Monday, December 12, 2011

Finally Completed!

Well! I've finally tackled knitting socks! I had a beautiful pair of cream cashmere socks that a friend in Emgland gave me many many years ago. I had been darning them over the past few years, until one day I had to laugh at myself because the holes were so big, I would literally have had this crazy woven mess at the end. I had looked and looked at sock shops all over the world, but never found anything that could compare. Then one day, whiling away a few hours on the D2E Forum, I happened across sock making. I had never tackled this ancient craft, but I knew I could knit, so how hard could it be? Then I heard this funny little voice in my head say "Yeah, but where will you find the time to do that?"
Well funnily enough that galvanized me. I have a very busy consultancy business, am establishing our food forest, and trying to make more staples from scratch. AND, I am looking after my grand-daughter one day a week, and trying to get organized for our trip back to England for Christmas!
But, I thought if I wanted to do something badly enough, I could make the time. Then the answer popped into my head. At the end of the day, after dinner and before bed, I just slump in front of the TV, watching crap mostly, and feeling vaguely unsettled about being so unproductive when I go to bed.
So, that's when I started to find the time. In front of the telly. While on the plane (I travel a lot for work). In my hotel room after a long "thinking" day. As I write this, I have a memory of myself, sitting up in my hotel room bed, after a hell of a day, knitting the stress out before I went to sleep.
It was wonderful! And look at the result! I LOVE my new socks. And they're so toasty and warm over here in wet and windy England ....

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cabbage Moths

First of all, I apologise for being absent so long - just too much going on somehow so something had to give :(
Anyway, I wanted to share a testament to permaculture and Linda Woodrow's principle of interplanting. The cabbage moths hit town the other day and look at this - one patch of brassicas inter planted with celery, onions, leeks, carrots & celeriac, and the other a little cabbage all on its own!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Seedling experiment - the results!

Well, many thanks to Linda Woodrow for her growing from seeds tips. I, like a number of you in blogland, had been having trouble with my strike rate growing seeds in punnets and blogged about that here. Linda kindly shared her tips about growing seeds in a polystyrene box, so I rescued a number of them from the back of the local supermarket. And decided to try an experiment.
So, I planted up a set of punnets and a number of rows of vegie seeds into the polystyrene box on the 9th October. I'm afraid I didn't have the energy to go dig up a bucketful of creek sand and collect cow manure from the farmer's field about 10 minutes' drive away, so I just used good quality seed raising mix in both the punnets and the box. Here's the results:
Things are looking pretty good in the polystyrene box aren't they?

But over in punnet-world:
That's right folks - on lousy leek seed is just starting to sprout!
So, guess who is a complete convert to planting seeds in the polystyrene box? You guessed it - that'd be me!

Very busy time in the emerging food forest at the moment. A Pictorial update in the next few days I promise!
Enjoy - Greenie x

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A little holiday

Ah! Down the beach for a little relax! The view from our room:

And what is the first thing I think when I see that view? Just imagine all the veggies I could grow where that lawn is!!

Enjoy your weekend all
Greenie x

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lessons and Yolks

Well, first an update on the Monster Monster egg. Yep, she was a double yolker all right!

We got a yummy lunch of scrambled eggs on toast (sorry Frugalites - it was bought bread - but a local baker!!) out of this and just one more egg - for the two of us. Oh and sorry - I forgot to take photos of it once it was all cooked up. My God it was good though. So thank you Keema and keep up the good work.  She's only missed one day since that post - all pretty consistent around the 78g mark. The other two lay about 5 a week each. I'm keeping a tally so I can look back over the years. We got about 51/2 dozen in September. You can see how I'm progressing in my quest to build a food forest too by clicking on the Harvest Diary tab at the top of this page :)

And now for the lessons. Every journey towards growing your own food is full of lessons, and I've just learnt a big one. Don't let your seed trays dry out and DO use good seed raising mix.  All of the gardening gurus in books and in Blogland say so, but little Miss Greenie got a bit over-confident didn't she?

