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That’s parsley in the foreground shade, coriander to the left, tomatoes staked and not so staked, hiding the bed now devoid of potatoes and home to broccoli, onions and lettuce seeds. Behind all that (along the fence) are the olive trees, oregano, thyme and sage.
We’ve been tidying and reorganising inside and out. Pulling out pumpkins, digging up potatoes, tackling the enormous number of weeds that grew when we we turned our backs for a few months, and rearranging the living room. The lounge furniture has been turned clockwise, the dining table and toys have been swapped, and a book nest has been created.
We’ve sorted books, cleared shelves of crap and bought more baskets. The secret to a happy toy collection and art supplies is always more baskets. I’ve even sharpened the pencils and thrown out textas that don’t work.
We’re so freakin’ happy to be home for the whole day doing only things we fancy doing. I got excited. I ignored the list of “basic mainenance level housework” (vacuuming, for example) and did several things on the “once a year level” list. I oiled the wooden bowl collection. I even dusted.
A dear ol’ pal of mine has started a new blog, which I’m reading excitedly, and now that she’s settled in I feel like it’s ok to link to it. So go say hello to Lucid Ephemera, who will satisfy all your just-moved-to-England-and-want-to-eat needs.
In other bragging news, our broccoli has started to flower, and we’ve eaten home grown spinach more than once, so I’m finally starting to feel more settled in to this house and garden. In even more exciting news, the locavore cafe a few blocks away has been stocking larger quantities of local fruit and veg and extended their opening hours to seven days a week, both of which make living locally here so much easier and less car dependent.
This here little gardening blog completely failed to mention last week that Australia’s best loved gardening god retired from television. The blog also failed to mention anything about Peter Cundall’s final episdoe of Gardening Australia, primarily because its author was cooking dinner for her outlaws when it aired and the tv was on Scrapheap Challenge for father-son bonding time (uncle and cousins were highly entertained, auntie was less thrilled).
So other people have written marvellous things about Peter Cundall and his work first, and done it well, and I will add merely that (apparently like many of current young presenters on the show) I grew up watching Peter Cundall’s veggie garden taking over the Botanical Gardens in Hobart and thinking he’d make a pretty cool extra grandfather (I wouldn’t have trade either of my actual grandfathers). My mother is a keen gardener and has watched nearly every episode of Gardening Australia, I watched many of them with her while eating our Saturday evening meal before I left home. She may be their only committed viewer who is determinedly anti-compost heap*, who redesigned the garden and eliminated the veggie patch** and who was less than excited about being provided with free worm castings. I may never succeed in convincing my Mum to keep her own worm farm, or grow edibles beyond the basics***, but all those years of watching GA means I don’t have to explain what the hell it is I’m doing and look like the only person in the world who’s doing it. So perhaps GA deserves a medal for bridging the generation gap. Or at least for encouraging mother-daughter bonding over strawberry plants.
* she’s convinced there’ll be rats. I think there’ll be rats with or without the compost heap, they’re vermin, they’ll find something.
** I retaliated by planting my broccoli and red cabbages amongst the roses, she called me Cabbage Girl for a few months. She didn’t object to eating the bounty.
*** I think she’s slipping though. Last year she made cumquat marmalade from all the fruit on her (previously ornamental) cumquat, I can’t remember the last time she threatened to cut down the lemon tree, and she’s been debating whether to prune her plum tree for maximum fruit production or let it grow for less fruit and more screening. It may surprise you that I argued for screening, but two people don’t eat that many plums.
I haven’t written about it lately because the broad beans just keep growing without intervention, and nothing else is happening.
The snow peas all got eaten by creatures, I planted some more, two or three plants have survived to the 3-4 inch mark and I’m crossing my fingers.
The carrots and daikon are still there. I’m not sure that they are still growing though. There are a lot of weeds around them, but if I try to pull them out I pull veggies as well, so I left well enough alone.
Most of the broccoli plants got to a certain point and then stopped. Some of them got eaten by creatures. None of them look like actually producing anything foodlike. The onions don’t look any bigger than they were when I planted them. The Bloke’s garlic looks ok and like it’s in with a chance.
