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!

 

End of Summer season in the patch

I take my hat off to all our dedicated food growers, especially those who are committed to growing organically. It’s when we have seasons like this I can’t help but wonder how this nation ever got off the ground at all!

As the summer season comes to a close I’ve been trying to sort out the veggie garden to have it ready for some serious, more dedicated growing throughout the year.

I started by moving the 2 compost bins that were in the area where we have just moved a small outbuilding from. This area will become a courtyard and I don’t really want to look out the kitchen window to the bins. The bin made from wire and lined with weed mat contains last seasons leaf mulch and it’s not quite ready to use. I need to work out where this years leaf bin will go. This area does become a natural collection point for the english oak leaves so it can’t be too far away. I will have to move the little blood orange that you can see in the front. This was being espaliered on the wall of the building we moved, so it may end up against the fence.I have previously mentioned how when you clear the compost you discover insidious bits of plastic that you didn’t know you had. Here you can see the remains of a spinach box. I bought it in a box thinking it was plastic free, but as with so many packaged items the plastic is hidden. GRRRR!You can also see here that the paper vacuum cleaner bag still has a bit of decomposing to do. I will just put that into the relocated bin. I am cutting back needing to use bags in the vacuum as I now have a barrel unit that can be emptied directly into the compost (unless it has bits of glass etc in it). The big vac with bags will be used much less frequently.From these 2 compost bins I got enough compost to top dress the big 6 meter long wicking bed and the 3 smaller wicking beds as well as give the orange tree a really good top-dressing.As  always, our last chook Rene was on hand as oversee to the works!

Last men standing.

I removed all of the tomato plants that were passed it and their remains have been put on the bed that will be where corn will be grown next summer. I really should remake this box as it was put together as a temporary bed when we first moved in, but it still has another season in it I think.The remaining tomato plants in this big bed, have had exclusion bags put on the last fruit and I will be planting a green manure crop of mustard seed and assorted seeds that are well beyond their prime and that I am unlikely to plant here. I keep  saying I will rest this bed for a season, but space is just too precious. I guarantee I will still end up using half of the bed for something!I have had marginally more success with pumpkins this season, but they are still not what I would have a hurrah over. The plants that were not going to give any return have also been pulled and put on the pile with the spent tomato plants and I’ve let the ones still performing in, hoping that they will develop and mature some more.There are quite a few small ones still developing but I don’t think they will develop enough  before the cool weather hits. They are pretty though!Remember my experiment of trained versus free range tomatoes? This is a couple of pics of the issues I had with free ranging tomatoes. I don’t think I’ll try that again!

The big success this season is our grapevine, this is performing really well and these grapes are delicious! Although it is a slip grape, supposedly for winemaking, it tastes like passionfruit and we use them just for nibbling on. They do have a few pips but I don’t  mind that.

There are still a few jobs to do but I really enjoyed getting back out into the garden and claiming some thinking time as I worked.

Sourdough

This is a pic of my rye dough that decided it wanted to take over the world. I thought the overnight temperature was going to be quite a bit cooler than it turned out to be, so I gambled on leaving it out on the bench overnight. The lid was nearly at right angles before I removed it! Fortunately I saved it in time and managed to produce some lovely loaves of 50% rye and 50% organic Laucke T55 white flour. The tang in these is amazing!So now I have to decide on what my next ‘get back in control’ jobs will be in the garden. Well, everywhere I think!

In My Kitchen – January 2016.

Welcome to 2016 where a very busy year is staring us straight in the smacker. To start the year, we have a grand baby due to arrive (literally any tick of the clock), a wedding in February, hopefully a working kitchen soon after that and a holiday to Greece and Turkey in May. I’m also hoping to hold some sourdough bread workshops once we have a kitchen, so I’m trying to wrap my head around the best way to present information that is most useful to participants. Thanks to Maureen over at Orgasmic Chef who has kindly taken over the co-ordinating of In My Kitchen while Celia has some ‘being gentle to herself’ time.

I’ve had a peek at a few other IMK postings and I can definitely say I’m not going to wow you with delightful Christmas goodies and gifts. In My Kitchen this month is very down to earth and some may even say “boring”. Never mind, here’s what’s In My Kitchen this month regardless.

Harvests:

Cucumbers, chillies, tomatoes, garlic, eggplant, beetroot, capsicum and in a couple of days there will be corn. We are chook sitting for our son, so I think I will have to turn some eggs into pasta over the next couple of days.

