Hmmmm

So I have been a bit busy with life and gardening and I haven’t posted in quite a while.

I will pop up some random pics of the garden for a while and do a proper post soon I promise xx

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This and that

 

Today was Kai’s second full day of school, well technically the whole school finishes 45 minutes early on a Tuesday so it was still a full day 🙂 That left Emma and I a little more used to the quiet and we got a few things done both inside and outside the house. Things like cleaning the bath, handbasin and toilets for example, shock horror! It didn’t take long for us to make our way outside though.

Before I get into some of what we did, maybe I will show you some progress pics of how things are coming along in the garden. I don’t think I have actually listed out all of the fruits, veges, and herbs we have, so lets see if I can remember them all.

Fruits are blueberry, thornless blackberry, white mulberry, tayberry, strawberries, golden pepino, almond, nectarine, pomegranate, grape and strawberry guava. Vege’s we now have in zucchini’s, lebanese cucumbers, crystal apple cucumbers, lettuce, corn, kai’s broad bean and a new addition of black kale which I will show you in a minute.

Herbs I have an elderberry I have had for years and a bay tree which is booming, valerian, curry plant, stevia, angelica, 2 types of rosemary, 2 types of lavender, perennial basil, spiced, lemon, rose and mint pelargoniums and also nasturtiums. 

I have a feeling I have left some out but that isn’t too bad a list anyway! So here are some pics including some of the kids flowers.

Kai’s broad bean from kindy!

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The raspberry and tayberry’s flowering

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the blueberry with berries forming, yummy!! I am addicted to them at the moment…

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the grape I didn’t think would come back this year, the rescued pomegranate and one of the transplanted strawberries

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And how about some veges? Cucumbers, corn and zucchini

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I am so pleased I made the effort to get all of these in just as we started getting the awesome weather. That combined with intermittent rain everything is booming!

So today started with watering, trimming, pruning, weeding the tiny weeds out of the vege garden and training the climbers on their respective frames. This included pruning back the native hibiscus as Dean had a bonfire to burn up excess wood while I was away, which burned some of its ranches! I also shovelled some dirt over the ashes to stop them lowing around after picking out all the metal and nails so the kids couldn’t tread on them. Then as I had the bin I went around and did another quick rubbish scout and pickup. 

I had to pop down to the doctors with Zacc and called into the shop while we were out. I was pleased to see that the local greengrocer was carrying the Renaissance hers and had grabbed a couple the other week, so of course had to pop in there too 😉 I restrict purchases only to seeds I don’t have or herbs I can’t easily buy so all I have grabbed so far is valerian, angelica, a curry plant and some stevia. Though I also snaffled a succulent I eyed off last time I was there, a pot of butternut pumpkins and some black kale. 

Emma and I planted the valerian, angelica and stevia into my renovated her/rose garden today. The curry plant I think I will plant out into the front garden. Of course I didn’t get any after pics but here they are in their pots. 

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The pumpkins Em and I planted along the edge of my roses in the herb/rose garden as I plan to put a trellis up in there to grow the pumpkins up. They will go up a side of the old galah cage that I will wire and the secure to the ground with star pickets, then run chicken wire from that to the edge of the carport. That way by the time the pumpkins have grown up and along the trellis they will give my herbs underneath protection from our harsh late afternoon summer sun. Plus the added advantage of keeping my pumpkins off the ground reducing powdery mildew and needing less space to grow them 🙂

Here’s a pic of the pumpkins after planting today. I have to pull out the frame and wire it next to secure in.

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After having lunch we planted out 3 of the crystal apple cucumbers out the front yard, hopefully to avoid cross pollination with the lebanese ones I have out the back. No big deal if they do but it would be good if we can get some uncrossed seeds from them. The last one of these we popped into a pot and put it along the front path with the extra zucchini and will transplant them into bigger pots when they are bigger just to have a variety of growing results. I like to test things out lol

The last thing I did today while Dean was here visiting with the kids after school was to start filling in around the turtle tank, between that and the edges of the old vege garden sleepers. I wanted to get rid of the last big pile of compost/mess that Dean and had made and discovered while pulling it apart that he had put all of the pond plants he had ripped up in there. The root systems were massive and just like coir. It was perfect to put all down as a big layer of fill first, then I will back fill it with a mix of mushroom compost/sand and potting mix. I will then plant in the corners the black kale I bought as well as some silverbeet, spinach and some other veges. I am also going to leave the trellis there to grow up some peas and beans which will also protect the turtle yard from the hot summer afternoon sun later on. I will need to mesh the other side of it though as I will be putting chickens in there and they will eat them all!

