Catch Up Post

In reverse order:

Current state of play in the garden

  • Eating more carrots. Two full circles would be a generous amount for next winter.
  • Silliest carrot so far

  • Apricot and Peach buds are swelling on the trees
  • Apricots in bud

  • Baby chicks are ready to move into the big shed but I want a fine day so they have lots of space to figure out pecking order etc
  • Jet, Salt, Pepper, Black Witch

  • Clover is growing really well – the first planting from about 3 months ago has proper clover leaves (the three together measure about a centimetre across), and the batch I planted 3-4 weeks ago is up and green.
  • Salad box gave us a week of spinach for lunches. It started noticeable growing when the day length stretched out in the past ten days.
  • We are now getting more than the magic ten hours of day light for plant growth. Shame the drizzle diffuses most of it.

This weekend:

  1. Chatted to the seedlings in the greenhouse. They say they like having the shelter from poxy late winter weather.
  2. Seeds in Soil Blocks
    Transplanted mesclun seedlings

  3. Collected two more eggs on Sunday, another hen has started laying as we got two of different colours. Finally!
  4. First eggs for late winter 2011

  5. Promised all the animals I would clean out their cages next week and added another layer of bedding on top.
  6. Dutchy and Nutmeg

  7. Hid inside out of the rain.

Last Weekend

  1. Tasted exquisite pinot at the Tasmanian Pinot Showcase in Launceston.
  2. Sprayed the back garden & driveway fruit trees with a white oil/ copper spray.
  3. Planted Chilliwack raspberries for autumn fruiting at the top of the side fence.
  4. Chilliwack raspberries on side fence

  5. Pruned and tied up the rest of the raspberries, rolled more carpet underlay through the middle as path material.

Weekend before that [ ie I think this was the weekend ...]:

Milly sunning herself on the worm farm in the greenhouse

  1. Planted 2 Mary Washington and 3 unnamed Asparagus into pots while I wait for the ground to dry out where they are going
  2. Played with Used my new soil blockers and transplanted rocket and lettuce seedlings into 5cm blocks, and planted seed in tiny ones.
  3. Soil blocks
    Mini Soil Blocker

Garlic through the garden

Garlic in C4 Garlic in C3 Garlic in C2 Garlic in C2

Front Garden Rejuvenation

In digging the holes for the fruit trees soon to take over the front garden we had to clear a few things out of the way. Strawberries are easily replaced with the stockpile of plants in the back yard. The bulbs are fairly hardy so any we dug up got tucked out of the way or into a bag for Mum. The hellebores were more carefully lifted out of the way and replanted. The dahlias I don't really like so they went into a cardboard box on the front footpath with a sign.


And people have been taking them too! I realised on Sunday that putting them into some plastic bags would make it easier for people to take them away, and we came home from work today to find another bag gone. Success!

So, onto the major work of the weekend. 20 fruit trees planted out. We think that brings us to 43 fruit trees. We've run out of fingers and toes to count them on between two of us.

Holes waiting for their trees

Aligned across the front fence the pattern is green apple/ green pear/ red apple/ red pear/ green apple/ green pear/ red apple/ red pear. If I'd been going overboard I would have also arranged them in order of fruiting :-)
These plants still have their labels on but I must record the varieties next weekend and draw a plan out of the front garden.

Planting out

Milly the kitten managed to wake long enough from her afternoon nap to come and have a look around at the work. In the right of the photo you can see the other holes for two russet and two more red apples in the middle of the garden bed. Behind the daffodils in the middle of the frame is the black genoa fig.

Newly planted apple

Most of the apple and pear trees are a single vertical which don't photograph well. Once the trellis wires are in place we will prune to develop the desired shapes. The front garden looks a bit like a bomb has hit it – a big load of mulch and some strategic replanting of strawberries will help everything look in place.

Back Nature Strip planting

Out on the back nature strip. From l – r De Vrajna Quince, Kentish Cherry, Fullers Quince and out of shot more to the right an almond. We figured that these would be the least attractive fruit to passers-by. These holes were dug back at the start of April when Tim ad his digger came to dig holes and trenches for the chookshed. Two holes were filled with compost and two with litter from the chicken shed. Both types had rotted down well, and were packed with worms, although the compost more so. If I were in a spot to plant more trees this is definitely something I would do again. It will be interesting to see how the trees do out there. There is one tree that got potted on – the moorpark apricot, as it will go against the back fence where the great pile of underlay is currently residing. It might be a few months before that tree's hole sees daylight again. It  will complete the nice row of apricots against the back fence.

