#Tub10 Treadmill

Well, once you say you’re going to do a tub of weeds/ over-enthusiastic plants a day for ten days, you have to keep going. Even if it is nearly dark on a cold night! I know enough now to focus in on the easy pickings like the parsnips that still lurk, and the parsley that is growing ginormous and getting ready to bolt to seed. I need the space anyhow, which is what this is all about in the bigger picture, not the ‘weeds’ as such.

Yes, the chicken in the back *is* that much bigger

Earlier in the ten days I was averaging about 5 minutes to fill a 45 litre plastic tub. Yesterday I decided to spend some time doing more detailed work on a circle I’d rough cleared on Thursday (along with about 4 other tubs of stuff from other circles). The chickens had been bribed with a scattering of grain to get in there and help in the interim. They’d enjoyed picking out the tender greens still left, and chasing invisible-to-me treasures of seeds and bugs. I’ve been watching what they go for as well – chervil will get replanted as a chicken green, whereas parsley is wasted on them, but loved by the rabbits. On Saturday I totally forgot though. On Sunday morning I realised, so caught up with another tub for my troubles.


Curcubits and #Tub10

Strange progress this weekend, at this time of year everything has started leaping out of the ground, overwintered vegies and herbs have gone to seed, there’s a reliable 6 eggs a day from the chickens and seedlings are getting visibly bigger by the day.

Yet, when I look out the window it doesn’t feel like there’s much that *has* to be done right now… when I stop being delusional, I know in ten days time when I want to plant out many of my seedlings I will need some clear space in the garden beds so #Tub10 is declared – a large plastic tub of ‘no longer wanted’ plants will be cleared each day for 10 days. Things like coriander, carrots, rocket, beetroot, chervil are all going to seed.

First Day #Tub10 Carrot going to seed

They look so pretty and they have prevented other more troublesome volunteers from taking root. Not to mention the gazillion parsnips that resulted from my reckless shaking of seed heads. Who says parsnip seeds are poor germinators? Many of the parsnips I weeded out yesterday were eating size. And the little ones were eaten enthusiastically by the rabbits, our ‘Weed Processing Units”.


I’ve finished off the new bed out the front of the chook shed, and planted their climbing bean & cucumber sunshine screen at the bottom of the trellis. A golden zucchini and white button squash accompany some mixed lettuce at ground level. I am hoping the afternoon sun will treat the plants well, and the laserlite behind the cucumber will give an extra boost of heat and protection. And a great big fence of chicken wire at the front to protect them from marauding chickens.
Shade bed for the chookshed

As a reward for being the first pumpkin seeds to germinate, the Whangaparoa Crown pumpkin has been planted in a compost circle and will be encouraged to climb up onto to the roof of the straw shed. Hopefully baking in the sun will encourage many pumpkins! The remaining assorted pumpkin, zucchini, squash and cucumber seedlings got potted on, and spaces mentally allocated. The surplus may be palmed off onto unsuspecting visitors :-)

Whangaparoa Crown Pumpkin

On Friday I noticed someone (I have a prime suspect) had flapped into C6, the bed with brassica seedlings and trampled them. So I moved off the extra wire protection from the salad greens nearby. Only to find the prime suspect aka Gardening Turkey in there later decimating the salad greens while we ate our dinner on the deck. We need to look at higher wire around the garden beds, or perhaps as the first measure, more bamboo stakes to hold the wire more firmly in place. Gardening Turkey was just trying to live up to her name. And we’d grown her such a nice salad too.
Gardening Turkey

#Sew10 Wrap Up

As my final #Sew10 action, I tackled the box of assorted bits of fabric left down at my parents house at some point in the last 18 years. In it I found:
- approximately 10-15 hat circles and two or three (haven’t counted the actual pieces) pre-cut “French Style Cardigans”, many associated ribbings bands for hats and enough fleecy for lining them too. Yep, the kids clothes business got shoved in a couple of boxes. I have another similar box under my house.
- a skirt that never got finished. I suspect I was over optimistic about my waist size by the look of it. So I scavenged the perfectly useful black zip out for reuse.
- more scraps of various fabric – some had been bought as potential “Zac Designs” hat fabric but the testers weren’t well received (ie they didn’t sell so well) so those larger scraps will be taken along to a craft place in town to see if others can use them.
- a bag of trim/ braid that Mum & I think probably came from my grandmother Pep. She would buy the strangest things at garage sales and op shops. Going by the musty smell and kind of random assortment I think Pep was its source. Off to the crafters with that too.
- a bag of handspun variegated wool which is knitting up into a very pretty blue/purple tortoiseshell look. I spun this wool when I was a teenager and never quite got around to knitting it – in the bag was a small sample done on the knitting machine, I suspect handspun wool would have snagged terribly. So, 20-or-so years later I am attempting to knit it up by hand. I have done one strip about 20 cm wide by 60 cm long, and started another. I figure knitting a bunch of rectangles I can then sew into a vest is probably achievable.

