A simple garden

21 December 2007
While pre-Christmas is usually a very busy time I've been slowly ambling along with day to day chores and the cricket. Yesterday I had the match on TV all day so I could listen as I worked and every so often, I went in and sat watching and knitting. It wasn't a great match, we beat New Zealand hands down, but it's not the result I'm keen on. It's the general summer feeling that while the world turns in increasingly turbulent times, and as mad shoppers rush here and there, the tradition of cricket is continuing in the bright light of the Australian summer sun. How many other games have a break for tea! You could love it just for that alone.

Here is Mary on the nest being visited by her sister Molly.

Mary is still sitting on her eggs and while she is quite focused on it, a couple of times yesterday she was wandering around with her sisters. !! We encouraged her to sit on the nest again but I'm not confident about the eggs now. Yesterday afternoon they weren't warm at all. I candled them again and found dark shadows and air sacs in all except one. I cracked that one open and suffered the smell of that for quite some time. LOL I won't do that again in a hurry. Anyhow, tomorrow is THE day and if chicks hatch, I'll be on the spot, with my trusty camera.
It's been a quite mild summer so far. By now it's usually around 38C (100F) with high humidity, but this year it's 28C (82F) and very pleasant. The garden is a mass of tomato bushes and as we've had little time to tend it in the past couple of weeks, it's starting to look untidy and a bit like a jungle. No matter. It's still producing enough food for us, so I'm not worried about its aesthetic appeal.

I saw this flash of red in the garden yesterday so grabbed my camera and went outside. A king parrot was grazing on the small Tommy Toe tomatoes. I love these birds and have no problem sharing what we grow with them. Although they did wipe out a crop of sunflowers I grew last year and I hasn't very pleased about that. But that was all forgotten when I saw this lovely bird happily eating some green tomatoes.

They're quite timid birds and often fly in groups of three of four, but this little fellow was alone. As soon as I moved closer, he flew to the bean trellis to eat his tomato.
These are some of the tomatoes he didn't get to. This is one of the larger tomatoes being grown near the chook house. I've forgotten what type they are but they are heirlooms and possibly a beefsteak variety by the look of these.
Of course nothing stops the eggplants once the hot weather starts. These are purple heirlooms that I like to pick quite small to cook with tomatoes, onions and garlic. Next to them are some green capsicums (peppers). They've been a good crop this year and I'll be saving their seeds to continue them on. That's the beauty of growing heirloom vegetables. As well as helping maintain the genetic diversity of backyard crops, growing vegetables from the seeds you harvest from your own crops, builds up resistance and produces better vegetables than those from seeds purchased new each year. Hybrid seeds do not grow true to type.
Further along in the garden is this Washington Navel orange tree. It's still small but we got four juicy, sweet oranges from it last year. This is the third year of growth so I've let all the flowers develop naturally, instead of taking most off to help the tree establish. There are about 30 oranges of this size on the tree.

I get a lot of satisfaction knowing we can grow a lot of our own food. I'm still learning after being a backyard gardener for about 30 years. But that's the beauty of gardening in that it constantly teaches as well as offering its sweet rewards. I think my simple life is pieced together through my garden. It gives us vegetables and herbs for our evening meals and for preserving, fruit for juice and jam, eggs for general consumption, cakes and lemon butter, luffas for cleaning and a place where we can slow down, reconnect with the earth and experience our place in the natural world.


  1. The blog looks great so far! I have been redesigning mine as well for the new year, it's sort of similar to yours, in fact! Have you been seeing my snow pictures? I would like a change, your garden looks so good!

  2. What variety of hens are those? They are so pretty! I've just discovered your blog and think that I will find much of interest here! :)

  3. don't worry if the eggs don't hatch tomorrow. I have had some be a week past hatching date hatch and had healthy chicks.

  4. Hi Niki! I'll visit your blog later today and have a look.

    Welcome aisling. The hens are Rhode Island reds but Mary is sitting on partridge bantam Wyandottes eggs. : )

  5. thanks for that, Peggy. I'm a first timer with these eggs and it's a bit nerve racking.

  6. Oh I do hope the chicks hatch tomorrow (it's still the 20th here), I will be on tenter hooks all day tomorrow.

    Your garden looks so productive and the king parrot is really beautiful. It's difficult when they eat all our hard worked for crops but we can share a bit can't we. who would want to lose something as pretty as that.

    I've lost chickens to fox and buzzard, it's sad but it is nature and part of the cycle of life.

    I like the new blog layout too, the wider page is so much easier to read. I'm new to Blogger and am only just getting my head round the basic stuff.

    When you collect your own seed do you get a problem from cross pollination for example between all the different tomatoes you grow? A lot of the things I've read warn against this but I've always wondered if it's something put round by seed merchants to make you buy fresh seed each year.


