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-Firsts.

Bit of a mixed bag this month, Winter can be quite depressing with the weather cold, daylight hours are short and some of the winds we have had have tested the moods of many. Rain has been incessant too, making it difficult to get out into the garden. That’s why on days like today we need to celebrate and make the most of such lovely sunshine.

Loads of firsts to report!

First baby lemons on the dwarf Eureka lemon IMG_5024 First shiitake mushroom since I set up the new dedicated spot for them IMG_5029 First crops in the the new wicking beds in the greenhouse are going well.IMG_5036First fruit on the Pink Grapefruit tree. Waiting with anticipation to see if they are pink when they ripen. Climate can effect how much colour develops, with warmer areas having stronger colour.IMG_5041 First tomato seeds planted have emerged. So far I have planted Siberian, Purple Egg, Grosse Lisse, Heirloom Mix from Diggers, Russian Purple, Money Maker, German Johnston and Tigerella, I’m yet to sow Amish Paste, San Marzano, Periforme Abruzzese, Black Krim, Big beef and Black cherry. I’m determined this year I will have a great range to do a taste test of. I am also planning on selling some to staff and passers-by. This helps cover cost of seed, potting mix etc.IMG_5052My first ever brussel sprout plant is not performing too well (I think). Seems stunted, anyone got any ideas? It’s about 500ml high, maybe that’s normal but not having grown them before I’m not sure.IMG_5027 First heavy frost came yesterday, looks like someone has put cling wrap over the bird bath.IMG_3501 First of the jonquils are smiling around the placeIMG_3521  First firing up of the wood fire stove this year. I did the big clean up of it and baked bread, osso bucco, potato & leek soup and made a lovely big pot of chicken stock. The bread I made this week isn’t my usual sourdough but a loaf my niece handed over the recipe too. It’s a basic yeasted white bread cooked in a cast iron pot. Because I had the wood fired oven on I was able to fit it in, bliss! Loaf looks good, osso bucco was delicious as was the potato and leek soup. the only things bought for all of this was the osso bucco meat, and some chicken necks for the stock. Everything else came from the garden or what I have in bulk (bread flour etc). That makes me happy!IMG_5131

Osso bucco with mash and broccoli.

Thanks Lizzie from Strayed Table for hosting the Garden Share Collective concept. Great to see what others from around the world are up to. Hook up to GSC wont be available until Monday 4th August. Looking forward to what you have to report.

TheGardenShareCollective300pix1

Its a big one!

I mentioned that I didn’t want to waste a second of time while I was on the school term break. I reckon I can quite honestly say that I have exceeded my expectations of what I wanted to achieve. The poor old arthritic hands are now pretty useless but a couple of weeks being gentle and I should be back on track. One night I came in, lit the fire and literally couldn’t get up! Let the fire go out and was in bed at 7.30. All worth it though.

Here are a few of my accomplished jobs…….

Fly through restaurant is CLOSED!

The high priority job was to run smaller mesh wire over the chook house to prevent the sparrows eating all the chook feed. Littlebuggers were going through 3 times more feed than the chooks. Me being me, I didn’t want to just throw new wire over, I wanted it fitted neatly. This meant taking off (loosening) one end of all the weatherboards, removing and dis-assembling the door, then re-assembling it. I thought I would need to remove the barge boards too but I manage to work around that when I couldn’t undo the bugle screws. The raw zinc flashing had been annoying me since the chook house went in so I removed that and spray painted it matt black. I’m really happy with the end job and it now blends so well into the landscape. looks like it’s been there for years! I have since finished spraying the door black too.

IMG_4713New wicking beds!

I built 2 new wicking beds in my sacred space. The greenhouse. I had been looking at raised garden beds at hardware stores, online and I had considered building some but that would just knock my hands around too much. I happened to call into the greenhouse display centre at Officer just to see what they had and bingo! Came home with 2 flat pack, gal kits. Reasonably priced, no bells and whistles, just what I needed. I didn’t consider it would be too difficult to turn them into wicking beds, just took a bit more time and effort. I assembled the beds, ran tape over the metal edges and screws to avoid any piercing of the plastic liner of the bed. put a sand base in and levelled, lay the plastic liner, fitted the fill hose and inlet, cut an overflow hole and siliconed a drain tube into place, filled scoria over water reservoir, put geo-textile over the scoria to prevent the soil going into to water reservoir then filled with soil. I am quite amazed at how much more growing space this will give me. I also think the thermal performance of the greenhouse will be better.

wicking beds

IMG_4756This gives me 2 lovely big beds with room on the remaining side for seed raising etc. I’ll try a couple of grow bags with tomatoes down the centre to get maximum use of height.

Shiitakes have a dedicated home.

I created a spot behind the greenhouse especially for the shiitakes. Up until now they have just been in the old bath under a tree down the back. This spot should be great, all that’s needed now is some shade cloth and when the weather warms up I’ll set up an auto spraying system to keep them damp and humidity high. I also took advantage of this space to create a spot for all the garden stakes to be stored. I rolled these concrete blocks from the far end of the block to this spot. Can see why the wheel was invented!

