Feeling blue

When I  feel sad or sick or out of sorts (or I have had too much coffee and think I may actually both faint and vomit from too much caffeine…) I restore my equilibrium in the garden. Flowers or flowers to be, they bring me joy. These are some of the flowers in my backyard at the moment that are bringing me joy and restoring my equilibrium.

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Soon to be calendula, I will be drying the petals and making soaps and salves with all the calendula I have planted. So much hope, joy and plans all encased in that bud.
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Feijoa flower
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Oregano, a solitary cosmos and some minorcan cotton lavender with its yellow flowers.
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Self seeded Chamomile and a dragon
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Some apples, some Lambs Ear, some society garlic, some evening primrose, some others whose names I have forgotten…
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Queen Annes Lace just starting to flower
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Another one flowering
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A passion fruit flower, surely one of the weirdest looking flowers out there!

And then I feel a little better. After a talk to the ladies who were keenly interested in what I was up to that one coffee that was too strong has started to wear off. I feel better.

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Winter Prepping

Here in the Southern hemisphere we are supposed to be a week away from the start of Summer. On Monday it was 38 degrees, Tuesday 19 degrees. Cold for the next week or so ie as far as the reliable(ish) forecast goes. Monday was quite an anomaly for our Spring this year. It has been non existent. Yes I am complaining…

Today is no exception, it is miserable. I am highly affected by the weather. When it is grey and miserable outside, I feel somewhat grey and miserable inside. When it is glorious and sunny I have the energy and drive of a thousand energiser bunnies (not quite that much but you get the idea…)

So it is not that greater stretch to be thinking of Winter. I like to drink herbal teas in Winter to try and warm my soul up. Every second day or so I have been harvesting Chamomile and Peppermint in preparation for Winter. I don’t use the dehydrator I just throw them on a tea towel and move them around a bit til they are dry. I have a good amount of stinging nettle growing but I have been eating it fresh like spinach, when I get sick of that I will dry some of that for tea too. Here is the last batch of ‘tea’. I will jar this up and label it as it is crunchy. Then I will spread out todays fresh haul.

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I am not clever enough to play the piano, my sister does. I use it too, just for different purposes…

This morning I sat on the wet seats on my back verandah and harvested some chamomile.

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You can feel the lack of light in this picture. Where is the bloody sun???

I also grabbed a handful of peppermint. I really like peppermint tea with a bit of honey. I may have some this afternoon.

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I wanted to do a welfare check on my bees today (really to assess the honey for my Winter teas!)  but they are barely out and about due to the weather so I feel my inspection will have to wait. Quite rude of the bees to not want me nosing through their home whilst smoking them and creating general  panic and chaos. Rude. Anyway I digress.

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Todays haul
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The tea of my future…

They’re here

I am finally a bee keeper. I went and picked up my bees last week, they are settling in beautifully.

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Look at the pollen on that bee!!!

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It is a noticeable difference in the backyard. I can hear them buzzing around when I am in the garden. I can see a lot more bees playing in my flowers. They are fascinating. I am the crazy bee lady, I just stand near their hive and watch them. Or in the garden watching them collect pollen and nectar. Endlessly entertaining!

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This feijoa is planted next to the hive, I expect so many feijoa this year. I do not know if they are pollinated by bees, I have yet to see a single bee on the flowers. I still have very high expectations…

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No one has been stung yet. I have been walking around with no shoes on but there are very few flowers in the grass so I don’t expect many bees to be in the grass.

So far, so good.

What is this?

Does anyone know what this is?

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I have seen it in the soil before and tried to remove it but it either snaps or you end up just holding the outside. When you pull on it it unsheathes itself and leaves a strong inner core of root. It is a pretty pink outer layer.

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This is dried dead root, still pretty and pink.

When I was digging the new spot for the compost bin and even digging through the old compost bin I found this stuff. My helpers didn’t try to eat it…

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I have found plenty of it but never a plant that it attaches to. It has so many little roots.

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Does anyone recognise it? I assume it is a weed but it could be something that I have composted that is trying to grow.

 

Beautiful beautiful compost

I finally worked up the courage to tip the compost bin over. I remember vividly the time a rat leaped out of the compost bin at my face with its fangs out and I was trapped. Vividly. After half an hour of fairly intense procrastination I tipped it over. No mice or rats were seen. I did kick the outside a few times and walk away (all part of my procrastination) so maybe they took my hint and left. What I did find was beautiful beautiful compost.

