort of works for me, my name is Tink and it is like having a therapy session when I’m out there, I often come up with all sorts of ideas and plans whilst working away. What do you think?

 

I’ve got good news & bad news. Which first?

Well the really good news is the floor sander turned up when he said he would! The interesting rather than good news, is that our original floorboards are apparently ‘rose’ Baltic pine which gives them a pinkish centre. This according to Mr Sandman is quite rare, so rare in fact that the boards we replaced damaged ones with are the normal Baltic pine because it doesn’t happen often enough for anyone to check.  He was quite concerned that it will look odd once complete and wondered if we wanted to continue or replace all the floor (yeah right!). Upon inspection most of the replaced boards are in the master bedroom, so the bed will cover a fair bit, then when you add rugs, bedside tables and dressing tables and wardrobes etc it is unlikely that it will jump out too much. We really don’t mind too much, the house is almost 100 years old so it is important to us to keep as much of original content as possible.

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The other not so good news was that he uncovered some more borer damaged boards that needed to be replaced. Sanding/finishing job was put on hold until work to replace boards was done,  poor Mr ATMT spent the entire weekend going to Melbourne to buy more reclaimed boards, then removing the damaged boards and refitting the replacements. I don’t think he got a minutes break at all. We (I really did help by staying away from the works in progress as it was better for all parties concerned!) went back and removed a couple of the already replaced boards in the hall and replaced them with boards removed from the kitchen to make the colour variation less noticeable. The spare room at the front has also been put onto semi-permanent hold as there are a few too many boards that need replacing and we won’t be able to fix them in a hurry. We know we will get a few spots of colour difference throughout the floors but hey, it gives character so they say.

IMG_3204Outside action.

While I was doing my bit by staying out of Mr ATMT’s way, I hit the back yard getting a lot of jobs ticked off, namely:

  • Moved potato bed and compost containers that held last years fallen leaves and lawn clippings to a new spot. We are hoping to plant this area out shortly, so the contents were spread to add to the fertility of the bed. This will be repeated again this year in a new spot.

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  • Fed all the citrus trees, camellias, and roses
  • Planted a few new garden shrubs
  • Mowed the grass
  • Planted a stack of seed for spring annuals and perennials
  • Tidied up the asparagus bed
  • Once again tackled the espalier pear,

Espalier Pear March 2014this is growing so fast I can hardly keep up with it. I also topped up its bed with a load of goodies that came from the old composted leaves.  I planted this tree on 10th July 2012 and it is doing its job well.

  • I also cleaned out the gutters along the back of the house, not sure why when they are about to be avalanched by oak tree leaves!

In the Tunnel of Love!

I  played in my therapy pit, the vegetable garden for a while. It is quite impressive how well things are doing underneath the netting that I have turned into a protective tunnel. There is kale, beetroot, broccoli, carrots and shallots in here. I have never grown kale before and had never heard of it when I was growing up. It seems to have hit the road running in the popularity stakes over the last couple of years. Later in the week I will be harvesting my first crop and think something along the lines of a hunza pie might be good. Any good recipe ideas you can pass on would be appreciated!

Kale

Fingers crossed for me that the floor sanding and waxing treatment will now proceed with no more glitches. Got enough of them, don’t need anymore!