Egg Cucumber HarvestI love pickled cucumbers so I made some bread and butter cucumbers (not sure what the difference between the two is). I have been using this recipe that I found over at Liz’s Suburban Tomato Blog  and it’s a winner. Bread & Butter CucumbersPickled beet and cucumbersI also pickled some beetroot using this blend of pickling vinegar. This was enough for 500g of beets.

    • 750ml malt vinegar (can blend types to suit)
    • 400g caster sugar
    • 2 star anise
    • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns

Boil all together, let cool then strain and pour over cooked beets that you have sliced or cut to desired shape and size and packed into sterilised jars, seal. Let mature for a couple of weeks before using. I really like the flavour of star anise with beetroot. Served with some feta or add greek yogurt, blitz it and you have a delicious dip in a matter of seconds.

Garlic.

I’ve followed a tip from Francesca at ‘Almost Italian‘ and this year not plaited my garlic harvest but just bundled the heads together and hung them. This was so much easier than plaiting and I think they look pretty good! I have not bought garlic for years now and I just love having it on hand knowing it’s been grown with no chemicals, no bleaching agents or sterilising agents to reduce the chance of it sprouting on the shelf. Nearly 100% of supermarket garlic is imported and the growing conditions are very questionable.

Garlic harvestAs well as this stash (it should last 12 months) I have kept enough aside for planting. I usually plant in March. This is much earlier than many recommend, but I have had great success since doing so.

Garlic for plantingWe have been picking tomatoes since mid November. Most have been from the greenhouse but they are now coming in from the wicking beds as well. We have to pick as soon as they get a slight blush because the birds are onto them like a flash if we don’t.

TomatoesI have about 15 compost buckets on my kitchen table. I take responsibility for collecting the compost bin from the staffroom at work  (sadly, I don’t have to compete with anyone for the privilege of doing this). I bring the bin home, add the goodies to the compost then usually forget to put the bin/bucket back in my car to take back to work. I’ve given them all a good scrub and airing and they are ready to be returned for the new year. I really wish I could create a swell of enthusiasm among others on staff to be more involved in sustainability and waste management, but there just isn’t any interest or sense of purpose  for doing so at all.

Compost binsClean out the fridge soup! There were many bits and pieces that were getting close to needing to be used or piffed (compost only, not rubbish bin) and as the weather was nice and cool today I made soup. This meant I could use up some celery, pumpkin, sweet potato, stock, and turkey that were sitting in the fridge. I added a stubby of passata,  some potato, my favourite zing szechuan (sichuan) pepper  and served the soup with some sliced chorizo I had grilled, flat leaf parsley and some of my ‘Maurizio’ sourdough

IMG_3585that had been grilled, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and rubbed with garlic.

Clean out fridge soupHappy New Year to all fellow IMK’rs out there and to any new participants. I am really looking forward to see what 2016 will bring to everyone.

Baby steps but getting there!

With the addition of 3 new wicking beds in the area allocated as the produce garden we can start to see how the final area will look and how workable it will be. I’m REALLY excited that I have more much-needed space to plant all the things I want to grow. The first filling has been placed between the pavers and will be topped with a lighter coloured gravelly mix soon. A water feature has been added that will allow  lizards and bees to rehydrate and is soothing to listen to while in the garden. The only jobs left to do in this area is fence it, get some espaliered fruit-growing on the rear fence, build compost bays, put permanent edging on asparagus bed and build a spot for my shiitake mushrooms to live. The area is proving to work well in its layout with good sunshine, plenty of space between beds and it is reasonably protected from strong wind (this has been tested well and truly with the weather of late!).

Productive Garden layout
Fence and gates will be along the area where the brick edging finishes. Hoping to build a really rustic gate as entry and a climbing rose (or grape) will be planted to cover an arch.

 What a beautiful day!

Saturday would have to have been the nicest day weather wise we have seen for ages! We had planned on getting stuck into doing some work finishing off the bedroom but you could not possibly pass up an opportunity to be outside on such a day.

I had 3 Big and dirty jobs that needed doing, sorting out some of the compost, cleaning out the chook house and removing one layer of worm castings from the worm farm. The leaf mold I started in June has progressed much better than last years efforts! This year I chopped the oak leaves with the mower and lined the wire ‘bin’ with black plastic. Today I turned the ‘cake’ into one of the Gedye bins and I wouldn’t be surprised if its right to use in a couple of months. I got 2 big bins full of chicken muck which is going to be composted separately and used on the citrus trees. The worm farm was well overdue for a cleanse and I now have a very large bucket of lovely worm castings which will be used in my potting mix and around seedlings.

