Monday, July 31, 2006

No-Dig Soil Results

My no-dig soil is just brimming with goodness, check it out.

The sheep poo is starting to break down and this has become a long term feeding system for the plants over the spring/summer season.

My no-dig area of the garden was set up over some of the lawn area, back about 4 years ago and I have never regretted cutting down the size of the lawn. I'd rather harvest food than have a big lawn area.

This year I am going to have a crop of corn and tomatoes in some of the areas. This will be my first time growing corn in the no-dig garden as I needed to build up the area with soil, so it can support the tall corn stalks.

With all the chicken & rabbit litter, I am never short of compost or spoilt straw for topping up the area when needed.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Preparing For Summer

Days are getting longer and warmer, so it's time to think about starting some of the seeds off in my little hot house. These seeds take longer to establish and I'll post photos as the weeks go by, so you can see them growing.

Planted out in seed form today were,
tomato cherry mix,
tomato Rouge de Marmande,
Grosse Lisse tomato,
Principe Borghese tomato,
eggplant,
mini choc capsicum,
straight Leaf Spring Onion I saved myself,
Jimmy Nardello capsicum,
some chilli seeds I have been given by fellow gardeners and
some yellow banana capsicum I had saved myself.



While I was doing this Pat was turning over an area that needed to have weeds removed. I'm not sure what will be planted in this area yet. I need to add some gypsum to break up the clay and add some of the compost I am making, in this area late August. I know on the trellis there will be some cucumber plants as I want to make some more green tomato pickles. As I need heaps of cucumbers for making pickles and salads, I will grow 2 varieties this year.




Two rows of carrots and 1 row of beetroot. Weeded round them today and am happy with the germination rate. Grew some here a few years back and had a good result.

The pepino didn't like the area I moved them to. Shame as they weren't a bad fruit, only thing was the plant was a huge creeping plant and took up so much room. Looked like a mini hedge and my father-in-law's never got as big as mine.




So while I weeded the carrots and Pat turned the vacant area, the ducks and chooks hung on to every arm movement with such glee. Thrown over the fence to them were sods of grass and loose weeds.

Worms for the greedy bills & beaks who were willing to take them from our fingers.

This is one of the things I love about my backyard, there is always someone who is willing to hang over the fence and give their opinion.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Chook Upkeep

Well it was a busy day out the back with the hen house having a clean out. Not only fresh straw for the sleeping area, with a bucket of wormwood leaves for the floor. Along with fresh straw for the laying boxes, wormwood also included in the nesting boxes. This will help to repel lice and expels intestinal worms with ingesting the leaves.

So with a large plant pot and wheel barrow full of chook litter sitting in the duck run, it becomes fair game for any nosy chook. For some reason it looks all fresh and interesting when collected and waiting to be added to the composting bins. I have never not have a chook or a duck for that matter dig round in the litter hoping to find something yummy.

Also finished pruning the apricot tree at last.

My ex-lawn mower man just dropped a bin load of lawn cuttings off for me to use in the compost and the duck run. What I don't use will be spread round the duck run to collect their droppings and then composted down the track.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dietes in Flower

Out the front in my little flower bed area the Dietes are starting to come out in flower. These are such a lovely plant and I love them when in flower.

I need a day out in the area to weed, prune the roses back and tidy some of the perennials. Going to start trying to get out there tomorrow as today Pat & I were again babysitting Coco and Bear for the morning.

So by the time we got home and had lunch and cleaned up, I was not feeling like chasing plants round the yard. If I wasn't kicking the ball in the 3 hours, Pat was kicking the ball.

We also took some more sand from the soon to be gone sand pit, for the chicken run. Hoping this will help to stop getting as muddy as what it does when we get heavy rain. The hens will still have under the cubby house for dust baths.

Really hoping tomorrow is as stunning a day as what today was, even though we really do need a couple of days where the rain just falls from the sky.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Thank You

Isn't this lovely?? Chuckles and DJ were picked up last night and their family gave this candle holder to me for caring for their bunnies. Even though Pat helped as well.

What a lovely surprise as I wasn't expecting anything, just enjoyed having the extra furry ones around the place.

Said to Rachel (owner), her little rabbits were welcome here anytime. Just ring up and book them in.