The most useful part of the exercise – going back through the box a few days later and categorising – baby related (surely someone I know will have a baby sometime?) some hats to finish, and a couple of larger pieces that may well be useful for facings or similar in the future. Some pieces of fabric got added to the give-away bag, and others simply tossed. They weren’t useful enough to burden anyone else with.Milly helps with cutting out


Three pairs of Clovers – #sew10

From this

New Sewing Station
to this…

3 Clovers


From Friday night through to Monday night I made 3 pairs of Clover trousers, using an adjusted-for-me version of a lovely Colette pattern. I love the small pocket tucked in between the waistband and main fabric. The middle one is neater than it looks, I got tired of ironing properly by the end.

The first real pair was in a very soft drapey  black fabric. I’d adjusted the original legs a bit, but found in the really soft fabric they were more loose than I wanted with the other 2 fabrics, so I made a final version of the pattern and sewed the two grey pairs at the same time. This production line sewing saves time and more importantly, brain power – you read the pattern instructions once for a step and use it twice, rather than pinning on the zip the wrong way every single time, you can do it properly on the second pair *before* sewing it in place.  I’d estimate it took me about 30% more time to sew two pairs than one. All the same colours used for the seams which made the difference. The colours are closer than they look here.

Notes to self: fabric requirements for Clover are a lot less than the recommended, or perhaps my inches to metres conversion was off. I also used a lightweight fabric as the waistband facing to lessen the bulk. The one major construction change I made was simply overlocking the bottom edge of the waist facing and understitching on to that rather than turning under the facing seam allowance. With the first, slippery fabric the recommended method just didn’t work for me.

In related news I sewed up the fallen hem of favourite skirt that had been languishing in the ironing basket. Wore that to work today and remembered why I liked it so much.

#Sew10 update

The great thing about sewing is that you can do it after dark – when it’s too late for gardening. #Sew10 has been a great project so far – each day I’ve worked on a sewing task of some kind, and I’ve been creative about fitting it into a busy week. Yesterday morning, I made a pouch for my iPad out of some scraps of felt and lairy orange elastic.

impromptu iPad pouch
Not bad for 15 minutes work.

The previous few nights I cut out a trouser pattern and started making a ‘dummy’ pair to check for fit. The test fabric was all wrong (no drape or stretch) but through comparison with my favorite purchased pair of black pants I made some adjustments to the pattern and now have something that should work.

Last night I started work on the first real pair – simple black ones for work. I had to stop working at 10.30pm as I had an early breakfast meeting today. I hope to finish them off by the end of the weekend, and start on something new.

Sprouting seeds

The seeds I planted last weekend are starting to sprout, delicate tendrils of green pushing up through the seed raising mix and bending towards the sunlight coming through the laundry window. Miners lettuce, mesclun and spinach are all making an appearance. It doesn’t seem quite possible they they will survive, let along grown big enough to eat. These trays have been sharing a seed germinating heat pad on the laundry bench, just enough warmth to ward off the chill of the evening, and the nearly airtight room to moderate night time temperature fluctuations. During the day, the brick walls of the laundry gather heat from the sun, and just enough sunlight gets in through the small window. The seedling bend dramatically towards the sunlight, yearning to be outside.

Leaning towards the light

The contrast between these salad greens and the robust, brash bean seedlings is dramatic. On Sunday the bean seedling were just starting to reveal their first true leaves, by Monday evening the plants were double the height and had opened up fully in their chicken heated, portable hot boxes. I’ve had the min/max thermometer in the hot box with the beans and it has given about 12 more degrees through the day, but more importantly at this time of year, an extra 4 or 5 degrees at night. The chickens are extending my seed cosseting operations :-) With the extra warmth the zucchinis, cucumbers and pumpkins have all relented and sprouted too. these seedlings are all growing straight up – the tomato seedlings from the laundry have straightened out this week being surrounded by sunlight.

