Spring is definitely springing up! Garden Share Collective.

At the risk of painting the devil on the wall, I’m going to say that Spring is well and truly here and I doubt there will be any more frosts. There, I’ve said it! This past winter has been a ‘real’ winter. Very cold, lots of frosts, lots of rain and I’ve loved it! I really like seeing the seasons roll around and for the past few years there have been strange happenings such as things bursting into flower in mid June, then frost burning them off and trees  shooting out new leaves before the old ones have fallen. This year it has been a definite autumn, into winter and I hope now into spring. The daffodils are a sight to behold and they have been in bloom for a good three weeks so far. There are also irises and freesias about to pop open.

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IMG_2313One of the irises has opened its heart.

I’m not so confident about no more frosts yet to remove the frost protection, sure as eggs………………

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We’ll end up with more of this! This was a beautiful ball shaped fig, didn’t even think to cover it and it has been whacked terribly by the frost. Not sure how well it will come back but I’ll give it a bit of TLC and see.

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Then there’s the ever pleasing sight of asparagus spears shooting. I’ve already picked 3 or 4 and munched on them as I work outside.

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The broad beans were planted late but are going really well. In previous seasons I’ve found that they don’t set pods until the bees are out so I may be in with a chance yet! The wire support on the poles is working really well keeping them upright. I’ll add another layer as they get taller.

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The garlic at the end of this bed is rocketing along. These brassicas are nearly done and there are some radishes in here too that I pick and eat as I walk by. This bed will be mostly tomatoes and corn this summer.

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The silver princess gums are flowering and we love checking daily to see if the little gum nut caps are any further open. It is amazing how well the caps hold on even though the flower is in full bloom. This is one of my favourite plants!

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You could swear our keeper of the garden is relishing the afternoon sun on his face.

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As I sit in our small, front room in front of the open fire where bread is proving and we are eating the warming, spanish chicken dinner I made last night,

IMG_2376I wonder how many more nights we have to enjoy such cool climate comforts.

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I’ll try to add this post to the Garden Share Collective site but I keep stuffing up due dates   so it may just go on the FB GSC page.

 

A mixed bag.

I have had so many different jobs on the boil over the last couple of weeks I can’t decide which to focus on so I’ll do a brief overview of the main ones.

Insulation of future main bedroom.

With the plaster removed it is the perfect opportunity to install insulation to all of the wall cavities. Being on a highway means we are subjected to high levels of noise from both traffic and the train line that runs parallel to the highway. It’s not really that bad inside but if you forget and become focussed  on the noise it can get to you. I did a lot of research on which insulation to use and decided on the Bradford New Generation Acoustic Rockwool Batts. There seemed to be for’s and against’s for each product so the final decision was based on the following-they are locally made, have high fire resistance and high acoustic blocking (so they say!). Although they have a high embodied energy rate in production it seemed a better way to go.

Insulation chimney recess

The chimney cavity was interesting! I squeezed myself into the cavity and managed to cover the walls of the adjoining room at the same time. Because there is no backing I had to run strings between framing so the batts will stay in place.

Insulation bedroom

A bloody good job if I say so myself!

We cannot believe the difference this has made already. Every batt that went in reduced the echo and noise bit by bit and now that the majority are in it is really cosy and inviting. Can’t wait to see the difference once the plaster is on and the ceiling and under-floor is insulated too.

The Shed

Work has commenced on cladding the frame of the new shed. We felt it would be much more sympathetic to the heritage house to integrate a cladding style that matched the former dentist/x-ray room. So far it’s looking like it’s going to be a great result. Of course there’s no job that can be done unless the girls are on hand to help!

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In the Greenhouse.

How good is this greenhouse! No regrets at all choosing Sproutwell as my supplier.  I have not utilised it as much as I should have yet but I did manage to get some seeds sown in the Sproutwell Seedling Tray Stand, I found the trays great to use, great height and a good size overall. I made my own seed raising mix using coconut fibre, worm castings and blended a bag of seed raising mix in. Cost factor was so much cheaper than just using  seed raising mix. Must make up some labels for the trays!

Sproutwell seed trays

The silverbeet I transplanted from the garden bed I took apart is going beautifully as is the lemongrass.

IMG_0123 Silverbeet transplanted

I had to buy some coriander for the Thai Beef Salad I made yesterday so chose the one that had been grown in a hydroponic system rather than just a cut bunch with the idea that I could plant what I didn’t use. I have done this before with basil and it worked well. Let’s see how it goes! Salad was great thanks to the lovely rump I bought from Trafalgar Butcher Shop.

Coriander packet Coriander

The bulbs I retrieved from the old home and planted all appear to be making a move. Great to know I may have some flowers in the near future!

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Plastic Free July- I’ve failed big time!

I picked the wrong week to register support and commitment to the Plastic Free July campaign! With both the weather boards and insulation being delivered I was appalled at the amount of single use plastic they were both packaged in. The insulation in particular was terrible, each pack of batts was in a plastic bag, 6 bags were in another plastic wrapper and then that was wrapped in layers of cling wrap that was obviously used to  compress the overall size. I felt terribly guilty and have started wracking my brain for ways to make recommendations to the relevant companies. Have to just keep chipping away!

Insulation Plastic Wrap Timber Plastic wrap

Oh dear, back to work tomorrow. So many unfinished jobs to do.

Yay day!