I didn't end up putting DJ with Flossy as with both visitors being boys and having one coming home after a night on the town all smelling girlie, may have caused some fights. So we decided not to worry about it. Flossy will just live her life as a single lady on the pension now.

Cleaned out Cadbury's hutch the other day and she spent that night taking all the straw from her play area to the bed area and this time round she is pulling out fur. She is either really pregnant or really up the creek hormone wise.

I am also thinking she maybe a few lettuce leaves short of a salad sandwich too..........Chuckle.

I'll keep you posted of the Cadbury situation.

Hoo roo for now.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Seeds V Seedlings

Most of my vegies plants are grown from seeds. The reason being is I prefer the choices offered by seed companies.

Lets look at seedlings first.

Seedlings are a great way to see an instant garden when first starting out vegie growing. With all the excitement of planning your first crop and preparing the area, its nice to see little plants in the freshly dug garden area at the end of the day. Also there is something about watering seedlings after working in the garden.

But by choosing seedlings you are limited in varieties. You can only purchase what the supplier wants to sell. I do on the odd occasion buy seedlings, more so when time is running out and I want to get a crop in before the sowing season it finished. Or I decide to add a late second sowing of a variety.

Lets now look at seeds.

Seeds offer such a wide range of varieties for people to grow in their vegie gardens. From F1 to Heirlooms of all colours and sizes. This is what attracts me the most about seeds.

By sowing and growing heirloom varieties I am able to save my own seeds if I want. Also saves me $$ as I am not purchasing more seeds the following season. If I have an abundance of seeds from what I have saved, I am also able to offer them to fellow gardeners.

Some variety of seeds can not have their seeds saved for the following year. F1 is a form of seed that is treated and unable to be saved for the following year. So, seed saving from these plants is not able to be achieved.

Heirloom seeds are what can be traced back before WW2. There are people who dedicate their time saving these seeds, so they are not lost. For this I am so grateful.

I tend to order my seeds from seed clubs, than going down to the local shop and buying them over the counter.

My reasons are that I prefer the flavours of the old varieties and the chance to save my own seeds. Also where as at a shop you may find 2 or 3 varieties of the same vegetable, in a seed catalogue there may be 6 or more to pick from.

Tomatoes are a great example of varieties out there for choosing from. The tomato can come in so many different shape, sizes and colours, but only a few seed types are sold over the counter.

So as you can see I am a big fan of seeds and seed clubs.

Some clubs offer memberships with a reduced price on their seeds. These clubs can still be ordered from even if not a member. Also some send out a catalogue with great articles in them relating to gardening. I love pouring over the catalogues to see what is available and what is new in gardening.

Listed below are the gardening clubs I have joined or receive catalogues from.

Heirloom Tomato Seed Exchange is a great example of the amount of tomatoes out there for growing. I don't get a catalogue from this site, but I wanted you to see where I was coming from with colour, sizes and varieties.


The Diggers Club

Green Harvest

Eden Seeds

New Gippsland Seeds & Bulbs

Heirloom Tomato Seed Exchange


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Asparagus Spears Already

First 2 spears for the coming season have poked their heads up. I was rather shocked to find the spears in July though.

I am so glad I have removed any weeds and restocked the area with old compost and old sheep manure in preparation for the up coming season.

Though I am wondering if the spring season is arriving earlier this year, Pat seems to think it has. I can never remember from year to year what is happening in the way of almond blossom and asparagus spears for that matter. Lots of almond trees in our area are loaded with blossom.

So I guess in a few days we will be eating freshly steamed organic asparagus spears.

I'd love to know your thoughts of whether you think the spring season is or will be early this year or not. What I do know is this winter has been colder, but not as wet as other years.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

No Baby Bunnies

Thought I would update you all on the baby bunny situation here.

Cadbury's turned out to be a phantom pregnancy. I am pleased with this as I wanted her to have a rest before another set of babies to feed and care for. So today her hutch was given a extra good clean out and Nibbles will have an evening with her.

Nothing from Flossy either. This is the second time she has not delivered any babies. So while DJ & Chuckles are visiting I though I would see if a different male will be any better. DJ's colour with Flossy's black & white colouring would make for some pretty coloured rabbits.

