Saturday, 24 December 2016

A Repurposed Christmas

A post to (hopefully) inspire you to look at old things in a new way.

This post should have been up long before now, but time has just gotten away from me, so there may not be any time to make them this year, but that gives you a whole year to decide which ones will feature in your Christmas decorating next year.


Bed springs can be used to make the cutest little Christmas trees.

A few of these simple decorations would make an unusual centrepiece for the table on Christmas day.

These are actually necklaces, but I think they would look beautiful hanging in the tree.

If you don't happen to have any old fashioned cotton reels lying about you could use corks instead. 

Mindy at The Happy Scraps used a Cricut to make her flip chart Christmas countdown, but the same thing could be achieved using scrapbook paper, cardboard numbers and old Christmas cards.

Mindy at Prudent Pennypincher shows us a cute way to make a hanging countdown to Christmas using empty toilet rolls.

Old picture frames can be decorated and used as an alternative the traditional Christmas wreath.
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If you lucky enough to have a fireplace this would make a fantastic focal point to all your Christmas decorating.

But if you don't have the wall space for a gate, how about a bicycle wheel.
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I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a 

VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! 

I hope you have a joyous and peaceful day spent with the ones you love.

I will be back with a garden update as soon as I can take some photos, we are on day two of a heat wave and the veggie garden is covered in shade cloth at the moment. 

Disclaimer: I try to give credit to the owners of all the images I use, sometimes this is not possible, those images where the source is unknown will be assumed to be in the public domain. If you are the owner of any of these images (source unknown) and would like them removed or credit added, please let me know

Monday, 12 December 2016

The Garden In November

By November the pickings in the vegetable garden were pretty lean, the broccoli and cauliflower were long gone, and there were only a few peas left on the vine,  the only other things left of the winter plantings were the broad beans and the garlic. 

It was my first time growing broad beans this year and I have to say I was very happy with the harvest I got. 

Being my first time growing them, I had no idea what to expect in regards to how many beans each plant would produce, but now I know that I need to grow at least double the amount next year.

And while I was happy with the broad beans, the garlic was another story.
I planted 52 cloves of garlic this year knowing that I use roughly one bulb a week that amount should last me all year. Of the 52 bulbs planted only 49 sprouted, but I was OK with that. 
Garlic late July
The plants grew well and I had high hopes of harvesting all 49 bulbs, unfortunately not all went to plan. 
With all the rain we had over the winter and well into the spring some of the garlic bulbs began to split apart and started to re-shoot, while some bulbs never developed separate cloves.
Not a great photo but can you see the undeveloped bulbs and the new shoots that have grown?
So for all my hard work the garlic harvest this year was meagre indeed only ten bulbs.
I guess when you are growing your own vegetables a few setbacks are to be expected, so with that in mind, I will look forward to next year and hope for a better harvest.

In the beds where the peas grew, the vines were all cut down, but their roots were left in place to add some nitrogen to the soil, and there are now Butternut pumpkin (squash) and True Gold sweetcorn growing in them.  I am succession growing the corn so as not to be overwhelmed by a glut as I have been in the past.

In the bed next to the Butternut are my fruiting vines, two watermelons, Sugar Baby and Luscious Red, one rockmelon (cantaloupe) Hale's Best, and a as yet unknown volunteer, as well as some Double Delight sunflowers.

On the opposite side of the patch in bed 1 the broccoli has been replaced by a Yellow Crookneck and an All Green Bush zucchini plus some Sun King sunflowers.

Beds two and three are planted out with beans, Tender Delight, Brown Beauty, Red Kidney, dwarf Borlotti and Golden Wax. I did have to do a second sowing as earwigs killed a few.

As you can see in the picture above in bed 4 there is another pumpkin, this time another first for me, Turkish Turban.

Everything has grown quite a bit since these photos were taken the and I've even had my first small harvest of beans and a couple of zucchini, I'll show you the photos in the next garden update in a couple of weeks time. How is your garden growing?  

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Broad Beans

I had never grown broad beans before this year, I had tried them once many years ago and didn't like them so I never bothered with them.  
Since becoming a vegetarian earlier this year I found I needed to expand the variety of vegetables I eat so I decided to give them another go and I'm glad 😊 I did. Apart from the fact that they are easy to grow, and the flowers have the most amazing fragrance and the bees love them, they are delicious! What's not to like?

