Grass roots gardening…

Saturday

Today was a fairly easy day. I planted up the seedlings and broad beans seeds in the veggie beds. We have tomatoes, golden beetroot, two types of kale (Tuscan and Scarlet), broccoli, coriander, cos lettuce and pak choy. We’ll also plant silver beet (chard), rocket and basil. It’s late in the season to plant basil, but the netting should protect against the weather and keep the temperature a couple of degrees warmer than outside. We have lots of self-sown rocket coming up around the chillis that we moved from the veggie beds. We also have self-sown basil. I’ll transplant these once the seedlings have grown enough to move.

Planted veggie beds

Planted veggie beds

Stephen planted several thymes around the chilli hill. There are a variety of flavours in addition to regular thyme, including lemon, caraway, bush bbq, pizza,bergamot and Jekka’s thyme.

Chillis and thyme

Chillis and thyme

Our timing was perfect, it started to rain just as we finished planting.

Sunday

Today we started the day working to clear the grass from one end of the front verge. This corner has always been a bit of a problem due, in the first few years to the next door neighbour’s gardener scattering grass seeds our way when he mowed the lawn, and in recent years to our current neighbour’s lack of care of their front yard. We’ve tried to keep up with pulling out the grass, but the groundcover we planted there was a bit sparse and straggly and wasn’t helping. The grass was out of control.

Starting work on the verge

Starting work on the verge

The overnight rain ensured that the job would be as easy as it could be – not very easy. We had to pull out the groundcovers that were planted there and then pull out the grass. We both worked at it for a few hours and finally got it  done mid- afternoon.

First we removed the groundcovers, leaving a pretty dense layer of grass

First we removed the groundcovers, leaving a pretty dense layer of grass

There was a huge amount of grass to pull out. The roots were deep and strong. We know that, while we managed to pull out all of the visible grass and as many of the roots as possible, there are still plenty of roots in there.

We pulled out all the grass

We pulled out all the grass

We’ve planted several new plants, mostly groundcovers and low growing grevilleas.

New groundcover plantings

New groundcover plantings

We have a  groundcover that we really like, Myoporum parvifolium (Creeping Boobialla), growing at the other end of the verge. It grows in a dense mat and it should be the perfect thing to grow and cover the ground between the other plants. We’ll put in several plants of that and then  put down weed matting before we mulch.

New plants in the cleared area

New plants in the cleared area

A netted garden…

The garden netting arrived yesterday. I was pleasantly surprised. We still had the horizontal length of poly tubing to put up so we’ll have something to clip the netting to when we want to access the garden, so we took care of that yesterday afternoon. We had exactly the right length of tube left to fit around the whole garden, we just needed to buy a joiner.

The horizontal line

The horizontal line

This morning Stephen taped the tops of the start pickets so the sharp corners wouldn’t tear the net.

Taping the tops of the star pickets

Taping the tops of the star pickets

Then we draped the net over the framework. The size is just right, so that’s a bit of a relief. We found that the ends of the cable ties that we used to secure the poly tube to the pickets were catching on the net, so they all had to be taped as well.

The netting is held in place by clips that can be easily moved.

Clipping the net in place

Clipping the net in place

The net is pretty secure, though we do need a few more clips. I’m really happy with the way it’s all come together.

The netted garden

The netted garden

The sides of the net lift and clip to the top bar and allow for really easy access to the beds.

The net opened down one side for easy access

The net opened down one side for easy access

Once everything was done I prepped the bed that we have decided to plant broad beans in by raking in some lime.

Prepping a bed for broad beans

Prepping a bed for broad beans

We went shopping and bought veggie seedlings, we’ll plant them tomorrow. While we were at Bunnings I noticed that they do sell similar netting, just not in the size that we needed.

Veggie seedlings waiting to be planted

Veggie seedlings waiting to be planted

Netting the veggie bed is something I’ve wanted to do since we first put the planters in. I feel like we’ve finally achieved a major goal. Only time will tell how well it all works.

