End of Year Planting

Planting 30/12/2011


an assortment of herbs, salad greens, beans and starting on the first of the winter veg.

None have come up yet – what do you mean its only been a couple of days?


those few days have been hot and sunny so we finally got around to putting the hand-me-down shadecloth from A&B up on top of the chicken shed for more shade. It had ripped through the middle. Also as we went to piece it together Robin remembered he’d taken a piece out of it. Ah well, it is probably a better shape a bit smaller anyhow.
Outdoor Sewing
I set up the sewing machine on the deck to give me space to work. A big needle and some topstitching thread worked well to make a new and improved shadecloth. We’ve attached it to the shed in a way that means it can be removed when the sun eases in a month or so.


In other news – we tidied up the expired snow peas from near the new peaches and nectarine down the side and gave the trees a light shaping prune. We also pruned gently the prune plum around the front which is having one, count it, one plum.


Very exciting – the almond has finally broken into leaf. Only several months after we were expecting it to. That means there was only one casualty from the mass fruit tree planting in winter – the Flemish Beauty pear which will need to be replaced next year.

Zucchini have started, as have the beans. The pumpkins are flowering – the one we planted near the straw shed is now climbing on it’s roof with a bit of encouragement. The corn is about 90cm tall and we are hopeful of a few good feeds from that. Yum.

Hard Rubbish scavenging

The collection was a few weeks back. Down the street a house has been sold and it is being renovated. They’d put out an old steel bath. Which we carried for a bit, then rolled up the hill with steel poles underneath. Nearly killed us, but we got it up the street (uphill of course), down the slope of the nature strip and in the gate tilted on its side. Now it is home to a worm farm.

Hard Rubbish Collection Find - Fruit netting structure
We put some broken up concrete out for collection out our back gate. Also the old stairs from the deck which were well and truly dodgy.

Then our neighbours across the road added to our pile as they’d run out of space on their front entrance. Including the frame from a swinging seat. It is now a fruit netting frame for the blueberries – it was the perfect width, and already a nice faded green colour so it disappears. And it is just right height for smacking the top of your head if you don’t watch where you are going. Nice of them to carry it across the road! They must have known…

We’re back … but rain stops play

Gee, I knew it had been a while since I’d updated CGF Blog. But not since October? Oops!

We have been busy in the garden, and with other projects too (sewing, supporting exam study, sorting through bookshelves and decluttering)

Let’s recap in reverse chronological order shall we?


a morning finding places to put the zucchini and pumpkins (me), and turning compost and clearing out the chicken shed (R). As part of the pumpkin quest I put two more out over the back fence, gave them heaps of compost and watered them in well. Not sure how appropriate it is given that it’s a nature strip zone, but we now have a sprinkler permanently set up over the fence in the hope of increasing the harvest by making it easier to water. The chickens did the hard work of spreading this batch of compost around the blackcurrants and blueberries.
Spreading compost - Chickens do it best
Rain stopped play shortly after lunch until I realised a couple of days of rain and showers was perfect for planting carrot seed as it needs to be kept moist to ensure germination. So on with a coat and hat and out in the rain to plant seeds. Interplanted with rocket seed as a quick germinator and easy salad greens before the carrots get too big to need the space.

What’s in the garden at the moment?

Tomato plants are doing well – nice sturdy plants and gaining height. Some small green ones on the plants. More to be planted out. Especially on the side fence behind the chook shed. I *did* plant some there and have had to replace several already as the chickens dug them up. And my best anti-chicken measure? Which also does double duty as a heat bank? Two bricks, one either side of the stem with a gap just large enough for the stem. Even the big chickens can’t move the bricks!

We put in a bed on the uphill side of the chook shed as it became apparent the path would be quite wide and a potential maintenance issue.We put the portable pen there with some broody chooks in it. The sunlight and lack of a nice dark nesting box helps them stop being broody. They got a pile of horse manure and grass clippings to mix into the soil. After about a week they had done a lovely job of garden bed prep. In there are 4 tomatos, basil, and a cucumber (Shh, don’t tell Robin about the cucumber)

Our horse manure mountain has proved a wonderful resource. Bags are emptied into the compost and spread on garden beds.

The semi circular bed in front of the chook shed has been doing well for a first year bed. The plants are all thriving, but I do notice the difference between the section that has roof overhang – quite a bit drier, so that needs a bit of extra care.

Current harvests:

Snow peas, lettuce, purple cauliflower, herbs

Back in late October we harvested the first of the pink eye potatoes from the Poly Bed – the carpet underlay and chook shed litter has rotted down beautifully to make a rich compost. The potatoes are buttery and luscious.It will be fabulous to plant into for autumn/ winter crops.
First Pink eyes of the season

The kiwi fruit vine now has a steel reinforcing mesh trellis. The mesh is set out from the wall so the plant won’t cook in the heat of summer sun. We finished putting it up last weekend and the vine is already twirling around the mesh, growing visibly each day.

Trellis up now for Kiwi Fruit Vines


#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…