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22 August 2008

Back in the vegie patch

There is good news from yesterday. Hanno's doctor said he thinks he can be treated for the glaucoma with drops, and these started last night. The other eye with the cataract and bleeding retina is being monitored. He said he wants to see if the bleeding stops by itself, apparently it often does. Hanno has to go back to check the progress of the treatment next month. I want to thank everyone for their good wishes and prayers. Hanno hasn't read the blog for a few days because we've been quite busy here but when he does, I'm sure he'll be very touched by your thoughtfulness.

Clicking on the photos will enlarge them.

Kathleen flew home yesterday morning. Moey, she used to work in northern WA and has just spent a month filling in for another worker who is away. Perth was just a stop over. Shane and Sarndra visited in the afternoon on their way back home. Sarndra said some butterflies were released for the baby at the funeral which I thought was a sweet and innocent gesture from grieving parents.

So now it's back to work. Today there will be a fair bit of gardening done because we're in another transition period out there. It's the end of winter and the garden is showing its age. Most of the cabbages have been picked, the cauliflowers are all gone and we need to fill bare patches and plan for spring. I really should have sown seeds two weeks ago but other things got in the way, so that will be done today.

Here are some seedlings Hanno put in last week. They are bok choi, buttercrunch lettuce, bulls blood beetroot and leeks.

Continuous supply from the garden is the most challenging aspect of food production for us. We often have gaps when we have to buy tomatoes, pumpkins or potatoes. We try to monitor the garden as best we can but seasonal and climatic variations make precise planning very difficult. But, it is what it is, we know that nature will always have the last say and we just go along for the ride. Whatever we get from the garden we are grateful for and we hope to shorten those gaps in production every year.

Dragon carrots will be planted here.

Today I'll plant up some trays of luffa seeds to plant on the new lattice wall near our bedroom. And with spring and summer coming there will be lots of salad vegetables to go in. Let's see ... we have long black Spanish radishes, Daikon and French radishes, dragon carrots, climbing princess beans and lemon cucumbers - all received in the seed swap a few months ago. We also have Darwin lettuce, more pink Brandywine and Moneymaker tomatoes, dwarf borlotti beans and maybe some watermelons (moon and stars).

If you are new to vegetable gardening, it is a good idea to know your food. Tomatoes aren't just tomatoes and there are many different kinds of lettuce. Get to know what you're eating - they all have different characteristics. The old heirloom types were often named after the growers, the grower's neighbours or what the food looked like, so often the names are just as lovely as the vegetable. Supermarkets have taken away our ability to know our food but I encourage to get acquainted again. When you plant, find out what type of seed you're planting and put up a little sign over the seeds so you remember just what it is you have there. Soon you'll be on friendly terms with all your vegetables and just like people, you get to know their names first.

More lettuce planted a few weeks ago under the lattice with Tropic and beefsteak tomatoes.

Another chore I need to do today is to clip back the capsicum (pepper) bushes. They have produced smaller than usual fruit over winter but with a good cut back, they should give us another year of service before being replaced. I have saved seed from these wonderful plants and will probably plant up a few more of them for summer.

And now friends, I have to prepare for a talk with my book agent. She is phoning soon. :- ) I hope you all have a lovely weekend.


  1. I am so glad to see pictures of your garden:) We are still getting many veggies but things are slowly dying back. We are getting ready to plant our fall garden in a few weeks. We have been too busy for our chicken coop but hope to build it this fall and have chicks come spring (We hope) Sometimes life gets to busy to get everything done:)

    I am looking forward to hearing about your book:) Rhonda that would be wonderful!!

    Congrats on all the viewers! 500 thousand a day:) All I can say is Wow! I know I tell everyone about you:) I think you are so open and honest and you have so much info. to share. I thank you for all the posts!!!

    Many Blessings,


  2. I am relatively new here so you may have mentioned this in the past. Does your climate enable you to grow something in your garden most of the year? In my part of the US, there are several tough months where we can't grow anything. Some people extend their season with a hoophouse or coldframe, but the thought of being able to garden most of the year is appealing!

  3. Our garden is producing like crazy!  It's so gratifying to grow your own food!  Good luck with the book!Kristina in Nebraska

  4. Hello Rhonda, I'm very new to blogging myself but not to reading them. Yours was the first blog that I ever read and can I say it's amazing.

