Saturday, December 18, 2010

Oh my – could I have a creative side?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                                         wreath2


I made this. All from greenery available in the garden and red velvet tree decorations that I have had for years.  (And a bit of fishing line).

I’m so excited because I think it looks pretty – and did I tell you that I made it?

It’s probably not quite round and I do hope that it doesn’t die before Christmas but I suppose there’s plenty more greenery in the garden.

Looking at the picture, I really need to put something green on the veranda – soon. And finish the painting, sigh.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Overkill perhaps?

dome                  dome2

I had mentioned to M that there were plenty of Olive blossoms coming on the tree and that we needed to cover it before the birds realised.

I was expecting a bit of netting thrown over the top of the tree. This is what John and M came up with – The Dome – which is almost a garden feature in it’s own right!

I have gently pointed out that Blackbirds are known to hop along the ground but M is positive that the netting and the one hanging cd in the centre will deter all pesky vermin. I have added another shiny hanging “thing” from the bottom to also deter.

We shall see.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ta da!

grrowinghouse3     growinghouse4


We were lucky to have unexpected guests from Queensland on the weekend. Every time they come, which is usually around Christmas, they help us with little “projects”. Well, at 6.30am, last Sunday, John woke M and said that it was time to get the plastic on as the wind was going to get stronger as the day moved on.

Two hours later they were back inside having breakfast and one hour after that they were both comfortably lying back in the recliners having their siestas!

Before the day ended I had all the extra tomatoes, eggplants, corn, cucumber, cauliflower and rock melons planted. The only thing that remains is another door for the rear of the house and woodchips on the weed mat on the floor. I love it. Thanks John and Cathy for helping us so much last week – even though you’re on holiday!

Stay tuned as tomorrow I’ll feature the other little “project”.


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Monday, December 6, 2010

It’s slowly happening

       growinghouse                                                       growinghouse2


Over the past week M has only been able to spend a few hours working on the new grow house. We are now at the point that the plastic can be placed carefully over the top. This is the part that I am definitely not looking forward to – we will have to ensure that it is not a windy day and try and get it as taut as possible before it is stapled to the wooden battens. Then I will be able to plant my eggplants in the warmth of the tunnel.

Meanwhile, I dug up 20 of my garlic this morning as they looked pretty ready, and one beetroot. I have never grown either before and I am very happy with the results so far. I do have about another forty garlic to go but I will leave them a bit longer as they are a different variety and need to grow a bit more. I’m leaving the rest of the beetroot too – I was just impatient with the one below. It’s a Chioggia beetroot and I hope that it has the telltale stripes.

beetroot I have also taken the rest of my tomatoes out of the cold frame to harden up a little before planting.


And now it’s back outside to plant some beans.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Beginning - and an end.


This is the beginning of my new grow house. M is constructing it with guidance from Joe. As you can see, we use old water tanks that M has cut in half as my raised beds.The two in the front of the photo hold potatoes and New Zealand yams (old men’s toes) and the one on the right has tomatoes, cauliflower and one, yes one, zucchini.I’m happy to say that most of the vegetables growing at the moment have flowers coming.

Inside the grow house are another three water tank raised beds and then down one side, on the North, I have an ordinary garden bed prepared for corn, rock melon and beans etc. On the other side of the grow house are a couple of smaller tanks and one of those will become my dedicated strawberry tank. I’m not sure yet about the other, maybe blueberries.

I have more tomato seedlings growing happily in the cold frame and two or three eggplants. I’m hoping for more if my seeds come through. I’ve already planted three apple cucumber plants in one of the tanks that will be in the grow house and I’ve also raised a couple of cold weather rock melon which are waiting for the construction to finish.

On the other side of the garden are more tomatoes; that dehydrator of mine is going to be busy this year – I hope. There’s also broccoli, lettuce, beetroot, rainbow chard (finishing), broad beans (finishing), peas, snow peas, sugarsnaps, and lots of garlic. I’ve planted some scarlet runner beans against the old grape vine with another zucchini but that one will be for the “girls”. I’ve covered it with some mesh at the moment but will remove the mesh when it’s a bit larger and more established.

The herbs are also doing well except my coriander has already run to seed. I’m going to plant some more and put them on the shady side of the house I think. I use so much coriander I can never have too much. I’m feeling optimistic about everything growing this year, we’re going to have so many plums and apples and even the young nectarine and peach trees have fruit coming. So I anticipate being very busy in the kitchen later this year. 