Chicken house storage tub greenhouse

During the week, when letting the chickens out, we have scattered some grain in the new bed outside their shed. This is to encourage them to loosen the soil surface, and pick out any stray weed seeds or bugs. Tomorrow my plan is to lightly fork the area, add some compost, put up wire trellis, and plant the bean seedlings. They’ll need a good wire fence to keep the chooks off too. This will provide the summer shade at the front of the chook shed. Space dependent, I might also put a climbing cucumber there too. Or a couple of zucchini plants. They will get good daylight there which should help prevent powdery mildew.

According to lunar planting, now is an optimum time for planting and sowing. Several days of gentle rain over the past few days should have favored germination of the carrot seeds I planted two weeks ago. I must go and have a chat to them and see what’s happening…

#Sew10 and #Art10

The idea: Ten days, some attention each day to the chosen area. Sewing for me, Art for Robin.

Yesterday – my “warm up” day where I took up two pairs of trousers for Zac and made attempts to repair the gaping holes in his jeans.

thirtynine 25062011

Credit - ElliGill

Today for me – replacing the broken invisible zipper in a speckled grey skirt I had made many moons ago by one of the Diploma of Fashion students at TAFE. Each year, the Fashion area would put out the call for guinea pigs willing to have a student measure them, not stick pins in them, come back several times for fittings and at the end of the process receive a custom made garment for the cost of the fabric and notions. While I went through some time of not sewing, this was a wonderful treat to have someone do the hard work, and tackle projects I wouldn’t have done myself – fitted trousers anyone?

I still wear several of the pieces regularly – a couple of silk tops, the grey skirt under repair (only becauce I wore it out, not because of any defect in its construction), and there’s a dress with the cutest summerbund covered in ravens I look at and wish I could fit into still. After a while they didn’t offer the course anymore due to changing enrolments and courses. At the end of a recent year, I once got asked to come down and be measured by a series of students so they could practice taking measurements for different types of garments, and practice their client interactions and compare notes for accuracy.

Warning: Long story ahead, go make a cup of tea and come back if you really want to read my rambling… I won’t be offended.

Having to go into Spotlight in town used to drive me insane. Now that I allocate a good 15 minutes of the trip inside the doors to stand in a queue waiting to be served, its got a lot easier on my nerves. I put it down to understaffing – measuring and cutting fabric and advising on fabric, patterns and things like lining and interfacing is not quick if it is to be done well, and why they only have one register and eftpos terminal, when the cutting benches are set up for 4 staff, makes no sense to me. So buying fabric was not attractive. The start of the process was too painful.

Back in March when I went to Sydney I went to Lincraft with the aim of buying some fabric to make a garment while I was on long service leave. And the bug got me. One day in the meditation retreat I drew detailed pictures of the decorative shoulder of the shirt sitting in front of me. I spent a day in Newcastle and tried on some skirts which didn’t quite fit right, and thought “I could make that”. And made a deal with myself that I would. On my trip back through Sydney on the way home, I had an unplanned day (planned to be unplanned if that makes sense?) and headed out to Tessuti in Chatswood. Oh dear! Some gorgeous orange dotty skirt fabric, and some plain orange linen to be a highlight. And a remant of white shirt linen about 2 metres long. Not sure how that qualifies as a remnant but I’m not complaining!  I came home, made a dress and discovered the overlocker was so seized up from sitting in the cupboard it wouldn’t turn full stop. A little WD40 made it move enough to gnash its teeth together in nasty ways. It’s happier now a proper sewing machine mechanic has looked at it, twiddled its knobs, sharpened its teeth and straightened its spine.

Fast forward to the last few weeks.

The orange dotty fabric is now a skirt. I went into to Spotlight to get some interfacing and came out with blue fabric for a skirt and a  grey knit for a cowl neck top. And sat down on a Friday with terrible weather and sewed.

The little wooden table I scrounged off Freecycle ages ago has now had its top sanded and oiled and is officially the home of the sewing machine and overlocker.

You Sew Girl has to be the best sewing book I’ve come across in a while. Just a little bit biased because of my love for wide or cowl neck tops. I bought it for this top alone!

Trapeze Line Top from You Sew Girl Book

And #Sew10 commences…

Subversion in the Suburbs

Two weekends ago I mulched the fruit trees we’ve planted on the back nature strip and felt kind of shifty while doing it. Last summer we planted a couple of pumpkins on the fence line and that didn’t feel too much like we were infringing on shared space. I figure we’ve stretched out the space we are responsible for, and I’m keeping an eye on when it needs whippersnippering a bit more carefully than I used to. And if people eat a couple of apricots, well and good.

