garden tour

It is getting quite exciting in the garden, the warmth is promoting glorious growth. As per each season I have successes and failures. I don’t know what I would do if everything I planted grew. There most certainly wouldn’t be enough room! I plant my seeds based on future failure.

This has been a hard year for my cucumbers, the earwigs killed nearly all my plants, one was fine, 2 are trying to make a comeback but are really struggling. This is the cucumber that is healthy on the left, the climbing beans are on the right.

IMG_4367The tomatoes are growing well. The corn is taller than I am, but I fear I planted them too closely together for good pollination. Time will tell. Due to this dense planting the pumpkins are growing quite slowly as they are not getting enough light. The zucchini have come good. The melons are hit and miss, some great, some eaten from the ground up by snails.  The capsicums seem to be doing ok. The kale is slow but steady. The flowers are going beautifully!!

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The fence around the veggie garden is finally starting to look less white. I plan to grow stuff in each narrow bed that will grow through the fence and bush up on both sides. So far so good! A few more beds to go though.
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First time growing Queen Annes Lace, quite lovely!
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First time growing Cosmos, I am suprised by how much I like them. They will be back each year.
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Smaller sunflower, happy bee visitor.
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This sunflower is SO tall, it is over 2 meters tall!
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Who knew that Lambs ear flowered. Not I. What a lovely suprise!

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My new fire pit

When my brother moved into his new house the people before him had left their old washing machine as it no longer worked, it was quite large, old, and unsightly. It sat in the garage for almost a year, there was a hard rubbish collection but they don’t take white goods. Its destiny was to sit there collecting dust. Til I had a look at it and saw that it had a steel drum in it. My brother managed to get it out and now we have a fire pit. The fire gets plenty of oxygen through the small holes around the drum and we have somewhere to put the wood.

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We had our first fire in it the other night. I had a fair bit of wood that had been lying around for quite a while from taking down some trees and trimming others. It was well and truly dry enough. So we had fire cooked apples and a grand evening with 2 of my siblings and my brothers partner. For free, my favourite.

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There is a salvage place near me that also offers fire wood from trimming up wood that they are trying to get a second life out of. It is very cheap and would other wise be going to land fill. I am sure that burning it isn’t the most eco friendly option, it won’t be a frequent occurrence but much fun will be had I am sure.

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The power of zoom on a camera. Looking into the fire. Mesmerising.

Happy Happy Gardener

I don’t generally enjoy growing things that grow under the ground as I can’t see the progress. Carrots, beetroot, and garlic are the ones that come to mind first. Obviously I still grow them but they make for boring garden tour specimens.

Today I decided to tentatively pull out the first garlic. I have a hit and miss history with garlic, a couple of bad years with tiny bulbs and a couple of good years. Last year was the best. I pulled a few out just to make room for some transplants. I was pretty excited!!! The joy oh the joy. I love love love gardening!!!!

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Turns out it is infectious. I couldn’t stop there. So I pulled the lot out.

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There were 66 bulbs in all. I planted 74 so that isn’t too bad. These are the sorts of sizes I got.

IMG_4282I separated them in to 3 groups, no science, scales or measuring involved. Small, medium, large. Pretty self explanatory in the photo above. When I sorted them the lines got a little blurred as to what constituted S/M/L.

IMG_4283Of course nothing has truly been achieved until it is assessed and approved by both the boys.

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I counted

Large 16

Medium 26

Small 24

Some of them were in the wrong pile but I won’t actually do anything with this information so inaccuracies don’t worry me. I put them on my upside down green house with a fly screen on top for aeration. When we moved into this house my grandfather made these for us as a housewarming present. In Australia who sells a house without fly screens is beyond me! He also made one for the laundry window which we have never been able to open so I treat this as a spare. It is good for drying things on. He certainly made it well.

IMG_4288In a couple of weeks I will plait them and hang them. I will probably rearrange them a couple of times before then to even out air exposure. Hopefully they last all year. I just composted the last of last years batch last week. This is almost a month earlier than I harvested last year (crazy weather!) So that is around 11 months of storage, fantastic. I would love to have that again. This batch right here were grown from that lot so hopefully I can expect a similar storage length.