And now onto the end – the end of the life of one of my favourite people here where I live. Peggy was in my book group for a few years and she told the most wonderful stories. She was 87 years old when she died last week and was born in Canada in 1923, moved with her husband and family to a farm in New Zealand in the ‘70’s, I think, and then to our town just seven years ago. You can imagine the stories that she told of raising four children on one wage throughout some tough years. The stories of saving up to buy a chair from the local second-hand shop and walking through the deep snow to get the children to school.

I was at her house yesterday with most of her family and friends to celebrate her life. Peggy was a quiet activist, achiever, book lover and according to her kids “The best Mom in the world”. Yesterday I learned that she had been a cheer leader at school, had met her husband at a local dance and chosen him because he had the best moustache in town and had taken all her kids on the anti Vietnam war rallies. The children, who are now in their forties and fifties, all said that Peggy had made being a mother her career. She knew it was important to instil good morals and ethics and to promote respect. Being a mother she taught her daughters and one son how to be good parents – and they love her for it.

Peggy died quickly and with the names of her children on her lips as she drifted away. She never wanted a big fuss, she was a mother to the end.

RIP Peggy, I’ll miss you and your stories so much.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Just call me Commandant

Well, the deed is done. Lulu is ensconced in the small chook/rabbit pen with her nine – yes nine eggs. So far she is not happy and is busy eating, drinking and pacing about. There are six white eggs and three brown and I hope that in a little while she will settle down and sit.

The pen looks very nice at the moment and a good size but I still feel like the commandant of a prison. Thelma has been excluded and Eddie has decided that she will start her bullying again. I just hope that Ron pulls her back into line – soon!

I haven’t taken any photo’s yet. I will when things settle down. Everyone is all fluffed up and cackling at the moment so I’m leaving them alone. We made sure that Ron and Eddie were outside when we did the big move, but there was still a lot of noise and they came running to see what was going on. They seem as upset that they can’t get in as she is because she can’t get out. Mind you, Lulu has a few treats in there with her and she is enjoying the food, wheat, apples, cabbage and water. Perhaps they’re just jealous even though they have exactly the same on the outside!

I’ll let you know if she settles or whether the whole exercise has been a disaster and the end of the nine chickens.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chooks – Bad Tempered and Broody!

So, Louise (Lulu) has decided to become a mother. I just hope her mood improves once the eggs crack open! Naturally she has chosen the favourite nest to sit on and Eddie and Thelma will NOT use the other nest thank you very much! So from time to time I go up and see if I can get to the daily eggs before Louise. Nuh. She must have close to ten under her now, if not more. I haven’t been able to collect any eggs since last Thursday 11th November.

Thelma is pretending to be broody and goes and sits with Louise – for hours. But when I turn up with little goodies for them she soon jumps down. I don’t think that Louise actually wants her up there but as it’s rather a confined space, can’t do much about it!

But I have a plan. I’m waiting for a small hutch to arrive. It has two separate compartments which can be made into one, a top that comes off and a side door that opens. So once it’s here and I’ve put it together with the help of my trusty screwdriver, M will be called into action. I will put the hutch into the chook shed, fill the bottom with straw and then let the others out of the chook shed so that there’s just Louise and us pesky humans. This is part of the safety plan as I don’t know how Ron the rooster will react when he hears Louise going crazy and they can do nasty things with their spurs.

Then, using a towel to keep her wings from flapping about and getting her really upset, I will pick her up and M will transfer the eggs to the nest prepared in the hutch. I will then put her back onto the eggs (after counting them) and in the other compartment put some food and water and then open the door so that she can get to them.

Now, that’s the plan. Will it work? I’ll let you know, but I’m sure that everyone in the neighbourhood will know what’s happening. Louise is really, really grumpy. She even pecked me when I was holding some wheat out to her! So there’s bound to be quite a racket.

Once the eggs have hatched, Louise and her babies can stay in the hutch in the chook shed and have quality time without the others being able to bully them.

The tricky part will be sexing them as I certainly don’t want any more roosters! I was going to Google the subject but became worried about what might turn up if I typed in chicken sexing! My friend suggested using the word gender instead but then I worried that I might get some very unusual trannie web sites! I think, this time, I’ll go back to the written word.

So in 21 days (less now) I could become a grandmother – again.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Would I lie to you?

p1010162 This dog is a thief! Here he looks innocent and honest but I know better. His crime had a devastating effect on his digestive system and the evidence was left lying in the garden for all to see.

I came home from work this week and thought that I would see if any of the broad beans were ready for eating. Upon viewing the vegetable garden I wondered at the fact that there were quite a few long stems of beans lying flat. It hadn’t been overly windy that day and it was dry. What had happened? Then I saw that there were no beans on any of the stems that were on the ground. No beans?

