Posts Tagged ‘Open garden’

In which I recover from Open Garden and start a new adventure

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the people who planned, weeded, pruned, tidied, fed us, sat on the front desk, took photos, labelled trees, and generally helped out with open garden, and all of you who came, and were gentle with us! We’ve had the most enormous weekend, and it makes me realise how much we need our friends.

I was wondering how I would keep the impetus going after the open garden (and to tell you the truth, the nana nap has featured big in my week!), but now I’ve got just the thing. I’ve been asked to be part of the Garden Share Collective. Yay. That should keep me going at both the garden and the computer. More about that later in this post.

The Garden Share Collective

So first of all, here are (quite a) few pics of the garden on open garden day, when most of the garden was looking its best.


The “kids’ table’ set up by Master 10 (the aunty collector) and the flowers garden


The newly weeded raspberry bushes, thanks to Master 15 (the hungry one)

IMGP3542Mr Gorgeous has done the most wonderful job making companion planting beds under the fruit trees. We used the leftover bricks from the front of the house. The chickens, however, think they’re the most perfect dust baths, so we’re yet to have that argument, which will involve large quantities of chicken wire until the plants are established, I suspect.

Many of these seedlings probably should have been in the ground for open garden, but I was too frantic getting ready in so many areas of the garden that I didn’t have the brain space free to decide what should go where. So there they sat on Open Garden Day, but they were a good starter for conversation right where they were.


The babies!

I made a display table for the day with some of the food I’d preserved during the year, and lots of cordial (raspberry, lemon and lime/ginger), which we shared with our visitors.


Now that Open Garden is over, I have a booking with these chairs. One of the lovely things about the Open Garden was chilling with visitors looking at what’s good about the garden. When I work in the garden I tend to see only the jobs, but having new eyes in the garden made me appreciate again what I have.


I made some posters for the day: one of the history of the garden, and another of our year.


Now, to a mystery. I had a lovely conversation about tomato seedlings with someone on the day (A wonderful lady, I do remember that much) and then this lovely gift arrived during the week. I have a tomato seedling here to return the favour, but I can’t for the life of me remember who I was talking to. Some of the day is a bit of a blur! So if this is you, contact me, and I’d love to share my seedlings with you.


So, onto what’s happening now. The Garden share Collective (you can click on the picture at the top of the blog to go there) is a bunch of people growing food, who share what they’re planting, harvesting, and what they’ll do next, in order to encourage one another. Here’s what I’m up to.


As well as putting in the other seedlings in regular beds, I’ve been making a pumpkin patch. The netting is necessary as the chickens free range in this part of the garden. I have hammered thin bamboo posts into the ground, and joined them with poly pipe. I’ve then stretched a piece of old netting over the top, and then sewing up all the holes. The bottom edge is fully pegged down with some homemade pegs, thanks to some fencing wire and the next door neighbour’s generosity with his cutters. I’ll peg down the top (front of photo) once the plants are in.

It’s also time to get in my beans and corn in, and to plant some more greens like mizuna and lettuce so they’ll be ready when this current lot finishes. I have been planting beans to dry the past few years, and I’ll do that again this year if I have the space. I have 2 big new veggie beds – surely I’ll have space.



The day after Open Garden, I went around and picked lots of the stuff that I’d left there for people to look at, and the result was a big stir fry, a garden salad and 2 lovely bunches of flowers. The strawberries have just started to ripen, and need better netting soon. I’m also picking a bunch or two of asparagus every second day, and the peas and broad beans continue.



Nearly everything needs netting. Urgent are the strawberries, cherries, apricots and blackberries which also need weeding. ( A shame really, my arms have only just recovered from weeding the raspberries.)
Also, and very importantly, I plan to sit in the garden and enjoy it.


In which we are now counting down days, not weeks

It’s getting so close. I really hope you all like my garden.  There are only 17 days until we open!

The peas have been cropping hugely, but these guys are all but finished. The shelling peas have just started, and I have two more rows of peas after those that are still coming on.


The  broad beans are in flower, and should start giving us beans in the next few weeks. There are even some little baby beans at the bottom. I’ve heard that broad beans will crop at the same time no matter when you plant them, so I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has them in, and what they’re up to. (Sorry about this photo – it’s too rainy to go out and take another!)20131006-205706.jpg
The brassicas are all but finished, and I’m starting to tidy up the bed for some of my tomatoes. This garden bed has my cheap and cheerful fence which keeps the dog out, but does make dumping barrow loads of mulch tricky, as there’s no gate.


