12 March 2012

On the weekend

We had a wonderful mixture of resting, planning and working over the weekend. We're getting ready for our new season vegetable garden and both Hanno and I are excited by the all the possibilities ahead of us this year. We produce food in the backyard almost all year. Our growing year starts in March with empty garden beds, builds up as the cooler days pass by and ends, of a sort, in November. We stop planting then but continue harvesting until it's all gone. That varies every year. Last season we had tomatoes until Christmas and the capsicums/peppers, Welsh onions a few herbs and chillies are still growing now. Hanno went along to the local market on Sunday to pick up some seedlings to get us started. He also bought another orange tree to replace the pink grapefruit that died during the prolonged rain. Next week I'll start planting seeds for later plantings.

Hanno harvested all the loofas growing along the trellis. Now I have the arduous ask of skinning and deseeding them. BUt is gives us plenty of loofas for the year with a few to give away.

Living seasonally as we do, it's quite easy to get into a natural rhythm, helped along by cooler days, fewer bugs and the absolute pleasure of wandering through the garden to pick this and that. I think it's a real shame that in my lifetime we've gone from backyard gardeners to being more reliant on trays of fruit and vegetables in the supermarket that look fresh but might not be. I'm hopeful that more people are returning to home grown vegetables, at least that is what I'm hearing, but I wonder it it's true.

You don't need a lot of land to produce vegetables, in fact you don't need land at all. We have a large backyard but our vegetable garden takes only a small fraction of that available space. If you don't have land, you can produce small amounts of fresh vegetables and herbs on a balcony or verandah. That applies all over the world. If you want to grow your own, do what ever you can with the space you have and see what you come up with and if you can improve each year. All gardening is that. Even seasoned gardeners like us have failures, nothing is guaranteed, we learn something new every year, but when everything goes according to plan, you are rewarded for your efforts in many wonderful ways. Gardening is also an excellent way to get the full value of the land you live on. Why just leave it sit there under grass when it could be making a significant contribution to your food budget and your health.

In addition to all the garden planning on the weekend, I also made my first meal from the CWA Classics book - lentil soup. It is as delicious as it promised to be and I'll certainly be taking some of it in a flask for lunch today at the Neighbourhood Centre.

During the breaks to rest my weary bones, I knitted. I finished off an organic pink cotton cowl scarf for me and I've got Hanno's two year jumper out again ready to finish off to keep him warm over winter. He feels the cold much more than I do and even when we were at Tricia's last month - in summer - he was wearing a woollen jumper and slept under a woollen blanket and a doona. He only has one good jumper so this one will be more for around home on those cold mornings and nights.  I have some lovely alpaca here too so I might knit some long-armed fingerless mittens for him too.

We were visited by Jens and Cathy and their dog Koda and new Airedale puppy Tilly on the weekend. We puppy-sat Tilly late last week so she was in familiar territory on this visit and it was a beautiful thing to see Koda and Tiily hit that golden time of day for Airedales - 4pm - and run around like clowns chasing each other in the late afternoon dappled shade.

What a great response to the swap! There are only three more days to sign up, then it will be closed off, completely. Sharon will pair off partners and post that list on the blog soon. When you have your partner, you can email them and ask about colour and style preferences, or decide to surprise each other. All aprons will need to be made and posted by 17 April. Sharon has asked that you include a family recipe in with your apron and I think that is a wonderful idea. These swaps are not about seeing who sews the best - it's more about fun and friendship, connecting with others who live as we do, fun, improving sewing skills if you're a new sewer, and helping others who may not have done something like this before. So I encourage you to join in, even all those shy people who lurk in the background - both women and men. My only request is that if you do sign up, you honour your commitment and send your apron on time, as promised.

We're having the Queensland launch of the book on Wednesday at the Maleny Neighbourhood Centre. I'd love to see  you if you're close enough to come along. Rosetta's Books in Maleny is organising the event so if you decide to come, please book through them on 5435 2134. Wine and cheese will be provided and the cost is $8. We start at 5.30pm for a 6pm to 7 pm event.

If you've paid for a book but haven't received it yet, please email me with your payment details, including the date and your name. Don't worry if you haven't received your book, we paid extra so that all parcels can be tracked. I hope to have all the books sent out this week.   I have a Swift transfer from someone overseas. If you've ordered my book from another country and you haven't received it, please send your payment details as well as the amount and date sent. Also, can Brad Van Hemert email please.

I hope you have a wonderful week ahead.



  1. Hi Rhonda
    It's still Sunday night here but had to ask... I see that I can order your book from you directly which is wonderful as South African booksellers seems to be a few steps behind the rest of the world! Please can you direct me to where I can see the procedure to follow to get one of your books. Thanks, Wendy

  2. What an adorable little pup. The loofas look so interesting in their original form. Any chance you'll do a post on how you prepare them? xo m.

