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!

Don’t be fooled-Winter in the garden is busy!

It’s been many moons since I last did a Garden Share Collective post. I just don’t know where the time has gone, I blink and another month has passed me by!

We can no longer kid ourselves that summer has gone (didn’t really have one), and Autumn too is racing out the back gate being replaced by what appears will be a cold winter. As the sun shines and sparkles on these icy cobwebs in the early morning I revel in the changing seasons.

IMG_0722A couple of things to share this month:

A new bed and repositioning of the spud bath. The bed beside the chook house that had corn in it over the summer has been fed and garlic is planted in it. The bath across the back previously took the spot where the stepping stones are and I have moved it to make this area a little more attractive and easier to access and use. I can now get to the worm farm and one of the closed compost bins much more easily. There are a couple of small  spaces that I will fill with bee attracting flowers. Love that camellia!

IMG_0780I must admit I love winter in the garden, the feeling that everything has stopped kicks in and you then turn something over or see the cool climate crops return a harvest and you realise just how much does continue on. The sweet potatoes in the greenhouse are starting to die off and I’m eagerly awaiting to see how many and what size sweet potatoes I get.

IMG_0838The broccoli heads are starting to form and the garlic in this raised wicking bed is well and truly on track.

IMG_0852There are a couple of plants I’ve had to put some frost protection in place for. This is a Davidson’s Plum, the other is a tamarillo that I thought I had lost last year but it came good over the warmer seasons.

IMG_0824The couple of beds that you walk through on the way into the veggie patch are slowly showing signs of the seasonal changes. The nectarine on the front right is resisting yet the yellowing plant rear left is a cherry that has just about dropped completely. There are bulbs and irises poking up through the mulch, exciting. No eggs from the free loading chooks ATM though!

IMG_0903The last of the grapes harvested and slipped into the mouth with a sigh of appreciation.

Grapes

Looking forward to having a bit of time over the next couple of weeks to plant more, tidy up and plan for the spring. I’m looking forward to reading the other GSC posts.

http://www.strayedtable.com/grow/garden-share/

 

Sunny Saturday.

What a bottler of a day! Not too hot, not too cold, not too windy, just right. The kind of day where you’d be nuts if you stayed inside. It was also our state election in Victoria today, which I must admit I feel very ‘ho hum’ about. I used to take my politics very seriously and stress over how I was going to vote, but these days I think they are all pretty much ‘tossers’ and put their ego well before commitment to leadership and democracy. I do feel though, that you need to cast your vote seriously or you don’t earn the right to complain. But that’s enough of that!

As in the iconic Aussie Bob Hudson Newcastle song where he sings “don’t you ever let a chance go by” this week I did just that. We had been advised that Vicroads were going to remove the tree on our nature strip (verge to those outside Australia), so I taped a bloody big sign around it asking the tree people to leave us any mulch and if possible the wood from it’s removal. Didn’t think anything would come of it but lo and behold- 2 great big piles of beautiful wood and a great big pile of mulch that we can put to really good use under this pin oak. IMG_6546 Bit of a work out for Mr ATMT as a fair amount of it had to be chain sawed into smaller lengths and we will need to split it into good oven sized bits at some stage. IMG_6561While he was working on the wood I began fitting the posts to our large wicking bed. As well as giving me somewhere to tie my tomatoes to (cordon), these posts also make it easy to bird proof with netting or add shade cloth when it gets too hot. I suspect that may be the case this summer! I didn’t take a photo but this is what they are like on the other beds.IMG_2297I had a lovely time ‘pottering’ around in the garden today. I picked some Elder flowers and I’m going to have a go at making some Elder Flower Cordial. I have never tasted, seen or been told what this should be like so it will be interesting. They are however the prettiest flowers so worth having just for that.IMG_6550 Elder flowersI got into the greenhouse and had a tidy up and hung racks so the tomatoes in there can be trained and supported. The sweet potatoes on the right here are going berserk.IMG_6572 IMG_6570It was nice to sit back and like what I saw in the ‘patch’. It’s really starting to look like it’s been there a while, not only the 1 year it’s been.  The garlic is about ready to harvest,I’ll do a separate post about that.IMG_6568The grapes are getting bigger,IMG_6573and the magpies tried to beat me to the hammock.IMG_6564A lovely tea of snow pea, broccoli, chicken and ginger pasta to top off a lovely day.