  7. Your garden looks Great, makes me want to play in the dirt.Winter time her.Thanks for sharing the pic. of the bird ,Beautiful. I feed the birds ,I have to take the feedrs down each night to keep racoons from robbing them.
    I like your new look .
    Blessins', Lib

  8. Love the new look! Your garden is beautiful and to see the bird-wow! We only see those at the zoos. Can't wait to see my hubby gardening this year-he is so excited! hope your day is peaceful. I do hope that you get chicks-Mary would be so happy.

  9. don't give up on those eggs....even a few days past the projected hatch! i've had hatches go beyond time fairly often and still had great hatches!

  10. Maybe the chicks will hatch on Xmas Day!!

  11. I like the new look and it is always a dlight to see photos of your garden. Today we are finally in Adelaide getting some good soaking rain! At least it will keep the dust under control :)

  12. Rhonda, I have a glut of zucchinis and want to make bread and butter pickles. I can find pictures of your pickles but not the recipe. Could you give me a hint?

    Stephanie Alexander has a similar recipe in the Cook's Companion though she says they only last a few weeks. She bottles them cold and I wonder if I bottled them hot would they last longer? I'd like to make a year's supply if possible.

    Thank you in advance,

    Kate xxx

  13. hello everyone, thank you fro your comments.

    dnd, I don't collect seeds every year. When I do, I make sure I only grow one type of whatever I want to save, and separate as much as I can the vegetables from the same family - cucumbers, pumpkins etc. If you want to save seed, the seed savers groups have excellent books about spacing distances and how to process the seeds.

    Hi Lib! Racoons! Yikes.

    Sharon, I'm going to send him another magazine. We don't want him to go off the boil ; )

    Hello jayedee and bella. : )

    I hope it lasts all day, lis. : )

    Hi Kate, here is the link to how I make it, but I use cucumbers, not zucchinis. http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/2007/05/pickled-cucumbers.html
    It's best to pour hot pickles into hot or warm jars. The safe way is to put the prepared jars in a water bath but your pickles will be mushy and not a bit crunchy, as I like them. I have some B&B pickles in the stockpile cupboard that I've prepared with the waterbath, but I also have some in the fridge that I didn't. If you use a good quality vinegar, with acidity of 4% - 5%, you'll safely keep them in the fridge for at least 6 weeks without waterbath processing.

  14. Thank you Rhonda for such a prompt reply.

    I'll post a picture of the pickles after I make them.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.


  15. Hi there Rhonda Jean - I love those king parrots!
    Good luck with the eggs - you should perhaps be able to hear them peeping already?
    I have read that the changes in air pressure from sending eggs by plane can muck them about a bit - so it will be especially special if you get some out OK!
    I have had really good results from posted eggs a couple of times - but these have been via road freight methinks. I once got some duck eggs sent down from Brisbane, but none of these hatched.


  16. Oh, I so much hope you get at least one egg hatch!

    The blog is looking great so far.

    Your garden is looking lovely, it's nice to finally get some good rain after being dry for so very, very long.

    I love the fact that cricket has tea breaks as well, we even schedule them into our afternoon backyard cricket with the kids so when they wear us out we can say, tea break! and go have a cup of tea and a spell!



  17. Rhonda-Thank-you! I know he will enjoy it and it will help him with the the plans he has! Hi to Hanno and hope your day is filled with joy.

  18. Oh, how lovely with parrots in the backyard. It seems like that would be a dream or something. But I guess that is how things are--what is normal one place is exotic the next. :-)

    I have got my apron I just haven't sent a picture of it to you guys yet... I have had a crash on my bicycle and am first getting my feet under me now.

    It's so exciting with Mary's babies!

  19. About the parrots -- I was thinking just what rebekka said up there!

    Nice to visit your sunny garden.

    (The blog looks great, BTW!)

  20. That's what I miss most about not living in Australia anymore. The birds. They are so beautiful. I used to have tons of lorrikeets on the window sill every morning. I used to bake them Banana Bread. No those weren't spoiled birds much LOL. They would knock on the window with their beaks if I wasn't out in time.
    Such a wonderful country you live in. I can't wait to be back to the sights and smells of the eucalypts.
    I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas.


  21. Wow, what a spectacular bird to see in one's own garden! What a bountiful garden, too.

  22. Does anyone know how often a Rosemary plant should be watered? I was given one as a gift earlier this month and it seems to be sucking up water like no tomorrow. It's a potted plant and stays indoors (too much snow outside!). It receives morning sun as it sits near an East window.

    I thought that given there seems to be some avid gardeners/green thumbs here you wouldn't mind Rhonda Jean if I ask this.
    Thank you!



Thank you for your comment. They are an important part of my blog because they help build the community here. Please don't add links or email addresses to your comment. This is a family-friendly blog and I don't have the time to check all the links before I publish them.

These comments are moderated so yours won't appear until after I've read it.