DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

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29 October 2014

Seizing the days


Our garden changes are almost complete and I'm looking forward to working in this smaller but still productive garden. The major changes we made were to remove two entire garden beds. One has gone but we still have the remants of the second bed there because we have some onions to harvest and the parsley is flowering so I want to save the seeds. When that garden goes, we'll move a table and chairs into the cleared space so we can sit IN the garden and enjoy the view from a different angle. For most of the years here, I've looked out from the house to the garden. Now I want to challenge myself and change that. Who knows what thoughts will brew when I look in instead of out.  It reminds me of that wonderful Robin Williams movie, Dead Poets Society, when Mr Keating, the Williams character, encouraged the students to stand on their desks.  He says: I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way. Finally, I'm seizing the day.



The garden will still be a productive one. I use a lot of herbs and I know it would send me haywire if I had to buy them all the time. Herbs are so expensive now. In the next day or so we'll plant two heritage raspberries alongside the six month old passionfruit. We have a good stand of curly kale in the first garden which we'll keep for occasional meals for ourselves, and frequent scratchings for the chooks.  In the second bed we have just planted beetroot and there are bok choy, various lettuces, ruby chard and Swiss chard. All those leaves are ready for harvest. 

 This is Tricia. No, not my sister, one of the frizzles.  ;- )  (I'll get into trouble for that.)

Our silver laced, rose combed Wyandotte, Miss Tammy, with Bluebelle, one of the blue Australorps. They've been sitting on those nests for a few weeks now. We just let them sit there, as long as we see them out to feed and water themselves. This broodiness gives them a natural break from constant egg production.


 Free ranging girls in the late afternoon sunshine.

The chickens are a big part of our backyard production too. We have 12 pure breed chickens that give us eggs all through the year.  Three of them are broody at the moment but with no rooster no chicks will hatch; they sit there in vain.


This beautiful purple flowering plant is culinary sage. I think all plants have the potential for beauty and I am certainly planting for beauty as well as nutrition.

This is a purple and white granny's bonnet, the yellow flower is a small Dahlia. On the other side of the grate are three cherry tomatoes, all volunteers, that I know will easily survive our hot and humid summer.

In the other two beds we have nasturtiums, three Lebanese cucumbers, garlic, Jalapeno chilli, five capsicum/pepper bushes, borage, cosmos, Dahlias, granny's bonnets (aquilegia), flowering purple daisy, flat leaf parsley and white flowering sage. And in the last bed we have one curly parsley and four flat leaf parsley, three cherry tomatoes, more granny's bonnets, more white flowering sage, two stocks, culinary sage, cos lettuce, rosemary, Welsh onions, Swiss chard.  On the side of the gardens we have potted lemon thyme, regular thyme, Buddleia (butterfly bush) and lavendars. On the edge of the compost, comfrey is growing and at the door of the bushhouse, I have a large pot of mint and another of oregano. We have four large potted blueberry bushes and two blueberry seedlings, a potted bay tree and two potted avocados  - a Reed and a Hass, both grown from seed.

In almost every bed there are seedling cherry tomatoes and calendulas growing. If I could pass on one good gardening tip for you that you'll never see in a gardening book, it would be to learn to identify the leaves of every plant you grow. Not only will that help you when you're weeding and save you pulling out seedlings that you should let grow, it will also allow you to nurture those volunteers and maybe transfer them to a more suitable growing position.  That will save you both time and money.


On a trellis just beyond the garden area there is a green grape vine and two new passionfruits. In the chook run there are two lemon trees, a native fig and a pecan. The pecan is currently alive with bees pollinating the nut tassles. Further over near our large water tank, we have bananas, oranges, loquat, youngberries, cumquat and mandarin. And of course we have our old friend the elder tree which is currently bearing and holding onto a good quantity of berries that I'll pick today, along with some flowers for elder flower cordial.


We have a large backyard but the land under fruit and vegetable cultivation is small in comparison. It just goes to show that even a small garden is a valuable asset to any backyard. The trick is to grow what you eat and if you eat almost all vegetables, grow what is difficult to find, or expensive.  This year, Hanno and I will be out there, planted in with the vegetables, sitting at our cast iron table on chairs under the shade of an umbrella and the neighbouring trees. I'll enjoy looking at the house from that angle. I wonder what thoughts that will bring.

