Weekend work

28 July 2008
I am worried about Rosie, our 12 year old Airedale Terrier. She's lost a bit of weight over the last week or so and she's been vomiting. She's still eating her evening meal but won't touch the biscuits in the morning. I've been giving her a little bit of porridge during the day, which she loves. Hanno will take her to the vet today. :- |

For the past few months, we've been talking about putting up a screen near our bedroom to shade the wall from the summer western sun. Our plan is to grow luffas all along the screen during summer and smaller crops, that would allow the sun through, in winter. Well, last week Hanno built that screen. You can see him in action, with his sidekick, Rosetta, above. (Clicking on the photos will enlarge them.)

We enriched the soil, which was mainly the natural clay we are on here, with compost, worm castings and some of the rich soil from the chicken coop. It was watered in with a weak solution of seaweed tea. Our first crop is lettuce and tomatoes - two Tropics and two beefsteaks. We've covered it all with straw to keep the soil at an even temperature and to conserve the water used on the garden. When these tomatoes have cropped, they'll be pulled out and the luffas planted. I will be selling those organic luffas with my homemade soap in a few months time.

Tomatoes are an important crop to us and generally I like to plant pink Brandywines. If you've never seen a Brandywine, above is a photo of one we ate on the weekend. I think they're the perfect tomato - juicy without being watery, more sweet than tart, few seeds and they have the most divine flavour.

What we eat depends on what is growing in the backyard. On Saturday I made some coleslaw and we had that with a garden salad with snow peas, and potatoes with butter and parsley.

I had just started taking off the outer leaves of the cabbage and out popped this little fellow! He's a sedge frog - a tiny leaf dwelling green frog which, when fully grown, will be about two inches long. He's now living in our green house.

We pulled out all the brandywines and cucumbers last week, enriched the soil again and planted up some leeks and more tomatoes. If you're new to vegetable gardening, I can't encourage you enough to enrich your soil. Compost, worms and all sorts of organic matter in your soil will help you grow the best vegetables possible. It is well worth the time it takes to do it.

And here is yesterday's garden, taken from behind the lazy housewife beans. We're eating some of these green beans raw and the rest I'm allowing to dry on the vine. I'll harvest a couple of jars of the finest dried white beans for my stockpile cupboard from them. They'll be a nutritious addition to soups and casseroles later in the year. I love those dual purpose vegetables.

Above you can see a pineapple growing among the kale. I am hoping it will produce pineapples this summer.

And in this last photo, meet some of my peeps. Here are Pippa and Mrs Rudd - two silver sussex, Margaret, my big light sussex, Martha, the buff Orphington at the top, and Bernadette, the Barnevelder at the bottom. Bernadette always looks angry but she's quite timid and sweet.

Gardening and knitting took up the best part of my weekend. My daughter-in-law, Cathy, found some Lion organic pure cotton for me last week so I experimented with that, knitting and unpicking it a few times until, at last, I was happy with the result.

Every so often my family and friends tell me they've read something on my blog, but none of them ever comments. So, in the hope of flushing them out, I'd like to say hello to Trisha, Kathleen (my sisters), and friends Susan, Bernadette, Wendy and Anna. :- )

Just one last word to my Australian friends. If this truck drivers' strike goes ahead, I encourage you to top up your stockpiles. Hanno and I are not due to shop for a while yet, but if the truck strike is on, it will affect grocery deliveries very quickly, so Hanno will stock up on a few items today. If you need to stock up, shop today or tomorrow if you can.


  1. Hello Rhonda, sorry to read Rosie's not her usual self. I hope the visit to the vet helps. Thinking of you and sending hugs. Diana x

  2. What a wonderful vege garden you have. It is truly inspirational.

  3. Rhonda and Hanno: I so enjoy your blog. I have learned so much way down here in Georgia, USA. I will be praying for Rosie. I know how it is to be concerned about your animals. Angie

  4. Hi Rhonda
    I was just tihnking the same about Rosie. Hope she is better soon.

    Good idea about the luffa/soap combimation for sale. That would exactly the sort of thing I would send to friends overseas for Chrsitmas, assuming it can be sent direct. Great idea.

    Best wishes

  5. Me too -hoping Rosie is ok (have two nine year old dogs myself so now how you must worry)

    Sparkly x

  6. Thanks for the heads up on the truckies strike and the possible implications Rhonda. We need a few essentials but i was trying to have a "no spend" week. I think a trip to the local shops is called for.

    All the best for Rosie and that the vet brings you good news and an inexpensive bill!