Leaf mold 'cake'

 

Our efforts at attracting more birds and bees to the yard seems to be working. We have noticed wattle birds, many different parrots including lorikeets and crimson rosella coming in. The flowering callistemon always seems to have a visitor in it!

Rainbow lorikeet Wattle bird

 

Lots of spring flowers are appearing and I love seeing their cheery faces. Rose buds are forming and my Souvenir de la Mel Maison climbing rose is in flower. Cant wait to see it climbing over the arbor entry to the vegie patch!

Souvenir de la Mel Maison rose Granny's Bonnets

Poppy Pansies, lobelia, herbs and SLMM rose in bud.

Harvesting and planting at the moment.

We are starting to get strawberries, lots more forming so thats exciting!

IMG_1493I’ve been picking coriander, silver beet, beetroot, lettuce, asparagus (which seems to be slowing down), oregano and mint. I have planted (with all that new space) beans, both dwarf and climbing, zucchini, radishes, eggplant, corn, snow peas, capsicum,black cherry tomatoes and in the greenhouse, rockmelons also known as cantaloupe. I have planted a couple of tomatoes in the greenhouse but will hold off for another week or so planting out the main crop. It is traditional to plant tomatoes on Melbourne Cup Day in Victoria, but mine might go in next weekend.

IMG_1571Baby radish seedling coming through in one of the new wicking beds. Love seeing seeds come to life!

Rocoto Chilli.

My husband was given a seedling from a workmate of a Rocoto Chilli. I had never heard of them but apparently it is a perennial chilli and can keep producing fruit for several years. I did some googling and it sounds too good to be true, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes.

Rocoto chilli

 

This is why I keep chipping away!

Vegetarian pasta

Vegetarian pasta with my asparagus and herbs. Mmmm, mmm.

 

 

I proclaim today a P.I.P day!

I’ve decided I’m going to create something called a P.I.P day. That is my acronym for a ‘pig in poop’ day. I have had the best weekend doing exactly what I love doing and that is playing around in the garden and in my greenhouse. So many jobs to do, quite a few ticked off the list too.

Working through the list involved planting all the pot plants, rhizomes, canes, and bulbs that I had purchased over the past few weeks. The cage for the  raspberries is now finished, so in went the last of those. I will add some shelving at the rear of the cage for the strawberries to go on now that it is getting warm enough to take them from the greenhouse.

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Planted 2 standard roses either side of the entrance path out the front. This is they first thing we have planted in the front yard since we bought the house. Still not sure if Blue River rose is the right choice, flowering time will tell!

Blue River Rose

First Compost.

The first batch of finished compost is ready to use, so it went into a new bed made from an old bathtub in the greenhouse. Haven’t quite planned what to plant in it yet, might try some early beans, snow peas and cucumbers.

First compost

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My stocking up of seedlings to sell at the local massive garage sale day in October is progressing well. Today I potted up (using my great home made potting mix) approx 250 tomato seedlings. Varieties I have planted are San Marzano, Roma, Black Krim, Black Cherry, Grosse lisse, and Yellow mini pear. I stick to common ones for selling but I will try a few different ones for myself. Ran out of the coffee cups and milk cartons I’ve had everyone save for me so I’ll have to put out another wanted call. I also planted out lots of poppy seedlings, some assorted flowers (variety unknown) which I had saved seed from and hadn’t labelled and some lettuces.

First batch tomato seedlings.

We were pleasantly surprised that after the vile, wet week we’ve had that we could get outside to work. GMH started extending the path following the line it will take through the vegie patch. All of this concrete is what has been uncovered on site. With some filling between the slabs I think it will be great! Maybe a water feature in the circular section, yet to be decided.

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Harvests this week have been:

Asparagus, broccoli, asian greens, coriander, silver beet and eggs.

Asparagus
Starting to come in thick and fast now!

Edible plantings this week have been:

Raspberries, artichoke, beetroot, strawberries, red currant, blackcurrant, elderflower  and lettuce.

Did pick the first bunch of beautiful cheery flowers too.

bunch

Inside action.