You might remember me blogging about asking my daughter to make a mercy dash to check on the chooks and water the seedlings?  Well, if they were already seedlings they made it, and if they were in the good seed raising mix in the bucket - they came up anyway, but those I potted with a mix of seed raising mix, and soil from the gardener - NADA!  Well, that's unfair, I have three rockmelons, two sweetcorn, two zucchini (but I don't reckon one of them will last) a couple of struggling leeks and a few purple Basil - oh! a one tomato! That's it - out of 20 punnets!

I'm bowed but not beaten. So, all that soil will be unceremoniously tossed into a little nook in the garden to see if anything eventuates. Meantime, I will pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again.

This time, I'm going to plant some in punnets and some straight into the ground - and see what happens.  This can be the beginning of my planting diary, which I will also put on the tabs at the top so you can see what's happening.

Wish me luck! I've heard from a few blog-friends, like Our Gang of 7 and Outback Tania that they struggle too with planting seeds into punnets. What about you - any secrets to share?

Take care
Greenie x

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Monster Egg Chronicles

Well, there I was thinking it was just another day. I thought we might have got three eggs (a perfect score from our three chooks, but it doesn't happen that often), but I was not expecting this ...

That's right ladies and gentlemen - a whopping 118 gram egg! Miss Keema completely outdid herself! You may remember one of my first blogs was about Keema laying a 90g egg. Well, in a slightly modified version of the immortal words of Crocodile Dundee - that's not an egg .... now THIS is an egg!

I swear to you, she's just a normal Langshan chook, not a duck or a goose. Here is a photo of the MONSTER alongside her normal offering (about 80g) and then on the right, an example of the typical egg we get from the other two girls (64-66 g)

It would not fit in the egg carton and looked quite bizarre against the others - a kind of Mt Killimanjaro of eggs against a few measly hills

DH is a bit weirded out and is not sure about eating it. I can't wait to see if its a double yolker!

And do you know the most incredible thing? She laid us another egg the very next day! Only 78g though - but that still qualifies as an extra large egg in the Supermarket. She skipped the next day and has laid consistently ever since.

What an amazing girl!  Thanks Keema - queen of the layers!

Talk soon
Greenie x 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Seed raising mix surprises

This one is specially for Our Gang of 7 who's been having one hell of a run lately. Her seed babies got knocked over in the high winds of last weekend, so she wondered about throwing the seed raising mix from the pots on the garden to see what came up!

Well, a few weeks ago, I went away for work and forgot to ask my best friend, DH to water the seed trays for me while I was away. It all got a bit dry and a big nothing happened. So, I threw all the seed raising mix into a bucket and mixed in some left over topsoil that we'd put on some of the garden beds. I've been using that on the new seeds I've planted ever since.

Today when I went out to water - look what I saw in the bucket

There's about 8 little seedlings popping up! God only knows what they are, but I'm going to prick them out into some newspaper pots I made, using Laura's instructions via Rose's wonderful blog (thank you Rose!). I do not have a fancy tool, I just used a round glass that we have in the cupboard, so keep scrolling down till you get to the instructions using a bottle.

Aaanywaay! I have no idea what these little fellas are, but it will be awfully good fun finding out, and I thought it would give !  Stay tuned!

Enjoy the rest of your week
Greenie x

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mercy Dash and a Close Call

There were loads of sightings of foxes in the Canberra area over the past week, and we were away in Castlemaine in Victoria.

And then, I heard it was going to be 26, hot and windy over the next few days. So then I began to worry about my darling little seedlings, including the new tomatoes I got from the Duck Herder and Murra Mumma at the Canberra Urban Homesteaders Club meeting on the previous weekend.

I was getting more and more nervous, and it was ruining my weekend.  So, I finally rang my daughter to see if she had time to do a mercy dash across town and check on my girls, and water my seedy babies. When she'd stopped laughing at me, she did promise to go.

A few hours later, I got a text with the label "Bok Bok Bok" and this photo

Phew! The girls are OK! Then I had to laugh because I had the opportunity to see how silly the annex looked all sewn up with twine from the straw bales!!