Bacon Smoking

And the perfect thing to do while outside for the afternoon. Dad took over responsibility for the smoker. Based on the flavour he now has a new job. It was such a pleasure to share the afternoon with Mum and Dad – and led to a delicious feast together. Always good to feed the volunteers!

Holes are dug!

We've dug 14 holes in the front garden, 1 more over the back fence. This involved pulling out  an ornamental currant that we've tried to kill several times, an abelia and a yellow flowering thing from the front garden. The foliage went back in April when there was a green rubbish collection.

Abelia in flower

Getting the abelia and currant out nearly killed us – at one stage Robin was on the footpath poking a seven foot crowbar through the fence to get the right leverage to get the currant rootball. We got wiser with the abelia – a bit of vicious work with the axe and pruning saw. Late in the afternoon Robin called me over to see if I thought it might come out – he'd just sawed through yet another 12cm diameter root and couldn't get much movement. Standing downhill I was able to push it over with my foot – being at just the right angle.

Tomorrow we collect our trees and fill in the holes

Today I planted a black genoa fig in the front garden, and protected it with a tree guard just in case.

Fruit Trees ready for collection!

Exciting news in email this morning – the fruit trees we ordered are ready for collection. Good thing we figured out where they are all going last weekend. The job list for Saturday and Sunday has just changed – digging 19 holes and sharing out the compost. Hooray!


Low-Impact Gardening & Eating

It doesn’t feel right not to do any gardening on a weekend, even if the whole house has the plague sorry, flu.
The greenhouse provides a spot out of the wind, and in the late morning at the moment has direct sun as well.
So I rugged up and planted seeds of:

  • rocket
  • kale – squire
  • lettuce mignonette
  • mesclun mix
  • spring onions – bunching
  • onions – hunter river brown, borettana, red sheffield
  • spinach – winter giant, bloomsdale
  • chives

Wood Chip in Amgrow Seed Raising Mix

Admittedly some of the packs were rather ancient but you never know, I sowed generously to compensate. It saves the packs sitting there in the seedbox.
Note to self – do not buy Amgrow Premium Seed Raising Mix again, this bag had great lumping pieces of wood chip in it.

The other garden work I did this weekend was figuring out where the fruit trees (19! eek!) we have ordered are all going. As this involved sitting in bed with a cat it was very pleasant gardening. Across the front fence – 8 alternating dwarf apples and pears. On the side fence with Mary – two plums. Arranged somehow in the middle of the front garden – a fig and three dwarf apples sited to accommodate the magnolia, power line to the house, and two dwarf cherries already in place. The front garden is going to be a delicious forest of fruit come summer time. Over the back fence – two quinces, a kentish cherry, an almond, another apricot and one dwarf apple. We have placed the four closest to the road as the least attractive to eat off the tree – quince, kentish cherry and almond. The neighbourhood kids will have to scramble through those and down the slope to get at the apricots and apples which are against the fence. There’s enough to share anyhow. At this time of year I love watching the honeyeaters and other birds coming to feed on the apples I purposely leave on the tree for them. We don’t get possums or cockatoos being down in the valley so we can ‘share the surplus’ with the more delicate birds. Now the kittens are killers though the leftover fruit needs to be high up, not near the ground.

Harvest – the first lettuce from the hotbox! delicate and sweet.

The rabbits are working their way through last weekend’s prunings. They are quite methodical. If there are leaves on the tips they eat those first. On the second pass, they eat all the little nubs on the branches where the leaves/flowers will sprout from. On the third pass they eat the soft tips of twigs, and last but not least they carefully strip the bark from the woodier bits. And they turn their nose up at Apricot prunings, and do little happy rabbit nose twitching for Pear. Too cute.

Last weekend – pruned anzac peach, plum, granny smith apple, gala apple, williams pear.
Robin kept up work on the reshaping of the clothesline mound, we think we’ve figured out how to hold back the slope from the depredations of chicken scratching – using the off cuts from the chicken shed as small terracing bits. I potted on the remainder of the strawberry plants – now we have about 200 plants in our strawberry nursery, good for filling the gaps in the front garden.