Shiitakes new home

Mulch, mulch and more mulch!

I think in total I moved about 4 metres of mulch. Tidies things up nicely!

IMG_4742 IMG_4719Broad beans supported. I added a new layer of supporting wire to stop them falling in the wind. I’m amazed I have any still standing after me clambering over them and sticking ladders in the bed while I worked on the chook shed! See some flowers are appearing, can’t wait for these little babies to hit my kitchen!IMG_4724Started a concept layout for the front yard. Looking good!IMG_4755View from the back looking towards house. I’m thinking as I write this that it doesn’t seem like much that’s been done, but rest assured there is heaps! Lots I haven’t posted and lots of the jobs I did took a long time, especially when it was so wet.IMG_4741 First of the jonquils out-so cheery!IMG_4720

In the almost a kitchen.

These wet cold and miserable days are ideal for enjoying comfort food. My small slow cooker died last week and I am grieving badly. Will have to replace it next week. I had to resort to using a casserole which needed monitoring, stirring and heat control management on the camp cooker. Too much hard work! This is the madras curry and naan bread I made last night.IMG_4750 I made a lemon syrup cake, recipe courtesy of Town Mouse County MouseIMG_4743 We had the last of the flatbread I stock up on when I go to the Dandenong market. I cut the loaves into 3, pack 2 slices into bags and freeze. Great to have on hand, these ones were baked with a pizza style topping of passata, mushroom, capsicum, ricotta cheese, freshly chopped herbs of rosemary and oregano, sliced olives and salami. Great easy lunch.IMG_4746

Lemon cordial-Mmmmm.

I made cordial for the first time and it is beautiful. We drink a fair amount of cordial and because I am trying to make  “plastic-free” choices I thought I’d give making some a crack. Really happy with the result and its a great way to use some of the excess lemons we have at the moment. Served mixed in chilled soda water (using the Soda Stream) it is a winner! This is the recipe I used, I didn’t add epsom salts and did add 2 extra lemons as ours aren’t that lemony!

Lemon Cordial

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Vegetable Soup

I’m drafting this post as Mr ATMT brings me in a bowl of hot vegetable soup with some of last nights left over naan bread to eat by the fire. So heartening to think that a fair whack of the ingredients came from our garden. Pumpkin, celery, tomato passata, parsley, bay leaf, and my home made stock. Sometimes I just love winter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shiitake surprise!

When we moved into the ‘new old house’ just over a year ago, I gathered my shiitake logs from the old place thinking they were past it and literally chucked them into an old metal ‘hip’ bath up the back under a loquat tree where we are storing a lot of used timer and other crap.

Shiitake bathThis morning I thought I’d measure the bath to see if would fit in a space I have behind the greenhouse where I could make a more climatically suitable home for them. I have not once watered these logs since we moved.

Boy was a delighted to see some (many) erupting mushrooms and a couple of large enough to eat shiitake appearing on the logs. Could have knocked me over with a feather!

IMG_2989The few that were large enough to eat were well received, cooked with  garlic, shallots, butter and parsley. Consequently, I have watered the logs now, hoping to get the rest before they wither.

IMG_2981Now that’s a rewarding harvest!

Weekend Wrap

Had a great weekend! We live close to some beautiful natural landscapes and we don’t often enough take the time to celebrate their beauty by visiting them. This weekend, (thanks to the efforts of a friend who orchestrated the day) we visited a couple of lovely little waterfalls in the forest close to Morwell. Was great for us all to have a long overdue catch up, get some exercise and fresh air while taking in the lovely sights of the bush. Only a couple of leeches got to their target too!IMG_9335

Morwell River Falls

Rockface

ground cover

Funghi

Back at home!

Got a few jobs that had been niggling me out-of-the-way too. One was the poor old Fowler’s room looked like it was straight out of a scene from the TV show hoarders!

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Since we moved it has been a dumping ground and nothing has been put away properly, open the door, drop and run! I hate being so disorganised so it was nice to get everything into its own position. All cheese-making, home brewing, bottling and Christmas decos now in dedicated spot. I can see the floor again, yay!

Shiitakes on toast!

Yummy breaky today (last night leftovers), GMH cooked mushrooms with white wine, garlic, lemon zest, S&P and sour cream. Topped with chopped parsley served on toast and it was lovely. Shiitakes have proven to be a very rewarding thing to grow.

Shiitakes on toast

Girls get an extension

With the wet week we’ve gratefully had, I was concerned about the girls only having a small area in the coop so tacked on a bit of a playground for them. I hope the new chook house isn’t too far away………….

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Seed Saving.

I had let some black cherry tomatoes stay on the plant so I could save the seed for growing next season. We really enjoyed the flavour of these little beauties so wanted to ensure it can be repeated. Squish tomatoes in water and let sit until liquid starts to ferment a bit, wash really well (use a strainer), then place seed onto some paper towel and let dry out. Make sure they are really dry to avoid them rotting while stored. Wrap in tinfoil, label and plant into punnets in about September (I’ll do in July because I have the Greenhouse).

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Sitting in front of the fire now, all toasty and satisfied that I have achieved something this weekend. Hope you feel the same.