I puzzled for a while, picked some beans and went inside to prepare them for dinner. The chooks were happy to receive the empty pods and I thought no more about it – until M asked if I had fed Terry some broad beans. A lot of broad beans.

“No” I said, “I don’t think he likes them”.

“Well” said M, “there are a number of piles of dog vomit around the yard and it’s all broad beans!”  (apologies to the faint and/or those with vivid imaginations).

Sure enough, there was the evidence that somebody had decided to have a little smorgasbord prior to my return. And he must be feeling rather poorly as he hadn’t performed the other disgusting dog habit of cleaning up after himself!

I decided to see if he would take the broad beans if I offered him some. No, oh really, gone off them now?

I think the beans will be safe from now on ……


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Coming up Stumps!




The photo above was taken one week after M decided to cover the stump with sawdust and light it. It has considerably reduced in size but it is still burning. Our neighbours must be absolutely fed up with the smoke but we’ve had no complaints so far.

With all the machinery that was used to drag the cut branches out of the way we now have no grass on the block. So M has sown grass seed as he doesn’t want a dust bowl in summer. But this means that the chooks are confined to barracks! And they’re not happy!

The building that can be seen in the second picture is the back of the local police station. We had to take some of the fence down to bring the final large piece of tree down. M will have to replace it soon as the local “copper” usually has sheep in his back yard to keep the grass down!

We are now ready to construct a grow house – well I am anyway. M seems to be dragging his heels a bit so I have to keep mumbling “eggplants, eggplants” in the hope that his desire to have a constant supply will motivate him!

I’ll let you know ……



Monday, October 25, 2010

It’s almost done


At 9am this morning.


A little bit later


About 3pm – there’s a man up there somewhere.


Could be around 5pm now


The sun is on my veggies


The sun is blinding me! But there’s just the trunk left and it’s time to call it a day!

All the men are outside and I’ve only just found out that they are actually staying the night! They bought take away and I was starting to worry about the beer that they were drinking and then driving back to Hobart. So at 8.15pm M tells me that they’re going to camp in the garden. Sigh, I would have cooked dinner for all of us if I had known. Men!

There’ll be more pix tomorrow – of the pile of mulch which is growing very fast.

It’s just soooooooo good – the tree has gone – forever.


It's happening!

They're here! I have three extra men on site and one of them is up the tree. Limbs are coming down and the sound and smell of chainsaws are in the air.
No photo's yet, I'm not allowed near the event as I don't have a hard hat.

Hopefully M is remembering to take the odd photo for me ........

Stay tuned


Friday, October 22, 2010

Recovering Nicely

From this last weektomatoes3





To this today   tomatoes4

tomatoes5 I just don’t know which tomato is which! I have put some more seeds in, labelled, so they had better hurry up and grow. Although we will be getting a large grow house once the pine tree is down.

Hopefully very soon.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Never count your chickens ……..

Yesterday I was excited because the sick old pine tree was coming down today.

We have been waiting a long time to get rid of this horrible tree and were excited to think of the new sunshine and grow house that we could finally erect. My little tomatoes are ready to move on to the garden.

And then, at 7.30pm last night the arborist called. They weren’t coming, he had been unable to hire the machinery needed to remove the branches up the garden to the mulching machine. “It’s a public holiday (Hobart Show Day) and they’re all out until next week”.

Some (private) expletives later M had pinned him down to maybe Tuesday/Wednesday next week. He also asked for a phone call to confirm – and not just the night before the event!

So we wait.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It’s coming down tomorrow!


This is the old, ugly and sick pine tree that blocks all the sunshine from my vegetable garden (and washing line) from about three o’clock every day. When we have sunshine that is.


sick tree3

Tomorrow the arborist is coming to take it down. We won’t be sorry to see it gone. It fills the gutters with pine needles and every time there is a strong wind I wonder if it’s going to still be there the next day. It has been a bit of a worry as it is pretty close to houses around it and it looks so sick I’m surprised it is still standing.

pink tree On the subject of trees – can anyone identify this one on the left? From bare branches in winter, the first thing to appear is this pretty pink foliage, which slowly turns to green. It’s quite small in our garden, it had been strangled by weeds when we moved in, but I have seen it quite tall around town. That’s the grand old oak tree in the background looking as beautiful as ever.

And to finish the post a shot of the pretty apple blossom on the Gravenstein tree.


We have some top weather coming up over the next few days so hopefully with the tree gone all my seedlings will burst into life. Fingers crossed everyone.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Babies and more babies


Rescued tomatoes, zucchini and beetroot (from the DISASTER)

Growing merrily in the cold frame


lettuce seedling

Lettuce seedlings (and my big foot) just peeking through outside


Pea seedlings that have grown in the kitchen


Teeny tiny strawberry seeds just turning green in the kitchen


Little baby pears on the tree.

