Moving Back

Just to be annoying I am moving back to http://ittybittyhomestead.blogspot.com/ because, well, WordPress is annoying.

So duck on back over there to see our exciting news!

Em

Happy Holidays

I think I am just about recovered from Christmas now – it was a rather tiring couple of days. We left for Sydney on the 24th, arriving there in the afternoon. Christmas eve was spent at Troys mum and step dads place overlooking Lavender Bay. Except for the brightness of the lights and the noise, it is a pretty spot there. We went for a walk across the road in the park and down into the ‘Secret Garden’ which was absolutely amazing. It has been built on railway land by the ex wife of Australian artist Brett Whiteley. I felt like such a kid, wandering along the paths which curve in and out and around through the gardens. The thing I liked about it the most though is that the bottom area has been designed in the style of a food forest. There were fig trees, citrus and what I think may have been a Davidson Plum as well as strawberries and other herbs scattered around the place. It was a little patch of paradise and gave me some great ideas for designing our gardens down here.

Christmas morning we headed up the road to my mums place where we had a nice lunch with my side of the family then over to Troys dads place for a couple of hours with that part of the family before heading for home. We had a good run getting out of the city and then a nice easy drive all the way back home, arriving here a bit after 10pm. It was tiring, especially for Troy who was driving, but well worth it to be out of the city after 24 hours! It was good to see our families but I have no desire to go back to the city any time soon. It was such a huge relief to drive back into town and of course, to come home to our cats who we have never been away from overnight.

So now we (and the garden) are enjoying this gorgeous weather and a little bit of a holiday feeling before I go back to work tomorrow.

Hope everyone else had an enjoyable and safe christmas!

Em

Busy Little Bee

Just a quick update – once again life gets in the way and all the things I plan on posting about on the blog are forgotten or I dont have time for. The past couple of weeks have been very busy between work and the community garden (of which I am now the Secretary by the way!). When I havent been at work, a meeting or a workshop I have been ‘spring cleaning’ the house, washing doonas etc. It has been pretty warm and having evening shifts means I dont get much time in the garden as it is either two hot, or too dark when I am home!

Despite my neglect it is all coming on just swell. Troy has been faithfully watering it so except for a few seedlings which werent happy being transplanted, we havent had any losses. We are harvesting a handful or two of snow peas each day and a meal or twos worth of spinach and silverbeet a week. The lettuce are all big and green and healthy looking and we could be eating a salad a day easily with what we have growing. Only one problem though – they are bitter as hell!Oh well, at least the worm farm will benefit…  We have also started harvesting the first of the small tart plums from the trees on the nature strip which is quiet a novelty although I think I will be chucking most of them in the freezer to make plum jam when I have enough.

Hope everyone is well and not wilting in the heat!

Em

Lessons Learnt From a First Time Seed-raiser

Here are some of the details of seed raising I have discovered this year during my first attempt at raising large numbers of seeds.

#1 – make sure whatever trays or containers you are using to raise your seeds in are sufficiently deep to let them put down decent roots
#2 – if you dont have a sunny spot for them, get a grow light! Otherwise you will end up with a tonne of weak leggy seedlings
#3 – water at least once every day with a spray bottle or the seed raising mix will dry out and your seedlings will hate you
#4 – only grow one type of plant in each tray or you will disturb the slower growing seedlings when it is time to prick out the bigger ones
#5 – if you are going to be transplanting into small pots before eventually going outdoors, have these and the potting mix ready before you expect to need it
#6 – small delicate vegies and flowers are easier to just scatter in the garden and let grow direct. They will not take well to being transplanted
#7 – if you dont have a greenhouse to start seedlings early, just wait an extra few weeks. The seeds sown at a later date will catch up quickly and be more healthy and vigorous than the ones planted earlier
#8 – do not transplant seedlings too early or before they have been properly hardened off or they will just keel over and die, or be eaten.
#9 – unless you want far more than you can eat in one go, stagger your plantings
#10 – USE LABELS! You will not remember what you planted no matter how good you think your memory is.

And that, dear friends is some of what I have learnt this year. Hopefully I will remember my own lessons in another 12 months!

More Photos

Time sure flies by when you are busy! The past month has seen me spending FAR too much time at work and not nearly enough in the garden. Damn our reliance on money!😛

Everything in the garden (mostly) is coming along well provided we dont miss a day of watering. It has been so hot and dry here that the plants are all regularly wilting and the spring garden which should have had at least another month to grow and produce is already finishing up with the ruby chard and coriander bolting to seed and the snow peas producing despite being all of about 20cm high! I have thus changed my plans for the garden and will dedicate the whole front area to a cottage garden where flowering early is a good thing, and turn the back area where it is more shaded into the main vegetable patch.