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So last, but by no means least, some pics of some of our flowers. We have quite a few more, but I will show them off another time. 

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See you soon x

 

 

 

 

Catching Up

I have been a bit quiet since my last post as we have been sick as well as busy. Yes sick again and again, and um yes again! Thankfully that run seems to have broken and the kids are back to their bouncy, energetic and sometimes annoying selves 🙂

We were lucky enough to do a quick trip um to see my daughter, son in law and grandson which was awesome, though not anywhere near long enough!! I did however get lots of snuggles, some grandbaby babywearing in along with going out for dinner before coming home. Thankfully it will be only a few weeks till they need to come down this way, then not too many weeks after that is (ok say it quietly) Christmas….

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Unexpectedly I came home with an extra child as Zacc my 21 year old decided to move back in for a while until he finds a place of his own. This of course meant that the day after we got back I had to do a major reshuffle of the house to give him his own room. The little kids got moved down to the other end of the house into my room and Zacc went into their room. This means I am currently sleeping in the loungeroom on a single mattress until Dean moves out his snakes, which thankfully and hopefully should be this weekend, then the tiny little snakeroom shall be my bedroom. Luckily I don’t need a lot of space. 

I got some random jobs done like moving the freezer into my dining room from the laundry so one of the bigger snake tanks that isn’t going, can go there instead; I installed a height adjustable shower head so Zacc can actually fit under the shower; moved the guinea pig cage out form the laundry also to outside. I positioned it along the back house wall under where I have the pandora’s growing up the trellis and chicken wire so they get fresh air, sunshine and shade; tied up the pandora lead shoots so they don’t break off in the wind; tidied up contents of the craft cupboard from my loungeroom floor after the kids raided it; brought in and folded 5 loads of washing; moved my wool and fabric tubs into the dogs area until my room is done and did some random around the house cleaning and sorting.

So, now back to the backyard. Since my ex mowed the back lawn with Kai, it made the long grass along the edges and the fence still out horribly, and yes, it annoyed the crap out of me. Now I don’t have a whipper snipper, well a working one anyway. Maybe it’s best not to mention the 5 or 6 broken ones Dean has in the shed… So not wanting to waste money or borrow one I kept to my cheap or no cost methods and pulled it all out by hand or used the secateurs. Yes my back was really, really sore the next day but it was bloody worth it!! I can’t find a good shot of the horrendous fenceline before as I got carried away with it all rather quickly, but here is an after shot of one area as well as the huge mound of pulled grass!

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ImageWhile we were away I asked Dean if he would mind doing scrap metal run as well as a rubbish dump while the kids weren’t there, which thankfully he did. Finally most of the crap has gone out of the yard except for small bits and pieces which I can slowly through away each week in our normal rubbish bin. He also moved the only cut piece of rainwater tank into the old vege garden for me. This is for the turtle and the blue-tongues to move into.

Today I dismantled the old turtle enclosure and created his new one. The first job involved the kids and I scooping out all of the water from his pond and pouring it onto the veges, fruit trees, flowers and then any random plant in the back yard lol They thought it was awesome as the water was green and stinky! Then I rinsed out the tub and put it in the new tank enclosure, filled in some spots around everything with soil from the old enclosure and added some succulent type plants that have been sitting around in no soil for aaagggges. They will hopefully take off now they are actually in some soil! Then I topped those areas with stones to stop the plants drying out too much as well as to stop sand from falling into the pond. These stones are from an old random cage I had pulled up and threw out that had been full of the stones. I can’t even remember what had originally been in there!! Anyway I think it turned out fantastic! I am going to get a variety of small grasses and plant them in too. I don’t think I will add the blue tongues now as they will be able to climb out I think, in fact I think the turtle might too, particular above his pond area so I might need to put some mesh that can lift up for cleaning over that area.