ADDIT: I forgot about the garlic in the corn bed, upon closer looking I can actually see it in the photo above that has the corn in the background. Oops. I harvested another 3 Large, 5 Medium, and 2 Small.  This brings the total up to 76 from 74 intentional plantings. I think that I was not careful enough when separating some of the cloves and some doubles got in. These resulted in 2 heads of garlic growing almost joined to each other. They only grew to small or medium in this sort of non ideal planting scenario.

Mint Care

I grow both Mint and Peppermint. Both are essentially weeds, they should be grown in pots unless you want them to take over your whole garden bed. Invasive is quite the understatement. Luckily I like them both. Peppermint mostly just for hot tea, I suppose I could have cold tea too, that hadn’t occurred to me, I will try it next hot day. Mint I like fresh in my food, I dry a bit for tea but not a lot. My fear of running out of food comes into play and when I am trimming the plant to encourage good growth I cannot discard the off cuts I must keep it, use it, love it, drink it. I throw the stems in to the chickens not the compost or it will grow there.

The down side of growing in pots is their immense root system, they are forever trying to put roots and runners out in their attempts at world domination. So they do become root bound. I am not an expert, but this is what I do. I last did it about 2 years ago, I will probably do it again in 2 years. They looked a bit lame, woody, sad.

The peppermint on the right does not usually have a bald patch in the middle, this mint should have quite a lot more foliage.
The peppermint on the right does not usually have a bald patch in the middle, this mint should have quite a lot more foliage.

The mint looked the saddest…

IMG_4251As I said, they are weeds, so you don’t need to be very careful or gentle with them. I tipped them out, had a look at their roots, so many!

IMG_4253I was a little bit more careful with the peppermint as I have only had it for 2 years and I don’t know if it is as hardy as the mint (turns out it is…) so I hacked away at the whole thing and took a segment, roots, leaves and all.

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Then I refilled the pot with some of the old soil and some of my compost.

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Put the bit that I had hacked away in this. This should give the plant new nutrients in the soil and heaps of soil to put new roots through.

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Then it looked like this. I turned my attention to the mint. It is super hardy, never buy mint, it grows from a cutting that you have taken from a friend, forgotten about, left in the the car over night, then put in soil and forgotten again. Hardy stuff! Always take a cutting, never pay for it!

The mint I did differently. I know how hard it is to kill this so I felt more confident leaving less roots, less plant in general. It didn’t kill it last time, it came back so healthy. So I did the same thing with the soil, some old, plus compost. Then added these.

IMG_4260I just pulled on some of the healthier bits and some of the root came with it. Even if no root had come I would still have planted them. They will put new roots out super easily. IMG_4261Probably only needed to put one or two. But put 4.

It is always a group activity, even when I am in an area that is fenced off from the ladies…

IMG_4257The rest of the plant that I didn’t put in the soil I stripped of leaves and threw the rest in for the ladies to clean up.

I watered the pots and called it done 🙂 Mint family likes to be watered regularly and to be in partial sun, not full. I really should move these. They live here in Winter so they get enough sun, then I move them in Summer so they don’t dry out and get sad.

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Due to the nature of my gardening (messy) there was a fair bit of dirt hanging around. I don’t usually bother but I did wash the leaves this time. Then *arranged* them on a clean tea towel. I separate the mint from the peppermint as I find them a bit hard to tell apart when they are dry.

IMG_4265So pretty

IMG_4266I leave them a few days, then move them around a bit and hope that this allows the bits that were touching the tea towel to now be exposed to the air. There is no science to my process. After about a week they felt dry and crumbly.

IMG_4277It has been quite warm, sometimes it takes longer than this. I haven’t had any go mouldy in the jar so I assume I am letting them dry sufficiently. Once they are dry and crumbly I write on a glass jar Peppermint November 2015. It helps me know what to drink first. Sometimes I pull the leaves off before I dry them, sometime I pull them off after they have dried. Sometimes I leave them on their stems.   That is my process, please let me know if you do it differently. I am very open to some actual reasoning behind actions.

