Friday, 30 November 2012

Spring sum up

It has become a habit of mine to do an end of season sum up.  This is really so that I can work out what the successes were so I can plan for the next season. Also to note things I have learnt. Here is my spring sum up.

The early spring pickings were:
  • cauliflower
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • snowpeas
  • celery
These were really my late winter crops maturing in early spring. All these were second or third plantings. The caulis were smaller than earlier in the year and also a little yellowish. The broccoli heads, with the warmer weather I guess, matured faster that the earlier planting, meaning that if you didn't keep an eye on them, they quickly developed past my preferred stage - tight flowers. The cabbage were wonderful and arguably more flavoursome that the earlier season ones? And the snow peas - well they were fabulous and trouble free - but I always find them that way.  I realised I planted far more celery than I needed and as a consequence many went on to seed before I really got to them.

In later spring these crops were coming on:
  • radish 
  • beetroot 
  • fennel
I love the look of all these vegetables - the fat red-purple of beetroot, the bright red orbs of a baby radish and thick green-white bulbs of fennel.

  • stink bugs -  I got onto these quite early , while they were still at their green and orange stage and thus they caused limited damage only
  • aphids - these were a bit of a problem on the late broccoli
  • snails - hiding in between pots they had regular might feats on my lettuce

What I learnt
  • attack your stink bugs early and you will win
  • attack them well protected
  • fennel, if  harvested by cutting off at the roots, re-sprouts and yields multiple heads of the one root mass
  • your brassicas that you plant early and the ones you plant later really do perform quite differently
  • transporting plants in the back tray of a ute is not a great idea
  • what wind burn looks like
  • eggplants aren't as tough as they look
  • zucchinis are tougher than they look
  • Currawongs are very amusing birds
Special pleasures
  • Currawongs - everything they do, even their tanties
  • Holbrook poppies
  • bright new radish
  • blueberries
Big changes
This spring was the last season in my Sydney patch. This small patch has provided such joy. It has been my solace, my quiet time, my distraction and excuse, my place to get dirty, my refuge after a long day at work and the first place I went to after being away from home. A place of secrets, a ritual of forgetting and the occasional tear. Thank you my Sydney garden.

Late this spring we moved to our new patch in the bush.  It will bring so many new challenges - tackling new vegetables, fruit beyond citrus and nuts. There will be things to learn about the land and the very special plants in our protected box grassland. Exciting and daunting at the same time.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Zucchini Tuesday - safe in bed

This week on Zucchini Tuesday -  bed rest.

I have spent some of our first week at our new place making beds for the veggies I raised in Sydney. Some of these plants travelled in luxury inside a car with air conditioning. Those that received this kind of treatment were the herbs and the tomatoes.

Others less fortunate were relocated on the back of a ute - 4 hours of being whipped around in the wind. My poor Greenskin zucchini suffered badly and ended up looking very wind burnt and pale.

 Greenskin certainly needed  to get into bed. A bed was hastily constructed, mostly from free materials.

The bed was started  off with flattened removals boxes and topped up with layers of sheep pooh from the shearing shed, a little blood and bone and grass clippings (we've been doing fire protection mowing!).  The boarders of the bed came from the broken bridge that was wiped out by the March floods.

After a few days bed rest I can see that Greenskin has improved!

While Greenskin's outer leaves are still pale and wind whipped, the newer leaves in the centre are a lovely dark green.

And new flowers are looking hopeful for some zucchini produce.

Just to be sure, I am also raising a new greenskin.  The new greenskin is still underground.

What's happening with your zucchinis / courgettes? Any nice produce? Do you have yellow skinned ones? Or tricolour? Cooked any good meals with your zucchini glut yet? Leave a comment or link up with Mr Linky.

Monday, 26 November 2012

What's there?

"What's there?" I hear you asking. "What's already  growing in your new patch?"
Well very little really - there are 4 peach trees with fattening fruit,

three crab apple trees ( I can see crab apple jelly!),

Jerusalem artichokes growing rapidly towards the sky,

and a few  little potato plants.

All these I have mulched and manured with sheep pooh from the shearing shed. May they all grow and prosper and be safe from the fruit fly.

Does anyone know what to do with a Jerusalem artichoke? I think I am going to have a few of them...

Saturday, 24 November 2012

About our patch

After a week of moving and making the first marks on our patch in summer time heat, we are tired. We took a little time out today to take a dip in the creek and have a simple picnic, but we are too tired to blog on too much.

I am doing a lazy post tonight.  I have added a new page to my blog - About our patch. Take a look and read a little about our new place.

