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5 October 2007

The lay of the land

I love being able to eat the food we grow in our own backyard. It's hard work sometimes, and we do have occasional failures, but generally things go according to plan and the hard work pays off in fresh organic food. Above is the last of the most recent crop of kipflers potatoes. Last night I turned some of them into a potato salad that we had with a spinach pie. The pie was made with half English spinach and half silverbeet, Welsh onions, garlic, and eggs, all from our back yard and picked just before I cooked dinner. The cheese in the pie was a local cow's milk feta and some imported Parmesan. The potato salad was made with our backyard radishes and green onions with homemade mayonnaise. A thoroughly satisfying meal, on all levels.

I have a full day today with gardening, sewing, cleaning and writing. I'll knit while I'm resting. I've just made bread and it's on the first rise now, soon I'll make the bed and clean our bathroom.

A native frangipani growing on the edge of the rainforest along the back boundary of our land. Those grey sticks are part of a trellis on which we grow passionfruit.

I've changed to my summer routine this week as all of a sudden it's quite warm. Yesterday it was 34C (93F) and although the next few days will be slightly cooler, I'll work to my summer routine from now until autumn. After an hour or so on the computer this morning, I put the washing on, and went out to the garden. The smoky darkness was just being broken by light and there was a strong scent of native frangipani in the air. I could hear the whip birds in the rainforest and somewhere in the distance, my favourite sacred kingfisher was screeching. Wild ducks flew overhead with their gentle whistling to each other and in the distance I could see a flock of birds flying towards me. It turned out to be 16 black cockatoos squawking as they flew. They settled in the rainforest at the edge of our land and set to strip one of the trees. I'm pleased there is still some native food for them to eat. I've never seen such a big flock of black cockies. They usually fly around in twos or threes here. I wonder if it's a good sign to see so many.

Our land ends at the creek edge, which is about 20 metres past this point. We put a fence up here to keep the dogs and chooks in but the chooks often squeeze themselves through and forage down at the creek edge.

I watered the garden, then stood staring at the beds working out where to transplant the onions. The pigeon peas are ready to be harvested. When I do that a bit later in the day, I'll cut the bushes back and use the cuttings as mulch on the potatoes. I have some tomatoes to plant and I'll pick something later for tonight's dinner. Hmmmm, maybe we'll have the rest of the potato salad with some fresh coleslaw, beetroot, green salad and boiled eggs. I defrosted 1.25 litres of lemon juice yesterday to make cordial so I might use some of the juice to make a lemon meringue pie. We'll see how we go on that one as I might not have the time. Maybe my love of lemon pie might make me work faster so I have the time to make it. Motivation is a wondrous creature. ; )

Renee asked in the comments how much land we have. Renee, like you, we have one acre. Our house is right in the middle of the property, we have neighbours on both sides, a creek at the back and a one lane road at the front. There are just pine trees across the road hiding an old timber mill.
Our vegetable garden is fairly small but enough for our needs. Our garden beds are about 2 x 6 metres (6.5'x19.5') and the overall garden is 12.5 metres x 8 metres (41' x 26'). The chook yard is next to the garden and is about the same size. I took the following photo so you can see the garden where is stands near the house.

Our vegetable garden is behind this picket fence, although the first bit of fence is just our small back yard. We've fenced it off like this to keep the dogs out or in, depending on what's happening.

Where I'm standing taking the photo above is where we grow bananas, passionfruit, grapefruit, oranges, loquats and grapes. We have that big expanse of grass which I do not like but Hanno doesn't want to plant anything there because it makes it too difficult to mow. We only have a hand mower, not a ride on.

Out the front we have mainly ornamental plants including this wisteria and 15 foot high white rose, but we also have two avocado tree out there that will bear their first fruit this year. Fingers crossed. ; )


  1. Rhonda,

    You won't believe this but our home is exactly like yours. Our home is in the middle, we have neighbors on both sides,we have a one lane road in our front yard, and our land dead ends with a creek. You have given me so much inspiration. We do need to fence in our garden this year we have had a ground hog eating most of it. We never knew how much they love sweet potatoes:)

    Thank you for answering my question.


    from Ky

  2. I want to come and sip a cup of tea and help you harvest. Would you consider doing a post on bread baking. I need to use grains other than corn or wheat. Spelt and millet and the like is our option.

  3. I love your place- it looks so peaceful. I was wondering if you eat the fish in your tank? My hubby is interested in aquaponics but where we live they would freeze in the winter. Thanks, dee

  4. Dear Rhonda;

    This is so encouraging. I can't wait to start our vegetable garden next year. Then I'll be able to show you pictures.

    Thanks again for sharing.


  5. fancy that, renee. Seems there are more similarities than differences with people all around the world. A ground hog! yikes!!

    Hello donetta, have you seen my post on baking bread for beginners? I'll get one of my recipes for Spelt and post it later today. I have no millet recipes. How do you take your tea? ; )

    Hello Dee. We intend to eat our fish, but these are the first we've raised and they aren't quite big enough yet. I think the first will be ready for the plate around Christmas. There are many people in the US who haved aquaponics in their backyards. Check this site out. It's Australian but there are a lot of Americans there.

    Maria, I look forward to seeing those photos dear. Growing your own food is one of life's true pleasures. : )

  6. I've never had potato salad with radishes in it before. Is that common in Australia?

    Your spinach quiche looks delicious. Do you raise your own chickens for eggs? We've recently talked about getting some chickens for our homestead here, but are a bit leery about the whole idea. I'd love to hear how you began in your chicken adventure-- that is if you raise your own. :)

  7. Rhonday, why do people plant wall to wall palms when there is such a tree as little recognised Native Frangipani. Those large glossy leaves, the beautifully creamy flowers that attract the native bees, and the wonderful shade.I used to live at Bluewater, just north of Townsville, on an acre. Up the end of our road was where the World Heritage rainforest began. This was to be for our self-sufficient retirement by that ended with the too soon death of the Dearly Beloved. I believe tht an acre intensively utilised is more than enough to keep two people busy. Anyway, in recent years, because of ill health, I have come to live with my daughter in Melbourne where I have difficulty, after a lifetime in the tropics and sub-tropics, getting to know the name of the cool climate trees. Your blog is a great encourager.

    Blessings and bliss

  8. debbie ann, radishes in potato salad isn't common here. I just make do with what I have on hand. I figure the taste of radish and onions is similar so instead of adding a white onion, I used radish and green onions that I had growing.

    I've kept chickens non stop for the past 20 years. I have an article already written on chooks so I'll add it to the blog for you. It's a bit about how I started and a lot on how to raise chickens. I believe one must have chickens - pure breeds of course.

    Hello Miss Eagle, welcome. I'm sorry to read of the death of your beloved. I know Bluewater, my children went to boarding school in Townsville. I have to tell you though, I'd much rather live in Melbourne than Townsville.

    Yes, the native frangipani is sorely under-utilised in our gardens. We have several of them planted here and at this time of year, the scent of them almost carries you away. We have native bees in the rainforest and they do visit our garden but they're always on the frangipani when it flowers. And I agree about the size of the land here. One acre is just right for us. We have enough space for food gardens, chooks, two airedales and all our other plantings without it being too much for us to manage.

    I hope you settle into Melbourne life and come to love it. Come back soon and tell me how you're going.

  9. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    How pretty. Thanks for your visit. It is nice to have a kindred spirit in collecting recipes.

  10. I'm new to your blog, and from the United States. I don't mean to be ignorant, but could you please tell me what a "chook" is?

  11. hello Michelle, welcome. A chook is a chicken. We do call them chickens here too, but most people who keep chickens in their backyards call them chooks.


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