Friday, April 8, 2011

Autumn happenings....

Hello there!
Long time no post!
I know it is over a year since my last post, shame on me, but I have decided to start posting here again, maybe once a week will be a good aim to start with.

The garden has been going great guns over the year I have been away from this blog, and I feel we are eating a far larger proportion of home grown and local produce, which I am very happy with. This is largely due to the super productivity of the Crib Point Community Garden, the communal beds and my own personal plot just have such abundance and variety that I can usually find what I need there or in my own vege garden.
Finding the time to actually get down there and help is the big challenge, as my home garden really needs my attention badly!!
Oh well, you can only do what you can do I guess, and i try to get down there once a week at the moment, so it is better than nothing.

At home, I have planted a heap of seeds for Autumn, lots of brassicas ( chinese cabbage, sugarloaf cabbage, purple broccoli, green broccoli, cauliflower, lime green cauliflower, kohl rabi, pak choy, kale)
and other things (sugar peas, podding peas, snow peas, celeriac, florence fennel, spinach beet)

As you can see from the photos above the germination has been pretty good, with only the kale not coming up( I think the seed was old), so I have lots to plant out very soon!
Forgot to sow onions, so might just direct sow those into the garden.

I have been busy clearing out the summer stuff that has finished and preparing for the Autumn planting, Max has discovered that it is quite fun helping me, so I've had some company, which has been nice.

The chooks are still here, although not laying too many eggs, grrrrrr, I think they are getting old and worn out, it doesn't bother me too much, I think they have earned a nice easy retirement under the fruit trees.
We might have a day trip out over the holidays and get some nice new young girls to refresh the flock and get some good egg layers again.

My little golden chook is the only one who likes to go wandering out of their run, into the rest of the garden. She has a lovely time foraging around, eating the left over tomatoes and other stuff. (She is also one of the only ones still laying, so the extra protein and goodies she finds must be of benefit to her)

OK, I'm off to do some work in the garden instead of talking about it!
Have a great weekend, and it's nice to be back!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

No chooks for us!!!!!

Yesterday, Gary, Andre and Max drove out to Bacchus Marsh to attend a poultry auction with the hope of purchasing some lovely chooks. I was looking forward to seeing 4 or 6 interesting rare breed hens when I got home from work. Barnevelders, Orphingtons, White Sussex and Wyandottes were top of my wish list, and Andre was keen to get a couple of Frizzles.
However, it seems that you need to know a bit about the whole poultry auction scene to be successful in your bidding. Being auction newbies, my boys didn't really stand a chance, they were pipped at the post by a few dollars on all the chickens they were interested in. I think Gary was a bit intimidated by the person who outbid him and then just hovered over the form to discourage any more bids - it worked perfectly!
They had a great day anyway, and couldn't believe how many people are into chickens, the place was packed with chook fanatics and lots of serious chicken people who knew what they were doing when it came to buying at auction. I think next time we will be a lot better prepared, with a stratagy to bid and protect our bid, and we might even be successful!
Meanwhile I think I'll investigate a few local breeders and see if I can find some of the hens on our list, I'll just have to buy them the old fashion way!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Summer gardening - so much good stuff!

I went down to the Community Garden (The Crib) yesterday, and look what I came home with! I think membership definitely has it's priveledges! I have had enough tomatoes to preserve a big batch, and there are plenty more to come. The Crib Point Community Garden is run on a communal model, so there is plenty of produce to share with members who go and help with the garden, it is really great knowing all this food is super fresh, delicious, local and organically grown. It doesn't get much better than that!

I thought I would show you the view of my oldest vegie garden from our back window. This garden was started about 12 years ago, not long after we moved here. I still love this garden, it is quite a big area and can produce a lot of food when I'm organised, but generally there is always a bit that is doing nothing, just crying out for something to grow. I have expanded over the years and now have several other growing areas as well, and am in the process of converting most of my garden to productive plants , with beautiful edible borders and lush cutting gardens (mostly in my head, but slowly becoming reality).

These are some of our chooks, the tough survivors of The Great Christmas Night Massacre, it was not a pretty sight on Boxing Day finding the fox had been busy while we were away for the night. Eight of our girls were dead, including our 3 very cute frizzles and my favourite White Sussex, the ones that escaped (7 chooks) were very distressed. It was really horrible. I am planning to get a few more chooks soon, maybe some rare breeds, I'll have to look into it. Meanwhile we have a very strict locking up at night routine so Fox can't have a second go.

