Winner winner, veg for dinner!

Long time no see! Spring has sprung and we are finally enjoying all that daylight savings brings, namely longer after-work hours to potter around the garden and sunnier weekends for projects and catching up with friends. Hotdiggity! We’ve got many end-o-winter vegetables coming to fruition and we are eating most meals with something out of the garden (even juicing the cabbage leaves!) and giving plenty to friends and family.  Our hothouse has begun to burst with teeny seedlings as the temperature gets warmer and we’re well and truly on our way to growing most of our summer seedlings from scratch! We recently installed a new edition to the hothouse, an ex-hair salon product stand shaped like a guitar, which also holds a surprising amount of seedling punnets and utilises otherwise dead-space inside our little seedling hangout. Our worm farm has become two farms and we’ve harvested buckets of worm-sludge for fertilizing our seedlings and trees, which has worked as brilliantly as our compost bins at re-purposing many kilos of green waste and kitchen scraps!  Also, we have built a mini-deck in our backyard so we can hang out there on a summers day with a beer (or cup of tea since we are now OLD) and ponder what to plant next!

Since our lucky lady Laverne passed away, our head-honcho Alpha-chook Thelma also took a turn for the worst and passed away the other day from a condition knowns as Marek’s Disease, which is degenerative and causes paralysis. It was sad to see her so frail, but I suppose she would’ve never lived long enough for the symptoms to present themselves in the battery farm she was from. Poor little dear. It has made us ponder vegetarianism on ethical grounds, as we could not even bring ourselves to euthanise her (even though it was for mercy), and I have not been able to eat chicken since.

However on a positive note, we have had some new editions to our suburban hippy life… BEES!! Yes, that’s right, BEES!!! One afternoon, putting kitchen scraps in the compost became an arduous task when we found hundreds of bees making a superbly constructed bunch of stalactite-esque honeycombs in there! We promptly called Mark from Leopold Honey who we’d met at the Geelong Show and was selling some hive gear. He dropped around with some suits and helped us smoke the bees until they were high & stupid on honey and move the honeycomb and queen into our bee box! Then, all the lovely worker bee ladies followed her scent right on into their new digs! We even picked up some drone bees in our hands, who are all apparently idiots with no stingers! We are completing a Bee Keeping Course in November so we’re all ready to learn more about taking care of our lovely bee family. We’re always spotting them collecting pollen from our flowers or fanning their hive to keep it cool on hot days. Little legends! Stay tuned for honey tasting and honey beer come April!

In other news, the Geelong Show proved to be a lot of fun on a beautifully sunny day. We went along mainly to eat a Dagwood hotdog, but also look at the animals, the horticulture section, the cooking & crafts, and complain about how expensive rides and showbags have become since we were kids. Yes, we are old! And …Bel won some prizes! Hazar!

Our beautiful fruit trees are flowering and starting fruit! Our kiwifruit are now in their 2nd year at our place and since they were quite established when we planted them, we are estimating they’re almost 4-5 years old. However, no fruit as yet! Any strategies to help get them to fruit? We’ve tried adding Sulphate of Potash but no luck! 

Also, our gorgeous Japanese Satsuma plums not only looked spectacular in bloom, but also set fruit for the first time ever!This news is exciting to no one but us, mainly because we will be baking some Blood Plum Clafoutis, making Plum Jam and generally high fiving the amount of stone fruit we’re privy to in our garden. We are going to attempt* to weigh all our harvests so we get an indication of how much fruit on average each tree produces. Not quite sure if we’ll count the stuff we pick and eat straight off the tree.  Just the other day, we harvested several broccoli heads over 1kg each! Amazing! We are having such brilliant luck in the garden, but not so on the track as we have not won a single race all Spring Racing Carnival.

Well… like Joni Mitchell said ‘we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden’, so we’ll have another installment soon and we hope your harvests have been as fruitful this Spring!

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Mid-Winter Blues

Winter officially sucks. Leaving home in the dark & getting home in the dark. Not much to plant in the garden. Gardening limited to the weekends. Icey winds, frost-bitten mornings, frozen hands & faces. Even the chickens hate it, covering their eyes from the torch with their little wings when we lock them in each night. Thelma is starting to resemble Robert De Niro with her cheek mole & ‘I-just-ate-a-turd’ malicious sneer every morning when she’s ‘forced’ to jump out of bed in the dark & beat the pigeons to her breakfast.

Now that whinge-fest is out of the road, some good things that have kick-started our winter include:

  • making our first Mötley Brüe (our home brew) for this house
  • seeing the Eclipse
  • making home-grown Pumpkin Soup, Nettle SoupApple Chutney & Sourdough Bread for lovely friends & family
  • building a gate for the secret garden with recycled old fence palings
  • building raised/terraced garden beds for fruit trees and vegies along the new back fence (still in progress & yet to fill in with dirt/plants)
  • ditching the overgrown rock-filled patio garden (except the violets & lovely pink-tipped ‘Peace’ Rose which has been moved) with a plan to plant a mini kitchen garden in its place

We have also acquired a new energy-efficient fridge, new compost bin and herb garden (thanks Bel’s Mum & Dad!), a Diggers Garden Club Membership (thanks Nicki & Tom!), more fruit trees, berries, rhubarb & asparagus beds, and two walk-in mini greenhouses (thanks Craig!) for raising our seedlings in preparation for Spring! Plus to fill our seed trays we brought lots of seeds from Diggers (very slow), Cornucopia (mega fast!) and Little Miss Seedy (great heirloom variety).

At the moment we’ve planted: Broccoli, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Peas, Snowpeas, Onions, Leeks, Lettuce, Swede, Radishes, Carrot, Garlic, Spinach & Broad Beans.

We also have some purple sapphire potatoes to plant but are reluctant to establish where they’ll go since you can’t plant any solanaceae (tomatoes/eggplants/chilli) family plants there for a few seasons otherwise the dirt gets filled with tomato-eating zombies, apparently. We might put them in a container instead! We’ve also resolved to try and plan our plots by succession planting to avoid gluts & voids in our harvests. The next day we planted 100 snowpeas & 30 each of peas, lettuce, kale, onion & silverbeet. Dammit! Alongside driving the speed limit to Pantera & watching Home & Away without an urge to poke your eyes out- half-hearted seed planting  just can’t be done.

The next projects on the cards, apart from finishing our new terraced beds include: recycled fence-pailing herb planter boxes for the kitchen window sill, bricking a pathway up to our 2nd tier terraced bed, making a gate & steps up to the side of our old chicken run (now veg patch). We will also hopefully get our new front & side fence installed, although our fencing contractor has suffered a back injury and contacts us as often as Matthew McConaughey wears shirts.

Hurry up Spring & bring Daylight Savings Time with you!

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!