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!

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Rocktoberfest in our garden!

Spring is here, and about damn time! After a long, cold, dark, boring winter, we have reached the best season of them all- Spring! As the title of this post subtly hints, our October has rocked! Lots of stuff has happened. We played a gig in our band, which was very much rocking & we had a blast!  We’ve also almost finished building our back terraced garden bed- a good learning curve for us both.  We also bricked a path up to the second terrace and the garden is now in full swing with enough lettuce to eat most nights for our salads & some good companion ground covers and bee attractors (nasturtiums, alyssums, salvias) for when our tomatoes go in.

Its been a time for firsts as well. First blossoms on our Snow Apple, first Nectarines on two of our old trees, first Peaches on two established plants we thought were infertile, first asparagus spears, first Banana Passionfruits, first time making Beetroot Relish– with our own mini- beetroot harvest, first plants to die (Bananas, Blueberries and a Fig! Noo!!). Oh yeah, and I (Bel) won first prize at the Royal Geelong Show for my Tea Cake, and second prize for my Fruit Cake (own recipe). Hooray for everything! Here’s a photo diary of stuff thats been going down in the past two months:

So, the start of November will involve planting seedlings, seeds, trees, maybe building/digging a pond, acquiring a bokashi bucket and if I can convince a certain someone- get some bees in time for the holidays! We can’t wait to have our friends and family over to check it out & help us eat our produce & rock out with us!

Hope your Rocktober was … rocking! If not, crank it to 11, grab an air guitar and kick out the jams!!

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!

Summer in the suburbs

After a very bizarre bunch of weather patterns from severe storms to stinking heat, our garden has emerged from the dust with a few goodies for us during this summer! We have been regularly harvesting black beauty, yellow, rond de nice & crookneck zucchinis, squash, tomatoes, non-hearting and hearting lettuce.  We are also patiently watching 4 pumpkins take on some gnarly shapes in our back veg patch, and it’s been great to kick back with a beer in hand and watch our garden piranha stalk the backyard.

We have also discovered a few new pearls of wisdom:

Since we pulled out a few of the old overgrown trees- we found that our back fence needs replacing, so that’ll be the next project on the cards, after all the trees are torn down. Summer has also seen its fair share of lovely visitors help us christen our new digs, some amazing concerts and music festivals, alongside lots of colour bursting out around our garden with Marigolds, Alyssum and Sunflowers making an appearance. Also, after a few short months of feeding our 1000 worms their regular vegie-scrap frappe, our Worm Farm is finally becoming productive, producing a whole lotta worm juice for us on a weekly basis, which we add to our potted plants and veg to help them grow faster than Justin Bieber fans. We’ve added the second tier of our  RelnWorm Factory for our worms to move up into, so hopefully it won’t be long till we can raise our seedlings using some rich worm compost!

So now that our busy Summer is officially over, and Autumn is here, the next plantings on the cards for us include: more Broccoli Silverbeet & Pak Choy, Cabbage, Onion, Orach (Mountain Spinach) Carrot and Kale. Hope your patch is rocking this coming Autumn!

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!