The joys of gardening

10 May 2008

We spent a relaxing day in the backyard yesterday. I did some gardening while Hanno continued on his nest building project in the shed. It's a pleasure to spend these gentle days of Autumn in the vegetable garden. I hear the chooks clucking and the weather is perfect, with a coolness not quite enough to add a jumper. Bare arms gardening - I should write a book about it.

Everything is growing well. The first potatoes have shown their green heads and the tomatoes are fruiting and backing up with a lot of their pretty yellow flowers. The tomatoes below are Amish Paste, a great tomato for sauce. They're a medium sized bush but need a lot of tying back.

The Lebanese cucumbers have started to climb their trellis and have a lot of flowers so it looks like I'll be making bread and butter cucumbers in a few weeks time. They're planted with French radishes at the front which we pick every day and often crunch on while we're in the garden.

The tomatoes below are pink Brandywines - a potato leaf variety. They grow big and juicy and one slice is enough for a slice of bread. The little bright green cabbage is bok choi, which we grow for the chickens. They love any strong tasting leaf and fight for the bok choi leaves when we throw them in morning and afternoon.

Here is Hanno's kale - this is a Siberian kale, which is commonly known as grunkhol in Germany. Every winter he looks forward to this big cookup. He cooks smoked pork, German sausages and kale together in a big pot and reheats it for about three or four meals. He says it tastes better each time it's reheated. I'll take his word for that because when he eats it, I have eggs on toast or soup. ;- )

Of all the things we grow in our backyard, the fruit would have to be my favourite. These bananas are ready to cut down and we'll probably do that tomorrow. We'll hang them in the shed and take a few from them as we need them. I'll also freeze a few batches of them for making cakes later in the year.

This is the orange I ate late yesterday afternoon. I can tell you with no word of a lie that it was the most perfect orange I've ever eaten. I remember eating delicious oranges from Greece when we lived in Germany, and I've had some had some excellent Californian oranges, as well as a lot of very good Australian oranges, but these ... these, my friends, outdid all others. And to know that my orange is perfect AND organic is the just the best thing. Could it get any better? Well yes, I ate this orange about three minutes after it was picked.

If you're not growing fruit but are in an area where you can grow oranges, I encourage you to try them. You'll buy a grafted tree - mine is a Washington Navel - for around the $15 mark and you'll get your first fruit about three years after planting. It really is the best investment.

And finally, the chooks. Here are Heather, our Faverolles with feather boots, and Martha, a buff Orpington. Below are black-eyed Mary, an Australorp, and Jewels our little golden Hamburg.

Today we are adding to our flock. We are driving over to our chook lady to buy ten more chickens. This time we're not buying anymore babies or smaller chickens, this time we're going for the big point-of-lay girls. We've decided to stay with the heavier breeds as we have too many snakes around here. The little chooks are sitting ducks, so to speak.

I have my bread on the rise, it's 5.30 am now, so I'll finish this, make the bread rolls, bake them and boil some eggs. When it's light I'll go out and pick some frilly lettuce and radishes. I'll pack a picnic lunch of fresh rolls with egg and lettuce, a little salad of tomato and radish, date loaf, a fresh orange each and a flask of tea. We'll stop off at Wivenhoe Dam and have lunch there and look for another spot for afternoon tea. It should be a nice day out.

I hope you enjoy your day too. Thank you for stopping by and for all the wonderful comments this week. If you're looking for something to read over the weekend, it doesn't get much better than life with this fine family over at Little Homestead in the City.


  1. Hey! Thanks for all the great info. I was browsing through a bunch of green websites and blogs and I came across yours and found it very interesting. There are a bunch of others I like too, like the daily green, ecorazzi and I especially like’s carbon calculator ( I find it really easy to use (it doesn’t make me feel guilty after I take it). Are there any others you would recommend? Can you drop me a link to your favorites (let me know if they are the same as mine).

  2. Your garden looks beautiful! It is finally starting to warm up here in Nebraska. My daughter graduates from high school next Sunday (18th) so I am busy preparing for that. But...the very next day I plan to start planting my garden! The peppers (both hot and sweet) and tomatoes I started are about to spill out of their pots! I can't wait to eat my own, know-where-it-came-from produce again! We planted 36 little spruce and pine trees this past Monday for a new shelter belt along the north edge of our place. It will be a while before they actually block the wind but we had to start somewhere! Take care Rhonda! Thanks for a great site!


  3. I love to hear about your progress in the garden; I hope to have a few things of my own growing in a few weeks, tomatoes, cucumber and courgettes if nothing else. I'm about to move house so its all a bit unsettled at the moment.

    Look forward to seeing some pics of your new girls. Enjoy your day out :)

  4. Hi Rhonda Jean :) Another lovely post! And I DO think you should write "bare arms gardening" - what a great title! Hope that you have a lovely wknd. Love, Q

  5. With the exception of the orange, these pictures remind me of our old home in the Philippines.

    I finally got to responding to your comment on my blog, about the use of salt for laundry. I'm happy to say, that even before that comment came, I have already stopped using the salt- and it wasn't even for environmental reason!

    Thank you for pointing that out though. A few of the things I have been sharing recently are new to me, and I sure don't want to mislead others. Wise words are always welcome. Thanks again!

  6. I love this post! Your gardens are beautiful! How do you freeze bananas? With the peeling on? Very interesting! I, too, love love oranges! What a beautiful one you had!

  7. Do you get hornworms on your tomatoes? And if you do, how do you manage them....

  8. The orange looks delicious. I bought oranges from a local supermarket this week. They were tasteless, anaemic and not very juicy. These were Australian grown, but I wonder how old they were. Looks like I'm going to have to take the drive to a pick your own farm, last year they were delicious.

  9. HI Kristina - please pass on my congratulations to your daughter on this importnat milestone. Good luck with your garden. Wind breaks are an important part of any garden. A spruce and pine one sounds wonderful.

    Good luck with the move, Rosie.

    Hello Quinne dear.

    Hi Flo, it's good to have you here again!

    Alice Grace. I freeze them in their skins, just sitting in a freezer bag. They go black but are still very good for cooking or smoothies.

    I have never heard of hornworms.

    beloved goddess, I wonder why it is that we don't sell our own oranges in our own countries - in season. We are often flooded with Californian oranges here and local orange growers have to plough their crops in.

  10. Hi Rhonda,

    Your garden looks gorgeous and those chooks are so cute! I have been reading your blog for a while now and find it so inspiring. I am in an apartment in Sydney at the moment so only have limited space to grow things (just harvested my first potatoes this weekend! A total of 5, weighing about 250grams all up haha).
    Hopefully in a year or two we will be on a bit of land in country NSW but for now I am concentrating on learning new crafts and skills and making the most of what I have with the help of your wise words.

  11. oy. My dad used to make big pots of that Kale and Pork, and collard greens. I forget what he called it, but it was terrible! I always dreaded the days following because I knew it was going to be reheated and given to me.
    Maybe thats why I don't eat pork now...

  12. Eurêka! Kole = Grünkohl, I was asking myself what this was. So I guess that your husband comes from northern Germany as in the south, kole is mostly given to rabbits.... My mother(from the north) loved Grünkohleintopf and my father (from the south) learnt to love it too. Did you tried Grünkohl Salad?

    By the way, I found your blog 2 days ago and I love it.I'm spending long hours to read all.

    Christa, a German from France.

  13. Rhonda,

    I love your blog! I was checking out your gardening section of your website and am impressed by your garden. I want to invite you to join our garden community at I think you might really enjoy it.

    Keep up the good work!




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