When I got home, all the seed trays were fine, and the girls had laid 8 eggs! but one was broken (it was starting to get a little crowded in there!) So, I collected all the eggs, watered the planted out seedlings and the newly planted ones in the greenhouse, and went to bed.

The next day, I went to let the girls out. All were happy to be going to the day facility again. But on the way back, look what I saw

I had left the nesting box door/lid wide open! I may as well have left a "Please Take Me" sign on the fence for the foxes! Luckily, the foxes were visiting another part of the neighbourhood last night. I don't kid myself that the perimeter is fox-proof; any fox that wanted to could get in. Only Guantanamo Chook is safe - unless you leave the bl#@$%y door open!

Anyway, all's well that ends well - and this time - I seem to have got away with the one little slip up!

I must be more careful. I must be more careful. I must be more ...

Talk soon
Greenie x

Monday, September 12, 2011

Awards and Accolades

I was just nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by Colleen over at Our Gang of 7. So thank you very much Colleen and the Versatile Blogger mob - whoever they are!

To accept one of these awards, there are three rules:
- thank the blogger who awarded you and link back to them (see above)
- share 7 interesting facts about yourself
- pass the award on to 15 newly discovered blogs

Now, 7 facts about me - that I hope you find interesting:
  1. I lived with nuns for 6 months once
  2. I am currently having a whole month alcohol and coffee free
  3. I once lived in Armidale NSW, which is very beautiful, before moving to Canberra
  4. I can't believe how many like-minded people there are in BlogLand - it's wonderful!!!
  5. I rode 100km on my bike a few years ago in a Sea to the Vines challenge in South Australia
  6. I had to get married three times before I got it right!!
  7. I've been married to my husband for nearly 27 years.

Since I have only been blogging for about a month, ALL the blogs I know are newly discovered ;-), but my awards go to:

Thanks once again to all for welcoming me to the Blog Family! Love being part of this community!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

An Urban Homesteading Weekend

It was my turn to host the newly established Urban Homesteading Club in ONC this weekend.
After an absolutely gorgeous, Spring-like week interspersed with a couple of days of rain, Saturday was cold, threatening rain and altogether wintry. I was very ecited, and had loads to do to get ready, so we made an early start. Picked up the community catering equipment, chairs, urn and big box of coffee mugs up from our daughter’s house. Then went to the butcher’s to get the pets mince for the chooks – they don’t like the protein pellets, so I give them meat – we get great eggs!
Home for lunch, then whipped up a quick chocolate cake, which was just about done when the first knock came on the door!
About 12 people in all turned up, and all were very generous with ideas, swapping seeds and seedlings. It was great to be talking with a bunch of like-minded people, rather than feeling like people think I’m some kind of un-reconstructed hippie! (Actually, I am an un-recontstructed hippie!!)
Yummy food, a wander round my garden, great company, relaxed friendly atmosphere – can’t wait for the next one!
Saturday night we had Moules Mariniere with chips (Moules et fritte) for dinner, which was utterly yummy, and leftover chocolate cake for dessert was an extra treat. I forgot to take photos, sorry.
Sunday, after my healthy fruit punch

I planted up about 12 punnets of all the new seeds from yesterday’s swap. Then after hubby’s swim we had bacon, egg and tomato for brunch. Keema’s big 80g eggs were called for, and again, too hungry to take photos.
To make my fruit smoothie, I pour about a cup of apple juice into a blender, and then add:
·         A chopped kiwi-fruit
·         A slice of watermelon, chopped
·         A slice of fresh pineapple, chopped
·         A pear or an apple, chopped
And then whizz it all up till its smooth and creamy. Yum, and awfully good for you! AND, I know I’ve had four pieces of fruit, complete with fibre, which is all any healthy body needs.
Then we bought a new tallboy and bedside cabinets to help with the storage shortage in our bedroom, came home for more gardening, where I planted out the rest of the leek, pak choy, swede & turnip seedlings, and notcied that my old out-of-date parsnip seeds have finally sprouted  under the apple tree – hooray!
Dinner was one of our family favourites – pork spare ribs in chinese barbeque sauce, potatoes and corn. The recipe comes from Ken Hom’s Quick and Easy Chines Cooking, one of my favourite cook-books, with a few Greenie adaptations. You twice cook the ribs, the second time in a yummy homemade barbecue sauce, with ginger, garlic, tomato paste, soy and hoisin sauce, with a bit of sugar and sesame oil thrown in for good measure. The recipe calls for chilli bean sauce, but I throw in a chopped chilli and add extra servings of the liquids to make it nice and thick.
[insert photo]
Slumped in front of the TV and computer for awhile and now off to bed for a good rest before the week starts in earnest!
Have a great week everyone
Greenie x