We’re gonna need a bigger pot…

I woke up this morning, worrying that I hadn’t ordered enough soil for the veggie beds. I thought about changing the order from three cubic metres to five cubic metres, but decided to leave it as is. Which is definitely a good thing…

Delivered soil for the veggie beds

Delivered soil for the veggie beds

The delivery of beautiful rich garden compost was made by Gardener’s Direct just before lunch time. After we’d eaten lunch we got stuck into moving it into the beds.

Shovelling garden compost

Shovelling garden compost

It didn’t go as easily as it might have. The star pickets at the corners of some of the beds prevented us from being able to tip the wheelbarrow at the right angle to get the composted soil into the beds. This meant we had to fill beds and then shovel soil from one bed to another for three of the beds.

Emptying the wheelbarrow

Emptying the wheelbarrow

It was a lot of double handling but we  developed a good system with Stephen barrowing the soil into the beds and me shovelling from one to another.

Shovelling from one bed to another

Shovelling from one bed to another

Anzac and Jet did their best to help, keeping an eye on  all the work done.

Anzac and Jet supervising the work

Anzac and Jet supervising the work

Jet chased flies and jumped around in the beds.

Jet likes jumping in the beds

Jet likes jumping in the beds

They are called beds so she had to test them for comfort.

Jet testing the beds for comfort

Jet testing the beds for comfort

And spent plenty of time posing for photos.

Jet loves the camera

Jet loves the camera

Anzac checked out the quality of the compost.

checking the quality of the compost

checking the quality of the compost

And spent plenty of time getting in the way of the wheelbarrow.

Helping dad in the garden

Helping dad in the garden

Finally, the planters were all filled and ready for planting.

Planters filled any ready for planting

Planters filled any ready for planting

Did we have enough soil to fill the beds? Oh, I think so!

The soil that's leftover after filling the planters.

The soil that’s leftover after filling the planters.

The loose soil in the planters will settle a bit, so we might want to top them up – a little bit. We’ll also fill all our spare pots, ready for planting herbs, citrus trees, and anything else we want in pots. I somehow think we’re going to have a bit leftover even then!

More than enough leftover soil

More than enough leftover soil

The netting is on it’s way. On Tuesday I received a notification from The VeggiePatch to say my order was posted and it normally takes up to 3 working days to arrive. Theoretically, that means it could be delivered tomorrow, after all it’s only coming from down south. But anyone living in the Perth suburbs knows proximity is no guarantee of a prompt delivery.

Revitalising the veggie garden

We’ve decided to spend our Easter break renovating the veggie garden. It’s been a bit of a mess lately, and not as productive as we’d like.

The garden before

The garden before

A year or two ago we planted passionfruit to grow up and over the veggie beds to shade them in the hotter weather. The plants grew prolifically but they didn’t fruit. They did, however, send out feral runners from the rootstock that have been coming up all over the place – in the various beds and also in the rose garden, even reaching into the native beds. The passionfruit plants did do the job of shading the beds, but they were very messy. We decided they had to go.

The garden before showing the growth of the passionfruit

The garden before showing the growth of the passionfruit

We’ve also had a big problem with insects and caterpillars devouring our leafy greens. We’ve made the decision to net the beds to protect them. We’ll also make sure to include some shade net as well. That’s going to take some design time. The first thing to do is to clean out the beds.

The passionfruit plants came out first. This was a big job on it’s own. Stephen took care of this over the past couple of weeks.

The first passionfruit plants have gone

The first passionfruit plants have gone

Then we pulled out almost all of the overgrown herbs from the herb spiral. We’re going to plant our herbs in pots.

Work on the chilli spiral begins

Work on the chilli spiral begins

The spiral has now been planted up with transplanted chilli plants.

The chilli spiral

The chilli spiral

We have a lot planned to get done in our garden over the four day break.