It has been a good summer for the apples. These are Snow Apples (they have a French name I can't remember right now), and they have been great this year. They are not a big apple, but the flesh is bright white and fairly crisp, and they shine up beautifully. We hardly had any codling moth damage this year, I think having the chooks foraging through the fruit trees has helped, and there was lots of nice cobwebby spider action that must have helped keep the populations down. The Granny Smiths are still ripening, but look a bit small, I think I should have given them more water.

These are a patch of "Banjo"bush beans, zucchinis and capsicums (hidden at the back) with the odd stray potato coming up as well. These grew really well until we got a week of super hot weather and the beans just shrivelled up. Luckily I had already picked over a kilo from them, but they were promising so much more to come. Sigh. They have ended up producing another flush of beans, but they are kind of soft and limp, not that fantastic.

These are some of our climbing beans a bit earlier in the year. They are Rattlesnake beans, which are a favourite of mine - good producers and really delicious! Also a bit battered by the heat, but still produced well.

Anyway, I hope all your gardens are growing well and giving you lots of tasty treats wherever you are in this world!

cheers Jules

Saturday, February 20, 2010

First post for 2010 - better late than never!

I have decided I'm going to give blogging another go, and try to be a lot more regular with my posts! I don't really know what happened to the rest of last year, I meant to do a lot more posting and we achieved a lot of things around the house during 2009 that I wanted to share, but I just never actually sat at the computer and did it. I resolve to do much better this time !

One thing we got finished in the second part of 2009 was our lovely little fence around our fruit trees that gives the chooks a nice big run and lots of extra scratching space. I have made a new garden bed along the outside of this fence that was really productive early in summer - we had early zucchinis and heaps of delicious corn that I thought was planted too early (early Sept) but grew and cropped beautifully. (note to self - do that again this Spring). I also planted some Australian Yellow Leaf lettuce along the edge, and beans and silverbeet that did ok too.
It is time to clear this bed and get it ready for a spectacular autumn crop of brassicas! Can't wait!

The rest of the garden is looking a bit tired and worn out with the hot weather we have been having, I have got a lot of work out there to get stuck into. I have been reading 'The Ivington Diaries' by Monty Don, the garden journals he kept while developing their lovely property. It is very inspiring and is reinvigorating me to get out in the garden even when life is so busy with other things. Also read 'Choosing Eden' by Adrienne Langman over the Christmas break and found it very inspiring as well.

Although I have been very neglectful of my blog, we are actually making a fair bit of head way with our local eating goals, I think we are regularly eating mainly local veg and quite a lot of our fruit is very local(our backyard) or from the Peninsula area (less than 50 km away).
I got on that site Local Food Map and discovered it would be pretty easy to eat the '100 mile' diet living where we do. I am going to explore this idea in more detail at a later date.

Anyway, I think I will take a heap of photos tomorrow and show you what the garden is looking like and what is growing well (and what has carked it!). Bye for now.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Back to Update 4 and new chickies!

Its been a while since I last put a post up, the weeks have really been flying by and I didn't realise it's almost a month since the last post! Slack me.

We have been busy in this time and alot has been going on, nothing too exciting but busy, busy, busy!
These are 2 of our 4 new young chooks, we had to cull a couple of our old girls who got really sick, so it was time to bring some new life into the chook house, hopefully these little cuties will boost our egg production in Spring when they get a bit older.
The chookie above is a very inquisitive girl who was intrigued with the camera and I thought it was funny how 'in my face' she was. ( Shame she is not in focus - sorry)
The kids are really happy with our new arrivals and they seem to have all settled in ok, not much harassment from the old girls.

Back to basics update 4

Chinese greens

Broccoli -4 different types
Red Cabbage
Kale - 2 types
Pak Choy
Savoy Cabbage
Lettuce - Cos
Lettuce - Australian Yellow Leaf
Kohl Rabi - Green and Purple
Spring onions
Onions - Barletta

Cleaned out hot house (in photo below) ready for big sowing session (see above)
Removed golden robinia from front garden in preparation for new edible borders
Had black wattle that was taking all the moisture from vegie patch taken out , this area is now much lighter and hopefully things will grow alot better without the competition from the tree.
Also planted 200 garlic corms saved from last year's harvest (saved the biggest fattest corms for replanting) after preparing a bed with compost and horse poo and dolomite.