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My beautiful camelias

After spending a couple of years and a small fortune on re-establishing my garden after the renovations and extensions - I had one of those "Oh Thank You!" garden moments ...

In fact, I'm having quite a few of those recently, with the spring blossom, heralding lots of fruit

The broccoli promising to give us so much I might have to try Linda Woodrow's Cream of Broccoli soup

It's a return to horrible cold and wet again today in ONC, but I have too much work to do to be in the garden anyway. Desperate to plant up all the seedling punnets I prepared on the weekend, but am just not getting to it. Oh Well - there's always tomorrow.
Greenie x

Friday, August 26, 2011

Home Sweet Home

My mother always used to say, “It’s always nice to go travelling, but it’s Oh so nice to come Home!” And it certainly is.
We had a wonderful fortnight with our dear dear friends, and I miss them terribly, but I am so glad to be home and to have my chooks, and the cat and my seedlings all in their allotted spaces again!
The seedlings have grown amazingly well under the fabulous care of my friend Alison! Look!



And that’s despite a little late night spray with flea mixture intead of water! J

The chooks are back from their holiday with the chook sitter. They had a fabulous time with all their friends and are sulking a bit at being locked in the day facility rather than free ranging with about 25 other friends all day. Here’s a photo of them off on their big adventure.

I used the laundry basket on wheels because I’m not supposed to lift weights any more and these girls are very heavy! It works a treat but one of them always has to travel alone. She sat up the front with me and seemed very interested in all the goings on during the journey. When they arrived, they just leapt out of the basket and cage and joined in with all their new friends straight away. Hmph! Me and my empty laundry basket went home to pack …
It took nearly a week after they got home for them to forgive us before they laid any eggs. In fact, we got one lousy egg today and it's about time I think! :)  They won’t eat the laying pellets in ordinary chook mix, so now I give them mixed seed and pets mince from my favourite butcher. You should see ‘em go when they get their meat! They also get kitchen scraps, weeds, and al the snails they can eat – although I’ve noticed there aren’t too many snails around at the moment. Maybe the girls have eaten them all …

I planted carrots yesterday. I havent had any luck wth carrots for years, and the ones in my current patch are bought seedlings so who knows what shape they’ll be when I pull ‘em up. But then I was going through my very old garden diary, and saw that I’d followed this idea posted by a reader in an old Earth Garden magazine. Cover the seeds with a hessian bag and keep wet. Lift the bag after 4 – 8 days and the seedlings will have emerged! So despite Jackie French saying the soil’s too cold yet – I couldn’t wait – and planted a whole packet yesterday of red chantenay. They’re the short fat ones that it says you can plant from autumn to spring. I covered them with an old quilt cover I had been using as a kneeling cushion in the garden till I thought of putting a pillow inside a large plastic shopping bag – so comfy! I’ll let you know if I have success with the carrots.

Well, it's great to be home, and hopefully I can get back into the swing of gardening, blogging and pretending to seek a balance between that, looking after Charlie and working to pay for it all!!

See ya soon everyone
Greenie x

Friday, August 5, 2011

What a week!

Phew! What a week! We've been frantically trying to get our work finished and get our house in order (no mean feat for us!). We're getting ready for our oldest friends from England to come for a visit. So we're trying to make everywhere look nice, and not like a cross between Steptoe & the Good Life, which I sometimes think our place looks like.

So, we've been busy, busy busy ...