  7. Rhonda, some food for thought about Peak Oil on Okham's Razor on the ABC yesterday morning - did you catch it? http://www.abc.net.au/rn/ockhamsrazor/default.htm
    Ian Dunlop's take on what we should be doing now - simultaneously filling one with inspiration and dread. Once upon a time I would have trusted our political leaders to take something like this on - now I have very little faith in their ability to broker solutions honestly and fearlessly I am afraid.

  8. Hi Rhond, Thanks for the info on the truck strike. As I don't use TV I rely on the internet for my news and so must have missed this. Thanks Cherrie

  9. Hi Rhonda,

    I always love reading your blog.

    So sorry to hear Rosie is not well, sending her best wishes for a fast recovery.

    Jodie x

  10. Your garden is beautiful!!! Our's is producing but very weedy!!! :( Do you do anything special to keep the weeds out or is it just diligence on the weeding and hoeing? This morning I picked 18 heads of broccoli and blanched and froze them. It will be nice to have them for broccoli cheese soup or stir-fries this winter!! Am thinking of you with Rosie as well. Best wishes!

    Kristina in Nebr.

  11. I hope Rosie is ok.

    It sounds like you had a productive weekend as usual.

  12. gwvI do hope your little Rosie perks up. Our border collie, Bonnie, is 13 and, you know, she's just getting old. I have so much gratitude in my heart for her small existence.

    I've never given the ability to garden year round much thought but since reading your blog, of course, we (the 4 seasons dwellers)are exposed to this wonder of wonders a lot. I am hoping to extend our gardening season this year and will - for the very first time - do a second planting of cold weather crops in late August. Maybe, just maybe, if they're well mulched it will work out.

  13. I hope Rosie feels better soon, as usual you blog is wonderfu and full of famtastic advice.

  14. Hi Rhonda,
    I'll be praying for your dog Rosie. Praying the vet says it is nothing serious. When my dog has an upset stomach the vet suggests cottage cheese and cooked rice for a couple of days. Just recently I took my dog to the vet for her shots and her skin was very dry. The vet said I could try a dab of bacon grease in her dry food or corn oil. Thought this tip might help you sometime.

  15. Good Morning Rhonda
    I do hope Rosie is alright after her trip to the vets and feeling her old self soon.

    Have a good day;

    Pippa x

    ps Garden is looking good.

  16. I'm also hoping Rosie's OK.
    You're garden is an inspiration to see, and Hanno looks like an awfully handy fellow to have around! That's a nice screen he's put up. I'd love to see a pic when the luffas are growing. DH was also inspired to check out Hanno's "flower pot" water containers at Bunnings and it looks like two or three of them will be just what we needed (even though not at discount price).

    I too don't see TV news and didn't hear about the strike until you commented. Even though it looks more QLD-centric some want it to go nation wide. Our stockpile will be a great asset but I'd better check that my elderly mum has sufficient stores. Thanks for commenting.

    I hope you know what a wonderful thing it is you're doing having this blog. It's nice being part of your community, especially as times become increasingly uncertain.

    Regards, Marilyn

  17. I was wondering do you have a year round veggie garden? We have such a short season in southern Ontario. I would love to make a bigger veggie garden but don't think that would be possible.

    Gill in Canada

  18. I want to add my best wishes for Rosie and I hope it's nothing serious. Please let us know how she does.
    I think Hano did a beautiful job on the screen and the garden looks so lovely. The little froggy is so cute too.
    I wanted to also add a little tip. I usually keep a rag bag for cleaning but I don't go through sheets or clothes very fast to add to it and I was coming to the bottom. I had heard a lot of good things about microfiber cloths so I had priced them at a few places but was not prepared to pay $6.99 for one cloth...One? Is it just me or is that crazy? Then when I happened to be in the pharmacy getting some things I noticed that they had microfiber cloths in the automotive isle. I decided to take a look at the price just for the heck of it. To my surprise they were a 3 pack roll of 12 X 16 inch cloths for $3. A dollar each for reasonable size I can deal with. So my tip is to look in unexpected places for the exact same item. You might be surprised to find something you need much cheaper. I'm looking forward to seeing how well these do with cleaning.

  19. Hi Rhonda,

    Joanne from Dubbo. We had your chickpea burgers at the end of last week and they were very nice. Even child 5 1/2 and child 3 3/4 at them, a real winner for a veggie meal. Thanks for all your tips.

  20. I found your blog a few weeks and and I am so hooked! I thought I would pop in and say 'hello'. :D
    I was curious about what your growing season is like? I love your seeing your garden photos and my husband and I have been thinking about putting in a greenhouse to grow tomato's and such all year round. I wouldn't know when to pull tomato plants to replace since winter lets me know when their done for. Lol
    And my best wishes for Rosie

  21. Hi Rhonda,
    I have enjoyed your posts for several weeks now and have learned a lot about what has become our new lifestyle. It seems we needed to wait until retirement to be home long enough to plant a garden and are trying to be especially conservative in our use of natural resources.
    But I have a question. Do you really have pineapples growing in your garden? And what do you consider to be the basic food supplies necessary for emergencies?
    Sorry this post is so long and I understand if you can't respond.
    Keep up the good work and I too hope and pray that Rosie just has a temporary problem.