Planning for future
Some friends and I are starting a "buying group" for our fruit and vege, buying in bulk from our local green grocer and dividing the produce between us. Hopefully will save some money and also get really fresh top quality produce to supplement the harvest from my garden and the Community garden.
Have been reassessing our financial situation, looking for ways to economize so we have some money left at the end of the year for a holiday.

Working for future
Have been trying to complete lots of little things around the house and garden eg. tidy up around 'derelict' areas of backyard, keep Kikuyu under control around vegie patches(an on going job!)
Have knitted a doll for my nieces 4 birthday, and actually finished it 6 weeks in advance, a rare achievement with me! ( see photo, I have also made a little jacket to go with it since the photo was taken) I hope she likes it. I am trying to make more of the gifts I give people this year, so this is a start.

Building Community
Worked in Community Garden.
Had group of girlfriends and their kids over for catch up on school holidays. Good fun for all.

New skills.
Learnt more advanced knitting techniques
Made hot cross buns from scratch (see photo - they were very yummy )
Made homemade marshmallows - Kids loved them.

What else has been happening?
It has been school holidays here for the past 2 weeks , so I have been doing things with the boys and seeing alot of their cousins and friends. It has been a nice quiet holiday , Gary was home for the Easter break so it was good to just hang out and work around the house.

I just picked these vegies for our dinner tonight , we are having a nice chicken stir fry with all these Chinese greens and tatsoi, beans, broccoli and snowpeas. I will use the tomatoes to make a batch of tomato sauce, as I have another basket full of ripe ones waiting to be cooked.
They look delicious don't they? I love seeing the garden bounty like this!

Cheers everyone!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Back to Basics update 3 and garden stuff.

These are some of the great pumpkins we have grown at the Crib Point Community Garden, these ones are Australian Butter pumpkins and are really big and heavy, I hope they taste as good as they look!

There seems to be alot longer than one week between my updates, so it might look like I have been busy, but I will try and put in everything I can remember since the last update.

Back to Basics Update 3

Harvest (Mostly from the community garden)
Last of sweetcorn

Lots of Autumn things (see older posts)

Fed lime tree.
Worked on garden bed outside our back door, pulled out dead things, weeded and dug it over to aerate it a bit, added chicken and horse poo and mulched with lucerne.
Trying to keep on top of the cabbage moths, killing quite a few with the squash racquet.

Lots of snowpeas, kales, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, and silverbeet seedlings, also celery seedlings.

Lime tree has really perked up with lots of flowers and tiny fruit setting. Lets hope all the extra poo and water it has received will give us a good crop of limes for the first time in 5 years.

Rain on the weekend has half filled the tank, so we can start watering in earnest again. The roof area provided by the new extension has really increased our catchment area, it won't take a lot of rain to fill up the tank now, which is great. Time for another tank!

Dahlias that I thought had died in the heat wave, have all reshooted and are looking really healthy! I don't think they will flower now though, it might be too late in the season.

Lucerne is a wonder mulch, everything that I have mulched with it has taken off fantastically!

Planning for the future
I have decided that the front yard needs to become the next area for an "edible overhaul"
It is looking very tired and drab so I am going to create some beautiful edible borders and fill it with food and herb plants.
A few crafty friends and I have decided to work towards an 'open house' Christmas sale in November to earn some extra cash at an expensive time of year, so I am dusting off the sewing machine and getting out the knitting needles to make some cute things to sell.

Working for the future
Sowed new seed for market stalls.
Had new antenna put on roof for new room.
Finished painting new room.
Organised new carpet to complete house renovations. (Yay!!!!)

Created a weekly craft group with some friends to meet and complete half finished projects.
Worked at community garden working bee.
Had a stall at the Seaford Farmers Market with my seedlings (Living Larder Productive Plants) and 'networked' (had a chat) with Regina from the Frankston Community Garden.
Volunteered at school in the garden and kitchen for the Kitchen Garden Program they run.

What else has been going on.

I spent the morning yesterday and today planting out my patch at the Community garden, it took me 2 days because I took the boys with me yesterday and they find the garden interesting for a very small amount of time , so we came home with half the job done. I went on my own today and it was much more peaceful. I have taken a few photos of the garden to show you what's been happening down there recently.