The old enclosure 

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The new enclosure, before and after, though a crappy pic

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I pulled up the tin sides of the old enclosure, filled in the old pond hole and moved the kids climbing frame there. Then I moved the ‘c’ channel from along the fenceline near there out to my special “salvage yard area” and pulled out the long grass. I nicely asked Zacc to give me a hand and we shifted the swings (finally!) along the fenceline to open up the yard. We played with the positioning a bit with Kai acting as “test swinger” so we could make sure we could get the swings close enough to the the fence to maximise space without having the kids crash into the fence while swinging 😉 It fits in beautifully with the trampoline in its original position, so now we have some good running and kicking space in the middle of the yard.

The yard before

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And the glorious after pics, yes I am very, very pleased with it 🙂

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There is an area next to the old vege garden that used to be random nothingness which Dean ended up planting some grass pieces in. The plan was just to start them off, then dig them up to move into the yard later on. Well it has now grown well and truly all over that area so was mowed when he did the rest of the yard. lol Along the back was one of the areas I had pulled all the grass from along the fenceline. I decided to move all my fruit tress and bushes there which I had planted into bigger pots a few weeks ago, until I decide where their forever spot will be. It may end up just being there in bigger pots yet. I will buy some straw to build up around the pots in summer to reduce heat and also water loss. Now I can use the old herb garden where I had them all originally as an extra vege garden. The kids and I will plant the butternut pumpkins, extra zucchini’s and herbs in there over the next few days.

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ImageAll of our vege and flowers are growing amazingly so I will try and remember to take some pics to show you soon x

 

 

Planting Day!

 

I thought the weather was going to be crappy today, but while a little cold the sun was out most of the day! I started off just pottering around and tying back the big pandora some more and trimming off the front shoots that were draining its energy away from where I wanted it to go. I pruned my massive wormwood which is by the letterbox so the postie can actually give me some mail and also to let the lavender that is being smothered by it some air. Then I tied up the pandora and the jasmine out the front to their frames as they are growing quickly as I hoped. The jasmine is covered in flowers already and puts a gorgeous smell into the loungeroom when the front door is open on sunny days!

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I had bought some seedlings from a local cheapie shop who usually sells sad looking plants, but these must have only just come in as they were beautifully green and healthy looking. I bought some butternut pumpkin, lebanese cucumbers, crystal apple cucumbers and black zucchini’s, yum!! I got 7 lebanese cucumbers out of the one pot and 4 blackjack zucchini’s. I planted 3 of the zucchini’s and 5 of the cucumbers in the newly finished raised vege patch and repotted the remainder for planting in another area later on. I am still deciding on where I will put the pumpkins and the crystal apple seedlings will go into random spots out the front and back as well as some pots.

The lebanese cucumbers were planted between the corn at the back of the garden.

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Then the zucchini’s in front of them around the middle of the garden.

Image Next I needed to move the lettuces from what remained of the old vege bed, hoping that they would continue to grow for a while for us as well as the lizards. Fingers crossed as they originally were self seeded and have survived the kids using the oid vege bed as a sandpit! While I was planning on using this area for the chickens, I changed my mind and will be turning into a double run for the turtle and the blue tongues. They needed to be relocated as I want to move the kids swings along the fenceline where they currently are. I planted 6 lettuces into the raised vege bed and around 7 in the corner side beds alongside. Kai snaffled 8 lettuce plants and we even left some in the garden for the lizards to eat in there.

I bought 2 sad looking strawberries at half price from woolies last night, they were desperate for some water. After a good soak overnight they looked awesome so I planted them out in the raised vege bed. I also divided up the big pot of Kai’s strawberries that have needed doing for the last couple of years, thinking there were a few in there, but I ended up with 28!!! I planted a heap along the front of the raised vege bed, put a couple in a pot for Emma and repotted the others individually for a while before I plant them somewhere else later on. I might even take some up to my daughter and son in law 🙂 Kai was happy as he had 2 other pots full of strawberries that were different varieties altogether which have now been relocated next to his flowers. Needless to say he shall be very happy if they all fruit this year lol

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ImageI repotted the tayberry which has tiny little thorns like the raspberry, so I think they will go off into an area where the kids don’t run around like maniacs!

ImageWhile weeding out the side corner beds next to the main raised vege bed I found a tenacious little plant growing in the cracks of the wall! It will look pretty when it flowers it little purple flowers.