Looking out to the chicken yard with its pecan, native fig and two lemons. 

How is your garden going now? I'm sure our northern friends have put their gardens to bed, or are in the process of doing it.  Here in Australian our seasons just roll into each other so we don't lift and protect but it's always intrigued me that cold weather climate gardeners do.  Here, our southern gardeners will have their salad vegetables planted, or close to it, and the tropical gardeners will be looking to provide more shade and water after the last two days of very high temperatures. What will you be doing in your garden this weekend?  Happy gardening everyone!

25 comments:

  1. I am working on putting everything to bed. We have had a long, warm fall but the cold is coming this weekend.

    We have a swing on our deck looking out on our woods and one in the yard looking toward the back of the house. It is amazing how different the perspective is and it is easier to just relax looking at the woods instead of seeing things that need to be done!

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  2. I am in the Northern hemisphere, but in the South East coast of the USA. We don't get too cold here so I have planted some of my winter garden with parsley, garlic, spinach, and carrots. Next will be beets and lettuce and more parsley. I use the seeds I cultivated last season for this season's crop. Don't you just love it? As an aside: I found a bread machine at the charity shop for $4.13. I made your rolls and they were delicious. They are a close taste to chibata bread from Italy.

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  3. I had a big garden day on Sunday putting in compost to beds needing seeds, I planted corn, tomatoes and loads of herbs in beds and pots. This coming weekend I need to do more cucumbers, tomatoes and salads. Summer is almost here!

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  4. All I seem to be doing at the moment is watering! The past few freakishly hot days gave my garden a bit of a shock. All my beautiful gardenias are flowering or in bud so I don't want them to drop those lovely fragrant flowers. My strawberries are ripening (Willa asks me every day if she can eat them yet) and our three different types of mint are flourishing. Your garden looks great Rhonda. I can't wait until I have a little more room to add to our edible plants.

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    1. The same thing happened here. The plants aren't used to the high temps and increased UV so watering them does a lot to get them through until they build up some resilience. I hope you and the new bub are doing well. xx

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  5. Rhonda, the last couple of days with temps 12 degrees above the Spring average I noticed that the Ollas and wicking beds really made a difference so we will be putting more of them in before Summer. We don't usually have prolonged heat like is experienced in other areas thankfully but our plants weren't happy with the scorching temps...and neither were we :-)

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  6. g'day
    i water my main front garden once a week, today it will be getting 2 hour soaking intervals instead of the usual hour, it's been in the high 30s here but it's the humidity that seems to be the killer.
    your garden is looking as beautiful as ever Rhonda & Hanno, wish i could get mine looking like that all round, have no idea how to design, went mostly with what is already here. currently putting trees on my borders & having a new chook shed & pen built.
    is Hettie still with you? haven't seen her mentioned for a while, stay cool in this heat & have a great week.
    selina from kilkivan qld

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    1. Thanks Selina. When we first moved in here I spent a fortune on the front garden buying gardenias, wisteria, camellias, roses, lavendars, magnolias and many tender annual flowers. I soon learned that to keep them alive I had to water more than I was prepared to. After about five years, I stopped watering and hoped a few of my favourites would survive. They did! The wisteria is rampant, all the camellias and roses survived but my favourite magnolia died along with all the annuals and a lot of perennials. Now I'm much more pragmatic. In this last year I'm only adding plants I know will survive on very little water. I give them a drink a few times a week when they first go in but after two months, I stop watering and they have to survive on rain. I'm using mainly natives (grevilleas), salvias and agapanthus and planting in clumps. So far it's working.

      Hettie is still here. She is 18 now and spends her days asleep. She only wakes to be fed or to walk to her next resting area. xx

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    2. awww great to hear! yeh, natives seem to be the key here too, for them to have a chance at survival, jacarandas do well here too.