I am an atrocious composter. It is not that I don’t compost, I do, everything. It is just that I don’t layer anything. I don’t use the ratio that is the key to good compost. I don’t aerate it. I frequently forget to water it. It is truly a miracle to me each time I tip it up a bit and take soil from the bottom.

The amount of worms I found delighted me!! If you don’t like photos of worms, dirt, and general decay, don’t read on. I Love It!! Look at this!

img_4926img_4930I am so happy to see these little guys! They have a lot of work to do. I did bad in the garden and I need them to break down chunks of what feel like rocks but are nuggets of dry clay.

img_4931I found a couple of toothbrushes. They have been thrown back into the compost to go through again.

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I see that I forgot to remove the bristles of this one…The worms don’t seem to mind.

My filthy filthy hands were covered in clay filled tenacious dirt. I washed them. Then washed a load of dishes. It didn’t come off… I may have to rewash those dishes when I can get this off my hands. I have ripped up my nails digging through all the clay but the garden soil is looking better for all the compost. Success.

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Post washing dishes, man that stuff is tough!

Garden woes

Over Winter a friend was doing some landscaping and offered me a heap of mulch. I accepted. It seemed a little clay filled but ok. I, being lazy, left it in the driveway for a couple of weeks before I decided what I was going to do with it. When I filled a bucket with it I was thrilled to see soooo many worms. I put that stuff everywhere in the garden. Everywhere. In every vegetable garden bed, in the newly dug potato ‘field’. The flower area, the fruit trees. Everywhere. Yesterday I watered the garden and thought I would dig in some compost into one area that looked a little sad. Holy Hell that stuff I added had set like stone!!! I cannot break it up with my fingers. The worms have gone too. It hasn’t been a problem til now as there has been lots of rain and cold weather. But now the night time lows are finally in double figures and there have been some sunny days. The soil is horrible. I don’t see how the potatoes will be able to grow it in. My job today was going to be to move the compost bin for the bees, now I shall be emptying it and shoveling it all into the veggie garden plus all the worm castings I can steal plus lawn clippings plus anything else I find lying around. What Have I Done To My Garden!!!?????!!

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This soil is like a sheet of rock, all my doing 😦

May be this gardening season I can just focus on the mint, I didn’t put any in this pot. It is pretty happy…

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The flowers don’t seem to mind half as much as I do. The soil in there must be like rock, I am too scared to go in and see….

On a separate note: I have finished the bee hive, just waiting for its inhabitants. I am unsure if I will ever need to have it 4 boxes high out in the backyard, it looks so tall! Imagine all the honey if I had a strong enough hive to fill 4 boxes 🙂

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On another separate note: My sister felt the last post was lacking in cat and chicken pics so I have just been out and taken a couple.

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Baby Chick getting way to close to the camera
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Beatle in the morning sun, this is her good side, the other side of her comb has scabs on it, she definitely like to be photographed from her good side Luscious Lady!
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Finally, Franklin, The Best Cat in the World.

Where is Spring?

The garden is a flop. This is my worst gardening Spring on record. The soil won’t warm because the sun won’t stay. Usually I don’t worry about pesky bugs in the garden too much because the plants grow fairly quickly once they are in the ground so unless there are infestation levels of bugs it all works just fine. I have dealt with the level of bugs so that it is under control, I am happy to share with the bugs, just don’t take everything! But everything I transplant is just stagnating. This gives the bugs time to snack and the plants less surface area to photosynthesise.

The lows overnight are still in the single digits. I am unsure if this means that Summer will extend well into March/April or if this is just not going to be a very warm Summer. I am going to go out now and give everything a liberal soaking with worm tea and hope for the best. I am still hopeful that Spring will come before we actually arrive in Summer, which according to the calendar is in a few weeks.

Here are some photos of cucumbers and pumpkins that have been in the ground for weeks and weeks doing precious little.

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Their first set of leaves has been eaten or their true leaves are being nibbled. These poor plants!!

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My new coping strategy is to look at the garden from afar and admire the crazy untamed nature of it…

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The potatoes are going ok, the gap at the front is ones that rotted in the ground after sitting in water for days on end. I am going to put a watermelon in there and see what happens.

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At the back here I am going to put the bees. I am going to move the compost bins, move the seedling rock melon and pop the hive there. I went to a hive demonstration yesterday and there was a man there that has bees and chickens, he said that the bees sting his chickens. He tried to reassure me that he probably just had really stupid chickens. Um mine aren’t brain surgeons…

The internet suggests it should be fine but as 1 of the rules of my bee keeping is that the chickens don’t get hurt I have rearranged a few things. The old location is out this is the new location, behind a fence, where inquisitive chickens cannot venture and snack direct from the source.