    I started my own blog yesterday and yours is the first to be added to my blogroll, I hope you don't mind.

    Pleased to hear that Hanno had some good news from his doctor and I hope the bleeding retina stops.

    Love the photo of your chickens, I have a dozen myself including 4 white sussex. Aren't chickens wonderful!

  5. Glad to read that Hanno's may be able to use drope for the glaucoma, I know someone who does this. Great pictures of the garden, here I am fighting off the slugs and snails..I guess you dont have that problem.

  6. Love the pics of your garden...I just love fresh veggies. I always get my veggies from the Farmer's Market or either at a farm. Every year I fill up my whole freezer full of goodies for the much better than the can stuff.

  7. Hi Rhonda
    Glad to hear about Hanno. Health is the most important thing.
    Best wishes

  8. Hi Rhonda - I have a quick question. We have been dealing with Tropical Storm Fay this week and it has caused massive flooding. You can see my blog for photos. We tie into a creek, which ties into the saltwater lagoon, which ties into the Atlantic. None of the flood water got into our main garden, but the boys' sunflower patch and our valencia orange tree are still sitting in several inches of water right now. When all this finally drains away, I know I will need to amend the soil due to the saltwater. Can you give me some direction on what I need to do?

  9. Your garden beds are so orderly and well kept.
    I can't wait to hear about your book. This sounds like something wonderful.

  10. Your garden has me green with envy! I wish we had your growing season. I'm happy Hanno had good news from the doctor.
    I just started reading your blog a week ago and it's full of wonderful information that has come just at the right moment as my DH and I are starting to pay off debt and live a simple life.

  11. I just recently found your blog. My mom grew up on a farm...her parents still live there...but she didn't like that kind of life so she didn't pass any of that kind of thing onto her children. I'm slowly learning how to do some of the things you're talking about and I love reading your blog. I currently have four tomato plants in my dining room, in pots that have served me well the past 9 months, or so. You've inspired me to try more vegetables (but they have to all be done in containers as our landlords won't let us dig up their yard.

    What will your book be about?

  12. So EXCITED about your possible book deal, Rhonda! I am glad your Hanno had good news and is treatable with drops but I recall that they can sting a lot, so I hope he has a kinder version.

  13. Good news Hanno! Did the dr show you how to give yourself drops? In front of a mirror pull down the outer corner of the bottom eyelid with your non-doiminant hand so it forms a "pocket" and send the drop into that with your dominant hand. No squinting and head pulling becauseyou are looking at what you are doing!

    I keep my drops in the fridge.

  14. Good news about Hanno.

    Good luck with your talk with the book agent!


  15. Ooooo a call with the book agent!! I am so excited about your book. Let me be the first to buy it!!!


    P.S. Congratulations on the visitors! That is wonderful! I can't think of a more deserving blogger!

  16. Good news post today. I am happy to hear Hanno's better news.
    I loved the releasing of the butterflies, that is a great idea!
    Thanks to you, I have started baking my own bread again. It's been years! Once I get back into it and feeling comfortable, I will try my hand at something else and add it to my weekend "chores". This way I feel I can get used to doing more and more for myself without becoming overwhelmed. Thank you for the steps and encouragement!
    Best wishes with that book agent! I'm so excited for you. (and me, I want the book!)

  17. Rhonda and Hanno, We are relieved to hear your good news from the doctor today.Just mind the doctor's orders - please. Loved your hens - wish we could have some. Year round gardens must be a chore. But I'm jealous,we have strong winds with plant burning sand in the spring and icy winds late fall and winter. But I'm working on better timing for planting and learning from you.
    Great news about your book. I can hardly wait to see it. JudieJ

  18. Rhonda, if the vegies ever start talking back to you, then you'll really need a book agent!!!!! Lisa x

  19. I hope that Hanno's eyes are better soon. There is Glaucoma in my husband's family, so he and the children have to have regular tests. It must be a worry though.

    We are going into autumn here, so time to try and tidy my veg plot up - disappointing after a cool and dry summer which has now evolved into the Welsh Monsoon! My runner beans have decided it's time to make LOTS of seeds, so I will have plenty saved for next year.

  20. Best wishes for Hanno's speedy recovery. I'll be keeping him in my prayers.

  21. You garden is so inspiring.
    I am glas Hanno has had a positive visit to the specialist.
    Would you be able to help me with a kettle problem? I bought it new ages ago and it is sitting in my cupboard not being used as I can't get the plastic taste out of the water. (I lost the receipt & couldnt return it without it) I have used vinegar (boiled it, let it cool, rinsed etc) but it still tastes like plastic. My old one has just given up the ghost. do you have any suggestions?