Now for all of the above photographs, me being just a “point and take the photo” kind of person, will probably have to be clicked on to be able to see what I’m trying to show.

It’s these little seedlings that make me feel that perhaps Spring is here. And then I listen to the weather forecast – and guess what – more snow a-coming tonight!



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Guilt can be a wonderful thing!

cold frame This is my new cold frame sitting in front of the chook shed. It has all my little seedlings inside and they are doing very, very well!

But where did it come from I hear you ask. After the DISASTER with the plastic grow house which I had tried to repair only to have the shelves collapse and pots fall on top of each other, I was miserable – big time. I might even have had a little bit of a sulk – maybe – perhaps. Particularly after a certain person who shall remain nameless (but He lives in this house) commented that “He told me that it wouldn’t work”. Even as I stood there numb!

The next day that certain person, who shall remain nameless, had to go up to Hobart for a vital screwdriver or some such tool. When he returned I was outside talking to a friend so I didn’t see him empty the boot – but she did. And of course I had already told her of the DISASTER and his reaction. So she dragged me around the corner of the house and there it was – beautiful.

Once more I was struck dumb. Twice in two days, most unusual. So it was quite a while before I remembered my manners and thanked him for thinking of me.

(But I still think guilt had a lot to do with this purchase though!)


ps. They’re doing so well I’ve had to remove the zucchini seedlings from the big pots and most of the tomatoes (mixed up as they are) are developing well too, yay!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Is this Hemlock?

hemlock I know it has to be a weed of sorts as it grows prolifically all over the garden without any attention at all! It doesn’t care if it’s clay or sand, rocky or loam, dry or wet – it just grows and grows.

It looks very lush and quite pretty. I’ve had many a question from people visiting who think it’s carrots or asparagus! I know that it’s not and I had a look on the interweb but I’m still not sure.

If it is hemlock it’s supposed to be toxic to human and animals alike! The chickens aren’t the slightest interested and neither are the cat and dog.

There’s just so much of it around, if I do have to try and eradicate it I think it may take the rest of my life!

So any tips or even confirmation that it is this nasty toxic weed would be appreciated.



Friday, October 8, 2010

October Snow on Adamson’s Peak

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         This photo was taken on Wednesday. It looks bright and sunny but boy was it cold. The wind was icy. This was after a wonderful, warm weekend too.

You can never tell down here, just when you think it’s safe to plant seedlings, it changes. Everyone knows that you don’t plant until after Hobart Show Day, which is around the third week in October. It looks like they could be right!

I hope that you can see the snow on the peak. There’s not a lot but it’s there!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Room to let?

P1010082 This is a little nest that has been in the Golden Delicious tree ever since we’ve been here. I think it was used the first spring, we weren’t living here then as M was still renovating, and I was busy pruning back the trees that had been neglected for many, many years. But last year and this it has remained empty.

I’ve tried not to disturb it but maybe because of the radical pruning it doesn’t give the same coverage or protection that it used to have. If it was a sparrow’s nest it’s not so bad as I think that they all like to hang out in the chook shed now! It’s not too bad in there at the moment but I don’t think that it’s due to Ron’s (the rooster) prowess as a defender of the girls, but more to the fact that the seasons are somewhat confusing at the moment.

After a number of beautiful, warm, sunny days we’re back to freezing winds, rain and possible snow today. I was just outside checking the girls and I can tell you I didn’t tarry long! I have to go back to work this morning, an extra task that the boss has asked me to do, and with the weather like this I don’t mind that much.

Little D is coming after school again today – it seems to have become a regular visit now which is nice for M. The weather like this though means that he is off the hook with regards to the fact that he hasn’t made the swing in the willow tree for her yet! It also means that he won’t have to take her outside so that she can practice her tightrope walking along the rope strung up between two fence posts! The first time I saw her doing it with Poppa M holding her hand I thought that if her mother ever sees this she’ll never be allowed to visit again! But little D has already told Mum that she is going to be a circus performer – or a hairdresser. My little 8 year old granddaughter A, in Adelaide is also going to be a hairdresser – or a police woman. The grandsons haven’t decided yet but I do think that motor bikes might come into the picture sometime. Unfortunately.

P1010087 I’m, glad that I have left the tonic water bottles on the snow peas, sugar snap peas and squash for now. Even though the peas are growing so fast that I’m worried that they might grow right out of the top of the bottle. Hopefully by the weekend we can assume that this might be the last blast of winter – again - and I’ll be able to remove the covers.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Help – my cabbages have no hearts!