We have the plasterers in at the moment, fitting out the master bedroom and re-lining plaster to ceiling in passageway. This is very exciting and means we are one step closer to a job being completed. I dare not list all the other jobs that need attending to as well!

IMG_0467

Yep, playing in the garden and in my greenhouse leads me to proclaim it was definitely a P.I.P. day for me. What makes your P.I.P. days?

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!

Phot

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!

 

 

 

What a lovely weekend!

Finally some stable weather and some lovely sun, not too hot, not too cold, just right! I had planned to get a start on my new Sproutwell Greenhouse but got waylaid with lots of other jobs.

We made  great progress with painting the lounge-room, a second coat on the ceiling, filled some spots and a couple of coats on the top section of the walls. The decision to wait until our re-blocking is done is proving to be quite frustrating as we are holding back on filling gaps as we anticipate there will quite a few more. None the less it is still nice to see (and more so smell) some freshness being instilled into the old house.

I spent Sunday outside thinking, planning and working in the yard. With a possible buyer for our current house I am focussing on working out a few basics we need to do to be able to live in our new old house. Nothing major, just things like, plumbing, maybe an area to cook in would be good and also having some hot water. I’m sure it will all sort itself out, we have developed quite a ‘let nature take its course’ approach the older we get and it usually does!

Bye, bye, bok choy!

I am pulling the plug trying to grow this. I have only ever had success growing this once and since then it always  just bolts and has  not proven a viable component of the garden. Tried many different tactics but it just doesn’t want to play. I get the message!

Making way for the garage.

It is painful  seeing established trees having to be removed but in order to have a garage installed we had to make the decision to remove a loquat from the fenceline. Not a tree or fruit that I am passionate about but it did serve a great job screening a very unattractive brick wall of our neighbours and birds love the fruit.

Loquat and acanthus out. Now to get the stumps of trees we have had removed ground out so foundation for garage can begin.

General vegie stuff.

With the broad beans spent I cut them down, left the top growth on the bed and topped with compost. Hopefully this will create a nice little compost pile within the bed to feed future planting. I believe the little pale coloured things on the roots are ‘nitrogen fixing nodules’ that are beneficial to the microbial activity in the soil.

Chopped broad bean growth laid onto bed which I covered with compost.
Nitrogen fixing nodules of roots of broad beans.
Took 3 barrows of compost made from last years oak leaves, grass cuttings, hay and other bits added to the mix to top dress the garlic and broad bean bed.

With wicking beds it is difficult to stake things as you don’t want to pierce the water holding membrane of the bed. I came up with a nifty little idea and hope it works! I love bamboo because of its sustainable (apart from transport for imported products) value, its longevity and its natural look and tactile feel in the garden.

Large bamboo stake secured at end of beds with ‘U’ clamps and centre support only goes in to soil a short way. Cucumbers will be trained to climb the framework.

 

Climbing frame at end of tomato bed for cucumbers, peas, beans, sweet peas or anything that may need support.

Silver beet and lettuce is doing really well, I picked some to go into tonight’s dinner of silver beet and fetta quiche, salad and some oven baked potatoes. It was lovely even though I had trouble extricating myself from the japanese bath and left it in the oven for about 10 minutes too long!

Little too brown but tasted lovely!

 

Weekend wrap

What sensational weather we have had this weekend, I even had to dig out the shorter pants and some thongs! This lovely sun should really kick a few things into top gear. I did lots in the garden and finished with an easy pasta dinner made from the pickings.

These tomatoes are the San Marzano variety and seem to be going very well. Most have a few flowers on them and some have small tomatoes showing, so pollination must be happening.

I had quite a few Gross Lisse tomato plants that I had not planted due to running out of available bed space. We haven’t managed to finish building the remaining wicking beds due to priority re-assessments so I decided to take a gamble and plant directly into the grassed area between the beds. I dug a good-sized hole, filled it with compost and mixed blood and bone and some ‘Rooster Booster‘ pellets through the compost mix. I then planted the seedlings quite deeply, filled the hole with more compost and then topped with more blood and bone and ‘Rooster Booster‘. I mulched the whole area with some old carpet underlay to act as weed mat and then spread some spent hay over the top. I will add another couple of shovels of compost as they grow. Fingers crossed!

We have a family of magpies who love to keep an eye on all we do and they seem to know when we will be exposing some tasty morsels for them to eat, so they just hang around in the trees or wander over the grass. They are getting quite comfortable and today one of them was having a lovely time using my asparagus bed as its sun bed!

