Thursday, December 30, 2010

Should I be worried.....

Happily, it tasted good in the vegetarian lasagne we made tonight

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Orange delight

This year I thought I'd try mini pumpkins.  They take much less space than their larger cousins and seem to produce much better as well.  Here's a shot of one of the many I've got going in the orchard.
Definitely going for these again as they are the perfect size for my small garden

Sad but true

There's no denying it now, both chicks are roosters and will sadly have to go to the farm in Windsor where they will spend their days chatting up the girls and adding to the gene pool.  So tomorrow we say a sad farewell to our little chicks who aren't so little anymore.  Here's a final shot of the now fully recovered Oliver

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Arch Nemisis

Last year I made the rookie mistake of putting carrots into my wonderfully composted raised garden beds and surprise, surprise, they looked like Chernobyl carrots.  A wise member of the permaculture club explained that carrots need poor soil so they they grow down in search of the good stuff.  I also learned they play nicely with onions.  So this year, I left one garden bed in its original sorry soil state and happily planted carrots, onions and some garlic.  The onions and garlic are happy campers and tasty as all get out, but the carrots....
Back to the drawing board....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chicken Dramas

We finally let the chicks out of their mini pen and into the main run with the big girls.  They seemed to be getting along nicely and I came back to check on them at bedtime and saw that Gertrude, the white leghorn was heading into her mini hutch but she was looking agitated.  I could hear Olive, the brown leghorn, calling to her and so she went inside. 

When I came back out early in the morning to feed them, I couldn't find Olive.  I imagined I could hear her so the whole family was outside searching through the brush outside of our front fence as I could only imagine she had flown over and was lost in there (there were no signs of foul play).  We looked for two hours but found nothing.  I was quite upset at having lost little Olive after helping her out of the egg and hand feeding her.

The next morning I went out as usual and swore I heard her thumping against the big coop.  I start yelling "she's in the coop" as Shaun comes out to check on me ("wife finally loses it..." you know).  Thought I couldn't find her in the coop, Shaun heard her as well (clearly wife hasn't lost it yet) and we scrounge around the grass on the other side of the coop next to the fence.  It was a little like seeing the wicked witch of the East's red shoes sticking out from under Aunty Em's house, but there were two little yellow chicke feet sticking out of the was Olive!  She had been stuck there for a day and two nights and was barely alive.  We imagined that the bully in the gang, one Caramel, who is delighting at not being at the bottom of the pecking order anymore, had chased her in there.

So little Olive was rushed to the emergency ward (well, back the bathroom that she was born in) and fed through a dropper for several anxious hours (I need to get a life, don't I?).  Thankfully, in 24 hours, she was back to her usual self, if only a little thinner, and was ready to go back to the big house.  As I took her into the run, Gertrude went crazy - her bestie was back.  As soon as I put her down in the mini hutch, as some protection from the evil Caramel, Gertrude jumped in beside her, and when they both considered it safe, they simultaneously jumped out and ran around the run, shoulder to shoulder, like two little minnows.  It brough a tear to the eye....

Friday, December 10, 2010

More garden bounty

Now that I've got more space, I've been planting things I've never been able to try before and its so exciting to see them come in.  Here are the latest...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Things are getting out of hand

I've been talking about the abundant spring rain, but this is ridiculous

 And now that Toby fancies himself as a bit of a blog celebrity

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Garden surprises

I planted a few packets of "cottage garden" seeds to colour things up a bit and attract the bees.  But I was puzzled when this massive plant popped up in a spot where I hadn't planted anything.  It grew like a triffid and it took me over a month to work out what it was.
All I can think of is that there are sunflower seeds in the chicken feed and occassionally a bird gets in the run for a quick meal. So perhaps one made a deposit as it headed out of the garden....

The wettest Spring on record

My neighbour is convinced I have 10 green fingers, but I've had the dumb luck of letting my chickens free range an area of garden before I decided to plant it out and then the wettest spring on record in Australia.  So the garden continues to grow and provide us with fabulous food.  Here are the latest pics after a full week of rain (its even raining today when I took them).  Toby, our cockerspaniel, was keen to star in the last one.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Chicks are Growing Up

Gertrude and Olive are now living in the elements (and my bathroom is the better for it).  We've got them in a run, inside the run, so as to allow them to get to know their new family.  Caramel, who is the chicken at the bottom of the pecking order, is delighted to have someone else to boss around.  So she paces the cage, waiting to get in and make her presence felt.  The chicks are clever enough to give her a wide berth.  Here is a pic of Gertrude, who is clearly not a Brown Leghorn as advertised, but who is growing into a big, healthy White Leghorn.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Things get productive

As its coming to the end of spring and we've had plenty of rain, the garden is really turning it on and every day there's something else to pick.  Many of these are a first for me such blueberries, rasberries and some of the fruit trees, so please forgive my enthusiasm.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chick's Day Out

