Sunday, September 28, 2008

Independance Days Challenge Update

Planted: Eggplant, tomatoe, chamomile, oregano, banana passionfruit, lemon grass, strawberries and corn.

Harvested: Broad Beans, spinach, strawberry (just one so far) salad, snowpeas and herbs

Preserved: Lemon Butter, Pasta Sauce.

Stored: Local Cheese - (Disappearing quickly) Seeds, Woodchip mulch

Managed: Spread Woodchip mulch in chook run in anticipation of the return of the chickens

Prepped: Planted more seeds - and potted up volunteer tomatoes seedlings to give away/plant.

Advocated for local food economy: Followed up all the people who signed up for permaculture network, and having our first meeting at the end of October!!!!.

Reduced waste: Compost, church scraps, mum's scraps, Neighbours scraps.

Cooked something new: Broad Beans! Loved them. Steamed then mixed with a little butter with pasta, baby beets and wilted spinach. Mmmm

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Spring (and a parcel in the post.)

This is my granny smith apple, three of the apples have sprouted leaves, two have flowers. The other two I'm not sure... Pretty good for a first go at grafting.

My raspberry plants have all sprouted. I may not get much this first year, hoping that future years will bring lots of fruit...

And my parcel from Diane at Pebbledash. She made the stamps by hand. They are so pretty and came wrapped up with a lovely tag.

Have been planting lots of seeds, waiting for it all to come up. Digging up more garden space. Actually gave up the spade and reverted to the mattock, so much easier and goes deeper. I planted some Golden Nugget Pumpkin Seeds that Tracy sent me in her Pay it Forward gift. Hoping they grow lots of yummy pumpkins.

My citrus trees are all full of blossoms, and smell divine. I have been spraying them with White Oil every two weeks and fertilised and mulched and they are all sending out new shoots as well, which all look very healthy so far. The lemon is a bit sad at the moment, I hacked it back severly as most of it's foliage was diseased and it seems to be responding well. Hoping to get an even bigger crop this year.

I also scored a whole lot of wood chips that had been dumped at the wrong address and they didn't want them. They are going down in my chook run. I think I'll have to keep the chooks in there, they are too distressed in the chook tractor, and I'll get a couple of Isa Browns or Bantams for the tractor.

Have a great weekend everyone.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

What happens when you put your hand up

Last Saturday I really started doing something about the Permaculture Group. Wednesday this week I met up with someone I have been chatting to online for a while who has bought a block of land to start a community garden. Some of the plots are going to be leased out to different community organisations. I explained that the group I was starting had no money to rent a plot but could be interested in supporting an educational garden where people can be inspired to do it themselves, where people who come and lend a hand share in the food that is produced.

After an hour over lunch we are looking at running some workshops and introduction to permaculture/gardening on the site to start something. Karen told me she was feeling overwhelmed by some locals who are concerned the site is going to be used as a big commercial site (based on hearsay and not true) and was feeling like giving up at some point. Now she is excited again. There is a school starting a community garden in the area and they are keen to do a course so I may be very busy this summer. It'll be fun.

Need to rally the troops for a herb spiral working bee! Let me know if you are interested in joining in!

This is part of the block of land. Prime growing land in our town on the old floodplain (now levees have been built) I can't wait.


My Brother's Girlfriend Kate is in her final year of school. Yesterday I went to their art exhibition of the major works for their Higher School Certificate. She had a theme of the Performance, exploring the idea of being watched. My favourite is the ballet shoes, just cos they're gorgeous.

I feel so blessed to have Kate in my life. I said at her 18th Birthday that I really feel I haven't lost a brother in their relationship, I have gained a sister. And Kate loves doing crazy stuff with me that my sisters don't so much. It's just all good.

PS. Kate is also an awesome dancer. Her composition work scored 100% and she had to go to callbacks in Sydney! Congratulations.

Kate and I at the Art Exhibition.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Garden Update

My seed tray. These are the cucumbers which will all need potting up in the next day or two. (I may have planted too many, but will overcompensate for the potential slug attacks and if I get too many I'll give them away or swap them.

The squash have appeared now too, and so have the leeks, Nothing yet from capsicum or eggplant. It may still be too cold for them, although the last few days have been summery, we are back to cold weather again.