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  7. Hi Rhonda, another great post. Love seeing pictures of your beautiful garden! I think the idea with moving out in the garden is fantastic - we have done that and it's where we spent our afternoons once we finished all the work and before the mozzies come out.
    I do have a question: You seem to have a lot of things in the garden (trees, pots, furniture) - how does Hanno go about mowing around all of these? We have 3 acres and are trying to grow some lovely shade trees, have a veggie garden and a small outside seating area and it takes my poor partner an entire day (sometimes 2) just to mow around those before he can use the ride on. As my partner has turned 60 recently, I want him to slow down and try to reduce the work for him, therefore I'm really curious to hear how you deal with this, especially as you would have some more rain as we do (we live west of Rocky).
    Thanks
    Frances

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    1. Hi Frances! The furniture will sit on pavers, the pots sit on the besser blocks surrounding the garden. The two beds that have been removed will give a good turning circle for the ride-on. We try to make it as easy to maintain as we can but a garden will always have things to mow around. Hanno hand mows or whipper-snips around the edges, then he uses the ride-on. This used to take a couple of days to do, now it's a one day job - the ride-on making the difference. Out in the front garden, we used to have three edged gardens, now we have one. The other two are now edge-less and we've let the grass grow into them and just have shrubs and trees dotted around. It's not ideal but it's better than it was. xx

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  8. Couldn't agree more with learning to identify the leaves of what you plant! We've had a very warm Fall here, and I took my time digging the last potatoes out of the ground (in between chasing my little guy all around the property - he doesn't like to stay put ;) And hoping to get the garlic planted and mulched tomorrow before the real cold sets in. Then it's winter break for the garden! I need to get my compost reinvigorated, so that's my goal for the slower months ahead.
    -Jaime

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  9. Last night was our first below freezing night so we are done in the garden, but we got our last tomatoes a couple of days ago still! Loved the garden tour - your granny's bonnets are our columbines and I have the same kind. think they are beautiful. Now we start the indoor projects and planning next years garden. It is always more fun to crochet and quilt and have all that yarn/fabric in your lap when it is cold!

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  10. Rhonda my light sussex girls go broody every spring so I buy local fertilized eggs and let them sit on them. In the past if I don't put them on eggs they stay broody even after a stay in the broody buster...hopefully baby chicks on cup day this year.

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    1. Hi Suzie. It's a good idea to buy fertile eggs. I'm a bit scared of having tiny chicks here because we have snakes and goannas lurking. Good luck with your hatchlings. xx

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  11. I couldn't help but notice how well camouflaged frizzy Trish is.

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    1. Isn't she amazing, Phil. Those side feathers have curled right around her face.

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  12. Hi Rhonda,
    I have been planting beans, lettuce, kale, tomatoes and two elders over this weekend and last. My pumpkins and watermelons have sprouted! I was wondering do you have any tips on growing raspberries? I have three I recently bought and I am concerned about the best placement for them in terms of the heat. Best to you and Hanno, Stacey

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    1. Thanks Stacey. For raspberries, plenty of water to establish them, mulch well and some afternoon shade. Try to plant the yellow native raspberry, it grows well in Queensland. Good luck! xx

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  13. Your FLAT back yard...sigh...

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  14. My garden is under a light dusting of snow and it is already -7C. So winter is here I guess.

    Janet from Alberta, Canada

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  15. Our garden is finished for winter, except for a bit of kale (snow is coming this week). I just finished canning the last of the tomatoes that were ripening inside. We have that purple and white flower too, but here it is called purple columbine.

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  16. awesome garden, ours does not look near as good, still smaller...waiting for them to really take off

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  17. Our garden is small too, but after a bit of an upgrade earlier in the year when we replenished the soil, we harvest food everyday for our meals. We have one large bed, one smaller bed surrounding a mandarin tree and 4 old wine barrels that are now wicking beds. AT them moment, I'm picking yellow butter beans, celery, cherry tomatoes, baby spinach, spring onion, purple choy, zucchini, kale and cos lettuce. I have a blueberry bush too in a pot and it's covered in berries that are not quite ripe. I can't wait until they are! My garden is a place of nourishment for mind, body and soul. All my troubles drift away when I'm out there, hose in hand, catching wafs of fragrance (I plant a lot of flowers too!) under blue skies. Next year, when I don't work at all for the first time, our garden will become even more central to our lives. We'll rely on it even more...and maybe find a place for a couple of chooks too!

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  18. Hi Rhonda,

    This article has given me so much to think about and really has my wheels turning on the possibilities for my future. Thank you for sharing things so candidly and freely; I appreciate it. :)

    Have a lovely weekend!
    Shani

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