Meatballs I did two weeks ago were magic for dinner one night this past week. They will be repeated. A number #20 jar with 20 meatballs was an ample feed for the three of us with extra passata over the top. Also a success – salsa soup – make a vat of regular vegie soup and toss in half a jar of salsa #3. Yum.

Notes for next winters harvest. At the moment we are mainly buying: potatoes, spinach, leeks, red onions, cabbage, sweet potato. We have enough from the garden of carrots, beetroot. Not quite enough broccoli – i think the seedlings may have suffered and production has not been good.

Just a little bit of progress!

* photos to come once I figure out the visual editor stuff and make it work again.

18/19 June

  • established new pink eye potato bed – C9 using Poly carpet underlay from the second floor (we found a sewing machine bobbin in one roll identifying the source) and horse manure bagged by the Connect students as a fund raiser. So a Poly Potato Patch.underlay
  • planted broadbeans in C5 in back half.
  • Planted Up to Date potatos in O1/O2/O3 under the fruit trees in the orchard in wire circles. They should be relatively protected from frost there for an early crop.
  • Started the 'under the clothesline' redevelopment.
  • Gathered two huge trailer loads of hessian carpet underlay from work on Thursday night. Hooray for scavenging. Although it did rather look like we were rolling bodies wrapped in blankets down the back nature strip in the dark. No-one called the police though.
  • Moved C8 (previous strawberry bed) slightly uphill and re-edged. This now fits better in the space between the chook shed and nashi pear tree. Strawberries from there were removed and most are still awaiting re-planting. With this cool weather I'm hoping they'll cheerfully sit jumbled in on top of each other in the large tubs until next weekend. I trimmed and potted up about 50 already. Once they've settled we'll plant out into the front garden.
  • Carpet underlay rolled down the access path through the raspberries

11/12/13 June – Queens Birthday Long Weekend

  • Established blueberry patch where old chook shed and grapevine were.
  • Moved 3 Blueberries from C8, planted out 2 from pots loitering near the deck, and 3 new ones. Top 5 are Brigitta, 2 are Blue Rose and 1 Blue Crop. Tucked in along the edge, some oregano and a chamomile. All berries got tree guards to save them from frost. It would appear that blueberries curl up their toes at being in the main frost pathway of our garden. I'd rather not count up how many we've killed. Let's just focus on the better location shall we?
  • Planted from top to bottom Peach – Redhaven, Nectarine – Fantasia, Peach – Elberta, on side of driveway.
  • Garlic along inside edge of C3 Snowpeas in S2 Now on the right side fence we have, from top to bottom S1 Sweet peas (self seeded from last year), S2 Snow Peas Melting Mammoth, S3 and S4 Green Peas – Greenfeast
  • Planted Apricots 2 Moorpark and 1 Tilton (furthest from gate) over the back fence.
  • Bought a Black Genoa Fig to go in the front garden. Despite leaving it in the pot I have not killed it yet! (proving my track record wrong)
  • Planted out about 20 strawberries in the front garden in gaps.
  • I think it was this weekend I tucked about four more brassica seedlings into C6 and C0. We lost a few plants to aphid overload and their apparent hatred of mushroom compost. These were some of the 'random red brassicas' I got as a freebie in early autumn and had potted on in the greenhouse to fill gaps.

Preserving 18/19 June

  • 18 jars savoury applesauce from all our own apples. Still more on the trees to eat and preserve
  • 7 jars fig jam (10 mins at 15psi in the pressure cooker to get the runty little end of season ones soft enough to make jam)
  • 7 jars caramelised onion (once cooked down equivalent of half a kilo of onions each!!!!)
  • 4 jars meat balls in tomato – a number#20 jar holds enough meatballs for the three of us, just needs more tomato and other veg to turn it into a meal.

Garden work this past weekend

Tasks complete

Compost played with – tick!

Old chook shed site:

- concrete bits and wire netting grubbed out – tick!

- area levelled – tick!

- new edge placement discussed – tick!

- mint plants saved and potted up – tick!

Sleeper moved from clothesline mound down to the…

New bed made behind new chookshed – tick!

Peas planted in new bed – tick!

Fruit Tree Pruning Workshop attended – tick!

Ivy removed from under Gala apple – tick!

