Sunday, March 4, 2018

photo round-up complete

A long overdue photo, Bill contemplates his chilled chocolate stout, his secret-simon-santa gift that was much appreciated.  

This is a 500g punnet of pesto. The playing card is for perspective. I had a great crop of basil and along with some self-sown dill and parsley, it has kept the whitefly away from the tomatoes.
I pleased I froze quite a bit of pesto. The plants I left in are a darker green now and the pesto is not as good.

I forgot that the season this year is at least 2 weeks early and once again my pears ripened on the tree. They are okay but they don't have the same glistening juiciness as pears ripened off the tree. 
I will peel, slice, and freeze them this year for smoothies and pie. For really good bottling they need to be on the firmer side. 

 Pears unmistakably signal autumn, so the blog transitions in a swoop to the next season. 

Photo round-up part one

Here's a partial glimpse of the surfeit of apple cucumbers.   I had 3 plants, which was 2 too many, besides which the 3rd was a Triffid that put all its growth into a glasshouse takeover and only burst into fruit when I clipped it back harshly. They fruited early, the spring carrots confirm that for me.

I have planted a packet of multi coloured carrots since which don't seem quite so vigourous. Will see what results. 

We moved the wood out the back for the winter to clear the top of the garage for the workshop project up the back. It will require good access to bring all the materials for the foundation and the garage itself in, and good egress to wheelbarrow the excess clay out.
May need to drop a tarpaulin over the face of the wood to keep out rain. 

 I have a flush of little kale seedlings come up on the compost heap, there's mustard amongst it. I have cleared a little spot (below) and  planted them out intensively. We use the kale for smoothies and it is a good salad when it is little seedlings. 
My ongoing goal is to repopulate the weed cover with the plants I prefer and I do leave something of most crops to self-sow. 

I'm going to need to do one more post to get the remaining photos on...

Thursday, March 1, 2018

you say tomato

I have got the camera going at last. Left it out one night in the garden and had to dry it, and the case, off.  After that it was willing to download the photos again so perhaps it had just needed a gentle bit of warmth. Don't we all. 
I had an embarrassment of strawberries well before Christmas and got to the point of freezing them for smoothies, thus. 

There is a moment when the strawberry season overlaps with the emergent raspberries and blackcurrants. Something about the blackcurrants brings out the sweetness in the others, no sugar required, delicious with cream. I recommend. 

The family are getting a bit weary of tomato salad by now but it can't be helped. I have 7 different types of tomato; grew the heirloom package from Koanga (that was 5 types) plus a black cherry self-sown from last year, and 'Gardener's Delight' (top pick from Monty Don, long sprays of smallish red tomatoes).

The yellows have great flavour, plants strong and productive. Colour not good for pasta sauce though... the 3 yellows below.

Reds, black cherry is the 2cnd left, far right has a green stripe on red. 
Gardener's delight is 2cnd right. 

This is my brag shot. Big yellow beside a black cherry tomato for scale. One slice covers a piece of toast. Louis was home sick so we all had tomatoes on toast for morning tea and there was still 1/2 a tomato left.

I have saved seed and next year will probably grow about 5 of these. Top picks would be the yellow one with green stripes and the black cherry but why limit it to that.

I had a surfeit of apple cucumbers that nearly took over the glasshouse. I sensibly cut my losses early, not before harvesting about 50 of them, and pulled them out .
Put Lebanese cucumber in their place. This is the best cucumber, crispy, crunchy, and about 1/2 the size of a telegraph; its perfect for a meal in its entirety. The seeds are not obtrusive, it isn't watery.  
I am having trouble adding that photo at the minute so will start with it next time; Its good just to get back on the page, adieu.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The law of increase

I remind myself from time to time that the most useful photos for me on any blog are the 'before' and 'after' or at least consecutive images of progress/growth. They give me so much visual information on what was done to get to the 'now'.
I don't normally think to take a photo of something I consider to be a mess; it's only when you have done something and think how good it looks that you remember the camera. Fortunately I have an example here of mess and redress. 