Off to the zoo tomorrow, I’m excited.

Thanks to Lizzie at strayed table for hosting the hookup for the monthly Garden ShareCollective.

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Garden Share Collective July 2014

Time to have a think about what’s been happening, being harvested and planned over the last month.

We are halfway through a school term break here and I have been going ‘gangbusters’ trying to achieve as much as I can while I have the opportunity.

Plantings

I have planted a whole lot of flower seedlings I started earlier in the year, these have been put into the bed that has a lane way running along it. A good spot for viewing flowers from the lounge room window. I have also planted some kale, leeks, divided up and planted runners on strawberry plants. I grow these strawberries in self watering pots, the plastic drum is filled with nutrient rich water and refills the planter automatically as needed. I’ll add a more detailed post about these at a later time.

Strawberries in need of TLC IMG_4605We’ve planted a few shrubs , one I’m excited about is the native pepper berry which should fill in a nice gap along the fence as well as giving us the opportunity to use the berries in cooking and it is a good for attracting native birds. I’m still working on a place to plant my peach tree! Just can’t decide where will be most suitable.

What I’ve been and plan to be doing.

Jobs targeted over the last couple of weeks have been to spread mulch over the newly marked out beds along the back of the yard. This is what’s left (until it stops raining), rest will be spread next week.

IMG_4609 Mulch really neatens the overall look up. I had been using these beds as a dumping ground for all the soft prunings and old tomatoes, pumpkin vines etc, knowing that they would be covered soon. Now the mulch is covering this green waste, it creates a natural composting environment which will aid in developing better soil long term.

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I’ve started building 2 wicking beds in the greenhouse, already I can see how much more available growing space there will be compared to using the old bathtubs.

IMG_4600I’ve targeted next week as the time to put smaller wire on the chicken shed to stop those pesky little sparrows coming in. Only if it stops raining of course! We’ve had around 60ml in 24 hours. Glad the gutters were cleaned out last week! I also plan to move the shiitake mushrooms to a dedicated space  behind the greenhousethat’s not much good for anything else. Think it’s time to innoculate  some fresh logs soon.

IMG_4575Harvesting

We’ve had some great harvests recently. The broccoli is sensational, as is the kale. I’m picking celery, beetroot, snow peas, assorted herbs, silver beet, lemons, lemons and more lemons.  The chooks have started laying again after a short layoff. I had to buy eggs last week for the first time in 12 months, that hurt!

Had a great stir fry with most of our stuff and some kohlrabi that I bought from Thorpdale Organics. Never tried it before and it was sensational, absolute winner of a veg. Bought a water chestnut type crunch to the dish. Great chicken and veg stir fry was the result!

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Restore, renew and respect!

We have just returned home after being on holidays for close to 3 weeks….. I must admit that as much as I like being home to take stock of what is happening in the garden I am not at all happy about facing the prospect of returning to work next week!

While we were away enjoying blissful days of 25-30 degrees, gentle breezes, great surf, swimming and eating decadently, the temperature at home was hitting 43-47 degrees over a 4-5 day period. No garden is able to cope without stress and some form of damage with these conditions so I was very concerned as to what we may find on our return. I was also concerned about how our precious chooks would cope. My concerns were largely unfounded and I was pleasantly surprised I must say! A combination of good  planning and management prior to leaving, wicking beds that surpassed all expectations in keeping moisture supplied to the root systems of my plants, and a son who was checking that some precious newly planted trees were watered paid dividends.

Preventive measures undertaken before we left were:

  • Mulched, fed and deep watered all fruit trees and newly planted garden beds.
  • Made sure all wicking beds reservoirs were full and surfaces mulched.
  • Strung some shade cloth strategically over chooks, corn and raspberries.
  • Set up a couple of timers to water the greenhouse crops and potted plants.

