Day of reflection.

With the high level of energy I have been expending trying to keep 2 houses that are on the market in control, renovating to make the new old house reasonable enough to move into when we do finally sell our home and getting the vegetable garden basics in place ready for this years planting, I felt a little turmoil rolling around in my head.  Today I have done absolutely nothing apart from wander around the garden at our existing home reflecting on how much we have done here over the years both in the garden, in the house and in raising our three delightful now adult children. When we moved into this home 23 years ago it was a big empty square with a lovely acer negundo planted slap bang in the middle of the yard, an old wood shed and lots of ivy and blackberries. Over the years we have gone through 2 dogs, about 20 chooks  (the last died a couple of months ago aged 17!) many lovely meals from the garden, happy times with friends and family and many water pistol fights. Here is a little of springs offerings.

 

 

Weekend of both taking and making stock.

We have been well and truly under the hammer for time recently with trying to sell two houses, (so we can make improvements to the new one) moving my mother-in-law who is down-sizing and trying to move forward with getting our new property fit for human habitation. That along with the ‘doldrumish’ style weather we are having I just felt I needed to try to take stock. I dutifully made a list of jobs that needed to be done and started ploughing through them, first up was to make the stock for the Vietnamese Pho I planned to ho into once the tasks had been completed. I knew at the end of the day I wouldn’t feel much like cooking so this would be a welcome sight to come home to.

I am trying a method I found on the The Steaming Kitchen Blog where a slow cooker is used to slowly simmer the stock. Makes sense to me!

       

Added some fish sauce and sugar. I also added a stick of celery because there was some in the fridge that needed to be used. Left simmering all day, happy in the knowledge I wouldn’t have to stress when dinner time came. Now to knock off those jobs on my list!

Note:Wasn’t as thrilled with this version as previous ones I’ve made. I don’t think the stock reduces enough in the slow cooker to concentrate the flavours. Was still a pleasant result though.

Tomato Seedlings-time to pot up.

The seeds I planted a few weeks ago have done really well and need to go into a more substantial growing medium. I have been requesting donations from people at work for used milk cartons, wine cask boxes and any other suitable container for planting the seedlings into. So far have I have achieved about a 95% success seed germination rate which is great.

Interestingly, germination has been 100% from my saved seed and the 95% comes from the newly purchased stock. Maybe the different variety has something to do with this.

Next on the list……………..

I’ve been driving around for a week with my car chock-a-block full of ‘stuff’ that we culled from my M.I.L’s house that needed to go to the Op-Shop. Boxes gripped tight, head down, eyes not veering away from the loading stage, I deposited all the treasures. Kept my eyes straight ahead and did not dare look around on my way out as I didn’t want it to just be an exchange trip where I left with my car full of different ‘stuff! Tick that one off the list!

Next…..

Time to check on how the things I have planted at the ‘new’ house are settling in. Spring is starting to show its cheeky grin and I am bursting with the hope that things will do well.

The Update on plantings there.

Raspberries:

Yep, they are doing nicely.

Asparagus:

     Tick to that too!

Spuds (Potatoes):

The potatoes are looking a little bit ‘leggy’ but I am not surprised with the lack of sun we have had.

Garlic and Broad Beans:

            

Going well, broad beans flowering and garlic on track. Fed the bed with some blood and bone and a couple of handfulls of ‘Rooster booster’ pelletised organic  fertiliser. Can’t wait to have a few of those beans with some butter, olive oil, garlic  and a grinding of black pepper !

Back to the list…………….

I have removed a wisteria from the house we are selling and replanted it near where the future greenhouse will go. I am hoping to train it over the old woodshed frame to give a lovely backdrop at the rear of the vegie patch. Just hope it goes OK. Make note to quickly replace asparagus bed border edge with permanent one, not likely to happen once growth is established.

Rhubarb:

Plant me, plant me! I dug up some of the rhubarb for relocation and forgot about it. Seems pretty good so that has just been ‘plonked’ into the general garden space and can be divided later if need be.

See the little shoot starting at the bottom of the basket?

The rewards!

I actually achieved everything I set out to do, plus some. Quite happy with that really, taken stock and made stock at the same time.

Feel like we are getting off the ground-literally!

Today was a big step forward, the first of the wicking beds was started and the electrician came to discuss the rewiring of the house. We have been in limbo since purchasing the property and not able to do much until some basic upgrades such as reblocking and rewiring have been done. Unfortunately these are high price tag items and have had to wait until cash resources are available. We have been diligently squirrelling funds to enable us to get the rewiring done as it feels quite unsafe in its current (pardon the pun) state. Raspberry bed is finished and I planted out sixteen hollyhocks that I have started from seed saved from last years blooms (Very proud of that!).

We decided on wicking beds for a couple of reasons, elevated for easy access, easy to bird proof, shade cloth or poly covers can be added to cool or warm the beds as necessary and watering can be easily managed. The theory with wicking beds is that they work on much the same principle as the self watering pots you can buy but in a specially constructed bed so that a reservoir of water is available to plants as they need it. Evaporation is minimised and watering is kept to a minimum. For more detailed information on the construction and use of wicking beds visit http://www.urbanfoodgarden.org/. There is also a wealth of information here for living more sustainably and growing food for the table.

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.