  3. Wendy, details are in the Down to Earth tab at the top of the blog page.

  4. Hi Rhonda. I was wondering if you could do a list of what to buy as seedlings vs what to plant seeds for? I don't have much luck germinating seeds, but perhaps I'm choosing the wrong plants to germinate. Thanks! Eliza

  5. Eliza, I'll be starting such a post when I plant more seeds here later in the week. It should be up next week.

  6. I am getting excited to start this years garden too. Wont be much this year as we will be dealing with recovery from an operation but we will have a few things going. Then the next season we can get it going full swing again! :) I have a question. I need to replace an old orange tree. Can the new one be planted in the same hole as the old one? Our yard is small so we don't have much choice. Is it ok to plant oranges in the same space as one formerly was? Ours id dying from old age they tell us so no decease cause its demise. Oh I so wish we had such nice places to get new plantings! There are so few nursery in our whole area and they all carry the same plants. I am so happy that your country takes such interest in gardens. Sarah

  7. Sarah dear, as long as there is no sign of disease or die back, it should be okay to plant in the same place. You will have to dig out the planting hole and replace the soil with good fertile soil. You can do that by mixing the soil you take out of the hole with aged cow manure, some sulphate of potash and a bit of dolomite and some blood and bone (all are organic). Mix it all together, put it in the hole, water it in and let it sit for a week or so. When you plant, water the tree in with seaweed tea, and mulch. You should get good fruit in a few years. OH and when the first flowers come in the first few years, pick them off. Don't let the tree set fruit for the first couple of years - let it develop strong roots before it puts it's strength into the fruit.

  8. Sounds like a really pleasant weekend at your place. Would love to see the finished cowl. The yarn is such a pretty colour.
    I really enjoyed reading about your travels. It's a shame I wasn't able to get to any of your places (we were camping) but it sounds like it was the experience of a lifetime for you two. But it is nice to be home, isn't it :)

  9. I empathise with Hanno, I feel the cold too. I'm making socks for Tony this year to see if they help his arthritis -- he feels the cold too.

  10. Will have to look for my card statement and find out if I ordered my book through you or through a company....somehow someone wiped my emails which had my copy of the payment receipt and now I have to find out how I did order it....dammit....so can't even think of the date I ordered it either...Unless you have an outstanding order for Katrina Hutchesson sitting around - will get back to you with details when I can check with my bank if its you I ordered it from

  11. Katrina, yes, check it out. I have no order from Katrina, just dates and numbers.

  12. Hi Rhonda, nice to see you back home and to read that you have enjoyed your book signing tour meeting lots of lovely readers of your blog....
    I just wanted to send you a link to my blog, to show you what I harvest from my small garden for my family of five...backyard gardening was a tradition I grew up with and so did my husband, and one that I have continued here for my family now...if you hit on 'Whats in the gathering basket' in my side bar list of posts...you will see the posts that I have done with all the things I harvest from my small plot....I would love you to see, ....Suzanne


  13. So excited to see your garden take shape once again :) You must be really happy to be home from your travels - there's nothing quite like that flush of happiness that comes when you settle in after being away... xo

  14. Looks like a lovely weekend Rhonda...we have been planting seeds here, am trying to avoid buying seedlings this year as i fear our vegie patch has been costing us more than we reap lately...but i still love to be able to wander and pick for dinner!

  15. I just love the excitement of new seedlings and starts. That picture you had of all the new seedlings was just so pretty.

    We have a home now, along with a backyard and a basement that allows us plenty of room for starting seedlings under a workshop light. I have six different varieties of heirloom tomatoes and a whole tray of different herbs and kale. I agree with you that once you realize what you can produce by growing things yourself, suddenly you don't want to waste any land at all.

    Have a great week!

  16. Welcome home Rhonda! Looks like you're getting back into the swing of things at home again - enjoy :)

  17. it's always a pleasure to read with you rhonad. Thank you for sharing. When I read all of the hard work you do every day, I can not sit back and do nothing. I have to go up and clean something or have myself a handwork.

    i had a wondeful weekend, thank you. We were blessed with the first birthday of our little princes. Again a special day to remember!

    Love from Holland

  18. Rhonda - I've been reading your blog for a few years now, commenting now and then. I am particularly interested to learn from you and your readers about gardening. I am a single 57 year old American woman and a Holistic Health Coach. I want to be a good model for my clients for whom I recommend lots of fresh vegetables, so why not get started on growing them myself, so that I'll something further to teach them. I will visit often and hopefully feel confident enough to start a garden. Thank you! And best of luck with your new book!

    Ellen Allard

  19. We are just getting geared up for spring here in the United States. Isn't it sooo exciting to plan the garden and then watch al the little things coming up. :)

  20. There is a growing movement, albeit slow, in the US for self sufficiency. In Louisville, Kentucky, an inspiring movement is taking hold. Here's the link www.15thousandfarmers.com . It's encouraging to see a large metropolitan area taking responsibility for food production on a local, sustainable level. It can serve as a model for others.

  21. Hi Rhonda,

    Is there any chance that you could post that lovely lentil recipe, it looks so yummy and healthy...

    Thanks Jools

  22. Thank you so much for all the wonderful information Rhonda. This is such a help. Sarah

  23. I bought the CWA classics book last week, too. I've made the 5 minute orange cake twice now. The first time it took me almost half an hour - because I'd bought a new food processor and it took me most of that time to work out how to get it to start! And to think food processors were all pretty much the same!

  24. Tiffany @ No Ordinary HomesteadMarch 18, 2012 10:21 pm

    I agree! You really have a wonderful weekend! I am very much interested because you have your book that contains information and guidelines... Could you please post where i can buy it..?

    I actually host a weekly gardening link up every Friday on my blog. I'd love for you to drop by and join in.

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