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!

 

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!