There are several varieties that you can grow, the type I grew this year was Early Long Pod and despite the fact that I didn't sow until July they still did exceptionally well. 

Next year as well as growing the Early Long Pod again I want to grow the Crimson Flowered variety too if for no other reason then the  gorgeous flowers.

Have you grown broad beans before? What was your experience with them?

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

October, Where Did You Go?

Well, that was the shortest month ever! I know this year is flying by, but October seemed to be over in the blink of an eye.
It's been a while since I did a garden update and it's time I rectified that. October, and September for that matter have been strange month's weather wise, very wet, cold and windy, but despite the unseasonable weather the plants in the veggie garden have been doing their own thing and apart from the garlic I'm really pleased with the harvests I have been getting.

The asparagus this year were a little less prolific than normal, but nonetheless delicious.

The peas on the other hand went a little crazy due I think to all the rain we've had.
Of the four different types of podding peas I grew this year my favourite was the Telephone peas, the Purple podded were also very nice so these are the two that I will be growing next year.

I trialled growing potatoes in pots this year and while it wasn't an outstanding success it wasn't a complete failure either.
On the plus side, they were the most delicious potatoes I've ever eaten, so creamy and I will be growing them again next winter.
A mix of Kestrel, Red Delight, Dutch Cream and Kipfler.
I grew Broad Beans for the first time this year, they are covered in flowers which the bees love and they have been visiting every afternoon.

 It looks like they have done a good job of pollination as there are a lot of beans developing.

While the plants have been busy growing I've been busy in the greenhouse sowing seeds for spring/summer.
So far I've sown seeds for pumpkins, zucchinis, cucumber, rockmelon and watermelon. The pumpkins and zucchini were planted out in the garden yesterday and the cucumbers have been planted in a large pot down near the house where they will have a bit more protection from the summer sun, the watermelon and rockmelon still having some growing to do before they are planted out.

Seeds for tomatoes (seven different varieties), capsicum (three varieties), and eggplant (two varieties), have been sown, but they haven't all been successful. Only three of the seven tomatoes germinated, one of the eggplant and none of the capsicum. I have re-sown four seeds each of the ones that didn't germinate in the hopes that I will get at least one of each.

Bean seeds (Borlotti, Brown Beauty, Tender Delight, and Butter Bean) were direct sown into the soil and while they all germinated the earwigs have had a field day with them and not all have survived, those that have are growing well, but I have sown more in pots in the greenhouse and will plant them out when they are big enough. Leeks, shallots, sage and Thai basil are all slowly emerging too.

So there you go, October in the garden, despite the weather it was an especially busy time and I am looking forward to reaping the rewards of all my hard work in the coming weeks. What's been happening in your garden?






Saturday, 29 October 2016

Veggie Garden Inspiration

We all love our vegetable garden to be productive that goes without saying, but is it possible to have a vegetable that is not only productive, but beautiful as well. Below are some ideas that just might help to achieve that.

First Impressions

Create a beautiful entrance to your vegetable garden with an arbour, gate and fence.
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Add A Focal Point With A Garden or Potting Shed

All gardeners need somewhere to store their plant pots, potting mix and gardening tools, but that doesn't mean that garden/potting sheds have to be boring boxes made of corrugated iron, they can be anything you want, pretty, whimsical or cottagey .

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If you don't have enough room for a large shed what about a tool shed.

They can be simple,
An old dunny (outhouse) has been given a new purpose.
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or extravagant,
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or something in between.
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Add Vertical Height

Whether you choose to DIY or to buy commercially made, an obelisk or a trellis can add some much needed vertical interest to a garden.


Layout - Forget the Rectangle

Instead of laying out the veggie garden in rectangles try adding some curves.
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or maybe triangles.
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Visual Interest

Plant out blocks of colour with lettuce, kale, bok choi, or cabbages for some visual interest.

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Add Seating

You've put a lot of hard work into your garden so if you have the room why not create a seating area in the veggie garden, somewhere to have a cuppa or a glass of beer or wine and enjoy it.
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Plant Flowers

Don't forget to plant flowers, they make all areas of a yard instantly beautiful.
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And when you've planted the flowers why not add a home for the busy pollinators in your garden.
I can just see this nestled in amongst the perennials growing in my insect garden.
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So there you are, just a few ideas to inspire you to add some beauty to your vegetable garden or perhaps you already have, if so I'd love to hear about it.