It's nice to be physically (rather than mentally) tired. I already feel my fitness improving.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Lizards and pumpkin beds

There is so much to write about, so much activity and also so much wildlife to report on. I have decided to focus on just two things today - lizards and pumpkins. So first lizards.

"If I sit very still you will think I am a piece of bark".

This handsome lizard is sitting on the tension pole of our home fence line. I first noticed him/her while I was making a few mounds for my pumpkins and melons - but more of that later.

I started taking photos of this lizard from quite a distance, but s/he let me get very close. It obviously thought I thought I would think it a piece of wood. It's about 18 inches long. It's still sitting on the fence as I type.

Yesterday I also spotted a big goanna in the front yard. I have pasted a photo here from wikipedia - I didn't have time to take a photo of my visitor. They can get to 2 meters in length, but yesterday's lizard was probaby 1.5 mts.

The goanna was very interested in the nesting dirrijirris (willie wagtails). Thankfully for the dirrijirris, I startled the goanna and it headed off into the long grass while being swooped by a magpie, then headed up a tree.  Note to self -  goannas and chickens.... hmmm a problem on the horizon.

There is another lizard I have noticed around the house.  One has take up sunbathing on the front steps.  It is quite a robust spotted skink . Again I have no photo.

And  now to pumpkin beds. I am rather hastily trying to get some vegetable beds made and veggies started. I am probably taking too many short cuts but I am desperate to get started. I hope there is some sensible method in my madness, although there may not be. I have never grown pumpkins before but I am guessing that they need a rich mix and need room to sprawl? And a bit of drainage to avoid that mildewy-ness that other cucurbits get?

Today I decided to convert a large 'waste' pile of prunnings, dried grass, lawn mover clippings and ash from the wood fire into pumpkin and melon beds.

I raked the dry material into three separate piles and topped the piles of dried matter with soil from the pile and lots of sheep poo. This is available in abundance in a deep layer under the shearing shed. I suspect I will never exhaust the supply - it's enough to make a gardeners heart sing.

I am hoping that with some time, these piles will make a nice home for pumpkins and melons -  the pile and the poo making a good rich soil.  The mound looks like a mini  mallee fowl mounds so I am hoping that their method of incubating eggs will also result in great pumpkins.

I planted seeds that came to me from Bek -  two different pumpkins -  Buttercup and Australian Butter and a melon - Tigger. Thanks Bek! Let's see how they go. As pumpkins need a long season to mature and as Highfield is quite frosty, I will push these pumpkins as fast as I can once they are up, with liquid manure and nettle tea - plenty of nettle weeding to do.

Anyone got any pumpkin growing advice? And melons?  And does anyone have any tips in keeping the chickens safe from goannas - they are so strong.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The travelling zucchini

Welcome to Tuesday - day of the zucchini. As I mentioned last week in Love your zucchini, this humble vegetable is in need of character restoration. As a result,  I have vowed to post on the zucchini each Tuesday over late spring and summer as a consequence. On growing, eating, dealing with the glut.

This week -  how does a zucchini cope with travelling for 4 hours on the back of a ute? Well, my 'Greenskin' is still alive and erect, but many of its leaves are, I guess, wind burnt,

and many of its male flowers have shrivelled. I think it will survive, but, will it thrive and produce great zucchinis? We will see.

Just to compare the zucchini with fellow travellers, let's compare with the eggplants.  Now you'd think that an eggplant would do better than a zucchini wouldn't you?  They are pretty tough, have downy stems and thick leaves so you think it would fare better on  a road journey?  Take a look at this!

What's happening with your zucchini? Any distasters? Brisbanites - did yours get smashed by hailstones? Or are yours hale and hearty? Any picking going on? What zucchini related content do you have. Let me know what's happening either via a comment or via a link to your zucchini post using Mr Linky.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Hi from Highfield

Today is the first day that we 'own' our new property - Highfield.  The last week has been a flurry of 'ings'-  sorting, wrapping, packing, boxing, stacking, driving, unstacking, unboxing, unwrapping, re-sorting,  cupboarding. My hands are sore from paper cuts and cleaning fluid but we are content if  tired.

Soon, I will introduce our new home to you. But right now I want to introduce you to some of our neighbours. This was the first little fella that waved to me on arrival - a lovely big praying mantis. Don't you love his topnot?

Then, I quickly noticed the willie wagtail nest being built. Right outside our front balcony, a pair of conscientious willies are constructing a beautiful nest in a hakea.  The books say that willies build their nests from mud and soften it with a quilt of spiders web. Indeed we see these little, bright birds return to their 'cottage' under construction with beaks of white sticky fluff.  They beat their little heads and chests over the edge to transfer the web and smooth it off, creating a felty home. There seem to be a few galah chest feathers in the wall of the nest, little specks of gala-pink against the pale grey of web - very pretty.