Ages ago I spoke with the local council and they said as long as we didn’t put a new driveway across or block the view for traffic we were OK to use the space. Earlier in this year I dug through the council planning regulations and could not find any restrictions about planting – although I did find rules and regulations about not being allowed to remove trees from the nature strip.
So ours are there to stay now :-)
For about 2 -3 months we’ve had a pile of carpet underlay out there covered by a tarp too. And no-one’s complained about that either. Maybe they’re worried about upsetting the crazy people?!

When I walked home from work on a Thursday I noticed the same-same nature of the front gardens through Newtown/Mt Stuart. Some lawn, a feature tree or two, some with flowerbeds. I reflected that our front yard takes a similar amount of space, and will give us some tasty fruit too. Once the espaliered trees grow more, they will become more decorative. At the moment they are short twigs with sparse leaves. Progressively I’ve spread a bit more mulch out there and planted more strawberries. So our front yard is still quite ‘decorative’ but also hopefully productive. I was nearly out of suburban Mt Stuart  when I finally spotted a edible front yard – in amongst more traditional garden beds were two raised vegie garden beds, one full of garlic – cooks in that house for sure! The following week, I spotted another front yard vegie planting – broccoli that time.

The side path linking the front to the back now has a better turkey barricade – while I was inside one day, they’d dug about 10 of the strawberry plants up – some were even tossed down onto the path. Many rude words later, the barricade is better, and the strawberries replanted.

Scavenging and Seeds

Last weekend I drove around the corner into a neighbouring street and saw a skip full of bricks and other building detritus. Happy! We’d been dropping into the tip shop on a semi regular basis looking for bricks to continue our garden bed edging and not having any joy. As we were loading the trailer for the second time with an assortment of half and three-quarter bricks (very sensibly, the people who had been demolishing the walls had kept the good whole bricks to themselves) another neighbor wandered across the road enquiring if we wanted to buy some good, cleaned bricks. You betcha! Another trailer load of bricks. And some sheets of concrete reinforcing mesh to make trellis for the kiwi fruit. We’d been thinking we’d need to go look at mesh and then arrange it to be delivered. Instead, we picked it up and walked it home!

Skip Scavenging Success

Last weekend I also planted out carrot, radish and beetroot seeds. After a very wet Friday, the soil was ready on Saturday. I used the cornflour slurry that Steve Solomon recommends to spread the seed a bit thinner, and keep it damp to support germination.
Carrot Planting

Carrot Planting

Squeezy bottle full of seeds in a slurry


I also used some of the Renew fertiliser I picked up at the Farm Gate Market. It is made from wood pulp waste and poppy waste and composted. A local product that uses waste to create something valuable. The texture is great – light and spongy when wet and holds moisture well. On the to-do list is to go buy a trailer load.

Renew Fertiliser

Renew Fertliser

This weekend started with a soil blocking ‘workshop’ with Mum – to see if the soil blockers were comfortable for her to use (I didn’t want to be responsible for damaging a weaver’s hands), and to start her off without having to make a huge batch of the mix.
Soil blocking with Mum #1

Apparently they travelled well and made it home to their place in one piece.

Soil blocking with Mum #2

I continued on the theme with planting lots of seeds, and ‘potting on’ some of the tiny soil blocks into the larger ones. So easy to just pick up a little cube and drop it into the larger block.

Teeny Weeny soil block seedling

Transplanted mesclun seedlings

Also using a standard sized tray, it is possible to fit 180 tiny cubes! I’ve got quicker at picking up individual seeds and placing them in the little indentations too, meaning only one seed per block. Less work down the track, for only a little more care at the beginning seems like a good deal to me.

Planting 2 October

Despite adding some more shelf space in the greenhouse, i’m getting tight for space. So some seedlings, the sturdy cucumbers, beans and zucchinis etc as well as some delicate tomatoes have gone into some plastic storage tubs aka cold frames on top of the chickens’ sleeping area. The idea being during the day the sun will warm them up, and at night the chickens will provide some background heat from underneath.

Chicken heated seedling area

Robin started the new garden bed outside the chicken house. When we built the new shed we were concerned it might get rather hot in summer as it gets full sun through the day, much more than their old shed did and we don’t want roasted chook. So the roof trusses were extended over about 60 centimetres so we could attach trellis and grew climbing beans up to make a shade front wall for the chooks. And get more vertical growing space too. Today, Robin started by removing the clover we’d planted, and any grass, and moved it into the chook shed for them to pick over and scratch.

New garden bed

To get them scratching the exposed earth in the new bed I scattered some seed, and suddenly the soil was covered with the girls. With some more encouragement (seeds) in the evenings the girls should have the area prepped for planting by next weekend.