Day 1

Next step, I decided that the five raised bed planters needed to be turned so they were all in line and moved over slightly to allow easy access with the wheelbarrow. This involved removing all of the soil from the planters, pulling them up, and moving them.

It also involved digging out most of the star pickets that held the reo mesh that the passionfruit was growing on.

At the beginning of work on Good Friday

At the beginning of work on Good Friday

I shovelled the soil out of the first 2 planters.

Moving soil out of the first two planters

Moving soil out of the first two planters

This was the hardest part of the job, the soil had to be wheelbarrowed out and dumped on a plastic sheet until the planters were moved.

Temporary storage of the garden soil

Temporary storage of the garden soil

While Jet kept an eye out for flies on the soil, and kept the ball close, I moved the planters.

Resituating the first two planters

Resituating the first two planters

Once I’d lined up the first two beds in their new positions I barrowed and shovelled the soil back in.

At the end of work on Good Friday

At the end of work on Good Friday

Day 2

Next I cleaned out and moved the other three planters. This was a bit easier because I was able to just shovel the soil from one planter to the next, and then shovel it back once the planters were lined up. The mulch around the outside of the planters had gradually built up over the years, effectively making the raised beds not quite so raised. This has resulted in the newly moved beds being only about half full of soil. After Easter I’ll order a load of organic garden soil and top them up.

On Easter Saturday after the beds have been moved

On Easter Saturday after the beds have been moved

My final job for the day was to work out how to make the existing irrigation system work with the realigned beds. It took several attempts to realign the poly tube with the flexipipe and sprayers attached, but I think I finally got it all worked out. We won’t know for sure how things will work until the beds are filled and planted. And it may have been easier and faster to redo the irrigation from scratch.

At the end of work on Easter Saturday

At the end of work on Easter Saturday

Jet had fun helping today. She spent the afternoon running around the garden beds and snapping at flies.

Jet watching for flies

Jet watching for flies

While we wait for delivery of the soil we’ll have to put the star pickets back in around the end beds and put the mesh back on top; then do the same over the middle bed. These will act as good support for the netting that we want to put up. We need to make sure the net can be easily opened for access. We also need to be able to give access to pollinators when we grow flowering crops like tomatoes and broad beans, while keeping out the insects like the cabbage moth butterflies. And we want to incorporate shade cloth for summer, though that might need to be an additional layer of net just for the summer.

I’m so glad that we put in a spa bath when we did the bathroom reno. It’s lovely to soak in the tub with some epsom salts and with the jets going. Especially after a day of digging and shovelling in the garden. It might only be regular bath size, but oh what a difference those spa jets make!

Day 3

I woke up this morning thinking about the irrigation and decided to simplify the whole thing. The current arrangement is a mess. We have two irrigation lines going into the veggie garden and because I tried to just reuse what we already had we can’t be sure which line is watering which bed until we give it a try, and chances are they will all be mixed up. We also have lines wrapping back and forth between the beds, with flexipipe coming up and into the beds all along the way. This is going to make walking between the beds a nightmare. The beds are already pretty close together, we don’t need to be tripping over sprinkler lines.

We started the day with a shopping trip for star pickets, another reo panel, and a few irrigation system fixings. We also checked out what’s available in the way of netting. We want something that’s going to stand up to the weather and last for a few years. It looks like we’ll have to go with 50% sun block shademesh. That’s a bit heavier than I wanted but it seems to be the lightest we can get – from Bunnings anyway. There’s no point doing anything about the netting until we have the support framework up and the beds topped up with soil. I know the sizes that it comes in so I can work on a design that will be workable and easy to use. I can also look around for something strong but lighter weight and lower sunblock.

I spent the afternoon reworking the irrigation to the beds – cutting pipe, putting in t-joiners and elbows, and adding flexipipe and sprayers where needed. This is much harder work than it sounds – lots of bending down and trying to force poly tube onto fittings. There was plenty of hot water used to try to soften the tube and make things fit together more easily. It took a few hours but I finally got another part of the job finished and working to our satisfaction.