ImageMy indoor little plants I bought from Big W all got a nice repotting in some awesome little self watering pots I found at woolies.

ImageThe cordylines by my front door also got some nice new pots. I love the reddish/purple one and the green and white should set it off nicely.

ImageThe old vege bed needed some dirt in it for the lizards and turtle since I stole most of it for the new raised vege bed, so I dug out along the front pathway a little more and moved it out there. I wanted to put a garden bed out the front so I could drop the soil level to help with rain run off as it is a slope front yard and also to put some plants along, maybe a mix of veges and herbs, or just some herbs and small fruiting natives. I haven’t decided yet, though I have planted my rosemary in the corner already! I also used some of the dirt to backfill along where my elderberry is out the back as my dogs keep harrassing our neighbours by the fence there. Plus as my elderberry has put roots through the pot, as I was too fat and pregnant at the time to plant it, it has given it some extra stability and should keep it moister too.

ImageThe kids petunias by the front door already have a flower coming on which they are stoked about, purple too 🙂

ImageAnd to finish off a picture of my favourite plant of the moment which has been growing awesomely since I rescued it from the marked down section. A beautiful Ipomoea that has gorgeous blackish purple leaves, but new leaves start off as a lush vibrant green. I shall have to get a better picture of it I think!

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Slowly, slowly

 

So with a mixture of up and down weather and all of us being sick (the kidlets more so) I have been pottering around since my last post getting bits and pieces done. The kdis and I planted some petunias in a big pot out near the front step for some colour and they can look after them. I cleaned off the back verandah and sorted and decluttered the big old meat safe cupboard there so you can now walk all the way across and I now know what outside things I have stored in there. The kids and I did another rubbish sweep of the yard as rubbish is still working its way up from the previous inhabitants. We have been here 8.5 years and we still get old toys, broken glass etc popping up out of the ground! 

The kids and I  finished backfilling the raised vege bed with old vege garden soil, the galah mix and from the compost pile, it took around 12 wheelbarrow loads!! We have planted a row of sweetcorn along the back already.

Here is a few pics to show how it changed from being an old pond to what it is now.

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ImageThe kids bought some petunias and lobelias so they can have some beautiful flowers in their own gardens areas. They chose to put them into pots which is a good idea as they will most likely change their minds on where they want their gardens to be! Here are Kai’s.

ImageI also bought another fruit vine called a Tayberry. I have never heard of it before so a good reason to add it to the garden 🙂

ImageI have been training the now huge pandora up the chicken wire that I put up from the top of the trellis stand to the house eaves. This wall (which is Ashlee’s bedroom) gets full sun in summer all afternoon so needed shading desperately. There are 3 pandora’s planted along the left end that dean just attached the trellis to for me. The plants have just made it to the chicken wire height already which is awesome! I need to trim the big one of the shoots coming out the front so that it will put more energy into the top leader shoots.

ImageI have been also working on my yard plan which includes the moving to along the fence of the swingset to allow soccer and footy to be played in the middle of the yard, moving the blue tongue’s and turtle runs, adding the chicken yard and where I am going to put some additional vege beds. There is an old bird cage we haven’t used in years in the back corner that is now nicely overgrown by a native climber, so rather than demolishing that like I originally intended I am going to use that as the bones of my chook yard. The old vege garden is adjacent to it with a small compost heap that I started a few months ago will be incorporated into the design and as I have most of what I need to build it already, I just need to finish designing it. 

ImageToday I was going to mow the jungle while I had some sun, but Kai and daddy decided that they would like to do that, so who was I to argue? 😉

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ImageAnd last, but definitely not least, my beautiful cat of 16.5 years, Salem passed away yesterday. We buried her in the backyard and I gave the kids the choice of which tree we would plant over her in honour. it decided the strawberry guava was just the one, and I agree 🙂

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Till next time xx

 

 

Clearing Day

So here’s what I did today. A little too much I think in the end and I am going to be sore tomorrow, well I am already, but well worth the effort!!

I really wanted to get stuck into some more planting done and to get some seeds in trays, but I realised that the kids were set on exploring all of the yard now that I had been changing things around. This is fantastic, except for the fact that there were areas that needed to be sorted out as they could hurt themselves. My husband is a bit bit of a hoarder (I know those who know me personally will be chuckling over that inadequate description!) and while I had successfully cleared a lot of it out after he moved out, there was quite a bit more to do.

