2013: Year of the Golden Girl Chickens

Happy Lunar New Year -year of the snake, a chickens 3rd worst foe! Since we’ve spent a busy January madly harvesting, pruning, digging and constructing in our garden, we forgot to post an update, so here it is.

So far in 2013, a lot has happened in our suburban hippy farm. We’ve added a second box to our bee hive, harvested around 6 zucchini’s a day since Christmas (yes, 6.. that’s not a typo), we’ve installed an irrigation system for two of our five large vegetable beds, and we’ve helped friends build some walls of their straw bale house. But most notably, we got more chickens!!

Whole Lotta Rosie- our new golden girl chicken Rose

Whole Lotta Rosie

After a trip to a cage egg farm, Craig bought four chickens home. They were so lovely, we named them after the golden girls: Sophia, Dorothy, Rose and Blanche. Sophia is a bit ballsy and has a tuft of white/grey down feather across her back, Dorothy is a giant (with a bald bum, apparently akin to Bea Arthur’s thin quiff), Rose is the most timid and shy, and Blanche is very affectionate (tart!) and brazen just like in the show!

Louise and Shirley both look so feathered and healthy compared, we’ve taken to referring to them as either ‘the old girls’ or ‘the fatties’, I’m sure they’d be keen on neither of those nicknames.

Sneaky Sophia and the giant zucchini!

Sneaky Sophia and the giant zucchini!

Initially, Louise greeted our new editions with consistent fly kicking to the head, but after being plied with ample food, Louise and Sophia (the bossies) have taken to escaping from their massive run and mowing down our kale, spinach, silverbeet and even our new drip line irrigation system because it was looked at them funny… crazy ladies! Amongst all this absconding, the daring duo laid a neat dozen eggs under an echium bush over the last two weeks, which we found just as we were planning a trip to the supermarket to get some more eggs. Thanks ladies!

Double decker bees

Double decker Bees!

Just when we thought we were busy buzzing around a hectic social calendar and gig-list this summer, our bees have been working overtime and even into the night on a hot summer evening to build up the second tier of their hive. Their honeycomb is looking marvellous, the sweet honey inside the comb is very runny and delightfully sweet to taste.

In other news, our new drip irrigation system is working wonders and saving us heaps of time watering the night before a hot day (it normally takes us around 30-60 minutes just to give all the fruit trees and veggie beds a quick drink).

The back veggie patch

The back veggie patch

It’s just non-pressure compensating drip line from Mitre 10 (around $25 a roll) combined with a whole bunch of clips, corners, T-style connectors, tap connectors and some fake lawn pegs (similar to tent pegs) to hold them in place. We highly recommend it, as it’s a great idea for anyone who wants to plant a veg patch or even just some fruit trees but is afraid they might neglect them, or water to much/not enough, and its also very water wise if you slowly drip water into the soil on dusk (little evaporation) and mulch around 10-15 cms with pea straw (this also saves weeding! Double win!).

Zucchini harvest after 2 days: Help!

Zucchini harvest after 2 days: Help!

Last, and probably least exciting for most… our garden is going gangbusters with a ridiculous amount of harvesting done each day. We are getting an eggplant a week, 3-4 good harvests of beans, around 8-10 medium to huge tomatoes each week, 5-10 pumpkins kicking on, 15 corn stalks burgeoning with technicoloured delights, basil bushes, apple cucumber, parsley growing like weeds, 15 odd celery and around 40 beetroots finally looking ready, 6-7 zucchini’s per day (we have to harvest daily as they grow from small flowers to regular size overnight- we harvested one zucchini which had been left for 2 days and it weighed 2.5kgs and was the size of a small baby). We also found out that just like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower can be ‘cut and grow again’ as we uncovered what was thought to be a weed was a mini cauli growing out of a cut-off stalk! Ok! Party. Bonus.

Zucchini noodles with creamy basil & spinach pesto sauce

Zucchini noodles with creamy basil & spinach pesto sauce

We’ve also acquired a ‘vegetable spiralizer’ which turns carrots, potatoes and most importantly, zucchini’s into angel hair, spaghetti style or tagliatelle thickness ‘pasta’ strands! Our first meal using this divine gadget included spinach, basil and silverbeet pesto harvested from our garden blended with silken tofu, garlic, paprika and pinenuts to create a creamy super-iron and calcium rich pasta sauce. Hot diggity! We’ve also made zucchini chocolate brownies at least three times, in massive batches.. which have each lasted only one day, but they’re mostly zucchini so it’s practically dieting to eat half a kilo of brownies for dinner! Honest!

Our fruit harvests have been great too, although a small harvest for some plants, which have fruited for the first time this summer, including 10 apricots (that were saved from grimy possum paws), a dozen gorgeous Santa Rosa blood plums, and 2 baskets of nectarines and peaches. We were surprised to harvest 3 yellow nectarines… from a tree that was still clearly labelled from the nursery ‘peach’… D’oh! However, they were delicious!

Looking forward, our 3 apple trees and pears are ready to rock and our citrus forest of kaffir lime, tangelo, lemons, limes and oranges are all getting some cool teeny fruits ready for their winter fruiting time, so we’ll be counting the days till our next flourless orange cake. We hope your summer is as fruitful and Vitamin D filled as ours has been & keep on rocking in the free world, where not much is free except smiles, hugs and the occasional zucchini if you’re dropping by our place. Peace.