Filling the main wicking bed to capacity.

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Some shade cloth on corn bed along the side where the hot afternoon sun hits, hopefully pollination wasn’t hampered. Signs of baby corn developing so fingers crossed.

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I hung some shade cloth on the west-facing side of the chook house to give them some relief. Tomatoes in bed got a little fried but not too bad.

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Restore

I was more than happy to spend my first return hours in the garden refreshing the beds and restoring any damage the heat had caused. We have also had forecasts that there is likely to be another surge of heat next week, so prevention of stress and protection of crops is utmost in my mind.

Couple of things showing signs of heat damage are:

The raspberries that didn’t have shade cloth protection are showing leaf burn but no die back.

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Don’t underestimate the value shade offers!

We thought that someone had been in with a sprayer causing die back on the new grass that had been planted in the back yard. Was a bit baffled as to what could have caused this one section to die.  This is the only section showing severe damage, the rest of the grass gets shade over many parts of the day so we wondered if it had been due to frying in the heat. Don’t underestimate the value shade offers! Look at the burnt grass line and look at the shade line. It is almost an exact line. Don’t think that is coincidental! AMAZING!

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The lemon tree is showing signs of leaf burn. I will put some shade cloth protection around it for the remainder of the summer.

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My ‘Snow White’ dwarf apple that went into the ground earlier this year (thank goodness) after being in a wine barrel for several years has some burning on the fruit. This is the first year it has fruited and it tastes darned good!

IMG_2564I’ve got so many things I need and want to list here but I have run out of puff tonight, time to pour a glass of wine and pretend I am still back at Pambula Beach (this photo is at Narooma though) enjoying the great Australian Landscape.

Narooma Sunset

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.

 

 

Back up and running.

I haven’t uploaded any posts since before Christmas due to a whole host of time restrictions.

Firstly there was Christmas.  We had to work hard at enjoying the season this year, but with a bit of determination, skilful planning and plenty of champagne it was a huge success and we spent some lovely time with family and friends.

This year was the 30th anniversary of me making the traditional gingerbread house that is now routinely destroyed in any manner we can invent at the end of Christmas Day. Everyone primed in anticipation and Grandma in the background saying “Oh, it’s such a shame after all the work that’s gone into it”. That only seems to bring more motivation on. Unfortunately this year the bocce ball, come ‘shot put’  hit the target before I was ready to film. Hopefully one day someone else in the family may share their capturing of the moment.

gingerbread house

Some finishing touches before we move in!

Reblockers in

Most notable of the time drainers was that we have finally moved in to our ‘New Old House’.  We worked incredibly hard right over the Christmas break to get the house up to a level suitable for habitation. Water and gas installation finished, rewiring finished, new loo in, lounge painted then repainted after the re-blockers finished (the day before we moved in), earth-moving and rock down in drive so we could get cars in. Then there was the process of packing for moving and making the old house nice for the new owners. Between the local ‘Men’s Shed’, various Op-Shops, Ebay and the tip we got rid of an enormous load of ‘stuff’ but I don’t think you can tell-still seems to be ‘stuff’ everywhere. Once we get a shed/garage and a kitchen I’m sure most of it will find it’s own place.

We’re in!

Goodbye to the old home.

After 23 years in one house I am quite surprised that I really don’t feel anything much about saying goodbye to it. The garden, with its sense of tranquility and birds I will miss, but basically everything is re-do-able so I’m not that fussed. The things I’ll most miss are:

King Parrot bye

The many birds we have that regularly demand a morsal of seed. This beautiful King Parrot came to say goodbye,

compost

I’ll miss having a thriving compost system that just keeps happening. Having to start a fresh system takes a little bit of time.

Growth chart

The old ‘measure the kids as they grow’ markers. Not only an indicator of growth but brings back memories of lots of things the kids did in this home while growing up.