The tunnel house has this concrete path down one side that doesn't need to get wet unless I am careless with the sprinkler. In the past  I have used the space to grow extra things in pots but for the minute it is my potting area and tool shed.

In the blue butt to the right is liquid seaweed; through virtue of being topped up a lot already it is now the requisite weak tea brew and I can ladle it straight onto my plants with an old saucepan.
It is host to a cluster of hover-fly larvae, sausage shape with a thin tail swimming vigorously in a huddle. They are beneficial insects so I ignore them instead of being grossed out.

Tomatoes have strong growth, not sure how productive they will be, but if I knew that they wouldn't be the great experiment that they are. 

The bucket of comfrey drench I just leave outside the door to supplement the watering can now and again. I toss in the tomato laterals and outer leaves as I go; apparently tomatoes like their own and it is good for them. Another great experiment and a convenient way to deal with the debris immediately. I am a good housekeeper in my garden. 

The birds are desperately hungry with all the dry conditions and finding ways to access any available food source. 
This is a stack of netting scaffold, 'whipped up' by B. Nothing is ever quite whipped up. First the appropriate extra long pallet had to be garnered, once spotted; at top speed as it happened, because there was a fuel leak nearby and the fire service were closing down the road as we sped in, picked it up, and took off back home. I was the noble assistant for this project supplying enthusiasm and gratitude, if not skills. 

In place, needs a little refinement with hooking the netting on but works a treat and looks good too. 

I hate to admit how rough this compost is. However, it totally doesn't matter. I sort it through, pulling out the rubbish, bucket 1, putting aside the weeds and couch roots etc to drown, bucket 2, and then mixing through some aged sheep manure out of the plastic sack there. The manure is because it is destined for some lacklustre brassicas that are looking a bit yellow and are beginning to form heads; doubly desperate for growth.  

Oh here's the photo of the strawberries that goes with that patch. 

The little asparagus ferns are a sorry reality to my imaginings. I'm going to move the bed because the drainage isn't adequate (among other things) and in fact the little markers have become, in some part, little headstones marking where an asparagus once lived and died. 
That's a job for next spring anyway but in the meantime I have already given them a little compost and a little breathing space with some pertinent weed 
There's an unusual verse in Mark 4 to the gist of 'To the one who has, will be given more. To the one who  doesn't have, even that will be taken away'. 
With plants you can only give according to what they have and a big plant can take a lot more than a little one. 
Anyway, I'm reluctant to say what else they will get until I have done it. I've read too many recipe comments that say "I'm going to make this tonight" which seems such a crazy thing to say, compared to say the information you would get from, "I have made this and..."

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Taking my time

Today I decided I wasn't going to be hurried. I don't like the feeling of always rushing. Today I didn't  interrupt my own work most of the time, and I let things wait for me.  I felt my job slip back into manageable boundaries which bodes well for the busiest months of the year ahead.

I guess I really have learnt something because when the kids were small I didn't have time for pots at the door, not to plant or maintain; Now, I know they're a priority because they deliver so much for so little and you see them all the time.
This pot-full was just one little packet of freesia bulbs. 
The fragrance is another bonus. 

The brocolli above and same plants below, now a little older, are Koanga nutribud. This soil hosts clubroot and I buried a rhubarb leaf below each seedling as I planted them out. It actually seems to work. They're coming away well so my next job is to tickle out the weeds and sprinkle a little blood and bone bonus around each plant.  

This strawberry produces a wealth of little fruits with so much flavour  that I can't bear to grow those big ones anymore. It's more work picking and hulling them. Worth the time for me. 
Besides, they are sited beside the clothes-line and a fair bit of the picking and eating goes on while hanging out the washing. 