After a considerably yucky week of feeling a bit over work, tradesmen, lack of progress and a bit of a bug, today was a nice respite from it all. I finally managed to get the bags of bulbs I took from our old garden planted. Not exactly sure which are which but I know there are daffodils, jonquils, bluebells, freesia and some others I’m not sure of. That’s going to make it a nice surprise when they appear!

Bulbs to plant

The garlic is coming up nicely but the bed is attracting a lot of blackbirds and some serious scratching is going on so I netted the bed in the hope this will deter them until the plants are well established.

Garlic upBirdnet over garlic

When I removed the temporary garlic bed there were some eggplant bushes that I transplanted into pots in the greenhouse. I had no idea whether or not they would transplant successfully but they are flowering and some young fruit has formed so fingers crossed I may have an extended crop. The flowers of eggplant are really pretty!

Eggplant flower

Eggplant

While in the greenhouse it was good to see the young lettuce plants and the strawberries are going so well too.

Lettuce

I cannot remember the last time I have had such a sensational parsley crop. Planted in the asparagus bed it just hasn’t stopped. I should take some to the local swap stall or donate some to the pub and cafes!

Parsley with asparagus

2 new family members!

I have been holding off getting chooks until the new coop is here but I just couldn’t wait any longer. I bought two point of lay Isa Browns and they are going to have temporary digs in the mobile coop I built a few years ago. When we have the permanent housing here I will expand the flock. They seem to be settling in really well and it is lovely hearing that burrk, burrk sound again. I was especially pleased to see them gobble up a great handful of slaters that I got from the compost! We have named them Rene and Hilda. When I was very young we used to regularly visit close, elderly friends of mums in Mortlake, Western Victoria. The Jones sisters, Olive (Ollie), Rene, Hilda, Mabel and their brother (his name will come to me). These visits are greatly treasured and I believe are what led me to loving old houses, open fires, growing food and woodfire stove cooking. I might have to do a separate post on this! Meet Rene & Hilda. This was immediately after setting them into the coop so some better photos are sure to follow.

Chooks

Some new pillows, all bedding freshly washed and dried hanging in the sun, mmmm, looking forward to bed tonight.

Nice simple dinner of roasted veg-our first meal with this seasons pumpkin. Roasted with olive oil, thyme added some cherry tomatoes for last half hour and served with crumbled fetta cheese and chopped herbs. Very hearty indeed.

Roast veg

Tomorrow I’m hoping to wash all the windows so they are nice and clean for when the new holland blinds arrive! May keep an extra degree or two in each room on these chilly nights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food and fun.

This weekend has been lovely. Almost tea with my son and his girlfriend at their new home (no dinner because all the take-a ways were closed!). They are doing a great job giving a sad old post war weatherboard home a makeover. Three weeks in and it’s amazing what a difference some cleaning, pruning (major) and TLC can do to a house. Lovely seeing them looking at things from a different view as owners rather than taking everything on face value as normal. We then spent some time on our property that we are still trying to sell at Fish Creek and re-instilled some love there.   Hopefully enough to trigger a sale, but things are so slow over there I’m not holding my breath. Think I may have to re-assess how we manage that!

Re-kindle India.

While in India, we had the fortunate experience of tasting ginger tea at breakfast while staying in a hotel in Delhi. It was purely accidental that we poured from this particular pot as the ‘western tea’ had not been served at that time. I love accidental discoveries and after some lengthy interpretation with the staff we vaguely got the gist of how it was made. Googling answered my questions and it is a common beverage in many Indian households. I had a go this morning at making it and yes, it was sensational. I followed the recipe on ‘Show me the Curry‘ website and was very happy with the result. Nice start to the day indeed. Sorry but photo is a bit fuzzy!

Ginger tea

PHOT!

Not Pho, not hot pot but an attempt to marry the two. I had wanted to make pho but didn’t have bones for stock. Thought about a hot pot (or as Cam would disrespectfully say, Ho Po) but didn’t have a clay pot that would fit into our mini oven, so I tried to marry the the two together. Marinated chicken as per the recipe at recipe.com added some extra stock and put the whole lot into the slow cooker and let it go. 2 hours before tea I added some chopped bok choy and then served with fresh spring onions, rice noodles and finely chopped spring onions. I would add some star anise and chilli next time but it was very, very nice. I can really understand how these meals based on rich stock with, lovely spices and fresh vegies are soul food for so many. So fresh and healthy too!

 

The ‘Phot’ required Shiitake mushrooms and I realised that since we have been away and not tending the logs too well, my shiitakes had actually dried on the logs!

Shiitake dried on log

What the heck, cut the dried ones from the logs, reconstituted in hot water, sliced and added to the slow cooker. They were sensational!

Shiitake reconstitutingFingers crossed!

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All good! This was a really nice dish. Broth was flavorsome from the shiitake and other spices and seasonings.

Jobs I didn’t get to!

Had a master plan this weekend to plant the onion bag full of bulbs that I took from the last house and to install the auto-openers on the greenhouse windows. Don’t you love it when you have a list and manage to work hard but don’t see one item from the list completed? Started out with the goal to plant the bulbs, went to compost to get some planting mix and realised that the open bins are struggling due to encroaching tree surface roots. I have never had much success with open compost bins, they dry out, roots invade and I find them difficult to turn. I am a fan of the ‘Geddye’ style bin. Easy to use and turn with a curly compost turner. Easy to manage moisture levels and worms seem to love the environment. Ahh, the bulbs will have to wait till next week!