This is my newest garden purchase. A birdbath. It was on special. Really on special. And I love the solid lines. Haven't seen the birds in it, but I'll keep my eye on it on the weekend.

I just need a ground one for the frogs and lizards now.

And finally some harvest. I am picking snow peas and lettuce/rocket/endive etc nearly every day. Brocoletti slowing up now, but still producing enough to pick a bit, I pick regularly to stop it going to flower (then it stops producing) and keep it in a container in the fridge until it's ready to use.

Happy gardening.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A wonderful open garden

Do you know what these birds are???
They are guinea fowl. Aren't they cute!
They just run around the place at my friend Tina's garden.
This weekend she participated in the Australian open garden scheme, run all over the country showing off beautiful gardens.
Tina has 2.5 acres of gorgeous gardens. Natives around the borders that make me want to convert to bushcare (no- not really, but maybe to plant a few myself) Then she has a large traditional garden and a huge permaculture garden with orchard and veges and the bird enclosures.

This walkway is covered with vines of grapes, passionfruit and kiwi fruits and herbs grow underneath along the ground. Tina's garden uses a lot of stacking techniques, even though she has a lot of space.

I sent an email out to my permaculture contacts inviting them to come along on the Sunday, and four people came. Ken and Diane also go to my church, they loved the garden. This photo was taken after the bucketing rain had diminished slightly. It didn't stop the keen gardeners.
Tina asked me if she could give my name out as a contact for permaculture, and she inspired me to get organised. I did up a brochure and a sign up sheet and came along for one of the days, talking to people and signing them up for the group. There had been an article in the local paper about the garden and a few people said the only reason they had come was because it mentioned permaculture. Lots of people keen for a group so today I have sent an email out to everyone asking when they would like to meet and what they are interested in, or have skills to teach others in. Hoping to start in October!!!

In this photo you can see Tina's mandala garden. At the front a frog pond with strawberries around it, and there are 6 beds around it in a circle. All have wire guards to protect the tender veges from the chooks and in the background you can see the fruit trees with frames for netting to keep the birds off.

Here is Tina in the pink shirt giving a tour for some of the visitors. There were also homemade scones with jam and cream, pumpkin scones, delicious soup.... really a great day!

Local Elections

My brother Bohdan campaigning at local council elections

There's been some discussions lately on blogs about building community and getting involved. I'm very proud of my brother who has run for council (local government) in the elections this saturday.
He has wanted to do this for a number of years now, and was running under a mayoral candidate who looks like he is winning. He is at 31.7% and the next closest is the current mayor at 25.1%. They are 2/3 through the votes and then they have to sort out preferences but there is a strong push by the other candidates to remove the current mayor so they will probably give their preferences to each other. If Paul (the mayoral candidate) gets in, then my brother will receive Pauls votes for Councillor and will be elected, and only at 22 years old. He will be a councillor for the next 4 yrs, and he's really excited about it. Both he and Paul are keen to talk with me about sustainability and community issues, so there really is hope that we will see some change.
Congratulations Bohdan and Paul. (even though it's not official) Here is the official website where you can check out the counting progress.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Easy Dinner with friends

I had Allison over for dinner Friday night and was inspired by Melinda to bake dinner.
If I remember rightly this has onion, garlic, potato, sweet potato, turnip, carrot, beetroot, brussels sprouts, capsicum, beans, mushrooms, parsley and beef in it. The root veges went in first after being salted peppered and olive oiled and the others followed about 20 mins later. One pot dish, and it was delicious. served it on cous cous and had leftovers to take to work.
We then settled in to watch a movie, of course we needed hot chocolates with marshmallows (Allison likes to pose :)
And also this weekend we tried to make caramel chocolate tarts. I think we didn't cook the shells long enough, and possibly the recipe called for more butter than it actually needed. I'll try again soon, it was still delicious.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Each day the same, Each day new.

Where I live we don't get to see the sun set over water so this was pretty special. Shot this while campervanning round NZ in April this year.
Sunset at Pancake Rocks, South Island, New Zealand

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.
Psalm 113:3

I have heard it said that all artists are only copies of the master, who paints his pictures through out creation. Never the same, and sometimes only for a moment. Don't forget to savour the moments.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Parcels in the post.