Finished irrigation

Finished irrigation

Each bed has it’s own line coming off one of the two main lines into the area – the back three beds off one line, the front two beds and the chilli spiral off the other line. The bed lines can easily be swung out of the beds when we need to add soil, or dig the bed over. The main lines across the ground will be covered by mulch and we won’t have to worry about standing on and damaging any fittings.

Day 4

Our day in the garden today started with us ramming in ten star pickets. With the existing two these will make the upright support framework for our netting.

Star pickets to support the netting

Star pickets to support the netting

I did some research on the ‘net last night and found The Veggie Patch. They are based in Western Australia and sell insect netting for veggie gardens online. This is definitely preferable to shadecloth because it’s much lighter and won’t cut out much light through winter, so we’re going with this option. We also discussed our options for the top of our support framework. We were going to go with a flat ‘roof’ supported by three reo panels. We’ve decided against that idea and instead we bought some 25mm poly tube and made a hooped ‘roof’

Poly tube hoops fitted to support the insect netting

Poly tube hoops fitted to support the insect netting

I’ve ordered the netting. I’ll order the soil for the beds tomorrow. Hopefully the soil will arrive in the next couple of days and we can fill the beds and maybe get some planting done over the three day Anzac Day weekend, next weekend. It would also be great if the netting arrived but it’s only a three day week. I don’t think Australia Post will get it here, even if the seller gets it in the mail tomorrow.

Admiring our garden renovations of the past four days

Admiring our garden renovations of the past four days

We’ve realised that we also need to add a horizontal line of poly tube down each side along the top of the star pickets. This will give us something to secure the netting to when we want to lift it for access or to just have the beds open. Another job for next weekend.

Raindrops keep falling on my head…

We had rain today. Beautiful rain. Not a lot, but any is better than none at all.

I went out mid-morning to work in the veggie garden. I wanted to finish the watering system we’d started installing on the weekend. The rain chased me inside a couple of times, but for only a few minutes at a time.

I wasn’t really happy with the layout that we started with on the weekend, so I took it up, plugged the holes in the poly pipe where we’d put the first lot of flex hose/trickler sprays and relaid it.  I worked all day, putting in the little short lengths of hose and the sprays. Stephen had gone into the office and I was still working when he got home. He went to Bunnings for me, to get bits and pieces I needed to finish.

When it was finished (well, the first time finish) we found that we had so many sprays on the one line that the last couple of beds were hardly getting any water, due to the low pressure. We have 33 sprays in all in the veggie garden, three of those are on citrus trees.  Back to Bunnings for Stephen to get some fittings to split the line into two sections while I started planting out seedlings.

Making two separate sections made a huge difference. The coverage of the sprays is perfect.  The system isn’t fully automatic, with timers etc, but it’s a lot better than putting on a sprinkler and watering the paths as well as the veggies. It’s a matter of turning on the tap and making sure the correct area is switched on. On this system we have the two veggie areas and the rose garden. It’s not such a hardship to walk out into the garden and switch the splitter.

The veggie garden suffered while we were away. We hadn’t planted much because we knew Tanisha wouldn’t have too much time to be out watering. The tomatoes were past their best, the leeks also suffered. The broad beans had finished and we wanted them to die down to be dug in. But we do have nice looking capsicums. There wasn’t much else in the beds. Now we have: tomatoes, basil, chillis (several types), rainbow chard, beans, eggplants (thanks Gino),the capsicums, leeks, sweet corn and sugar snap peas. I think that’s everything. We also have sundry other herbs growing in the herb bed.

Now that the watering system is up and running, I need to build a shade structure to protect the plants in the heat of summer.

Veggie beds with the new watering system

Veggie beds with the new watering system

There was no walk today, but the dogs enjoyed spending the whole day outside with me. It was quite warm and muggy and even Anzac was happy to lay around chewing bones and toys, just expending bursts of energy every now and then. I’m sure he’ll make up for it with ball throwing requests as the evening wears on.