November Rain

Yesterday it rained. Hard. Like the movie… Hard Rain.. except Christian Slater was replaced by Craig with a dirty, dirty Movember moustache. Most of November has involved sprinklings and torrents of rain, which have worked wonders for most of our garden and flooded some other parts. The rain & sun have also brought extraordinary growth in our veg garden and it’s all bursting out into flower & fruit, which is fine by us. November has seen heightened security around the perimeter of Fort Cluck since our chickens tunneled out, strutted up the street like a bunch of D-list celeb’s trying to get into a nightclub, towards a semi-busy road and pecked around in our random neighbour’s garden, before our other neighbour’s grandson’s promptly escorted them back into their yard where they pouted for three days like the cast of the dumbest series in history: Prison Break 3 ‘Back in Prison Again?’. Give those girls an inch… they take over half of Belmont and then take a steaming turd on your driveway.

Things that happened in November:

  • Pulled out 6 trees along the North side of the house, ready for some deciduous trees (white & black mulberries, fig, quince) to go in to provide us with some summer shade (and fruit!) and winter sun to warm our house with some passive solar planning. Beats looking at blinds any day!
  • Harvested LOTS of broad beans (leaves starting to get a few ‘rust’ spots), aka Fava Beans, lettuce and our first onions!
  • Permanently planted 5 blueberries after residing in pots for aeons (Denise, Northland and Brigatta) and also our resilient Mananzillo Olive
  • Finally got a smart meter installed!!! After only 10 months wait. Pfft!
  • Finished our back garden tiers, Eco-Oil stained and mostly planted out with companion flowers, amaranth grains, Jerusalem artichokes, alyssum, marigolds and rosemary
  • De-Mited our chickens after an outbreak of Red Mites, brought in by flying rats aka Festy Pigeons
  • Some of our lovely friends & family have caught the gardening bug, which is just awesome to check out their blooming gardens and swap seeds
  • Watched our Tamarillo’s grown another foot in height!! Yowzer!
  • Much more goodness… see below:

As we’re not quite sure when the globe artichokes are ready to harvest, we’ll have investigate further before we chop the heads off. Maybe we’ll have the artichoke hearts with some Fava (Broad) Beans and a nice bottle of Chianti, like a vego Hannibal Lecter.

Recently, we’ve tried a method of planting – The Three Sisters – that is supposed to be the ultimate in companion planting, derived from Native American folklore which places a focus on symbiotic plant relationships (we hope Pachamama is happy). Planting all together Corn (tasty, stalky support sticks for…), Runner Beans (who grow up the stalks and fix nitrogen into the soil for…) Squash (pumpkins & zucchini who provide large-leafed mulch to ward off competing weeds & keep the ground moist). We’ll know in 9-12 weeks how it all goes.

We are looking forward to December when its a little sunnier, and a lot more veg are ready to eat! We are hoping to have a summer harvest party to celebrate a whole year in our …well.. not-so-new place.  Our house is modest, a bit old-fashioned, but warm- we’d like to think that’s kinda like us too! We love it here. More updates closer to festivus for the rest-of-us!

Welcome to the Jungle!

Welcome to our Bloggy Blog about trying to be ‘green’ and eat organic goodness on our 904 m2 plot-o-land amongst our humble suburban home, Vegie Garden, Fruit Trees and Gallinas (Hens) !!

Backyard of our house

Our backyard in its original state

We have started this blog with a view to keep track of our ‘green’ garden makeover progress, as its harder to lose a blog post than a scrap of paper!   Oh yeah.. the ‘we’ part… consists of  husband and wife team- Bel & Craig, born in Country Victoria, moved to lovely Melbourne for work/Uni then moved back to Geelong to “live the quiet life” (to quote Rambo).

After hosting a rocking eco-friendly wedding (featured on Offbeat Bride), we decided to buy a house on a big block in a quiet court in The ‘burbs, as it was so excellently depicted in the movie of the same title starring Tom Hanks and Corey Feldman. Turns out its almost identical, people mowing their pristine yards every 2nd day, someone else’s dog crapping in our yard, except for no Klopeks or Feldmans as yet.

Our shed-side garden bed, after removal 100s of Agapanthus & Oleanders

We had barely walked up the drive before being greeted by our wonderful & friendly neighbours, and after cartwheeling through our new abode, we were met with a lovely letter and box of chocolates from the previous elderly owner who had built the house! Super nice! When we finally got to the backyard, we were so excited to have so much space to work with (including a water tank, gorgeous soil and a secret garden at the back of the shed!), and were greeted with much work to be done.  Overgrown Echiums covered in bees and 3-ft high stinging nettles, 100’s of Agapanthus (harder to dig up than Gary Buseys career), Geraniums, Ivy and Couch grass creeping 6 ft high amongst trees overhanging neighbouring properties were just some of the things we had to contend with.

Nonetheless, it was ours!

Within a week, we had hacked down the chaos in the secret garden and planted our first crop of pumpkins/zucchinis, tomatoes/eggplants and some basil. We also signed up to get a 1.5 kW solar panel system installed and within our first month, we had some cheeky Chickens at their new home.

We had also started a new compost heap, and dug up the previous owners compost bin so we now have two compost bins! Upon our first visit to turn the compost, a flipping huge redback made its presence aware, and from then onwards, our efforts of putting scraps in the compost bin looked like Muggsy Bogues making a 3 pointer shot.

More updates to come soon!