End of Autumn in the Orchard

Harvest –

Enough for a few meals: carrots, beetroot, potatoes

A laundry tub full of apples

Cherry tomatoes nibbled in the garden

New term learnt on the weekend – “Urbanite”: not quite a type of rock, rather the name given to lumps of concrete.

Sowing Seeds and Planting Seedlings

Today’s activity in the garden:

  1. Sowed some pea and snow pea seeds into seed raising mix in the greenhouse.
  2. Planted out some brassica seedlings into C6 with scoops of compost to boost them along.
  3. Cleared out a recycling bin of plants so it can be repurposed into a layer of worm farm.

When I went into the greenhouse it had obviously been a while – some plants were dead, others on the brink. So I’ve gathered the corpses and put them in the worm farm. The plants needing some TLC are now in plain sight and watered with diluted worm juice. Rather surprisingly we have two eggplants ripening. I spotted one afew weeks ago but hadn’t given it much more thought.



What’s in the Garden at the moment?

Bed Naming Conventions

In the main vegie garden we have seven circles – one central (C0) and then 6 more in a circle around it, numbering starting from the closest to the house. And then we have another few beds, and a few more on the drawing board.

Plan of Plantings - not to scale!


Planted: this week snowpeas on trellis, and about a month ago about 5 brassicas – broc, cauli, cabbage mix

Volunteers: kale, coriander. parsnip, strawberries.


Planted: mixed brassicas, parsley – flat leaf going to seed, curled in fine form, Tiny Tim cherry tomato still producing, lettuce going to seed (for the rabbits)

Volunteer: parsnips galore, chervil


Planted: ready to eat – carrots, beetroot, spring onions, planted this week – garlic. ready to come out – beans, strawberries to relocate

Volunteer: strawberry runners


Planted: ready in a month – carrots, beetroot, Bellstar tomato

Volunteer: no room – tight plantings!


Planted: this week – garlic, waiting to ripen – tomatillos, ready to eat – celery

Volunteer: parsnips, calendula

View down the garden

View down the garden - C1 in foreground, C0 directly below/behind


Planted: brassicas, kale

Volunteer: borage, cherry tomato (too late though)


Planted: brassicas,

Volunteer: cherry tomato ripening now, borage, chives

C7 (closest to new chicken shed)

Planted: strawberries, blueberries

Volunteer: weeds – couch grass

Under clothesline

more brassicas

Side of driveway

more brassicas, snow peas.

Orchard picking now:

Lots of apples – fuji, gala, pink lady

Pears – the last winter cole



Over Back Fence

Butternut pumpkins about 15 cm long. If the weather gods smile they might mature.

Front Yard

Strawberries – very few and the birds are beating us to them

Notes/Learning from this summary:

Yup, we have a few different growing areas!

Possibly we have more than enough brassicas, partly due to some red ones that lost their label from my regular seedling supplier, so they were a freebie. They are now labelled “Random Brassica”, I’m hoping they might be purple broccoli. But I’m thinking another 3 broccoli planted now will extend the season further…

Planned beds – when we remove the old chicken shed, two or three will snuggle in between that side fence and the Williams pear. And another between the nashi pear and citrus grove as that is wonderfully sunny even at this time of year compared to say C5.

And I need to think about not planting brassicas next February in so many places – a few too many beds have them which risks disease buildup. It was an issue of wanting to plant where the tomatoes were, and not having the centre bed properly cleared.


Last year we planted 55 cloves of garlic with the plan that would give us a head of garlic a week for the year. It grew well, produced well and we harvested in late December/ early Jan with only a few losses.

Garlic Harvest Jan 2011

Garlic Harvest Jan 2011

However the plaits hanging in the garage are looking a lot less ‘full’ than this photo. The garlic is rather nice.

We’d already decided we’d need to increase the volume. At the workshop down at Paul Healy’s farm last week he planted garlic which reminded me I must get ours in the ground. We’ve bought a few heads to plant. Eaten them and bought more.

Following Paul’s advice I sorted through the  cloves more carefully than last year – only the largest were planted, and the smaller ones put aside for cooking.

Garlic for planting

Garlic for planting

I have planted a quarter circle of garlic in C2 this week [about 25 cloves], and the chickens have been helping clear C4 for another garlic patch. That will go in over the next few days.

I also saved the tiny bulbils from those that sent up a centre stalk and will plant those in a pot to make garlic greens or grow them on for the following year.

Garlic Bulbils