On the weekend I went to the Yarralumla Nursery, probably the best nursery in Canberra, and the one place in Canberra that is seriously dangerous to let me loose in. I bought:
2x gooseberries to replace the ones I've killed
1x Tahitian Lime
1x Kaffir Lime
1x Williams Pear
1x white seedless grape
2x roses, one called Elle after my daughter and the other a Honey Dijon
15x pansies cos I love them and I wanted to cheer up the view from the uncovered deck for our English friends who arrive on Wednesday
2x punnets of lettuces cos they were there ( :-))
2x punnets of coriander
2x punnets of colored foxgloves
2x punnets white foxgloves
1x punnet russel lupins
Then I came home and planted everything except one gooseberry and the coriander because it was going dark, and I could barely move!

On Sunday I had a wonderful lunch with a friend, visited my beautiful daughter (BD) and grand-daughter (beautiful son in law (BSIL) was there too!) and collected more lemons from her tree. Went home and juiced most of the lemons after shaving their skins for homemade citrus cleaner - allegedly this stuff is better than spray and wipe. Find the recipe here. I've kept the best lemons to make preserved lemons. I just need to find a container that is exactly the right size for them. DD gave me a couple of old jars that had had bought tomato (pasta) sauce in them, so I filled those up and I have another enormous old Maxwell House coffee jar that oonce held dried pasta. There weren't enough lemons to fill the big jar, but the long tall jars from DD look really elegant with the lemons in them so I'm really glad I bottled them up.

Monday and Tuesday were spent working, cleaning, working. Cleaned the bedrooms, got the beds ready, cleaned out the car, finished our work projects, cooked ready for Wednesday's dinner. Wednesday was Charlie day as well as arrival day for our friends, so we made a lovely mushroom lasagne, and a lemon meringue pie. I made myself feel a bit like a Masterchef contestant once DH had gone to pick up our friends. I raced around feeding Charlie, putting the lasagna together - remembered I'd not put towels on their bed - brushed my hair, collected the eggs, picked up all the food Charlie had spilt on the floor, took the pie out of the oven, put the lasagna in .... Phew!

Then DD arrived and said that the nanny couldn't look after Charlie tomorrow ... Could we? Well, of course I said yes, knowing that our friends would think it was pretty good fun. But then, one of my work clients rang, could I join a teleconference at 830am? So, Thursday it was up at 645 (unheard of these days for me), raced over to pick up Charlie, home again, breakfast oats and fruit for Charlie. Then the teleconference, breakfast for the rest of us - DH poached eggs and they were yummy!

We went to the shopping centre for lunch and then went on a walk round the lake. I expected Charlie would sleep, but she sang and burgled and put her hand out to feel the breeze for 40 minutes. By the time we got home again, she was completely wrecked and was fast asleep when I went to get her up for her tea before Mummy came to collect her. I felt terrible disturbing her, but she was pretty cheerful about it all, just like the little angel she is :)

We're off on the road-trip tomorrow. Canberra to McLaren Vale via the Hay Plain and Mildura. I love a good long drive so it will be so much fun showing parts of Australia to our friends.

Will be back again in a couple of weeks!
Take care everyone - talk soon
Greenie x

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A great big THANK YOU!

I just want to indulge for a moment and thank everyone who's visited in the last week or so since I started this blog. It's great to "meet" you all and see what you're doing.  Having spent over 20 years in the public sector world where there wasn't a lot of collegiality and I remember once overhearing that someone wasn't going to be promoted because they wore yellow (I kid you not), it's so nice to be part of a community that is so supportive and accepting and welcoming. Don't get me wrong I loved working in the public service and contrary to popular belief, everyone I met and meet who is a public servant works really, really hard and tries their very, very best to do a great job.
Rose it was lovely to meet you on D2E and thanks for visiting my little blog. Your post about CSR is disturbing and I'm looking forward to hearing of a more sustainable, Australian sugar source.
Tania and Hearts in Asia I was so jealous when I read you were getting 20 degrees + already, although we got rain last week so I guess we're even! LOL :) It was -5 here this morning when I left to come and look after little Charlie (about 745 am)! Now that's pretty cold eh!?!
New Good Life - fantastic post about food porn! I also had one of those "Of Course" moments when trawling through your blog - the used toilet roll as a seed starter - brilliant!
Dixiebelle, Duck Herder and Tammy - like minded souls in Canberra - fantastic!
And crafty, busy, well loved Mum - fancy both having little angels called Charlie! I love following your adventures in living a simple life.
So, I just want to give you all a big thanks for visiting. I will take loads of photos of the establishment of the front yard, and the development of the back, and keep on blogging! I will be visiting you all regularly - and please, keep sending in the comments - and if you haven't commented yet, please do - I LOVE hearing from you all.
Bye for now - Greenie x