The lemon and lime trees have got creatures on them again, and could probably do with a feed of some worm juice and a sprinkling of chilli powder on the leaves.
Guess what’s doing best. Go on.
Peas. “But Kate you didn’t plant peas” you say. No I didn’t dear reader, but peas I have in abundance.
The Bloke and son spread some pea straw about the place and it’s all sprouting brilliantly. I’m wondering if we can fit some stakes and string in and potentially get some food out of them. I have no idea what variety they are, but they seem to be doing well.
Oh, also the parsley is looking ok and it self sowed all over half the front yard so there should be parsley in abundance from here on in. The mint, on the other hand, continues to look crap.
We went away on the weekend, the lad played and played and played and saw animals and was entertained by his cousins while we were in the Yarra Valley for a vineyard wedding. The wedding was late afternoon, the sun was getting low and pink behind the grape vines, there was food and wine and lovely company, all followed by a sleep in and kid-free breakfast. We collected the kid, had a good lunch and visited a relative who plied us with more good wine and cheese before I put the roast on for us and another friend.
But then we had to come home. Back to work and study and childcare. None of us were really excited about it. Blergh.
So when feeling rather uninspired (maybe it’s the effect of the drizzly grey sky) I think it’s good to make a list:
* Sort out the worm farm – take everything out, wash the sludge from the bottom layer, put a new layer of newspaper bedding and stick the worms back in with food and the covering layer of newspaper to keep them warm.
* Plant the rest of the broccoli seedlings
* Plant a few more of the snow peas
* Plant some broad beans in the spot where we had the tomatoes over summer
* Mix up a new compost pile with the food scraps that have been Bokashi-ed the remains of the tomato vines and old mulch
* Buy new straw to keep the ground warm
* Get the balcony hanging things for the window box type pot, so it will hang from the railing by the back steps. We’re looking around to find more and more places we can plant, preferably spots that have some sun and are easy to water (emptying the teapot, washing the veggies and so forth, which I tend to do after dark and it’s best if I can stay as close as possible to the house)
After two weekends taken up with weddings, I think we’re overdue for a few days at home, and it looks like we’ll have plenty to do.
I got a bit behind, what with the fence and April being the Month of Connubials*, and my snow peas and the broccoli seedlings were looking a bit sad at not being in the ground in the great outdoors.
The broccoli seedlings had started to look a bit straggly and too big for the pot. The snow pea seeds were tormenting me by not being in the ground and growing and speaking to me of potential food stuffs. I really should plant out another round of carrots and daikon too. But I haven’t.
I did finally get the snow peas and some of the broccoli into the ground on Tuesday. The broccoli aren’t looking good. They look stressed and sad and saggy. I lugged some water out this morning and begged them to come back. But frankly I think I’ll be sticking new seedlings in next week in their place. Don’t tell them I said that. Broccoli can’t read and what they don’t know about my pessimism wont hurt them.
If all else fails I will have to purchase seedlings. Which wasn’t really the point was it?
Also, in case anyone is wondering why I don’t just get out there and do some more planting and water bucket lugging, I buggered my neck a bit the other day. It was very painful. I went to the physio and you know what he said? “It’s what happens watching television with your head turned to the screen, or talking in the car and turning to face the driver, or using a computer in a bad position.” I hadn’t realised that watching telly and conversing with my fellow travellers was so dangerous.
At least it isn’t the gardening… and he made it much better.
*This is a reference to the very funny Australian television show Kath & Kim. Unlike Kath, my friends have not/are not hiring a big white carriage for their weddings. I hadn’t realised that our friends would get married all in a bunch close together (the way all ones friends have 21st birthday parties close together) and now I’m wondering if in middle age I’ll be invited to a whole bunch of second weddings… that’s obviously not intended as a reflection on any of the couples who’ve been recently married in my circle of acquaintance.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned the carrots and daikon (Japanese long white radishes) that I planted in the front yard a few weeks ago. I forgot at the time that when the weather cools, and the rain falls, our front yard sprouts with weeds. So now we’ve got lots and lots of sprouts.