I received two parcels in the post this week. The first was my pincushion and needlebook swap through Rhonda's Down to Earth Blog. I love the pincusion in a cup, it's big enough that I shouldn't lose it! And love the sewing themed fabric.

Thanks Jenny

My swap for Jenny (with a roses theme) is in the post. I hope she enjoys it, and posts a photo to Rhonda's blog, I always am running late and forget to take one.

Now this is from Tracey at Sunny Corner Farm. It's my pay it forward gift. Handmade and absolutely gorgeous. The scarf is made I am guessing from the wool from her sheep and appears to be nuno felted (correct me if I'm wrong Tracey) and the birds are felted as well. They are in different poses, sitting, streching wings to take off and mid flight. They really are alive. Tracey also sent me some handmade soap, some seeds (including seeds for Golden Nugget Pumpkins) and a EarthGarden Mag, with an article on Golden Nugget Pumpkins. I'm just working out how early I can plant them.

The idea with pay it forward is that some one makes a gift for you and in return you offer to make a gift for three other people. I posted about this a while ago, but didn't get all three gifts taken so if anyone would like a gift, please leave a note in my comments. Or just leave a comment anyhow, I love knowing there are people who enjoy reading the blog :)


Harvest Update!!!

I forgot to add this in yesterday. As of this morning my harvest is at 17.5 Kilos this equals 38.5 Lbs. I said earlier that my goal is 50 by the end of the year. If that was pounds I'd be laughing, but I actually meant Kilos which means 110lb.

Harvested Brocoletti, not sure how much more of this I'll get, they don't seem to be forming as big sprouts as they were, and keep trying to flower more and more, probably spring doing that. Also snow peas, more and more of them coming. 3 eggs, and I'm going to be selling the extras at the markets so the chickens should more than pay for themselves plus earn money. I'm thinking that will balance out their food first then think about paying for all the plants and seeds I keep buying.

Independance Days Update

Planted: Daikon Radish, Silverbeet, cucumber, capsicum, eggplant, squash, quince tree (into the ground) cape gooseberry, bay leaf tree, sage, dwarf beans, midgym berry,

Harvested: Snow peas, lettuces, herbs, oranges, eggs

Preserved: Lemon Butter, Tomatoes.

Stored: Cheese, borevos (sp?-south african sausage) Chorizos, dried figs.

Managed: Cleaned out garage somewhat, although it's getting messy again!

Prepped: Picked up four car loads of straw left over after dressage championships. Bought Blueberries and Passionfruit.

Advocated for local food economy: Made contact with local museum which is organising a garden day to go and talk to people about permaculture. Also going to a friend's garden open day and will be signing people up for local permaculture mailing list and talking to people.

Reduced waste: Straw.

Cooked something new: Vege Curry, Banana Bread. (both great but the latter spectacular!)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Growing Challenge Update...

We receive buckets of rain - last week, pretty much didn't stop from thursday morning to saturday evening. And then the sun came out on Sunday for a beautiful day.

Thought I'd show you all my newest seeds, at the front rocket and lettuces, in the middle asian greens, and at the back daikon radishes, parsnip and silverbeet. They're all growing like mad. The soil is enriched with chook poo.
This is warrigal greens, new zealand spinach, probably known by other names as well. It's native to Australia, and is a spinach like plant that is perennial and grows as a bush rather than like traditional spinach. You do need to cook it before eating, but then it's delicious.

Broad beans are podding up and the bees are loving them, their flowers are gorgeous, and the plants just don't stop growing!

Jonquils.... That's all I need to say for this photo.

These are my first nasturtium photos, both the flowers and the leaves are great in salads, and give a peppery taste similar to rocket. And the flowers make me smile.

This is a photo of the whole back garden, you can see the nasturtium at the very left, then daisies in front of lettuces and snow peas, broad beans with onions and tomatoes behind (see what I mean about growing, they're about 1.3m high in places and still growing. Foot steps with lettuces between them and then the brocoletti and shallots. There's also Kohl Rhabi, parsnip, rocket, curly endive, parsley, coriander, thyme, silverbeet, rhubarb, garlic and vietnamese mint (just planted from cuttings I got last weekend rooted in a cup of water for a few days.)