  22. I forgot to tell you. My daughter thinks I am nuts! I was so excited today when I cleaned out outdoor setting with your creamy soft scrubber and it is cleaner than I have ever seen. I have also been using the Laundry Liquid and my washing is looking great. Thank you for the hints and recipies. They are so good and so inexpensive.

  23. I'm pleased Hanno had good news yesterday. I hope his retina will heal spontaneously.

    Best wishes for the publication of your book. As an aspiring writer, I know how difficult it is to break into the world of publishing. However you have a unique angle on the problems we are facing at this time, a ray of hope in what could otherwise be dark times. Let's hope the publishers realise how many of us need that right now.


  24. Wonderful news of Hanno, I'm sure you're both very relieved!!

  25. Dear Rhonda

    I've not commented for a while - you and your grand readers helped me devise coping mechanisms for a work situation - but I am so sorry about Rosie.

    I had to decide to have one of our nearly 17 year old Westies, Tess, put to sleep in January.We have another Westie Meg,but her life seems to have just carried on after a puzzling day or two.

    My swap partner Robbie was very kind;you realise it's not "just you." This realisation came about work. When I opened up a little, a few preferred colleagues stepped forward.These are now definite friends and sounding posts.Small steps.

    Very, very best wishes to Hanno and yourself.

    Ann Marie

  26. Hi Rhonda
    I love looking at your garden, it always looks so peaceful and productive.

    Good news about Hanno's visit to the Dr. Do hope everything sorts it's self out without to much help.

    Also good new about the book talks. Please can I be one of the first to buy a copy.

    Pippa x

  27. I just love your garden pics, they give me inspiration. And I'm excited about your potential book deal.

    Question: I've used a castile soap-based shampoo for a week now with 2 vinegar rinses in between and I'm not sure if the way my hair turned out is right. Have you used these? I love the vinegar rinse but I can see why you wouldn't use it everyday. My hair feels and looks like I have hair product in it but my scalp doesn't feel like it. Any suggestions?

  28. Rhonda,
    This is great news on Hanno...was thinking and praying for him.
    Wishing you a blessed day and weekend my friend.
    ~~ Hugs to Alice ~~

  29. Hi Kathy, yes, we are able to garden all year here. Our tougest season for growing here is summer. There are too many bugs, high humidity and it's hot. Our temps are much milder in spring, autumn and winter.

    Hi dragonfly, thanks! Good luck with your blog.

    Blue, we have very few slugs and snails, it's not wet enough here for them. Our main problem is grasshoppers and their caterpillars.

    Kim, I've never dealt with salt water in a garden myself so I can't give you any advice. Sorry. However, if that were my orange tree, I would lift it if it's still fairly small. Even sitting in a large pot or bin would be better than it sitting in the salt water. If you can lift it, wash off all the soil because it will contain salt. When the roots are clean, plant it in good potting soil in a large bin. Leaving the tree where it is will surely kill it. Lifting it at least gives it a chance.

    Hello tiff, welcome. I think it's great you're growing plants in your dining room. The book will be about living a simple life. Basically it will be similar to the blog - a bit of practical information, hopefully some inspiration, and enough encouragement for readers to do for themselves and find joy in doing it.

    Hi Moey and Rose, the drops don't sting and I am helping Hanno with the drops. It's easier if I put them in for him.

    grannyshazza, if the vinegar treatment doesn't get rid of the taste, I'd throw that kettle away. It's not something I'm normally do, but if you can taste plastic, there is probably a residue coming from somewhere and you might be ingesting it. It's better to be safe than sorry.

    Ann Marie, we have a wonderful bunchs of readers here. I'm pleased you were helped and I'm really sorry to hear about Tess.

    Lisa, I have used straight vinegar to rinse my hair. Are you using that or is it a product you buy? I often wash my hair with my homemade soap and don't rinse it with anything but clean water. The soap is mild and does a great job.

  30. For the vinegar rinse I steeped 1/2 cup white vinegar with 2 cups water and a bag of chamomile tea for fragrance. Perhaps I need to increase the vinegar to water. Tomorrow I'll try my bar of castile soap straight on my hair and see what happens.