And I have no idea which ones are veggies, and which ones are weeds. I can see some of them are looking like they’ve come up in rows (veggies, obviously) but there’s lots of other sprouts that may be carrots, or daikon, but might not be.
In other news, the broccoli seedlings seem to have survived the week of fence-related neglect, the garlic and onions were planted, the tomatoes have been ripped out, and there was a distribution of bunny manure and mulch over the garden this weekend.
Finally, on a non-gardening note: If you ever find yourself making a quilt in indigo fabrics, and then think “I’ll get a quilting thread that doesn’t show up so no one will see how crooked and uneven my stitching is”, stop, and reflect that you will not be able to see the stitching in progress either. Slowest quilt ever.
I got a call yesterday from my parents, who’ve been patiently minding the wine barrels I was given by their neighbour, to say that Dad had borrowed the ute and would be delivering the barrels to my house. He and the Bloke moved them into position last night. This involved opening the back gate, which the lad finds fascinating, and the Bloke also carried 5 bags of potting mix and a bale of sugar cane mulch in from the car, which is more impressive than gate opening in my opinion. The lad kept trying to escape out the back lane, but we lured him back with the promise of picking and eating his own tomatoes.
So now we have half a dozen broccoli seedlings planted out in half a wine barrel, using some of the concrete space in our yard which makes me cheery, and I need to get another couple of bags of potting mix to finish filling the other barrel. Then we can plant out more broccoli, or the onions & garlic.
We also moved the bbq onto a corner of concrete, so that I can make a new garden bed along the back steps and grow our snow peas up the railing. I also want to stick some window boxes along the top of the rails. We’re trying to use every available milimetre of space, without getting us evicted by the lawn-loving landlord.
I picked 2kgs of tomatoes yesterday. Some will go to the man who gave us the wine barrels. Those barrels are quite expensive, and I’m very grateful.
Our brick fence, which is currently on a disturbing and ever-increasing angle, is being pushed by next door’s banana trees and various other things that are too close to the fence and never pruned. Nearly a year afer we complained about it, someone is coming to fix it tomorrow apparently. The Bloke nearly responded to that phone call with “Really? You’re kidding.” But managed to say “Tomorrow will be fine” instead.
Then there was another miracle. It rained. Real rain. It was orange on the radar. We don’t have a tank, we have a rather more rudimentary system…
Just before the rains came, while the Bloke washed the day’s dust off the toddler, I scurried around in the front yard planting a mixture of daikon radishes, parsnips and carrots. I underestimated the amount of rain we’d get so now I’m convinced that all the seeds will have washed into a corner instead of being nicely spread out. I’ve got visions of all these root crops trying to sprout just behind our front gate.
This weekend we:
* pulled up the eggplants, despite flowering, not one of them produced any fruit
* dug compost into the potato bed and cheered on the self-sown spuds
* optimistically planted some pumpkin seedlings, I’m not confident that they’ll produce any pumpkins over winter, but they will hopefully provide enough ground cover in that corner to keep down the weeds
* re-potted the lemon tree that had become water-logged (the drainage hole was blocked) and was growing fungi, and gave it some worm compost as an apology, it sprouted a new leaf the next day in gratitude, maybe one day it will also produce some fruit
* made what feels like a definite plan about planting for our winter efforts, carrots and radishes in the front yard, snow peas along the back steps, onions and broccoli ah um gosh… possibly in pots
* remembered again that we really do have to borrow my brother’s ute and a trolley to get the half wine barrels home (temporarily at my Mum’s place, inherited from her neighbour) and operational so we can use some of our concrete space more productively
* cheered the capsicums, which are looking good, if a little late and small
* ate chocolate and (not) hot cross (-less) buns between every task
After some software issues, and some wrestling with the old laptop, and some more grieving for the newer laptop that upped and died a coupla months ago, I’ve sorted out the photos.
The Bloke found http://www.fixpictures.org for all my photo re-sizing needs, which is handy, because this computer wouldn’t be happy if we installed any more software. It’s free too, which is always popular.