The chicks, Gertrude and Olive, are now old enough to go outside for a while and experience the wonders of the world.  We also wanted to introduce them to their new chicken family.  So we borrowed a cage from a friend and took them on an outing into the garden.  At first, the chickens were fascinated but after five minutes, they wondered off to other chicken business and left the chicks to it.  We were also giving the chicks their first taste of greens, so they were busy exploring that culinary world and didn't seem too concerned about the feathery giants on the other side of the fence.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

After the rain

I was overseas for a week and it poured with rain whilst I was away.  The garden made the most of it and was almost unrecognisable when I came back.  Have a look

Sunday, October 24, 2010

So far so good

Our two new chicks, Gertrude and Olive, are healthy and happy and running around like mad things.  They seems to like each other more now as there is less exploratory pecking and more cuddling up.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

We've got chicks

On Tuesday, just a few days before the eggs we'd set under Berry were due to hatch, she's decided she's had enough and stalked off into the rain.  We were only able to rescue the eggs when we got home many hours later.  So my son set them up in a box under a lamp and we hoped for the best.  There were nine eggs and two eggs have hatched.  I third one cracked open but the chick didn't make it any further sadly.  I dount whether the others survived either as there's no action there, but we're still watching.  So we now have two adorable chicks, fondly named Gertrude and Olive

Gertrude popped out first and is full of energy and her little sister Olive followed behind later in the day.  We've never seen chicks hatch before and so were quite alarmed when Gertrude seems to fade, lie down and close her eyes.  I thought the worst, but as it turns out, chicks have micro-sleeps.  It's very funny to watch.  Run, run run, then wilt and sleep.  Then 10 seconds later, up they pop and run, run, run.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Spring has sprung... at last

I've been watching and waiting on a few things in the garden, but none more than the kiwi fruit that seemed to well and truly gone south (and not just for the winter).  Whilst I knew they were deciduous, I was worried...But yesterday, my patience paid off and it seems we are back in business. 
And just cause I thought it looked invited, here is a snap of the new bird bath (nice and shallow as instructed)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Up close and personal

Everything seems to be growing happily and so I thought you might like a few close ups of the action
 The lupins seem to like living next to the rainbow chard as they are growing bigger here than elsewhere nearby
 The spring onions have grown into giants and I'm letting them go to seed to collect some
The strawberries are growing much larger in the front garden than in the back garden - a little more sun I think
And the blueberries are coming along nicely.  I have them in three different spots and they are forming fruit in each spot... blueberries for Christmas....

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Out the back

As I mentioned earlier, I've got only a little space out the back, but here's what I've done with it.  I had saved some seeds from my rocket over the summer and threw them in the new bed that I cleared out.  Here is a photo after I've thinned it out yesterday.
And along the shared driveway, passionfruit and peas to provide some privacy and food
And the rest is pots

Lessons from a rasberry

I was so enthusiastic about getting my garden producing as soon as I could, that if I found a plant I would research the conditions it liked and plant it.  Whilst this is part of the trick, the most important lesson from the garden is, of course, patience.  And given my nickname, clearly the lesson I need.  Here is a fine example.  I found some rasberry plants, and given I love rasberries, planted them.  What I ignored, or hoped would go away, was the fact that it was late autumn and clearly not the time for planting rasberries.  Here's what happened

The leaves all eventually went yellow, shrivelled and fell off (I later learned they were deciduous).  Then to my surprise, now that spring has sprung, a little green leaf appeared on each of them, so I loaded up the chicken poo compost, mulched and watered and here's where we are today.  No doubt they will become towering giants in the months to come.

So I got lucky that planting too early didn't kill them altogether.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Spice Girls

We currnetly have four chicken, named after another family favourite in our house, ice cream flavours.  This is the very beautiful Caramel, with Mango to her right, not so attractive but very bountiful in the egg department and Berry hidden in the background.  She is also a beauty but currently very broody.  So after trying to snap her out of it, we've finally given up and put some fertilised eggs under her.  So watch this space... And lastly the industrious Chocolate is out of shot but a well loved member of the band.

Step four

Now for the orchard.  I had two apple trees in pots on the east side of the house, but Cameron told me they don't do well in pots (which I was discovering), so we planned to move them down and create a mini orchard at the top of the garden next to the garage wall, which would be a bit cooler than the rest.  We could also get a few other stone fruits in there as well.
So all that's really left in terms of major work is to lay the path.  We're going to use crushed terra cotta tiles.

Step Three

The next weekend, it was time to extend the new garden bed over where the raised ones had been and put in a few trees whilst I was at it.  So in went a mango and a guava tree and banana down the bottom.

Step Two

From there, I moved the lemon tree out of the bottom corner (clearly a better spot for a banana) and moved the second raised garden bed

My husband and my son helped move all the dirt for the second raised garden bed, and again, I was the only one who ended the day feeling excited...