  31. Okay, once again I'm off topic but I can now put into words why I think your blog is so successful and wonderful.

    It's not a how-to blog. It's about making real changes for each person's circumstances.

    The how-to blogs that I have read remind me of, can I write this? Martha Stewart. I don't want to be like her, I don't want perfection, I want to live and enjoy life. How-to blogs are doing, not living. How-to blogs go through mindless steps to get to an end product without thinking how each step interacts and how changing one step will change the outcome.

    Your blog is like sitting down with the neighbor next door and hashing out ideas and figuring out what works and doesn't work. Not how fast can I go through these steps to get to the next PTA meeting or soccer game.

    Thanks to you I have already been in contact with my knitting mentor and another knitting mentor emailed me even though we weren't paired as she is only one state away. I have a couple of ideas to help me with my knitting already.

    Have a great evening and I'm happy that Hanno is on his way to recovery.

  32. Barbara (in Tennessee)August 24, 2008 9:20 am

    Hey Rhonda Jean,

    I'm really enjoying your blog and learning a lot from you. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experiences with us.

    I do have a couple of questions if you have a minute. Since I'm a novice gardener, I'never grown radishes or silverbeet before, but I just recently sowed seeds of both as part of my autumn garden. My question is, are silverbeet leaves and stems just a little bit prickly or is that the radishes?

    And I have my first batch of yogurt in the oven even as I type, looking forward to the quark cheese also. Do the recipes that you use the whey in specify whey or do you substitute whey for something else?

    And I'm really hoping that the book comes through as a good thing for you to do. I'm excited for you!! and all your blog readers as well!!


  33. I stumbled onto your blog and I have fallen for it. I fight the afluenza of the states everyday. Thank you for providing the connections to like minded folks. I love reading you every evening and settling in to ponder the next days events with simplicity in mind. I do share my "ways" with others but most of the time they look at me like I have 2 heads! Thanks for the inspirations everyday.

    Cathy C.

  34. I'm happy to read the good news about Hanno. Your blog is so inspiring!

    One question...I'm interested in expanding our garden. Were you able to come about those cinder blocks in an inexpensive way? Sometimes I wonder if I put more money in the start up costs than necessary.

  35. Hi Rhonda, the days are warming up here so we should be able to get some spring/summer seeds started soon. I am looking forward to sowing the seeds you sent me. I hope the seeds I sent you are bountiful and you enjoy the end product.
    Have a great day

  36. Hi Rhonda! It's Sunday here and we've got the new clothesline poles in at last (after days of rain and mud). This is way too exciting:) I love your "Give More, Expect Less" stitchery and would like to put it on my blog in the sidebar - linked to DTE, of course. I don't know if others have done this but it seems like a grand way to spread the word. What say you? Can you handle any more blog devotees?

  37. Lisa, thank you that was a wonderful compliment.

    Barbara, good luck with your garden. Radish leaves are a bit prickly, the silverbeet seedlings will be smooth. If the yoghurt isn't thick enough, leave it out a little longer. The consistency of it depends on the strength of your starter. If you've used another yoghurt that is a bit old, or has geleatin in it, the result won't be all that good. You should still be able to make quark from what you've made. Make sure you use a close weave cheese cloth and I'm sure it will be fine.

    Hello Cathy, welcome.

    Michaela, we bought all those blocks as "seconds" at about half the price of regular blocks. You're right to question your start up costs. It doesn't have to look good, it just has to be productive. You can slowly improve the look each year. If you do go for the blocks though, they're easy to place, you can move them around and they last forever.

    Hello Tracy dear, I wrote about some of your seeds in today's post.

    Suzan, it's good to know you've got your clothesline in now. Soon you'll have sheets bellowing in the breeze. Of course you can use the stitchery, and yes, I'd like you to link it back to me. Thank you for helping to spread the word.

  38. I am pretty new to vegie gardening and enjoyed reading your post - thanks :)

  39. Hello, I hope all is well for you and Hanno is doing better. I have my summer squash in the earth and the straw bails in the later stages of preparation for the tomatoes. I also have cantaloupe and blue lake beans, peas and sugar snaps. God has been so good s to water while I have been off my feet a few days. My chickens are growing and I am so looking forward to rain harvesting. Just got to convince my husband more about that. It is such a joy to follow your lead and kind guidance. God's speed to Hanno.


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