Time to go, pack the kids in the car and off we go!

Packed up the kids and left

Greenhouse up-finally .

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After much ‘faffing’ around and trying to squeeze this job in between all the others we finally have a completed Sproutwell Greenhouse. Hasn’t really been too high on the priority list because of the warm weather but with the possibility that temperatures  could drop at night soon I want the extra protection. Just need to finish the floor and set up benches inside and I’ll be sweet!

In the Vegie Patch

It has been incredibly dry here in Gippsland and we have quickly been taken back to where we were when in drought. After such a wet year last year we were lulled into a false sense of security and have had to revert to hand watering everything. I must say the wicking beds seem to be holding their own. A quick surface water every now and then (more because its nice on a warm evening to do than because its necessary).

My garlic harvest this season has been sensational and it along with ‘Spiced Prunes in Port‘ preserves, made great additions to the Christmas gift packs. Unfortunately I can’t find the photos of the garlic I took so will take a couple later and add them.

I have been battling a bit with my San Marzano tomatoes this year. For the first time in a very long time they have been a victim of Blossom End Rot, a condition that is due to lack of calcium in the soil. Having had to purchase soil for the beds I haven’t had much control over that. Next year once there has been a chance to work in plenty of compost and grow a green manure crop it should start to improve. It really hit home that all the effort I made with the soil at our old place was in fact worth it. I am still getting a pretty good crop and will have more than enough for sauce and passata. Now to work out where to process the harvest…………..

San Marzano

My quest to develop an opinion on whether or not to prune laterals from tomatoes has had mixed results.

Pruned of laterals Not Pruned
Larger fruit More fruit
Takes more time to manage Smaller fruit
Easy to support Heavier to support

Think I am steering towards the pruned method purely because of the larger fruit size. Will repeat again next year because I am not sure how much having a calcium soil deficiency had a hand in results.

The grosse lisse planted straight into the ground are doing really well, just have to remember to pick as soon as there is the tiniest blush of pink or else the blackbirds beat me to it. Today I placed some exclusion bags over some larger fruit to see if I can get longer on the vine time.

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My Rosella sabdarifida is doing quite nicely, will go into the greenhouse soon as it needs warm temperatures to flower. With a good bit of luck I will be able to turn it into those beautiful syrupy flowers and use it in champagne.

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Cucumbers have been great, picking daily and now need to think about making some lovely Bread & Butter Cumber Pickle. Growing up the trellis has been a great success.

Other continual pickings have been beans, silver beet, snow peas, lettuce and herbs. Not sure what happened to my capsicums but they appear to be tomatoes. Suspect I may have been a bit confused when I labelled my saved seed packet!

Chooks.

Couple of steps closer to getting our chooks. I purchased a ‘Dine a Chook‘ feeder and waterer for my husbands Christmas present and I have commissioned the local Men’s Shed to make my very specially designed chook house (keep an eye out, it’s going to be great!)

All said and done, we are a lot more comfortable than we thought we may be. Struggling a bit with highway noise but everyone assures me you get used to it! Lying in my hammock this afternoon eating ripe mulberries was a treat indeed!

I may not have the birds yet, but it is quite beautiful on a hot humid afternoon lying in the hammock looking up through the mulberry tree. Even better when I get to pick a few, very nice indeed.

Mulberries

Let the new memories begin!

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!

 

Wet One day Wonderful the next!

Yet again a wet, cold miserable Gippsland Day on Saturday! With the forecast for a nice Sunday we took the opportunity of attending the Baw Baw Garden expo on the yucky Saturday. Did this for a couple of reasons, one was that as soon as the sun comes out crowds were sure to appear and make it very difficult to talk to the exhibitors we wanted to see and with so few nice days having been gifted in the weather department this year it would be nice to just enjoy the garden and work at home on one of the many projects.