A garden left unloved in the heat of summer…

Our citrus trees  haven’t thrived since we planted them. They’ve only ever had 3 or 4 flowers and the fruit has dropped before getting bigger than fingernail size – except for our tiny blood orange that had 2 fruit that stayed on the tree but never got any bigger than golf-ball size. The soil here is just sand. No nutirents and no water-holding capability. We did, of course feed it up before planting and have continued to give it  trace elements and food and lots of water. Nothing was working, they were still obviosly impoverished. A few months ago I saw a segment on Garden Gurus showing a 5 in 1 organic plant food that they used to give new life to citrus. The segment is called Citrus Delight if you want to do a search in the TV & Video factsheets of their website.  I couldn’t buy that same brand here, but I could buy something similar so I put it down around the citrus just like the garden gurus did. The trees are now looking strong and healthy and vigorous, though still no flowers or fruit yet. I also have to get the whole espalier pruning right. It’s my first attempt so as with most gardening it’s all an experiment!

Our roses were looking quite stressed so I thought I’d give them the same treatment. We decided I should do it a couple of weeks before we went on holidays in case the dogs took a liking to the plant food. I can’t put blood and bone/dynamic lifter down around the roses because the dogs eat it. So I tidied up the roses and lay down the fertiliser, covering with straw mulch as always. The dogs took no interest as there was no enticing fragrant aroma. That was a good sign.

When we went on holidays we had a babysitter come in and stay with Molly and Kaz. We have never kenelled them (other than when they were in quarantine) and have always had a babysitter/housesitter instead.  This babysitter has looked after them before and they love her. We also ask her to water the veggie garden and rose garden when she can. The automated reticulation takes care of the rest of the garden.

Backyard garden

Backyard garden

While we were away the weather was very hot here. The babysitter emailed us to say the roses were looking very droopy even though she had been watering them.  When we arrived home we found a very sad garden indeed. Our girls were well-looked after, as was our house. The garden hadn’t been neglected, but it hadn’t been loved the same way we would have loved it had we been here. We don’t blame the babysitter at all, she was here primarily for the girls – not the garden and with the continuous hot dry days it’s a constant struggle.

Distressed veggie garden

Distressed veggie garden

The veggie garden didn’t receive enough water or shelter in the constant high 30’s temps and winds. We’ve lost our corn, most of (if not all) the cabbages, the tomatoes and the bok choy. The beds just get too hot and even with a good layer of mulch they dry out too much in the heat of summer. We have a big market umbrella that we use to give partial shade and protection to the beds when we are home, but the wind here is too strong to leave the umbrella up and unattended so we didn’t ask the babysitter to take on that responsibility. Perth is supposedly the third windiest city in the world!

We’ve also had another problem in the veggie garden over the past few months – rats! They’ve been getting in and eating the veggies. Stephen has been putting out traps and has caught a few small ones and I found a large dead one in an empty water bucket; I think someone nearby must have laid baits. Several of the veggies that survived our holiday had fruit on the bushes, but the rats had eaten them. Mainly the eggplant and the capsicum. Luckily there are plenty of fruit still coming on those bushes so the traps are going out again.

The veggie garden now needs quite a bit of renovation but the first three days after we arrived home saw temperatures close to 43C (~110F) and in the high 30’s since so any replanting will have to wait a bit. Also, Stephen was up at the mine last week and will be again this coming week so the rodent trapping program will not be run as thoroughly as it should.

And the rose garden…oh my. Fertilising so thoroughly at this time of year and then going on holidays was not a good idea.  I’ve lost 3 (probably 4) roses and another one is struggling. Those 3 or 4 were the weakest and the other one was showing signs of distress before I fertilised, with new growing tips and shoots dying off. I’m going to have to get into the rose garden a.s.a.p.  and  give buckets of water and prune away any distressed growth.