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'm gonna have a Fish Pond - and a Swale - and ...

This is my instalment to Hazel-dene's Winter Wednesdays. Today is all about plans plans plans - and I'm very excited. The Sustainable Gardener and I marked out the front garden today, that will feature a fish pond, and a swale cos of the slope AND EVERYTHING! I'm so excited I can hardly speak.  Anyway, here's the photos:

 The little round circle - admittedly barely visible - will be the fish pond - well frog pond really!

and the parallel lines represent the flow of the swale!

Now, what will I plant???? This must have useful plants in it too - and there's an area that is soooooo perfect for vegies that there'll have to be some - but I'm also thinking one of those magnolias with big, dinner-plate size flowers, and some roses. The whole perimeter will be planted with Australian natives.

Has anyone in Canberra grown rosellas? What about Sapotes? I hear they're called the ice-cream fruit.  What else do you think I should grow out here?
The criteria are - must be beautiful and/or edible and/or highly fragrant.
Very excited about the Intro to Permaculture workshop on Friday morning - even though I've had to schedule a work meeting at 7:30 just so I can be there!!!

Enjoy the rest of your week people - Talk soon Greenie x

Sunday, July 24, 2011

On Skeletons and Cold Weather

Given that it's lunch-time and still only 4 degrees outside - I thought I'd make a pictorial record of the development of the garden over the past few years.  We had an extension to the house done a few years ago that caused total devastation to the garden.

We were lucky enough to have a bit left over after the extension, so we got the garden landscaped, and paving put in so that my son, who was in a wheelchair could get around the whole area. Sadly, my lovely boy died a couple of years ago, but I'll always remember him whizzing about the paths in his chair and laughing that we could play cricket on the lawn again now!
Since then, I've been planting and getting the chooks to help me improve the soil. I've got about 20 types of fruit:
  • Apples (x4)
  • Apricot
  • Avocadoes
  • Blueberries (x5)
  • Boysenberries (too many to count)
  • Feijoa (x2)
  • Gooseberries (x2)
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi-Fruit
  • Lemon
  • Mandarin (x6)
  • Nectarine (x2)
  • Orange
  • Olive (x2)
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Quince
  • Raspberries (x4)
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries (x23)

With the help of the Sustainable Gardener (the world's best gardener!), who employs young disabled people to help tend a whole bunch of gardens around Canberra, the garden now looks like this:

As you can see, still plenty of work to do, but the skeleton is in place, and things are starting to come along.  In the veggie patch there is:
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Onions
  • Celeriac
  • Celery
  • Leeks
And two lots of silverbeet in two other garden beds. Shallots, garlic and asparagus in large numbers dotted along a number of the borders.  Loads of comfrey, as well as parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage and chives. Oh! and an almond tree with two types of almond on it.  The chooks' Day Facility is currently on the (alleged) lawn because it's so full of weeds that I figured this would be good green feed for them while the red peas from all the pea straw mulch take off in the other beds. I was going to construct a bit of a run for them so they could get at the weeds and frost-affected tomatoes (we were away when the frosts came), but its sooo cold out there!  Poor darlings are a bit fed up, but they'll eat more of the grass weeds in the lawn this way, and I'll get their run made for them over the next few days.  Something must be working though, because I got a perfect day yesterday - 3 eggs!
I'd love to hear your comments on how you think our little food forest is developing. What's happening in your garden? Post a comment and link back to your blog or drop your photos right in.
Talk soon - Greenie x