Yes I have checked both DJ & Chuckles out and they are both boys.

I am wondering if Flossy is getting too old for having babies. Do little doe rabbits have a cut off age for being able to carry a pregnancy to full term??? So while a different male is available I thought this would be a good way to find out.

I will ask DJ's owner first though if its okay.

Chuckles & DJ.

DJ on the left & Chuckles on the right.

They turned up last night with bedding, hutch, food & toys for about a 5 to 6 day stay.

Their hutch is on the veranda and through the day they will be in the playpen, weather permitting.

Cadbury will have her usual outside hutch and Nibbles will have to hang with the ducks to get his exercise. No way is Nibbles getting a chance to eat the Pak Choy and other yummy seedlings I planted out.

There is some questioning to what sex these 2 are. So before they go home I will have a look see and let their owner know on collection evening.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Coco, Bear & Me

Isn't she gorgeous? This is Coco my nephew's 8 week old Border Collie, he flew to Queensland and collected yesterday.

Jason had an appointment mid morning and Pat & I were asked to baby sit Coco and Bear while he was out.

Coco was tired after all her travelling the day before, but she still followed me round the house or out into the backyard for some gentle games with a tennis ball. It wasn't until we were almost ready to come home that she and Bear started to really play with a toy between them. The 3 of us just sat back and watched them bond together.



Look at Bear's face isn't she so intelligent?

Due to Pat being allergic to dogs, I didn't have to worry about sharing Coco with him. I was able to have all the cuddles to myself.

Though Bear did get her tennis ball kicked around the yard by Pat's foot for most of the 4 hours we were there. I love how Bear seems to radiate what she is thinking. She's so full of beans and such a great dog to play ball games with and she's such a well behaved dog.

There is something about being out the back kicking a ball along the ground and having a dog join in. I couldn't say how many times both of us kicked Bear's ball for her and she kept bringing it back. In the end I wouldn't pick the ball up as it was all covered in dog slobber.

A couple of times Bear reminded me of the Tom Hanks movie "Turner & Hooch" with all her slobber.


Pat took this photo for me. Coco was shivering while sitting by my feet. Coming from sunny Queensland to a cold climate is a bit much for a baby girl.

Won't be long and she'll be too big to cuddle and hold in my arms.

So that is what I got up to on this cool winters day.

Now I have to go out and make some room for 2, five month old rabbits I am baby sitting for about a week while my ex-lawn mower man and his family go on holidays.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Bundy & His Tyre


Bundy is my drake that has been bred from my family of ducks. He has the body of a pekin and colouring of a mallard. I love his green feathering colour on his head. Also depending which way the sun shines on his wing bar, to what colour is refected off.

Bundy loves his car tyre and I often find him resting in it towards late afternoon. Some days all I can see is his tail and head as he rests his bill on the tyre. Gives me a lazy quack and goes back to sleep.

He wasn't happy when I took his tyre to make the worm farm. So yesterday when I raked out the duck run I gave him another tyre and he's taking full advantage of my soft spot and he isn't sharing it with any of the ducks.


One happy duck.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Funny Bunny Business


Cadbury in her hutch as of 5 minutes ago when I took this photo.

She has had me web searching, ringing family members,even had my sister web searching and a couple of forums talking bunny meals and the cost of them at the butcher or markets.

Why you ask????

Cadbury was last with Nibbles back Easter time which resulted in Smokey & Sinders been born.

So either Nibbles post packed it to Cadbury, got to her through the wire of her outside run, remembering Nibbles runs free most times in the backyard.

Or it's a phantom pregnancy.

I am thinking a phantom pregnancy. I will keep an eye on the smaller area of her hutch as its so clean in there. Last thing I want to do is throw the babies out with the water, so to speak. So when I clean out her hutch next time I'll do the larger area only.

If Nibbles did get to her through the cage wire, it'll be hard to catch her feeding them as females only feed their young once a day. This makes it harder for the hunter be it a fox or cat or what ever else find the young.

Butter wouldn't melt in Nibbles' mouth.

Nibbles is just too cute for his boots. He knows how cute he is too. He was begging to have his photo taken as his hutch sits on top of Cadbury's.