The first job began with clearing a small area near the compost heaps that I knew was full of plant pots, containers, bird feeders, seedling trays, old plant tags and stuff. Here is the before picture looking like there isn’t much there.

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And the after pics showing how much I found all neatly stacked after throwing the broken pots and rubbish into the wheelbarrow. I was very happy to find a wire hanging basket and 2 wall hanging baskets in there with everything else! There are about 2 dozen pots missing from the picture as well as the kids stole them for their gardens lol

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And just because I can, one of the very helpful dog who was convinced there were things hiding in the compost heap she had to get out..

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Behind the compost heaps now looks like this

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I knew the next job was going to be a lot of work but I decided to just get it done straight away. I wanted to move all of the wood and steel that had been stacked along the side of the house and and the end of the garden for who knows how long, around to behind the sheds where I could block it off so the kids cannot access it. There was also rubbish and scrap metal that I moved into 2 other areas ready for been taken to the recycling centre and the dump. 

Here are the before pics

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And here is what I decided to keep stacked nicely away so I have my own mini salvage yard. Yes that wood was bloody heavy!!

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And as you can see there is also stacked in there a 3 tier pond, a circular pond, baby swing from the swing set, cage, outside fire grate and some plastic pipes. Not bad hey? I realised though that I didn’t take pics of the 2 areas I cleared, I will take some tomorrow.

After that effort which took me about 2 hours, I decided to go and have a lunch break with the kids and had a rest for about an hour to recover. After cleaning up a bit inside we were back outside again. While the kids were playing I thought I would take it easy and sat in the old pond which I am turning into a raised vege patch and nail the lining onto the wooden sides to stop them deteriorating further. Of course I was feeling a bit better now and revived by the sun so I straightened the weed mat at the bottom of the vege bed and layered on the slightly composted hay and guinea pig poo from the back pile from a few weeks ago. Next I put on a layer of fresh hay. Deciding to tempt the sore muscles I put on a couple of layers of soil. One wheelbarrow load from each of the compost pile, old vege patch and the dirt/composted poo from where we demolished the old galah cage.

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ImageThe kids helped with this except there was a lot more soil being thrown around the yard than into the vege bed lol It will be interesting to see if I can manage anything tomorrow….

New Beginnings

So why start a blog? Hmmm I will try and and simplify it 🙂

I recently became a single parent and amongst the normal things families face, there are some issues that are screaming for my attention, NOW! So to address these I have to make some changes, some minor, some big and some kind of sneaky. I thought I would keep track of what I get up to to remind myself of what I achieve, what works and what doesn’t, plus it might help others if only to act as a catalyst 🙂

So what are those issues you ask? Well I have 4 main ones, the cost of power, the cost of food, a  fussy 5 year old eater and a need to keep busy.

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(image courtesy :http://www.ncpw.com)

Electricity is deregulated here and is costing me roughly equal to half of my rent per week!! I am beginning to monitor how my energy each appliance uses and reducing and stopping all together the usage of others. My house receives minimal sun in winter but full all day sun in summer, so heating and cooling are major issues especially as I have gappy housing trust floorboards. The main ways I am addressing this is by implementing some good shading with both plants and structures for summer, better window curtains/treatments and floor coverings along with the usage of deciduous plants in key areas for winter.

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The cost of food is a pain in the butt, especially as I have a fussy five year old Kai and 23 year old Ashlee! Luckily my 3 year old Emma eats just about anything and everything!! So providing a variety of foods that are nutritious, interesting and cheap is a battle. Adding some chickens to the family is going to be the easy step, I just need to build a chook yard as where we had one years ago is totally unsuitable now. Kai prefers plain processed foods and likes very few fruits and veges. He does eat strawberries now though as we started to grow some in our backyard. So this is where the sneaky comes in. I realised it would be worth growing as much food as I can to not only reduce the amount I would need to buy, but also hopefully (everything crossed) tempt Kai to start trying and eating what we are growing 😀

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I will blog the changes I have already made and that I continue to make as I go along, involving the kids in it as much as possible. Who knows, maybe it will give you some ideas for your own home 🙂