The plants still look super happy, no shock, no death. Winning!

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I am ready for my first pot of tea from this batch.

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Random Ramblings

Some random photos and stories.

So I had a very decadent breakfast for one over the weekend. A massive bowl of coffee (I normally don’t drink coffee as I am quite sensitive to caffeine. I was bouncing off the walls after this one!) and a lovely bowl of porridge that had grated apple, cinnamon, chia, honey, roasted hazelnuts and grated dark chocolate on top. Delicious on a rainy morning!!!

IMG_4204The calendula has started flowering, I plan to make a calendula salve when I have dried enough of them.

IMG_4200I am going to try and grow my yearly intake of linseed (flaxseed), this year is a trial to see how it grows, next year I will plant it en masse. Pretty blue flowers.

IMG_4198IMG_4199I had a glorious snack this afternoon. Home made, zero waste hummus dip! pulled a carrot out of the garden, cut it up for dipping. Heavenly 🙂

IMG_4227 Plus Herbie says Hi. He loves to smile for the camera….

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Garden Tea prepping

Even though here in sunny Melbourne we are in the midst of a glorious Spring I am preparing for Winter. I only really crave hot tea like beverages when the weather is cold but the chamomile plant is at it’s most prolific for me now, so I will make hay while the sun shines (or tea…)

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I grow my chamomile in pots, it is self seeded, I haven’t planted any seeds for years. This is probably what makes it a Spring crop for me, I cannot keep up with the watering requirements of a pot in Summer. It would need watering every couple of hours on a super hot day.

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This is my 4th harvest. I cut the flowers every 4 or 5 days. I am hoping to get a jar full. That ought to get me through Winter. The Lemon verbena is looking lovely and healthy. I will start cutting leaves off that soonish.

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My peppermint (which I forgot to take a photo of and am now to lazy to get up a go get) is not looking too great. I think it is root bound and needs some TLC, I’ll get on to that soon. I will harvest that in Autumn.

Then I will be set for tea in the Winter 🙂

Taj mahal makeover

I bought a chicken home online, it took me an hour of frustration to get it in the car. I was so sure I could make it fit, I didn’t want to have to drive the 40 minutes home, defeated, and return with a different car. Perseverance pays!

I got it home, quite difficult to get out of the car, not suprising really considering I ended up using brute force to get the last bit in. Took it out of the box. Looked at the instructions. Got my screwdrivers ready. Realised the instructions were for a different thing altogether 😦

Quite proud of the fact that using the image from the internet I managed to put the thing together. It looked like this.

IMG_0747Thankfully I had the brilliant realisation that once fully constructed it would not fit out the back door. Quite a great realisation! I finished constructing it outside.

This was used for about a year before the chickens were killed. Then my friend turned it into the Taj Mahal! I wanted a run attached as now the ladies were going to be locked up til I got out of bed in the morning. I wanted them to be able to stretch their legs a bit. Once he had finished with it, including a wire floor so the foxes cannot dig their way in and a pretty new roof my sister and I painted it.

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Curious Duchess wondering what I am doing.

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The chickens are locked in before dusk and are let out when I get up, around 7:30. They wake me up a fair bit earlier than this but I refuse to get out of bed and cave to their bullying. They are quite noisy when they feel they are being hard done by. I am suprised no neighbours have complained.

This is the pot that I am attempting to grow nasturtiums in, I am hoping that they will sprawl out and cover the roof and the side of the coop and help keep the hot Summer sun off their roof and out of the run.  May be wishful thinking. Probably should relocate the strawberry that is also in there.

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This is their food and water. I check it every day but I don’t have to fill it up that often. The water once or twice a week, the food about once a week.

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I think they are pretty lucky! They get to free range the whole back yard (minus the vegetable garden area, they have such little respect for my food!). They do have their own area that is prettily picket fenced but I rarely lock them in there. They prefer to have the whole backyard, more grass, more bugs. Lucky ladies 🙂