We were a bit worried it had died for a while but as I crept up it was quite clear it was just having some R&R!

I am a little concerned about the slow bulb development of both the garlic and shallots. Possibly because it has been a long, cold winter it may just need some extra time. I will keep using the small ones (Shallots) as spring onions as they are lovely and sweet and full of flavour.

Lovely to see the pink grapefruit tree I planted is in flower. I have developed quite a fancy to the flavour of this fruit so it is exciting to see the flowers.

Pickings of silver beet, broad beans, shallots, young garlic, parsley, oregano and lemon were the base for tonight’s dinner.

Spring Pasta

Slice some mushrooms, couple of bacon rashers, shallots, garlic and a few leaves of silver beet. Fry off the bacon, shallot, garlic and mushroom in a pan with some olive oil and a knob of butter.  Add some broad beans to pan and stir through for a minute. Squeeze a lemon and pour juice into pan and also put the silver beet in. Turn heat off, stir through lemon juice and put lid on so silver beet just wilts. Leave sit while you chop together some mint, sage, parsley and lemon rind which will be used as garnish. Drain cooked pasta and add everything from the pan to it, blob some more olive oil in, crack some pepper and serve with the herb garnish and Parmesan. Very tasty!

Very productive day!

I have been very frustrated with planning and getting started on the new garden layout. For one thing we have been having exceptional levels of rainfall and everything I think of can’t happen until something else happens first, the domino effect! For example where the compost will go will just be in the way when we build the car port and garage. I’ve just wanted to ‘rip’ into it and achieve something. I had planned on putting in a temporary bed for my raspberries but when I started clearing some of the oak leaves between the “Fowlers Room’ and the fence I decided that would be a perfect spot to establish the permanent raspberry bed . Close to the kitchen for easy picking, easy to net for bird protection and good position in relation to getting enough sun and rain.

I shaped two beds allowing enough room to access a barrow between the beds and leaving enough room for the canes to spread while still having room for covering with bird netting . Compost was then added to the beds and sprinkled with blood and bone. I have several old bales of hay that are breaking down so some of that went on top. This will break down beautifully over time creating a great feeding base. The edging of the beds will eventually be replaced with a more attractive and permanent product but this recycled timber will do for now.
 
 
This is my four-year old pear tree ‘sensation’ that I have espaliered onto the driveway fence. It is too big to transplant (so my husband says!) without destroying a large area of the driveway. Have to start over! I Purchased the bare rooted stock yesterday.
Espaliering trees gives you the opportunity to create productive or picturesque plantings of trees or large bushes in narrower spaces. The technique can be used for both ornamental and flowering plants but I love the way you can turn small spaces into productive food banks. It makes it easy to manage pests and to protect from birds.

First pruning cuts have been made. What would normally grow into the main trunk has been cut just below a bud, this should encourage more sideways shoots which will make the second layer of the espalier. The two lateral branches will be tied and weighted down to encourage horizontal shaping.
 
 
We cannot establish a more permanent potato (spud) bed until the vegetable patch wicking beds are in place and the area is more organised. I have decided to put a temporary spud bed in the area under the mulberry tree behind what was originally stables for the property. This temporary bed will also work as a productive compost heap while yielding some very delicious produce (hopefully).
 

Woo hoo, here we go!

After deliberating for ages, I have finally plucked up the courage to have a go at establishing a blog! I live in Gippsland which is about 2 hours east of Melbourne Australia and have a hobby of having a go at growing, cooking and preserving all kinds of foods and beverages. Many years ago I was a successful home cheesemaker but the family got sick of me taking over the entire kitchen (and sometimes the lounge as well) with my processing equipment. That along with upping my work hours to full-time meant I slowed down on the cheese production (and a lot of other things I really enjoyed!). I am keen to get back into cheesemaking and when we move I will  have a dedicated area for my preserving and cheesemaking, this will be called the ‘Fowlers room’ named in honour of the age-old Fowlers Vacola Preserving system. I love growing all kinds of fruit and veg and can’t wait to establish the new produce garden. We have purchased an historical house (1920ish) which needs a major dose of TLC and renovation. The focal point in the backyard of this house is a very old mulberry tree, the aim of this blog is to record and share all that goes on ‘around the mulberry tree’ whether in the garden, in the preserving room or in the renovation of this lovely old property.