Distressed rose garden

Distressed rose garden

Watering is, of course, the biggest issue in our dry environment. The native garden is growing beautifully. We planted it for that reason – they are the plants that would naturally be growing in the area.  The little honeyeaters have been visiting in good numbers and have been in very good vocal form. Our Grevillea leucopteris (aka smelly socks) has three flower spikes.

Grevillea leucopteris aka smelly socks

Grevillea leucopteris aka smelly socks

The flowers on these are quite spectacular so we’re really looking forward to having them flower for the first time, but they are apparently not given their common name for nothing, so it’s with some trepidation-mixed excitement that we await the flowers. They grow profusely along the highways here, but we’ve never seen the close enough to smell. Our biggest Corymbia (eucalyptus) Ficifolia has started to flower now as well.

Corymbia (syn eucalypts) ficifolia - summer beauty

Corymbia (syn eucalypts) ficifolia - summer beauty

It’s a pink one, so not quite as showy as the smaller red the we have in but, but still lovely and hopefully with it’s height above the fenceline it will start attracting even more birds. The red is also covered in buds – if only it had grown as vigorously as the pink.

Corrymbia ficifolia (summer beauty) and Grevillea leucopteris (smelly socks)

Corymbia ficifolia (summer beauty) and Grevillea leucopteris (smelly socks)

We’re trying a hose from the washing machine outlet onto the lawn to try to green up the grass. Lawns here in Perth mostly tend to die off in the summer, but in our backyard a brown dry lawn seems to be an invitation for our dogs to dig holds. A green lawn means stronger roots and more resistance to digging.

Backyard

Backyard

Our water restrictions here allow us to use sprinklers (or retic) on 2 rostered days a week, only once a day, either before 9am or after 6pm. We are allowed to water by hand at any time.

Corymbia (syn eucalypts) ficifolia - summer beauty

Corymbia (syn eucalypts) ficifolia - summer beauty

2009 in review

My intentions to blog regularly started off well, but died a slow death. Ah well, they were good intentions.

Front Yard Nov09

Front Yard Nov09

We started the year with mum here. We thoroughly enjoyed her visit but it was inevitable that she’d go home – as she did in mid-January. Then in February we got the not-unexpected news that Stephen’s job would move to Brisbane. Most people in the technical department have been given a ‘move to Brisbane’ ultimatum. At first we were told we’d have to be gone by the end of financial year, then it was by the end of the year. We decided we’d better take a look at BrisVegas to see where we’d like to live. We spent a nice 2 weeks in Redcliffe and decided that we’d like to live in Sandgate. You can read all about the trip here. Of course, the type of house we’d like in Sandgate would be ridiculously expensive so after we came home we settled more on the area between Caboolture and Burpengary. We could get a nice house on and acre (or more) in that area for what we could sell our house here for. As it turns out we won’t be moving – at this stage anyway. Stephen will probably have to work fly-in/fly-out of Telfer as a result. It’s a price we’re not very happy to pay, but our choices are limited, so we’ll give it a try. We wouldn’t mind living in Brisso, but we’ve only been in Perth for just over 2 years now, so it’s a bit soon for a move – tho’ I would prefer to live on the east coast.

In April I started going to Tai Chi.  I used to do Tai Chi many years ago and I’m really enjoying it again. It’s far more challenging than most people think, especially as you advance though the levels and the moved become more complicated and take more coordination and balance. Bev, the instructor, is great. She’s very patient and very encouraging to everyone.

Back Yard Nov09

Back Yard Nov09

Our garden has grown like crazy. It’s been a great success. The native plants have flowered and grown and given us a great deal of joy. Oh sure, there’ve been a few failures, but not many when you consider that we’ve planted over a hundred different varietes on our small suburban block. We think that both front yard and back yard are looking pretty spectacular. Our attraction of birds into the yard progresses slowly, but it does progress. Hopefully over the next year we’ll see more differing varieties as the plants get larger and offer more shelter. Of course we overplanted so the spaces would fill in faster so we have to keep on top of the pruning if we want things to keep looking nice and not get too tangled and woody.