  22. Hi Rhonda Jean :) I am excited about your new screen - it's wonderful! Can't wait to read more about how you're enjoying it as the seasons pass.

    I am so sorry that Rosie is unwell! I will be praying for you and Hanno as you help her. Love you! Q

  23. Hope Rosie gets to feeling better-it is always a worry when one of the animals is ill, especially when she is older. I love Hanno's screen-now I have to talk my hubby into building one as our sun is so strong. Lots of hugs! Sharon

  24. The garden looks lovely like always. I am so looking forward, to the day you start selling your soap.

  25. Having been out of the loop all weekend, no TV where I was, I hadn't heard of the truckies strike. I had better head out and get some basic stores today.

    I'm sorry to hear that Rosie isn't well, I hope she recovers very soon.

  26. Oh your garden looks lovely and lush - ours is almost bare at this time of year down here! How do you get your beans so huge and green looking? Ours grow and crop reasonably well but never look that good! And where do you get your loofah seeds from? are they a tropical plant or could I attempt to grow some here in the cold mountainous south?
    Sorry for all the questions but your blog just gets my mind ticking over with countless possibilities!

  27. Hi Rhonda,
    This Ros(i)e is thinking of your Rosie.
    We too have a problem with our west facing bedroom window. We've tried shade cloth but your solution seems ideal.
    Is Hanno's name short for something?

  28. Dear Rhonda,
    I'll be in prayer for your Rosie.
    Please update when you can.
    Thinking and praying for you all.


  29. Hi, sorry to hear about rosie,trust all will be well. I have been reading your post for weeks now and all my company has left, so today I made your soap, instructions were great. i set it all out to cool in a tray like your's but recycled from the hospital and the towel touched the center f the soap. So that part looks whiter and bumper(funnier/different) from the rest. I hope I have not ruined the soap, smells great, will turn it out tomorrow am, cut and stamp the blocks. Will let you know how it turns out. Also it took about 35 min. till I saw trace and it was not as defined as yours. Normal? have a great Monday Eileen

  30. Poor Rosie... Thinking of her today Rhonda (I do love my own doggies, so I get quite upset when other people's are unwell), I hope she gets well soon :-)

  31. I hope and pray that Rosie is all better by the time you read my comment.
    As usual your post is very interesting and inspiring. I love the screen that Hanno made. He is a very talented man!
    I am hoping that my life will settle in a little so I can start implimenting a simpler lifestyle. Soon, I pray, soon.

  32. Hello everyone. Thank you all so much for your good wishes and prayers for Rosie. Hanno and I really appreciate them. We couldn't get her into the vet today and hope to have an appointment tomorrow. There is no change in her condition just yet. I'll keep you posted.

    Marg thanks for the Okhams Razor info. I used to automatically download it to my ipod but I stopped listening to it when I got really busy. I'll check it out.

    Kristina, we just weed by hand and how. And, we don't stress out if there are weeds there.

    Gill, yes, we can garden all year here. Our toughest season is summer with bugs and heat that burns the plants, sometimes we put up shade houses over the plants.

    Judie, yes we are growing pineapples. It's just one plant that we'll get a few pineapples from. This is the second year of the first plant. I have just planted another three. My basic staples are powdered milk, tinned fish, rice, lentils, barley, rolled oats, bread flour, yeast, honey, sugar, tea, dried beans, olive oil, dates and sultanas. If I have those in my cupboard, a tank full of water and our vegetable/fruit garden and chooks, we could last a long time here at home.

    Kate, luffas need hot weather. I bought my original seeds from Green Harvest, now I save seed from previous crops. We feed the beans with seaweed tea, apart from that, they just grow themselves.

    Rose, Hanno is a scandanavian name. It's not short for anything.

    Eileen, I think your soap will be fine.

  33. Hi Rhonda, I hope Rosie is feeling better. It is great advice to replenish the stockpile. It would probably be a good idea to top up the fuel in the car too especially those of us living in remote or regional areas.

  34. I hope Rosie is okay - give her a big hug from myself , Bear and Ted

  35. Hope the pooch is OK. My mouth was watering at the picture of your tomatoes. Mine are still green, but with some patience, hopefully we'll be able to have some lovely ones this summer here in the UK.