 Mr Gorgeous has been quite proprietorial about his new garden bed, and has rigged up a quick version of the string fence which has been really effective in changing the dog’s habits. She can still get through the fence if she chooses, but she no longer goes flogging through at breakneck speed.
This is not what I imagined my front yard would look like with just over two weeks to go. We’re getting a new driveway, and I hope we can get it cleaned up in time! I’ve made lots of “mind your step” sign as a plan B, but I actually think we’ll be ready.20131008-104426.jpg
Finally, a quick pic of my lemon verbena which grows higher than my head each year. I prune it hard every winter, and then spend a month worrying that this time I’ve really killed it, but once again it’s on the way back, and I’ll be drinking lemon tea again in no time.

In which I declare (finally) that I have enough vegetable beds

Mr Gorgeous has been hard at work, and my final veggie patch is done. That man is my hero. The dog on the other hand is hitting a steep learning curve with that patch of turf going from hers to mine. She’s really a fabulous puppy, but still needs places to dig, and things to chew, and her ideas and mine about what’s acceptable are only mildly convergent. I like to think that as the rational adult in the partnership, I will prevail, but the reality is that visitors to the garden will be stepping over small holes, and missing seedlings on October 27th.

All this digging is taking something of a toll, and I’ve been a regular at the local physio, who assures me that if I would just stop gardening, my shoulder would heal up just fine. This from a lady who causes me more pain than the garden ever has with her teeny tiny needles in my shoulder.

The sheep are still here; they’re doing a great job of keeping the grass down, but are yet to develop a taste for stinging nettle.


I’ve painted some old black plastic tree pots to put in my new herb garden. This will hopefully keep some of the more invasive herbs like oregano, mint and thyme organised, unlike the previous herb garden, which was pretty much survival of the fittest. I’ve also separated out the fennel, which is said to inhibit the growth of almost every other plant growing near it. The puppy is loving digging out the pots, and we have had strong words, resulting in a tail between legs, and who knows, maybe a dog leaving them alone? I’m not holding my breath. I’ve resurrected the string fence around the top beds, which isn’t enough to keep out a determined dog, but is enough of a reminder to keep her out if she’s just wandering.

On the new lawn front, it all depends on your point of view. From the side, if you get down low, it’s looking great, but from directly above, there are gaping holes everywhere. I’ve planted more seed, hoping to fill the gaps, but with 5 weeks to go, I may be pushing it!



In which I wish my motto was “small and often”

I have done too much in the garden and not enough on the computer this week. Now I have so much to tell you all!

Firstly, one of our chickens has gone clucky, sitting, staring to space, even being willing to let me change the straw all around her without getting startled. I’ve had trouble getting the girls up and going once they go clucky, so this year I decided to give her some eggs to sit on. As we really have enough chickens already, I figured three eggs would be sufficient. So I labelled them to stop my helpful children from gathering the wrong ones, and set them under her. What I didn’t account for was the level of attrition. After 10 days, we are down to one marked egg. I don’t want to give her any more, as the hatching times will be too different, but I really hope this one is alive!


The labelled egg

I’ve got the potato crop in. I chose three varieties; one for potato salad, one for roasting, and an all purpose. This won’t feed the family in just these quantities, but will keep us in potatoes for several weeks at least.


Desiree, Kipfler, and Russet Burbank

The garden bed where I’ve planted them is not really finished, but I couldn’t wait any longer. This is the place where we ripped up the old passionfruit rootstock earlier in the year. In breaking news, I had a big win at the local hardware store. I’d been trying to get untreated sleepers to edge the bed, and was going to have to settle for something fairly quick to break down, but the store had just five hardwood sleepers left over from an earlier ordering mixup, which they gave me very cheaply, so I was a very happy gardener. It did involve me getting them home on the courtesy trailer, but even that is seeming less scary these days, since the nice man at the tip showed me how to back one.


The soon to be boxed up bed

I would consider that our garden has two really big events each year. One is the raspberry harvest, and the other is the flowering of the magnolia. This signals time for our annual family photos, and is one of the main reasons we have stayed in our older house – the magnolia and all the other older trees.




Our beautiful carpet hides the missing grass!

We’ve moved the sheep back home as the grass is on the move. There are lambs galore at the moment.


One of my favourite bucolic scenes!

The garden is getting back into full productive swing after winter, and to celebrate, I’ve gone off shopping again! I need to buy dairy and some fruit, but with two sheep in the freezer, and about five eggs a day, we’re not really needing much at the moment.