I am very excited to have finally placed an order for our new greenhouse. I decided on a Sproutwell Prestige 3000. Slightly bigger than my existing unit and  better ventilation in hot weather. I am quite excited about this new investment, as this year I have grown all of the vegies and flowers in the garden from seed. With the price of seed punnets these days it won’t take long to recoup the cost. This and the opportunity to extend the growing season plus add few items not normally suitable to our climate and it becomes a great addition, not to mention a great cubby for me!

Always on the look out for great ideas, I was impressed with this little find!

There was a lady there selling these bags made of fine net mesh that looks quite durable and stretchy. The objective is to take them shopping with you so you don’t need to use those ‘tear off the roll’  plastic bags. I must admit, the only things I use those bags for is grapes, everything else goes in loose, much to the chagrin of the checkout operator!

We also purchased a new Cercis canadensis (which I admit I cited as Cercis pallustris in my spring post, will need to correct that!). We have one of these near my pizza oven and it is a joy to look at all year round. Different qualities in different seasons and they are all lovely, displayed on their delicate zig-zag branches.

Sunday 14th

Woke to see a few grey clouds and I thought the forecast had been wrong again, but within an hour or so the hardly seen lately sun appeared and the day just got better and better! I had to do some boring ‘clean up to make the house look better for prospective buyers (PB’s)’ jobs but I even enjoyed doing those in the sun. The jungle that had emerged in our garage spouting has now been put into the compost and the carport and drive way is now nice and tidy. Unfortunately still too wet to mow so the PB’s will have to imagine nice, neat grass areas.

It is traditional in Melbourne and Victoria to plant tomatoes out on Cup Weekend but mine have been doing so well in the greenhouse they need to go in or they will start showing signs of stress. This will be the first major planting in the new, big wicking bed so I am a bit excited! These ones are the San Marzano variety which is similar to Roma and will be used in making ‘passata’, tomato sauce and for drying. I have yet to plant out the Gross Lisse and a couple of specialist varieties, but I need to allocate space for them first. Still working on a wicking bed staking system  because you cant just hammer in stakes like in a normal bed as you would puncture the water reservoir liner. Might need to check out the scrap metal bin at the tip and be a bit creative!

The namesake of this blog is bursting into life!

Garlic galore!

As I ponder if there is anything else I need to record, I hear a crunching sound behind me. The king parrots have discovered the new growth of the grape-vine on the pergola outside our back door. Just beautiful! But oh dear, looks like I had better get up and clean under the eaves for the PB’s!

Windows, paint, electrics and lettuce.

Windows coming unstuck!

We have only been able to open 2 or 3 windows at our ‘new’ old house and even though there are several air pathways under doors, down chimneys and through the timber floors, there is nothing like throwing open the windows and letting a good blast of air in. Luckily there haven’t been too many coats of paint thrown on over the years so they loosened relatively easily. I simply gently hammered a paint scraper in between the window and casement and tapped, did this all the way around and on the exterior until all paint sealing the joints had been broken. I haven’t concentrated on the top section of the sash windows yet, that will evolve!

In the old surgery:

   

Yay, we have lift up!

Lounge room next!

Paint

My new VBF from Moe Paint Spot called in today and the good news is that the surfaces I had thought had been previously coated with calcimine paint aren’t! He also gave me some great tips for cleaning the roof, how to paint the pressed steel ceilings and how to test existing surfaces to see what products we need to use to get the best effect. Nice to know there are still some businesses that offer such great service.

Electrics

More work progressing on having the house rewired. It is so good to be on a break and be able to be on site with the guys so that first hand info regarding needs can be relayed. The boys are quite stunned at the ceilings in some rooms of the house and haven’t seen another like it. Glad that they are happy to share our vision and they really seem ‘stoked’ to work on this project. This is why we chose them and I am pleased it is going well.

Bit scary seeing electrics wrapped in steel.

Lettuce

Bit excited! I have planted some lettuce seedlings into my first wicking bed today. They are still very tiny but incredibly the roots were about 3 inches long. I have covered the bed with some bubble wrap saved from parcels received. This should create a comfy home for them until they grow a bit while this weather is still so unpredictable.

Tomorrow I work on getting the second bed up and running!