    I do think it is very cool you have the climate to grow loofas up that handsome garden wall that Hanno made.


    Anna Marie of the bread

  36. Oh poor Rosie! Let us know how she's doing.

    I love the pictures of the garden. It always inspires me to get out in mine and keep on weeding.


  37. I hope Rosie's going to be okay. My cats sometimes feel a bit under the weather, but its usually something minor. Get well soon Rosie :-)

    Your garden looks great! I now have about 4 courgettes which I'm convinced will be ready to crop within a week. I have lots of tomatoes which are staying green, despite getting quite big! Rhonda, would you crop them green and ripen in the sun, or leave them on the plant till they're red? In previous years they've gone nice and red on the plant so its not been a problem. I also have a little baby cucumber which should be ready in a week or so. Its all exciting!

    I too amd excited about your Etsy shop and soap selling - I'll be having some!

    Love, Fifi xx

  38. Rhonda, You have such an organized and lovely garden - your back yard seems so large in the pictures - approx. what is the yardage/footage whatever :) the size of the yard?

    I am just wondering what I can do with my yard although here they frown on people doing too much with it - as I am in a subdevelopment - noisy neighbours :)

  39. Hi Rhonda!

    I'm back from my stack of business trips and plowing through country/simple life again with renewed vigor. I wanted to stop by and say hello as it has been such a long time. I have been lurking but my computer time has been limited and I've been unable to comment the way that I would like.

    Blessings to you!

  40. Beautiful garden! I am so envious! I love the screen idea. I can just imagine it with the luffa veins growing on it. I hope Rosie will be feeling better soon.

  41. I am sorry to hear Rosie's not feeling well. (((HUGS))) It always breaks my heart when I know fur friends are not feeling well, but they can't "tell" us what's wrong.

    Hanno built a beautiful screen - wow!

  42. Rhonda,

    Your garden looks great! What do you have around your plants as a mulch? Is that straw or hay? We don't usually mulch with anything but it really looks great around your plants:)

    I really like your fence your husband did a wonderful job. Did you go by a design or make it up on your own?

    We have been trying to stockpile. It has helped a alot this week. I truely believe groceries have double in the last few monthes.

    I know I have probably have ask you once before but I can't remember if I have so here I go again.... Do you have a list you go by for stockpiling? I have been trying to double up on a few certain foods and I know I should for paper products. I just don't know if I should go by a list or by sale prices?

    Thank you again Rhonda!!

    I hope Dog gets to feeling better.

    Lots of Love,


  43. I hope that all is well with Rosie.
    Loved the photos today-

  44. I LOVE YOUR CHICKEN'S NAMES!!!! My Mom names all her critters as well. Once day I hope to have a bunch of named chickens myself.
    Becky in SC - USA

  45. my big light sussex, Martha, the buff Orphington at the top,

    Wow You answered a big question as to two of my new chickens. I need to learn more about worm castings and composting. I got the coop finished and the chooks are doing great. They came home on Friday. They are already following us and answering to their names (well 3 of the 10 are).

  46. love your garden and chickens..and love that new screen to hold the loofah vines.

  47. I put in my 2nd garden in my life and it is doing wonderful. I did a small one as this is my first one to have in the past 21 years. Next year I will increase the garden. I will also look as to what I can grow during the autumn season.

    Thank you for sharing your garden. I love it. Also, for sharing to going into a Simple Life is done by baby steps. Sometimes it is hard for me to do baby steps, but I am trying to do so. This is a journey, not an end result.

    I have in my garden, put in a Clothes line, made my own Santitary Napkins, Baby Wipes and Baby Wipe Solution. I also have begun to clean with vinegar. I love the results it brings. Also, I put vinegar in my wash to disinfect and to soften the clothes.

    I am also learning to repurpose Items. I got some Hawaiian sheets and made them into two curtains, door drafts, and covered a valance for my middle bathroom. i took another flannel snowflake set and made curtains for my sliding glass door. Have another flannel fitted sheet and will be making it into a curtain for the window. Should have enough fabric leftover to make a door draft for the sliding glass door. In my door drafts I roll up a towel that is no longer good for using in the bath, but is good enough to use for these. I had vertical blinds in my bedroom and i wanted to reuse the rods so I designed the curtains to hang over the rod and to be buttoned. The buttons were off some clothing that I wasn't going to wear. I also save materials from clothing to make it into what i want.

    Thanks for sharing your life.

    Becky Fischer

  48. I have a nine year old shepherd mix and when she seems off her feed it has seemed to work wonders to feed her yogurt. I just feed her a small carton and she will eat that when nothing else seems to do the trick. Plain or with fruit, she likes it all, and in a day or two she's back to normal..Hope Rosie is better.


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