This is the spot which will become to next vegie patch. As you can see there is a fair bit of work to do on it! The branches need to be moved/disposed of (anyone wanna buy me a mulcher for xmas?) and the compost is being used to fill up the raised bed, after which the compost pile will be relocated so we can make the most of the shady green patch under the tree. The old bbq is currently being used as a potting bench but hopefully we will have it fixed and working eventually (it needs a new bbq plate and such)

To the top left of that pic you can see a patch of green which is the apple tree (with a bunch of young trees underneath it). It is covered in fruit so I think we will be eating a lot of apple pie this winter!!!

That tree is one of the only patches of green in the side paddock. This is looking towards the front from a bit further up, near the plum tree. The grass/weeds are so dry it hurts to walk around barefoot now because they are so hard and crispy.

Now for the side and front where we actually have some green stuff!

These are the recently transplanted beans, starting to work their way up the bean tepee.

Behind them you can see the lettuce and silverbeets I planted 3 weeks ago – they are coming along quite nicely and only one died. They are surrounded by tiny lucerne seedlings which will hopefully create a nice green cover in a while to shade the soil and keep it cooler.

The front garden is starting to look pretty good now with the left side mostly mulched and the number of weeds slowly being reduced.

Out of the picture, bottom left, is what remains of the corn after the frost a month ago knocked them back. I have a few more seedlings out the back in the greenhouse which are big enough to join these older ones now as well. It wont be a big harvest but hopefully we will get something!

As you can see the snow peas are producing but with the plants being so small I am not expecting a feast!

I am however looking forwards to a glut of tomatoes, with a tonne of seedlings coming along nicely in the green house and this single mystery tomato out the front. This has come up from seed that was scattered in the pots many months ago in Sydney so it will be either reisentraube, tiny tim or grosse lisse.

And as our final pic, a little bit of pretty! This is one of the lovely old roses in front of the porch. Isnt it lovely? There is also a smaller one of what I think is the same rose on the other side of the stairs.

Until next time, take care and stay cool!

The Growing Garden

Just a quick picture update today…

Here are all my babies in their cozy new home. Dont they look happy? Some are waiting to go out, I just need the weather to improve and to build some climbing structures for the peas… oh yeah, and work out WHERE I am going to put them.

This is the progress on the side garden – first path dug out with the topsoil going onto the beds. Once I have finished the other paths I will try and get my hands on some saw dust to line them all.

I have already planted out some spinach and lettuce I brought home from the swap and the strawberry plants in their pots here were planted out this morning.

And this is last nights dinner – the most freakishly yellow pasta I have ever seen! This was made using the free range eggs I bought from one of the ladies at work. The yolks are just amazing!

Till next time,

Em

Just Like Christmas…But BETTER!!!

Well it has been a busy couple of weeks here at the Itty Bitty Homestead. Well, not so much here, as up the road where I work. 4 days last week and 5 this week (all 7 am starts) makes for a very sleep Em. I have however survived and am getting used to the hours and routine. Of course just to keep things interesting, all my shifts for next week are 3-11pm. Oh well, at least I get to sleep in.

Except for the early starts, the new job is going really well. The clients are lovely and (most of) the ladies I work with are too. Plus, how is this for an awesome day at work – on Wednesday myself and another carer took two of our clients down the coast for lunch. Fish and chips by the beach in the sun, lovely spring air AND to top it all off, we saw a whale! Very cool but of course, no one had cameras. It was showing off and having a good splash around….I love my job😀

Continuing with the theme of the busy week, Wednesday arvo we had a visit from Troys mother and step dad who were passing through town on the way back to Sydney. They stayed in town overnight and Thursday we went out to dinner to one of the nicer places here. It was a pleasant evening although I felt the ache from the tiny bit of wine the next morning. Oh and they got us a lovely housewarming gift – a mini greenhouse! So now I can have my kitchen bench and windowsill and dining table and mantle back.

The house is being somewhat overtaken by seedlings at the moment but some are about ready to go outside. Also, we had the seedling swap today so I got rid of a heap of the peas and beans I was raising (and I gotta say, they looked to be the healthiest seedlings there – go me!). In return I bought home 2 raspberries, 2 strawberries, a loganberry, a tiny plum ‘tree’, a bunch of rosemary cuttings, some basil, broccoli, a few different flowers, lettuces, chards and maybe a few other things, plus some red wiggler worms to start our worm farm! Yay! I have them all set up in their new home and ready to start doing their thing.

Tomorrow I will be digging out spots for the berries and planting them out and more pottering in the side garden. It has taken a lot of work but I am getting there. Pictures to come of the progress of course. For now, here are some I prepared earlier!

This shows the weeding in progress – the entire patch was foot high grass and weeds. You can see the pile on the right which I had already ripped out at this point.

Here we have some baby plums, I think, on one of the fruit trees.

Kitten practicing being a tiger amongst the weeds up the back.

One of the many ‘weeds’ around here – a pretty little Poppy

This is what I brought home from the seedlings swap today. Arent my new babies so cute?

And these are most of the seedlings I am raising at the moment, sitting in the sunniest and warmest spot in the house. Good thing I have been too tired to make pasta all week!

So there we have it, another week, another plant or hundred added to our little ‘stead. Stay tuned for more updates!!!