P1010086 As can be seen from the photograph, there’s lots of lovely, large outer leaves but nothing firming up in the centre. They’re Savoy cabbages and they have been in the garden for a few months now but the inner circle of leaves are just loose.

Does this mean that they are never going to firm up? I will soon need the space for summer veggies but the cabbages look so healthy I’m putting off pulling them all up yet. The chooks love them as they have already had a few that have gone to seed and I will keep others for seed later, but I’d really like to have a good cabbage on my plate!

If they don’t get firmer can I just use the leaves as they are? (Boy that shows that I still have a lot to learn about gardening – and cooking!).

Any tips and hints will be greatly appreciated.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

One Week Later


Last week I was saying that our oak trees were not even close to green. After a few days of a fair bit of rain and then four days of glorious sunshine we can see that it won’t be long until they’re in full bloom. If you click on the pictures you will see a clearer picture – I hope. I always seem to have the wrong glasses on when I go outside to take photographs.

P1010077 The crab apple tree is blossoming well too. Last year there was hardly any blossom and no apples. I don’t know if that is normal for crab apple trees, one good year and then one bad – I’ve never had a crab apple tree before. The only trouble is that I still have a few jars of the crab apple jelly that I made a couple of years ago still in the pantry.


The pear tree is beautiful too. I’ve never had one pear off this tree. It has only ever had about six on the tree for the two summers that we have been here and they always fall off before they are anywhere near ripe. But this year I have pruned hard and cleared a lot of other useless, ugly shrubs away so there is more light and air. Maybe this year it will be different. I hope so as it has had it’s first warning already!

Whilst I was outside the chooks were having a wander (again). They do like to go as close to the road as I’ll let them. In this photo I’ve just given them a call to come back NOW!

P1010085 I think we have a bit more sun tomorrow before the colder change arrives. But I have to go to work so I won’t be out in the garden tomorrow, bummer!

Oh well, I think the weekend is looking good…….


Thursday, September 30, 2010



Today was the first day of sunshine and no wind. I planned to put the little seedlings into larger pots and then into the grow house to toughen them up before going into the veggie beds.

disaster2 Well, this week all plans seem to have gone out of the window. I had to go to work earlier than usual yesterday because at 1.30pm I had to go to a funeral service. This meant that this morning I had to go back and finish the work. Then a very dear friend arrived, distressed, so another couple of hours slipped by.

Finally, I gathered the necessary tools together and carefully carried the seedling trays out to the table. I put about 80 tiny tomato seedlings into the two larger pots, they were very small plants. I labelled them carefully and added a couple of zucchini seedlings and placed them carefully in my newly re-constructed grow house. I also added cauliflower and broccoli seedlings above them.

M’s grand-daughter was coming after school so I went inside to get afternoon tea ready and when she arrived we had a chat and I went up to the chook house to give them the apple peelings.

Which was when I saw that the whole grow house had collapsed on itself and that all the tomato seedlings (which I had carefully labelled this year) were covered under the soil from the pots. I could have cried. M had gone out with his grand-daughter and the dog but when they arrived home they came to see why I was on my knees carefully putting soil back into pots.

Naturally, M had to say it. “I told you it wouldn’t work”. It didn’t help my mood and if little D hadn’t been here I think that some very rude words might have passed my lips.

They had already said that they were going to cook dinner (which is going to be curried sausages – not a favourite of mine) and I dread what it will be like. Since moving in together M has been very content to let me do all the cooking. I think this might be the first meal that he has cooked in about 21 months and he’s never cooked curried sausages before!

I tried to make a couple of suggestions but as they were not appreciated I left the kitchen and came to type my post.

I think we might have to scramble some eggs later………


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Oak trees & Fig & Walnut Loaf

oak tree4

The other day Laura from Our Wee Farm blog had a post that showed her wonderful oak tree already green in Northland New Zealand. I commented that our three were still bare here in far south Tassie. Here’s the proof.


Don’t let the blue sky fool you. When I took this photograph at 11am this morning, the temperature outside was 8 degrees C.


I did promise a photo of the Fig & Walnut Loaf that I made last Friday once I had cut it. So here it is after sampling it this morning for morning tea. (During which three different friends turned up one after the other – and the kitchen isn’t that big!)

cut fig & walnut

                                             fig & walnut loaf cut

The general consensus was that it was still a bit dry. It was recommended that perhaps sherry or whiskey poured through the cracks might help. I think that if I leave it wrapped up for another couple of days that it might moisten up sufficiently. If not, well we still have the duty free whiskey on hand!