Veggie Garden Nov 09

Veggie Garden Nov 09

The veggie garden has been both abundantly productive and challenging. There’s always something ready to harvest. We grow organically with no chemicals. The only things we spray are Bt for caterpillars, soapy water also to combat caterpillars, occasional horticultural oil on the citrus and pyrethrum for aphids on the roses. Ok, that’s roses, not veggies, but we keep it all organic. oh, and there are the mousetraps we’ve had to use recently to catch the rats who’ve been competing with us for our veggies. We are not growing veggies to support a rodent population. We’ve caught a few small ones, but not as big as the large rat I found dead in an empty water bucket! We’re not using greywater at this stage. I have doubts about the true safety of ‘greywater safe’ detegents and have heard many stories of deaths of trees, roses and shrubs thanks to the mid-long term use of untreated greywater that has supposedly only had ‘safe’ detergents added. Installing a greywater treatment and dispersal system isn’t an option for us in this yard. It would mean digging up the yard to install and is a very expensive option. And of course you can’t use untreated greywater on food crops, so it would be no use on the veggie garden, which is where we really need the watering help. Perhaps by next winter we’ll have some rainwater tanks put in. We just have to figure where we’d put them. We really have very little room for a realistic size of tank capacity. There’s not much point in putting in a piddling little tank that’s going to fill in a shower or two.

Rose Garden Nov09

Rose Garden Nov09

The Brisbane trip was our only holiday this year. It has been almost 3 years now since we had a ‘real’ holiday. I wasn’t working for much of the year, thanks to the economic downturn, but now have a quite good, if somewhat frustrating, job as a technical writer, writing training manuals for a company that does training for the mining industry. The people are nice and I’m close enough to walk from home if I really want to, though riding my bike is the planned option.

Honeyeater in Grevillea Georgiana

Honeyeater in Grevillea Georgiana

We have explored the Perth surrounds a little. The day trips haven’t been frequent, but have been enjoyable.
We visited Yanchep National Park, which is a small park close to home.

Yanchep National Park

Yanchep National Park

We drove up to Toodyay and then home via Gingin. A lovely day wiith WA’s famous wildflowers starting to come into bloom.

Toodyay

Toodyay

We spent another long weekend at Margaret River where Molly and Kaz had a ball chasing rabbits.

Chasing Rabbits

Chasing Rabbits

We spent a pleasant day in New Norcia, the Benedictine monastery town. We’d been planning to visit for a while, but it’s definitely not a place to go in the summer – it’d be way too hot and there’s very little shade.

New Norcia Monastery Gate

New Norcia Monastery Gate

The biodynamic festival at High Vale Orchard was very enjoyable. It’s easy to see that in another couple of years that will be huge.

High Vale Biodynamic Orchard

High Vale Biodynamic Orchard

Our girls are still healthy and happy at 9 years old – loving the beach and digging holes in the back yard. They are dogs after all!

Quinns Rocks Beach

Quinns Rocks Beach

They do have their own digging patch but prefer to dig the lawn just outside their sandpit. Molly has developed a particular passion for hunting bees – she does love flowers in the garden. Kaz still has to be as close as possible to a scratching hand or a rubbing foot – she does love attention.

Kaz

Kaz

Molly

Molly

We’ll be spending a quiet Christmas at home and then we’re off to visit mum for 2 weeks in the New year. – the only holiday we currently have planned. What 2010 has planned for us is anyone’s guess, but we do know that it will be interesting!

Deb and Stephen - RMS Christmas Party

Deb and Stephen - RMS Christmas Party

Merry Christmas to all!