This is a view of the main garden areas with the 10 communal beds to the rear and a few of the individual beds in the foreground. The tomatoes are just on the way out and there are a few beds with root crops on the right hand side.

This is looking from the main vegie area to our little orchard, it's a bit hard to see, but there are about 15 different fruit trees and a large raspberry row, we are also slowly building up freeform vegie areas around the outside of this area. In the foreground are pumpkins and zucchinis.

This is my individual plot at the Community Garden, just planted with sugar peas, snowpeas, broccoli, cauliflower,kale and some lettuces. My space finishes just behind the pea teepee. The broccoli at the back of my bed belongs to my neighbour Troy.
I love being involved in the community garden, there is so much growing there, and the other members are lovely and have so much knowledge to share, there is just a great vibe when you go there. ( Even though it is usually pretty quiet there as we don't have a huge amount of members.) They are doing a big renovation on the old community house next to the garden, so when that is all finished and people are back visiting the house, hopefully they will be so impressed by the garden that we will have a heap of new members!

We tried the first glass of my homemade ginger beer today, Gary thought it smelt disgusting but tasted very good. It did have a sour lemony smell mixed with a gingery aroma that was not very pleasant. I think the lemon juice I added to the mix changed the smell, because the plant was smelling great (nice and gingery) before I bottled it. Any hoo, I thought it tasted great and was quite fizzy which I was very happy with. I will start another plant soon for batch no.2. (Stupid me didn't realise I could keep that plant going, so it ended up on the compost heap, so I will start from scratch again.)

I was reading Rhonda's blog about the return of the homemaker, and it really struck a chord with me. I feel that skills that can make you more independant and self sufficient are so important, and are just not valued enough in today's consumer society, so it was great to read that other people are feeling the same way. I often feel that I have to make excuses for why I haven't gone out to work and am a stay at home mum, especially now my children are all at school. I sometimes think there must be something lacking in my personality, in that I don't have a strong desire for a career and lots of money, I am quite happy to get by on our one wage and live within the limits of our budget. I like being around my children and family and friends, I like to take them to their afterschool stuff and just chat with them as they come in from school, I like cooking our meals from scratch and having the time to do so, I like growing our vegies and keeping our chickens and riding my bike around when I can. Housework may not be my strong point, but I muddle through and am making a big effort to be more consistant with laundry and cleaning efforts!
There has been such a huge move towards everybody working and most homes have 2 incomes these days, that I guess it is unusual to spend your days at home, but I think what we stay at home types do is also important and a valid life or 'career' choice. I just wish I didn't always feel like a dumb freak when people ask me 'what I do', and were not so embarrassed to answer I stay at home.
My son was saying the other day that he thought we (I) were too old fashioned and low tech, I tried to explain that a lot of my hobbys like knitting, cooking, gardening, sewing and "family stuff" are really quite hip these days and I'm really a pretty modern mother! I don't know if he appreciated the point!

Anyway, enough of my raving on. Happy days for everyone!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

catch up

I can't believe it is Thursday already - this week has flown. We spent the long weekend in Geelong visiting my father- in- law, which was nice and relaxing. We drove down to Lorne for the day and bought some delicious fish from the pier to cook for dinner, when we got back home. We also went raspberry picking, which was fun, although I think we were the last in a long day of pickers, so there weren't too many left to pick. Andre ate more than we put in the bucket while he was picking! I have joined a "knit- along" at Rhonda's Down to Earth blog, and I managed to do a fair bit of knitting over the week end, so it was a very enjoyable break.

I had a planting day last week, and here is a list of what I put in

Spinach - 32 pots (this is already coming up!)
Sugar peas Dwarf 64 pots
Sugar peas Climbing 64 pots
Snow peas Roi de Carouby 64 pots
Snowpeas Oregon 64 pots

The peas are all up and going strongly already.
I put some seedlings in the garden too - snow peas, silverbeet, celery, cos lettuce, late basil, bok choy and some carrot seeds straight into the garden.
( they don't seem to have done much in a week, I am not very successful with carrots).

It is a good day for root crops tomorrow, so I'm going to try and get some spring onions and beetroot seeds into modules.
I can't find the camera at the minute ( we have had some painting done this week so the house is a bit chaotic) so I can't post any pictures today, hopefully it will turn up tomorrow.