DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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10 August 2015

Our wild and natural habitat

The weather is wonderful at the moment. It's cool at night (6-8* C) and warm during the day (20C ish) and that is the best gardening weather. Our gate is closed and if you strolled down our one lane street, you'd think no one was at home or at the very least, the people inside were watching TV or sleeping. But it's been a hive of activity here. We've been cleaning, moving, cooking, baking and rearranging the outdoor space out back to better suit us.




We downsized and simplified our garden last year, stopped growing so many winter crops and decided to focus on herbs, salad greens and summer vegetables, with some tomatoes and fruit thrown in for good measure. So instead of planting out many tomato bushes, this year we have four: two cherry tomato types, the hybrid Rapunzel with her metre long trusses of fruit, and an older heirloom variety: Beef Short. Those two varieties should cover all our needs for snacking, salads, sandwiches and cooking. Over winter we've grown our winter favourites - turnips, kale, snow peas and lettuce. We also have all the herbs I need for cooking as well as ginger, chillies, capsicums (peppers) and Asian greens. I want to grow more flowers too, in with the vegetables, to encourage the insects and to bring into the house. I have two new raspberries to plant. They're the Heritage variety which is a good grower in warmer climes. We planted two last year and got a reasonable crop from them but a passionfruit crowded them out so Hanno will moved that to another spot this week and the area will be for raspberries alone now.  According to the tag on the plants, I should expect a crop in spring and a very big crop in autumn.

I haven't finished setting this area up yet. It's an old table there that I have to scrub clean and I still have some potted plants to move in.  I'll take more photos when I'm finished and happy with it.
I'll plant these out during the week, fertilise and mulch them so they should be set up for the end of winter and the warmer weather.

But the most exciting part of the garden now is the introduction of a table and benches, and when it's hotter, a large canvas umbrella. It will give us an extra place to sit and relax and to look around this wonderful backyard we have. One of the great advantages of a garden is that you're outside surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of the natural world, instead of being inside in a man-made one. We hear bees buzzing, see birds of all kinds fly over and hope they'll feel safe enough to visit here a while. We have water out for them and we don't mind sharing the food we grow. There is enough for all of us.

 A flock of sulphur-crested cockatoos visited us for a snack during the week.


Now the warmer weather is just around the corner, the grass is starting to grow again and that means more clippings to make compost for the garden beds. We have a good crop of comfrey right next to the compost heaps and soon I'll make a rich fertiliser for the gardens and use the rest to accelerate the decomposition of the compost materials. Comfrey grows fast so they'll be plenty of follow up leaves we can use during the year instead of buying organic fertiliser. I've written about how to make it here.



Hanno is going to remove that picket fence soon too. It used to keep the dogs and chooks out of the area we grow fruit in.

It's peaceful here. The garden is productive, the hens are happily laying eggs and soon the deciduous trees will start growing new leaves and that will signal the warmer weather and yet another year of growth - both for the garden and us.  There is a lot of work going into our backyard at the moment but we both enjoy the work and we get back ten times more than we put in. There is a kind of magic out there that blocks out the noise, and sometimes even the knowledge, of the outside world. We potter around, sow seeds, weed and water plants and generally make this place what we want it to be. We both feel very lucky to live here and when the work of the day is done, and even when it isn't, we take the opportunity to sit and enjoy our wild and natural habitat.

I wish you all the best for the week ahead. ♥︎

24 comments:

  1. Lovely! Here in Key West, the chickens run wild and the cockatoos are pets!

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  2. Yes, Spring is just around the corner and there is so much to be done before it arrives. Here in the Barossa Valley in South Australia we are enjoying some much needed rain after a fairly dry 6 months to date and with the impending El Nino I have been tending the garden beds with lots of compost and mulching with pea straw to at least stop the garden from baking in the Summer. The Prunus are starting to blossom and the buds are swelling on the Peach and Nectarine trees....and I saw my bearded dragon for the first time yesterday,he is a regular visitor to the garden. Just lovely reading your posts and looking at all those wonderful photos of your daily life with home and garden. Thank you!

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  3. What a beautiful crop of Kale Rhonda. My family adores Kale and I have been buying it this season as we didn't realise it was a winter crop. I live in central NSW and am getting my small but hopefully fruitful garden beds in order for Spring. With a young family of 7 I seem to have the opposite situation of wanting to upsize our garden and hope to join a community garden to make up for our lack of land. Can anyone help me out with a question regarding herbs. Last spring I planted garlic chives, curly leaf parsley and oregano. Are these annuals? I left them in and they are all still alive. The chives seem a little woody and oregano a bit yellowed (I think from the frost) but the parsley has grown into an enormous mound. Should I cut them back, divide or let them be? TIA.