How do you plant your cabbages?…Do you plant them with your elbow?…

I might, if I could buy the cabbages I wanted!
We spent a few hours in the garden today. I wanted to plant some Wong Bok (Chinese cabbage) to replace the ones that were totally decimated by slaters a few weeks ago, but I wasn’t able to find any seedlings. I ended up planting capsicum, leeks and spring onions. We had some success with leeks and spring onions last year and should have even more success this year as I’ve taken more care to thin out the seedlings. Last year our ‘mixed capsicums’ turned out to be chillis so I bought a different type this year.
I took care to dig in any old pea staw and didn’t put new straw on top. I left the surface clear so there was nowhere for the slaters to hide. Thanks to Josh Byrne from Gardening Australia for his advice on dealing with slaters.
Our broad beans are coming along really well. We’re really looking forward to a good crop this year – even better than last year’s. We’ve planted more seeds than last year, they were so yummy.
Last year’s bok choy is still thriving, as is the silverbeet. We just pick leaves when we need them and they keep producing. We can’t keep up with them, and the neighbours continue to get free greens from us.
Today we also did some pruning. The lavenders across the back of the rose garden were getting out of control so we’ve cut them well back. I also cut back a couple of the groundcover grevilleas in the front yard. They were covering the ‘path’ through the garden so I took the shears to them. I’ll need to get stuck into the rose bed in the next few days and prune the roses. They continue to flower, but the flowers are on weak stems and for the most part look very sad. It’s time to get serious give them a hard prune so we’ll have lots of good, healthy flowers in summer.
It’s so nice to get out into the garden after the wet, windy days. The days are crisp at the moment but the sunshine is lovely, as long as it lasts. Once you’re in the shade, tho’, it really is very chilly.

I never offered you a rose garden…

…or a frequent blog post anyway. Here’s a long overdue post.
Speaking of the rose garden…I’ll have to get to and prune the roses soon, but they are still flowering, so it’s a bit hard to chop off all of those buds. The veggie garden is still productive. We have more bok choy and silverbeet than we can use; there are still chillis, though their growth has slowed right down; the winter herbs are thriving and the broad beans are getting taller. We have an empty bed at the moment so I have to get to and plant that up. I did plant out a punnet of wong bok (chinese cabbage) but the slaters destroyed them virtually overnight, so I’ll have to scrape back the straw until the plants become established. It’s impossible to get rid of slaters and they do serve a ‘clean-up’ purpose in the garden. The native garden is also thriving. The wattles are all in varying stages of flower, as are many of the grevilleas – some that we haven’t seen in flower yet. We wait with baited breath for the fat buds on the candelabra to open.
Last weekend we had a visit from a very good friend who used to live in Jabiru with us. She now lives in North Queensland and was on the way to visit her daughter in Kalgoorlie for the birth of a grandbaby. Donna arrived on Friday and left on Monday and I wish she had been able to stay for longer.
Speaking of babies, a couple of other very good friends are now grandparents. Deb was a schoolfriend and Des has been a friend for over 20 years. Their eldest ‘kids’ got together through scouts and married a couple of years ago. They had a baby boy on July 3rd and I’m still waiting to see the photos. *hint hint* Congratulations to James and Jos on that wonderful news.
Last night our neighbour had a ‘ladies night’. Her daughters gave her a dvd of ‘Celtic Woman live at Slane Castle’. She decided to invite a few friends over for tea, company and delightful music. As guests we were asked to bring either a salad or dessert. I made condensed-milk-and-butternut-snap caramel tarts, which went down very well. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of the finished product, so I won’t be posting the very-easy-recipe on the blog. Sorry about that. They aren’t something I make more than once every few years, so please don’t hold your breath for another batch. I enjoyed the evening very much – it was really nice to get out socially.
It’s great to see Sara Douglass actively blogging after her recent illness. Her new Notes from Nonsuch blog is promising to be a very enjoyable journal. I’m so pleased to see that you’re on the mend, Sara. My thoughts continue to be with you.
None of us know what life is going to throw at us, so we all need to make the most of every moment. We’re not always going to make the best choice in what we do, but we can try to make most of our choices positive and healthy.