Disclaimer: I try to give credit to the owners of all the images I use, sometimes this is not possible, those images where the source is unknown will be assumed to be in the public domain. If you are the owner of any of these images (source unknown) and would like them removed or credit added, please let me know

Thursday, 29 September 2016

What's My Gardening Philosophy?

Welcome to this months Garden Share Collective, hosted by Kate from Rosehips and Rhubarb and Krystie from A Fresh Legacy. This months theme is PHILOSOPHY.

My gardening philosophy is to keep things as simple and easy as possible by cutting down on the amount of work that I need to do in the garden, and only growing the vegetables that my family and I enjoy eating.

Growing vegetables can be hard work if you let it be, so here are a few things that I have found that have made it a little easier for me. 

Install a watering system - Watering (especially in summer) takes up a lot of a gardener's time, and I don't know anyone who enjoys standing out in the summer heat watering the gardens to keep plants alive, installing a water system not only cuts down on the amount of time you need to spend in the garden, it also cuts down on water wastage.

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch - I cannot stress enough how important mulch is in the vegetable garden or any garden for that matter. It helps keep the soil cool, which creates a good environment for earthworms who in turn help break down the mulch which enriches the garden's soil. It helps to keep the  soil moist, which means less time spent watering, and it suppresses weed growth which is always a good thing. *Gardening Australia's Peter Cundall does advise against mulching onions as they need the warmth of the sun to swell and ripen. 

Invest in insect netting - If you don't like the idea of using pesticides in the veggie garden then you may want to buy yourself some of this, it will not only stop the White Cabbage butterfly laying her eggs on your brassica plants, but it will also prevent a myriad other insects devouring your vegetables. Old net curtains bought from your local op shop will work too, as long as it has a very fine weave.

Only grow what you like to eat - Those glossy purple eggplants might look delicious hanging on the plant, but if no-one eats them, they will only go to waste, the same goes for trying to grow veggies that aren't suited to your local growing conditions, so save yourself the time, money and stress, find out what your family likes and dislikes and do some research on your growing area before you plant anything. 

So, that's my gardening philosophy, I guess it's nothing new, but it works for me, and I hope you find some of it helpful.

Harvesting

Lots of peas, Oregon and Melting Mammoth snowpeas, Purple Podded, Telephone, Early Crop Massey, Blue Bantam and Sugar Snap peas. 
Oregon snowpeas.

Purple Podded peas.

Early Crop Massey and Blue Bantam peas

Harvesting them has been made considerably harder by an unexpected guest.
Mother Blackbird sitting on the nest she made amongst the Telephone pea vines.
And the eggs she is sitting on.
I harvested the last of the cauliflowers which was small but perfect.

Also in the picture is the last of the asparagus. They did not do as well this year as in previous years and I only picked enough for a couple of meals, it could have had something to do with all the rain we've had over the last few months, but I'm not really sure.

My only other harvest for this month wasn't edible, but it did make me very happy.
Sweet peas, so beautiful and their fragrance (especially the white ones) is divine.

 I had forgotten how much pleasure growing your own flowers can bring and I will be making sure that these won't be the last for the year.

Sowing

The last lot of seeds I sowed was in early August and not one seed germinated, I blame it on the seed raising mix I used, it was a lesser known brand and it dried out very quickly. I have since bought a better quality seed raising mix and on Tuesday I sowed not only this month's seeds, but last months as well. I won't bore you with the names of all of them, there was a lot, I just hope that they germinate this time. I also direct sowed five varieties of bean seed.

Things to do

Lots of waiting happening at the moment. Waiting for seeds to germinate, waiting for the seed pods to form on the broccoli plants, waiting for eggs to hatch and baby birds to fledge, and waiting for peas to finish their growing season, so there isn't a lot I can do in the garden at the moment. As soon as all that happens, I will be able to sow the corn, the pumpkins and the salad greens. I am growing tomatoes, capsicums, chillies in pots again this year, hopefully next year I will be able to start growing them back in the garden again, and as I've never had any luck growing cucumbers in the garden I will be growing them in pots as well. I need to get the chick peas in soon as they need quite a long growing season, hopefully that will happen this weekend.

That's it for this month's Garden Share Collective, If you'd like to know the gardening philosophy of other GSC members drop by Krystie or Kate's blog. See you next month.