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    1. Therese, all the cabbage family can be grown in winter, kale included. It would grow well where you live because it likes a touch of frost and snow. I hope someone from your climate zone comes along to give you a more accurate answer about the herbs but I'll give you my point of view. Parsley is a biennial so it will grow leaves and a big taproot in the first year and then continue into a second year when it forms flowers and, if left in place, will self seed. Garlic chives are perennials so yes, they will continue on. They can be propagated by digging up a few bulbs and transplanting them. When it's warmer, they'll probably come back. Oregano is also a perennial and can be propagated by runners or seeds. That will probably start growing again when it's warmer.

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    2. Therese, I live in the States in NJ and my oregano, sage, lemon balm, lavender and thyme are all perennials and have made it through tough winters. Best thing about oregano is that it just keeps growing. If you have a large plant, like i do, you can just pull some out by its root, put it in the ground and they usually take without issue. Let some go to flower as the bees adore it!

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    3. Thankyou Rhonda and MissFifi.

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  4. Rhonda I have enjoyed reading about your productive backyard. I love the look of your kale bed. I lost my new male seedlings in the heavy rains of April this year over at the allotment, but one sturdy Cavalo Nero remained so I made a big fuss of it, looked after it like a baby, and it has kept me in a small regular supply throughout the Brisbane winter, and it will be producing for a while yet by the look of it.

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  5. Out of curiosity, how do your readers prepare kale? I know I have eaten it as a salad, also steamed (similar to spinach), and have now learned to make kale chips (dehydrating) in a raw food course I attended.

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    1. I much prefer swiss chard and spinach to kale but my husband loves it boiled with smoked pork and potatoes.

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    2. I chop it finely, saute in a splash of olive oil,and mix into ground beef or turkey for burgers or meatloaf. Extra boost of veggies!

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    3. I use it to make kale and ricotta/fetta pie instead of spinach. Just as yummy and the kids eat it up too!

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  6. Lovely, inviting and LUSH looking. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Nice looking trolley there RJ. Heck, nice looking yard!

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  8. Such beautiful photos and a gorgeous place! I've been using whey from cheesemaking as a garden fertilizer, and I'm really happy with it. It's a very busy time of year here, too, but a contented one.
    -Jaime

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  9. Love the new table and chairs out in the garden...I can see it summer lunches, afternoon tea and cake and with the umbrella it will be nice and shady. Your garden is looking good. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

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  10. what deciduous trees? non of ours have lost their leaves this year which was a bit annoying as i got no northern sun :(( they are now getting their first new leaf buds! the jacaranda looks like it's already getting flower buds & it's still in full leaf!
    my your yard looks wonderful Rhonda, can't wait to see it when you're done rearranging.
    we've all had trouble with getting our winter greens growing here as it's been so warm, my silverbeets have done absolutely nothing for months, they are still only a few inches high :(( still, am trying to nurture them, they get plenty of water & recently scored some good quality fertilizer & compost mix, so hoping they will pick up with that boost.
    beautiful gardens & yard love seeing what you do there & always a pleasure to read
    thanx for sharing
    selina from kilkivan qld

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    1. Selina, you can see our only deciduous tree above - it's a pecan tree. Neighbours on both sides have deciduous tree too, close to our boundary fence so I claim them too. One is a liquid amber but I'm not sure what the other one is. Good luck with your silver beet. Hopefully the compost and fertiliser will push it along for you.

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  11. What a lovely backyard, I can see why it gives you both so much pleasure. I, too, feel truly blessed to have an outside place where nature can be enjoyed and treasured.

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  12. I'm always at awe when you post about your garden, Rhonda. Whether you decide to downsize or to put extra things in it, it always shows how much love and care goes into it. This year I've decided not to put vegetables in. I always start with good intentions, but then when the time comes to actually do something with the produce, I feel like I don't enjoy it and often just let it, and it's a waste of time, energy and food that way. I'm just having a few herbs at hand, our redcurrant bush and a raspberry that we don't understand at all :) For now, that's enough, there are plenty of healthy and local food options in our neighborhood.

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  13. Love the cockatoos. I hope we have lots more native visitors once we get our garden up and flourishing like yours. x

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  14. I love your backyard oasis. Such a place of contentment for you both. Here in Texas we are on our 40th day of no rain and high temperatures going up to 104F. It's too hot to be outside after noontime. I will welcome the cooler weather in October.

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  15. Hi Rhonda, I was just wondering if you purchased your garden trolley at Bunnings or a private nursery/hardware shop? I could do with something about that size on our property. I love the look of your garden and enjoy your blog dailyxx

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    Replies
    1. We got it at Masters and wonder why we didn't buy it 20 years sooner. :- )

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  16. You sound like you are in your element there guys!

    It is lovely for us to think the end of a cold, dreary winter is nearing an end, and time to get stuck into prepping the garden for some serious veggie gardening over the next few months! We are currently re-doing the back half of our yard to grow a really big veggie patch. We made some mistakes in the initial design, and are shifting things around now to fix it. So I'm really excited about this element coming together, hopefully sooner rather then later!

    I love winter, I have loved the wood fire but Im aching to open up the house, open the windows and feel the sun on our skin!

    xx

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