All the leaves are brown & the sky is grey

During our first autumn in our house, we’ve had quite a few working bees and afternoon teas with Bel’s parents as they have helped us hack down and haul away the overgrown mess that was the shiny leaf and dead ivy-covered trees. So now, all but one tree (holding up our old-school clothesline) remains, we have ripped down the old paling fence and our new higher back fence has been constructed!

Our broccoli crop has come and gone, while our tomatoes and pumpkins (10 this summer!) have been ripped out and been replaced with two crops of brassicas (bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts), alliums (onions, garlic, leeks) with some random spinach, turnip, swede & carrot plantings in between, and a crop of peas and snow peas. We have had a few dramas with our little cluckers, including Thelma and Louise tunnelling out of their new pen, absconding to the neighbours backyard, eating their grass, scratching up their garden and somehow avoiding being eaten by their dog!  Hopefully their new fortified ‘Fort Knox’ pen with a run down the back of the house will keep them happy through the winter months. We are getting the impression that they dislike the frosty dark mornings as much as us since the egg laying frequency has dropped off in the bitter cold snap we’ve had throughout May (Update: the girls had started laying in the tiny space underneath the water tank stand- the things they do for privacy!).

The lovely previous owners who built our home in the 70’s also had an immense affection for concreting rocks into garden borders and we’ve had a few days of hard yakka smashing them up with a crowbar and carting them away. Probably should’ve bought some shares in Lion Nathan, as we’re putting away our fair share of James Squires in the process. We are aiming in the next month to replace the concrete & rocks with raised garden beds with hardwood sleepers around the perimeter of our backyard, 2-3 metres deep so we can plant a vegie bed in front of our fruit trees. Probably should’ve bought shares in Bunnings too since we are down there almost every weekend, mostly to eat sausages and ask directions from the overly descriptive & articulate sales assistant at the Waurn Ponds store -‘You’re looking for bolts? Well, simply trace your steps back to aisle 5 and venture downwards. When you reach the midpoint of the aisle, just before the crescendo of the first segment of shelves, cast your eyes to the hinges that lay around 1-2 feet from your waist, append your gaze further yonder and whilst spinning your torso approximately 180 degrees, you shall envisage said bolts that you are pursuing amidst your quest in this vast store’.  What a total dude!

Our deciduous fruit trees are losing their leaves, and our established pears, nectarines and apples are getting a trimming back and fertilizing to help them repair for spring. We are hoping that this will increase the harvest and fruit quality, especially for our pear which is a bit diseased and produced no fruit suitable for eating this summer. We have just bought two more mandarin trees to extend our winter fruit harvest with early (Imperial), mid (Emperor) and late (Ellendale) fruiting varieties, and will probably be snagging some strawberries, rhubarb and asparagus to plant in perennial beds over winter. After having a crack at making Quince Jam (such lovely flavour and fragrance!), one of us may or may not be trying to convince the other that a quince tree may be the next necessity in our ever expanding collection of fruit trees! You know what they say, go hard or go home … which I never really understood, since if you go hard, you probably will still go home after, so its not really such a polarized ultimatum of dualistic options, is it?

Until next time- keep it real… unless you’re referring to fur or Bert Newtons hair.