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

Friday, July 22, 2011

There go the Food Miles!

Well - we live and learn!
I wanted to plant up some cabbage and lettuce seed for the Spring and summer, and I had run out.  I treated myself to a quick dash to Bunnings on the way home from somewhere to get some supplies to help make the chooks' Day Facility a bit sturdier.  While I was whizzing across the aisles I noticed their seed section, and thought I could pick up a few packets. I found these:

They'll do the trick I thought, so I threw them into the trolley and headed for the checkout. But when I went to plant them up I noticed that, despite the seed companies being based in NSW Australia, the label said, Seed Packed in the UK!! UNBELIEVABLE - LOOK!

I cannot believe it is efficient to harvest and pack seed in the UK and then ship it 20,000-odd kilometres to then transport all over Australia. Are you trying to tell me it's better to do this than source cabbage and lettuce seeds in Australia?
Anyway, so that's my Friday On My Mind rave for Down to Earth - fantastic blog Rhonda.
Have a great - locally sourced weekend everyone
Greenie x

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Monster Egg

Finally, I managed to work out how to post the picture of Keema's egg onto the blog.  Hint: Blogger isn't very iPad friendly! I'll learn! I also managed to plant up 12 punnets with seeds and put into the mini-greenhouse I have.  I planted:
  • silverbeet
  • sugarbeet
  • beetroot (seeds from a very kind woman on the Earth Garden Path who was sharing)
  • turnip
  • swede
  • onions (x2)
  • leek
  • lettuce
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • pak choi
I planted some parsnip seeds in front of the apple tree, but they should have been planted by May according to the packet so I don't know if they'll grow.

And, I planted out 20 strawberries and a bunch of onion seedlings I had.

I loosened the bottom edge of my chook tractor so that I can move it sometime this week. It's not the most stable chook tractor in the world but it keeps the girls happy and I can walk inside it, so it meets all the immediate needs. I can't carry heavy weights anymore, so I need something lightweight and mobile - but sturdy would be a bonus.  Maybe photos of that next post!

I'm wondering now whether to go for a small mobile nesting box, or to stick with the large floor size of this tractor so I can lock them in there to deter the pesky (but very cute) little male cat who's moved in next door and who spooks them by chasing them.  My previous girl, Bella, would have pecked at him and put him in his place, but these girls are all scaredy-cats (pardon the pun!).

After a nasty experience with a fox a couple of years ago, we installed Guantanamo Chook - a secure facility complete with wire floor that we lock the girls into at night, so I don't need the chook tractor to house them.  And I have a couple of lengths of chicken wire (and bird netting) fence so that I can limit their foraging habits to the parts of the garden I want them to dig up during the day. So the only dilemma is to keep them safe from cats - and maybe dogs while also having the easy mobility I need now.  Any ideas? I'll receive all suggestions - and feel free to post photos or links.

I've been dreaming of something high off the ground, rather like the Milkwood rawbale house but on a much smaller scale and on wheels, with a handle - like from an old pram - so that I can wheel it into position, erect the fencing, block the wheels with a couple of bricks and we're set for another couple of weeks.  Imagination - plenty - skills and materials - a bit limited!

Hope you enjoy the photo of the egg - I expect Miss Keema will be exhausted today after that mammoth effort yesterday!

Talk again soon
Greenie x

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Heeeeeer'es Greenie!

Well, hello everyone. After following a whole bunch of gardening, Permaculture and self-sufficiency type blogs over the past few years, I've finally taken the plunge and started one myself!

The clincher came late this afternoon when I checked for eggs and discovered that Keema, my big beautiful black Australorp had laid a whopping 90g egg! We've been getting low to mid 80 grammers ever since they came back onto the lay a few weeks ago - in the middle of winter. I was expecting to have to wait until Spring because they just never got back into laying after their moult in February and March. But about the 1st July - freezing cold - that old familiar sound - weening and whining - and the - an egg! Production has been steadily increasing.

I have three girls, 2 Light Sussex, Lacey and Minnie the Moocher, and the big Australorp, Keema. I started out with Cagney and Lacey, after the female detectives, but Cagney turned out to be James Cagney, and had to be sold off to a very appreciative Sri Lankan family to become Cagney Curry! Keema after the very beautiful and slightly cool detective on the wire.

When Minnie came along I just knew she was never going to cut it as a detective. She had been repeatedly montered by a rooster in her original home - so much so that she had no feathers on her back. Unfortunately, my girls did not welcome her with open arms, offer support or sympathy. No, no, no - they victimized her further and pecked at her bare patch, and made her sleep in a nesting box on her own. So there was no chance of a female detective's name. When she was let out with the rest of the girls, she would just mooch about on her own, staying pretty close to home, and trying not to be noticed by the others so she'd get pecked at again. So, Minnie the Moocher she became, and Minnie the Moocher she has stayed.

Over time, she has been accepted into the flock, and she kicked up a hell of a row when Miss Moneypenny (literally)fell off her perch. So now we're back to 3 girls. I'd like more, but I'm not sure another single is a good way to go. I keep secretly hoping one of them will go brooch so I can get some fertile eggs and see what happens but no luck last Spring ...

Anyway, here's the egg that finally tipped me over the edge into Blogging Land! Hmm, it won't let me upload from iPad so you'll have to wait till tomorrow for the photo and the next exciting installment.

Talk soon!
Greenie x