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28 January 2008

Getting ready for planting

I'm really pleased to let you all know that Kerry is fine. He has a few bruises and sore bits, but he's fine. Hanno and Shane have gone over to see him as Shane is applying for the job Kerry is currently doing. I've spoken to Kerry a few times since the accident and apart from feeling a bit silly because he rolled the car, he's in good health. No doubt Hanno will tell me all about it when they come home. They left yesterday and will be back tonight.

I love spending time alone. I am, by nature, a solitary person so when circumstances present a chance for some time alone, I grab it with both hands. I'm not sure exactly why I love it so because I generally do exactly what I would be doing when my family is here. I still rise and sleep at the same time, I don't do anything especially out of the ordinary and yet there is a relaxed feeling of freedom to do whatever I would like to do. Strange that, as I know I can do whatever I want to do when Hanno is here too. I suppose it's knowing that I have only myself to take care of, there are no cups of tea to be made for someone else and no meals to prepare unless I get hungry.

So what did I get up to yesterday? I worked in my bush house, cleaning it up and getting ready for our main vegetable planting of the year in March. Hanno build a bush house for me shortly after we moved here 10 years ago. It's a simple construction of shade cloth and timber that gives just the right protection from sun, rain and wind. At this time every year, I ready it to hold the seeds I will plant. From late February onwards there will be trays of seedlings in there protected from the elements until they grow large and strong enough to be planted out into the main garden.

The bush house is also home to the worm farm - which you can see in the photo above in the old bathtub, bins of potting mix, pots and various fragile or sick plants. This is where I propagate plants that will later go into the ornamental or vegetable garden. Rosie sits in there on the cool stone floor when it's really hot.

Now is the time I start planning the vegetable year for us. I talk to Hanno about what we'll grow, go through my box of seeds and work out what is there and what we need to trade for or buy, and then write it all down. I generally draw up a plan of our planting so we both know what our original plan was because often when we start planting, it changes for various reasons.

I also grow orchids and maiden hair ferns in the bush house. It provides ideal conditions for their growth and when they're looking good, I sometimes bring them into the house or onto the front verandah so we can see them during the day.

Above and below is a bat flower (Tacca integrifolia) that has just flowered for the first time. This plant is native to south east Asia and Africa, and although our winter temps sometimes drop quite low, it grows well in our sub-tropical climate. I really like the long rubbery whiskers that fall from the centre of the flower.

And last, but not least, is my pride and joy. One of the many bunya seeds I had, has sprouted. It's taken almost 10 months to get to this point but the plant looks strong and healthy so we may just get our own bunya pine to grow in our garden.

The region I live in is the indigenous area of the wonderful bunya pine - a bush tucker food for the aboriginees. I was given the pine seed cone last April (see below) and I divided it up into many segments. I put a hen's egg next to a seed so you can see the size of the seeds. I sent some to my friend Chris in Belize to grow on their permaculture farm in the jungle. His should be almost at this point too so I must remember to email him to see how they're going. He wanted to trial them in their renewable timber forest.

Today I'll be organising myself for work tomorrow and writing a few things for work. It's a public holiday in Australia today and usually I would be working on a Monday. But I look forward to a slow and relaxed day that will prepare me for the week ahead. To my fellow Australians, enjoy your long weekend and to everyone else, I hope the week ahead is a good one for you.


  1. Hi Rhonda. Inspiring pics as usual - thanks. I saw a wonderful movie yesterday and thought of you. It was a French subtitled film called Conversations with my Gardener - a lovely slow paced and thoughtful work, with an evolving vege patch as one of the stars! I really think you'd enjoy it - it spoke to me of what gardens are really about - observation, caring, appreciation, the seasons of life, gentle routine, and nourishment for the soul. Quite uplifting, but take some tissues.

  2. Rhonda,

    I've never seen a bat flower before. Gorgeous plant. I could just picture my cat playing with it, thinking it was a new toy! Enjoy your long weekend.

    For the first time ever, Ontarians will get a long weekend in February -- Family Day on Feb. 18th. I'm looking forward to it :) Until then I will live vicariously through you as you potter about in the garden.

  3. Hi Rhonda, Glad to hear Kerry is okay...I know how it feels to get one of those phone calls and all you want to do is be with them and check they are okay :)
    I look forward to seeing you plan your garden this year and what you end up planting :)

  4. Is that an edible pine nut? It's Ginormous! Wow.

  5. Oh yes RJ you would really love Coversations with My Gardener. I saw it about a month or so ago at the Palace Centro in Newfarm and it was like a poem of simple living with beautiful French countryside. It was a *little* like a French version of Hotel Sorrento. :) I know you love that film!

  6. Hi Rhonda
    Glad your son is ok. As a mum we all dread that phone call.
    Just wanted to let you know that I have posted my tea cosy to my swap partner Christine in the US and today received an email to say she has received it safe and sound.
    Can't wait for the next swap.
    I enjoy reading your blog every morning and am trying to be more environmentally aware more than I was before. I am also not working at the moment so am sticking to a tight budget for myself and try to cut my spending unnecessarily.
    Jennie T.

  7. Rhonda, we have a bunya pine (or what I thought was a bunya) in the large Victorian era formal garden park in Bathurst. You can see the cones easily from the ground, and I often wonder if anyone has been unlucky enough to be walking underneath when they've decided to let go! They're massive. We have a proper pinus pinus tree, now about 12 foot's the plant that produces the commercially availabe pine nut used for pesto. We haven't had any cones from it yet, and I suspect we'll be racing the parrots for them. Lisa x

  8. HI Rhonda,

    I'm so glad to read that Kerry is fine.

    That bunya cone looks enormous. What is the tree/cone used for?


  9. Thank you for the photos Rhonda,, they are keeping me going during our long, white winter.

  10. Rhonda, glad to hear your son is OK.

  11. Glad to hear your son is well. Wow now that is one big pine nut. I'm also wondering if you can eat them like other pine nuts. In any case the cone is pretty too.

  12. The nuts are edible and were an important bush tucker food for the aboriginees. Here is some more info on the bunya pine cone:


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