It feels right that we are nesting in our new home the same time the Willies are.

We are on Wiradjuri land, a large country of the original indigenous owners. The Wiradjuri call the Willie Wagtail  - dirrijirri - which, if you have ever heard a Willie's calls, is onomatopoeic.

We are tempted to call our little cottage Dirrijirri House.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Love your zucchini

Zucchinis get a bit of a bad wrap. They take a lot of space in your patch, yield unmanageable gluts of mild tasting vegetables and turn your back on them and they produce clubs.

They have also been the victims of poor cooks - remember those large saucepans full of ratatouille  from your shared house goes vego days?  Ratatouille is forever known as 'rats tails'  among my uni days friends as a result.

This summer I have decided to take on a zucchini character restoration project.

Each Tuesday over the southern late spring and summer, I am going to post on the zucchini. I welcome your contributions to this project of improving the status of this vegetable and will set up a Mr Linky in time for next week's post. Perhaps you have a favourite recipe, a lovely photo, a growing tip?

To get this started, I took the camera out this morning and took some photos of my zucchini -  Greenskin.  I thought I better capture its appearance before it moved - it might not be looking so chipper after a long drive!

Love your zucchini, love eating your zucchini. Northern hemisphere folk -  how have you dealt with your glut over the last warm season? Antipodeans -  what varieties are you growing? What are you looking forward to making with your zuccs?

Monday, 12 November 2012

Everyone's a winner babe...

Last Friday I resolved to give away some of my Holbrook poppy seeds to those who told me of the flowers they grow in their patch.  It feels like a nice act to give away some of my  seeds as one of the last Sydney garden acts.

There was a lovely selection of flowers that respondents mentioned. Very popular were sunflowers -one of my favourites too. This photo of  sunflowers is a bunch that came from my patch in January. I love the bronze tones of these ones.

Nasturtiums and violas also seemed popular. I haven't grown nasturtiums for a very long time but agree, they are so lovely.  Does anyone really pickle their buds as a substitute for capers?

This picture of violas is again from my garden.  They are always in my late winter early spring garden and self seed like crazy.

File:QueenAnnsLace.jpgSeveral people mentioned flowers I am not really familiar with, such as Queen Anne's Lace - it is very pretty and apparently  related to the carrot. The other flower I was unfamiliar with was cosmos. Here they are - also pretty -  I agree, I like the fine foliage too! I think I will try both of these pretties.

Cosmos flower

I had promised to give away three little packets, but as my seed collecting has been quite successful and as I had 4 respondents, everyone's a winner! Kate, Liz, Kirsty and Bec, send me an email with your postal address and a little pack of Holbrook poppy seeds is on its way to you! (

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Potting up, moving out

My patch is pretty empty now. I have harvested the last of my savoy cabbages and beetroot and now the only things left in the patch are some herbs (mint, Vietnamese mint, thyme, chives, parsley), some flowers (poppies, lupins, the end of the violas and pansies) and some self-seeded tomatoes from last year's crop. I hope that the new residents will like what is left and feel excited about planting up their favourite things into the patch.

Everything that I would have in the ground at this time of the year has been raised in pots ready for the move.

I have these vegetables ready for the move:
  • eggplants
  • tomatoes 
  • chillies 
  • fennel
  • spring onions
  • zucchini

and these herbs:
  • parsley - Italian and curled
  • mint - Vietnamese and just mint
  • basil
  • sage
  • dill
  • thyme
  • chives
  • garlic chives
  • marjoram / oregano - I never know which -  do you?
  • rosemary
  • lavender
  • bay
  • yarrow

and then there is some fruit:
  •  Collette the finger lime (this is probably overly optimistic as I am not sure how she will handle the frosts!)
  • the blueberries

I have cut some right back -  the chives and bay have received a big haircut today. Others have been staked, well watered and mulched over some time so they might be more tolerant of the drive. I hope that it will be a mild day the day we move.

I am hoping that they all survive and that the vegetables will settle into a new, no-dig  raised bed  which will be hastily constructed soon after arrival. The herbs I am likely to keep in pots for a while. And then there will be other things to get started  as soon as I get organised at the new place - beans, corn, pumpkin, rock melon, cucumber ...

I will be leaving behind my special, special espaliered lime trees and my fabulous lemon tree. These citrus plants have given such pleasure.

This final picture is of my last harvest - 3 savoy cabbages and some baby beetroot.

Bye my Sydney garden - friend and comforter.


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