Here's one of my little brown shavers standing in the evening sun. They are 3 of a number, in their second year and laying fabulously. Following Koanga advice, I give them (for 5 birds) about 10g, slightly less than a tablespoon of poultry minerals a day in with their budget mash from Pac n Save. They also get 3mls every second day of stock primer in their water. It's easier that measuring out 1.5 mls a day (0.03 mls per bird).
I got them from Environmental Fertilisers  here They sell to farms but there is a price list for the home buyer. Buying the two together reduces the postage. I calculated they will last me over 9 months. 

Here's the two loveable rogues, the Bardrocks, in their third year and laying  modestly and sufficiently for their keep. I also give the chooks 1 C of sprouted wheat a day following Koanga instructions. The wheat is supposed to have 6x more protein when it is sprouted. Means I have 4 jars of wheat in various stages along the bench at all times. May manage it a little differently in time. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Grand Designs New Zealand

 New extension on  chickie house was possibly the only Grand Design that has ever come in under budget and without a time blow-out. So there will be no need for awkward squirming and prevarication when Chris asks the dreaded question, "How much did it cost?"  

Wood, sliding door, corrugated iron, all recycled, tick; old paint mixed together and used up, tick;  splashed out on new screws and wire netting to keep the project quality right up there. Yip, top specifications all round.  I need the height to be able to get in and out easily to add weeds, and ultimately, remove deep litter. 

Sorry about the fading light. We were assembling the pre-fabricated pieces one evening after work. This is the gap for the sliding door, (above) and the nesting box shot, below. 

The nesting box, without its little curtain for privacy in this photo, is mid-left. I can open it from the back to collect the eggs. 

Here's an idea of how it meshes with the old one. Photos of completed house on next post. Need I say to anyone I didn't build it but I did give B some 'help' which was mostly moral support and ongoing, respectful, appreciation. 


Let me mention the recycled sink amongst the new coop's accoutrements. That was $5 at the dump-shop with the whole bench-top to boot. Managed to angle fit it into the little car tippy-touching windscreen to back window. B has trimmed it and given it a solid base. It's a bath for the diatamaceous earth/sand 
mix that the girls enjoy swishing around in.
Life is good. 

I've forgotten what variety of new potato I ended up with this year. They promised to be ready in 90 days and the name reflected that, possibly 'Swift' 
from the looks of them.

Here's a little before and after. Before, I had already cleared the beds of parsnip, carrots and cabbage. Clearly my crop rotation has not been a precision manouvre, rather a higgledy-piggledy re-direction of the troops. I have intentions to one day draw up a battle plan and marshall everything into its correct place; one day.

And after, well i like to plant the potatoes amongst a little bed of pine-needles and to pile up my rows to cover the potato. The pine-needles have helped deter wire-worm to a degree, they are a good soil conditioner, and they give me nice clean skin potatoes. In fact the shoots are already up (photo taken after planting about a week ago). 

Monday, September 18, 2017


I'm feeling a little bit like the white rabbit, "I'm late, I'm late for a very important date" except that I'm not late, not yet. It's just that I meant to post these photos before I went on holiday and now there are more banking up to report on; Spring does take off. 

So I got in early and ordered my seeds, planted them at the end of August, that warm patch before the weather nose-dived and September heralded spring. 
The heritage seeds are counted out in miniscule number, 25 seeds from 5 varieties for my tomatoes. 
This becomes a problem when only about 18 of them sprout. Six are spindly and two haven't the strength to burst those first two leaves and pop off the seed case. In my experience, if they can't do that, helping often doesn't help. 


Will I get 5 varieties of tomato? Probably not. I may buy another packet because I want to save my own seed for next year and I'd love to make a salad with five different types of tomato.

Sometimes a chicken likes to make its own private nest to lay in. 
B spotted a pile of eggs in a far, damp, corner of the old run. (There is a new Shangri-la under construction.) They look dreadful but they passed the float test with flying colours and you will be pleased to know, we have used them with impunity. 

Thirty one in total. Thanks chook. 

And thanks for the beautiful lemons Mum. A big batch of marmalade and enough left to make lemoncello. 

These mini spring crocus (crocii?) have been wonderful.