This is my first apple leaves. This is one of the five I grafted and it seems that four of the five have taken and are growing!!! My first attempt at grafting so I'm very proud of this.

This is the first of my asparagus spears. I planted three crowns during winter, and I will let all the spears grow this year to allow the roots to fully grow. The guy at the store who sold them to me said that once they grow I can trim the fronds and use them in salads and pasta dishes and they do taste like asparagus.

The tamarillo tree is starting to grow some new branches and look a little less like a stick in the ground, but the nectarine looks as though the rain hit just as the flowers were about to open and they don't look great any more. I'll expect nothing off it, and if anything comes it'll be a bonus.

Does anyone else have experience with wet nectarines?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Neighbourhood Networks

Have I mentioned before that my Back Fence Neighbours are the best?

Monday Jeff called and told me he was at the Equestrian Common in Worrigee (Where I used to keep my horse BTW) and there was oodles of straw left in the yards after the local pony club hosted the national dressage championships on the weekend. He was there with most of the neighbourhood who were carting home loads of straw and manure.

Jeff thought I would be interested but wondered if I would have trouble transporting it. He said because I only had a hatchback.

I think hatchbacks have a misconeption as being small cars. I think compact enclosed utes that can be used for transporting humans if necessary is probably a better description....

This was my car full of straw....

And this is the pile it made after I pulled it out of the car! Probably 2m by 1m by 1m tall in the middle.

I've picked up 3 loads so far, and I will go back for one more tomorrow. Supposedly some company will be clearing what remains thursday afternoon. My front garden is about to get mulched. hehehe.

What was rather ironic was that I had reached the end of my straw supplies over the weekend and had bought a new bale for $13 - should be illegal to charge that much! and then Jeff called me soon after I got to work.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Youth Group

The youth at my church ran the service last saturday night. It was a great sermon, and probably the highlight was an item they did during the music part. They had the majority of the youth group on stage looking very smart in black and white, some playing drums and some singing as a choir. They played a song off the new Hillsong CD, I think the last one on the album, but it was so great to see all the kids up there.

Sharna, who also helped lead the singing that night was one of the drummers. She also plays bass, What a girl!
I love the fact that our youth aren't just a ministry of the church, they are part of the church, and involved in so many areas. Most of the kids who were on stage are involved in leading christian groups in their schools or helping teach sunday school. A lot of the kids in the youth group don't come from families who attend church, this is a decision they make for themselves, and they are amazing kids.

Our youth pastors (a married couple) preached the sermon together. Really great. Go Ruth and Steve.

Jervis Bay sightseeing.

Had a friend visit this past weekend, lots of fun. Hannah (yes, her name is Hannah too) is from Tennessee USA, but we met on a Glacier in NZ south island. Spend the day walking around chatting for hours, and on the bus on the way home realised that we were both called Hannah. Anyhow, kept in touch, and it so happened that she needed to escape the country briefly to allow a working holiday visa to expire and so came to hang out here.

Point Perpendicular is the northern tip of Jervis Bay, the most beautiful place in the world. This lighthouse isn't in use anymore, but was an important lighthouse, the bay used by the Navy and as a refuge in times of storms (They originally built the lighthouse further north and it was demolished as it was leading ships to the rocks rather than away from them.)

There are three of these gorgeous sandstone cottages in a row, look like they were picked up from a street in Sydney in the Rocks and plonked down here at random. They are stunning, and you can just imagine people living in them at the turn of last century.

After looking around the lighthouse, I took Hannah to the spot around the corner where people rockclimb, no-one out this day. It's quite a challenging spot, only a couple of climbs under grade 20. I haven't done any of these yet, but they're on my wishlist. There is a sliver of rock, about 15metres high, and we found the path to get out onto it. This is us standing on top, it's about 2 metres wide here, and narrows to 1 metre wide just past where we are.

The water was gorgeous, so much so that when we got to Honeymoon bay around the corner, I did put my feet in. This is me at honeymoon bay, see I match the water with my fashion.