Tuesday’s harvest

We even have too much of a few things, so I was able to give them away. I’m not always so generous with the extras, as I try to preserve what I can, so that I have vegetables through the winter. By this time of year, I have enough veg left in my freezer to make two big (tomato-ey) meals if you’re OK with lots of spinach. I used the last of the pumpkins on Thursday, so perhaps a little less Kakai, and more eating pumpkins this year!


We are blessed

I’ll update on the grass front in my next post. We have some green, but not a lawn by anyone’s definition!

Great weather for ducks…

What a rainy week it’s been! It really has been too wet and windy even for me. I’ve had a few quick trips out into the garden to pick produce, but other than that, I’ve been indoors. I thought I’d take advantage of the inside weather to use some of the limes that we have all over the tree. I’d had it in my mind to make lime and ginger cordial for quite a while, but I didn’t have a recipe or any idea really whether it was a bona fide drink or not. I bought a good sized bit of ginger at the supermarket, but by the time I got around to the cordial, there was only a 2 inch piece remaining, due to a lovely curry and another dish during the week. Still, not knowing how much was needed, that amount was as good as any. The end result was quite nice, but not as gingery as the cordial of my dreams, so I’ll double the ginger next time. Apart from my raspberry cordial, I make my cordial with a recipe from my sister in law, which is 2-4-6. 2 cups of juice, 4 cups of water and 6 cups of sugar.  yes, 6 cups, so it’s not something we drink every day). The ginger I sliced up thinly and added with some lime rind right from the start.
Once the sugar’s dissolved in the water, I add the juice and boil for 5 minutes. I usually add a tablespoon of citric acid.
These bottles have been added to my lemon cordial (1st prize at the show), and raspberry (2nd!) in readiness for summer nights on the back verandah. Just as soon as we get some SUN!
I’m not usually so worried about the weather. Having come to Gippsland from Perth, where I felt like we were in a permanent state of drought, I still love the rain, even after 9 years. As my good friend always says when it rains: “Good weather for ducks and Donna”. At the moment though, the desire to have a nice garden for Gardivalia is overriding my love of rain.


Our beautiful broccoli

On the positive side, the broccoli are the best I’ve ever grown and there’s not an aphid (or is that an aphis?) in sight. I’ve always had broccoli which was smaller than shop broccoli, so I assumed they used chemical fertilisers (I use none), but this year, I got the seedlings straight from the punnet to the garden, and got them in too early for the bugs. Yay. Note to self for next year to do the same.


Some of our lime surplus


My lime and ginger cordial on the windowsill, with a few pumpkin seeds on the left. look at that rain!

I’ve got some seedlings in, after a very sorry start (see the pic below). I’ve been reading the “weeks until harvest” information with renewed interest. I’ve always just gardened with a view to a succession of harvest, but with a date for Gardivalia very much implanted on my mind (just 9 weeks to go), I’m also trying to have a good looking garden for visitors. I don’t want 100 tonnes of produce all ready the same day, but I want something that’s worth looking at, that will show and provide talking points about what we do here. I really want my visitors to enjoy their time here.


The wind blew my seedlings over. I had to start again!

The weather this week looks much better; Friday’s forecast is even promising 20 degrees. I hope to plant my potatoes, and  sort out my alstroemerias  this week. I wonder whether there’d be interest in them if I dug some up and potted them?

I expect my first tulip, and the big magnolia to flower this week. I’ll keep you posted…

In which our garden is absolutely trashed!

We have been hard at work these past holidays. In particular, the Hungry One, who is now 15, has been working like a Trojan. He’s keen to go on a school mission trip, so we made a deal. He would give me 60 hours work to earn half the cost. The rate of pay works out as fair to fairly good, and I get some work done!

He has been digging out a particularly annoying weed, moving bricks and rocks, and generally following in my wake and dealing with my inevitable trail of destruction. Things were in fact going along swimmingly, until it was time for the carport to arrive. Last week  saw a man with a digger going up and down our garden moving dirt, camellias and rhododendrons that we wanted to save, and flattening the side of the house ready for the concrete pour.

It will be very nice I admit to have the car under cover (no more dealing with a frozen car on winter mornings), but the backyard is a mess!

imageMoving the camellias was soul destroying, as they were just about to flower, and I had to cut off hundreds of buds. You can see what they were like in the pictures. The plants are now just glorified sticks with a few leaves. The bobcat man did a great job, and left plenty of root ball, so I have high hopes. Hopefully, the radical pruning will help them settle into their new homes.


As you can see, we have a lot of tidying up to do!


In which we pick a photo

It’s official. We have a winner. The photo that will go in the advertising for the open garden is…

IMGP3094Good choice everybody! I just wish I’d swept my paths!