So stay tuned for a update down the track on whether Nibbles is a clever little boy or not.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Chillie Plant


My Birdseye chilli plant has just about finished cropping. The last of the chillies will be used to warm the chooks & ducks when I make their evening wet mash. I am going to leave pruning my plant back until after the colder weather has finished.


Close up of the plant shows how the cold weather is turning the leaves yellow.


The underneath of the plant is showing lush green leaves due to being protected by the top canopy of the bush.

My neighbour has cut his chillie plants all back almost like rose bushes. I will leave mine until the end of August as the warmer days will help to protect those new shoots as they grow.

I am thinking if I prune the plant back now, the cold days and nights will take its toll on the bush. With the plant left as it is, it will have more protection while the weather is cold.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Free Worm Farm

With winter here the compost bins have slowed down. So I need to find a new way to compost down the hutch bedding from Cadbury & Nibbles. No way am I going to waste all that soiled newspaper and straw full of bunny poo.

I saw on an internet site a worm farm made with car tyres and thought, this will solve my problems. I have modified it, to suite the purpose of feeding the plum tree with all the worm juice that will seep out from the bottom.

What I did was place a tyre on the bare ground and wet down all bunny bedding and placed into a car tyre. When the car tyre was full, I sat another tyre on top and repeated the process.


I added a couple of good hand full of worms to the bedding. I am working on the plan that the composting worms will work on the top area and the soil worms will come up from underneath and work on the bottom filling in the tyres.

I have noticed that I find composting worms at all levels in the compost bins when I have added it to the compost bins from my farms. So I am also figuring they will travel down as well.





When the farm was 3 tyres high and 2.5 tyres full of material, I put a cover of wet newspaper on top of the worms.

In a few weeks I'll add more too it, mean while I'll keep an eye on it.








All finished and a heavy cover added to stop the ducks shifting it and raiding the farm for a feed.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Finally I have a copy


I have no idea how many years I have wanted to have a copy of this magazine in my collection of gardening books and magazines.

Now I have a copy, thanks to eBay.

A lot of my vegetable gardening skills I owe to this man Peter Cundall from Tasmania (Australia).

I have his 'Patch from Scratch" DVD that I have used to help me countless times over the last 7 years in my vegie patch and I still enjoy sitting down and watching the 1 hour show about a vegie patch over 18 months.

I have a composting video that the whole Gardening Australia team present giving ideas on composting and the goodness of having chooks, worms and worm farms in your garden.

Gardening Australia video on "Herbs" again presented by the garden team.

DVD of "Cottage Gardens" presented by the Gardening Australia team.

Permaculture & Organic Gardening presented by Josh Byrne on DVD.

Books and magazines from the Gardening Australia team.

Plus countless other books on poultry, ducks, worm farm, recycling, gardening, permiculture, vegies, roses and annuals.

So what I am I say?

That by reading books, watching gardening shows and videos/DVDs, seeing gardens through the open garden scheme, or just chatting to a gardener in a street, you can learn so much and take it back into your own garden and put it into practice.

Ideas are born by looking, listening and watching what is happening in other people's gardens.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The meaning of "FREE"


Worm castings to be used when planting out the seedlings I bought the other day.

When I go to a plant nursery, Bunnings or anywhere garden products are sold, I always like to see what other people are buying. I guess it makes me sound like a sticky beak but I am amazed at what people buy for their gardens.

I cringe at the poisonous sprays and double bonus packs of artificial fertilizers loaded up in their trolleys. But this is their choice and not mine.

But what amazes me is the products they buy that can be made at home in the backyard, even if living in a small unit and have only a tiny garden.

I've seen people buy these products and listened to their plans as they chat among themselves while waiting in line to pay for it all. So it's costing them $$$$ when it can be free.

I'm talking about a worm farm, be it as flash as a bought farm like my two or a cheap broccoli foam box set up on a plastic dish for the worm liquid to drain into.

My 2 worm farms are a very important part of how my garden is run and that the castings feed my plants. I am a firm believer that the soil needs to be fed to substain the plants growing life and at the same time feed and keep the soil healthy.

The worm castings give each seedling a extra boost of power to get them going at planting time. Making for healthier plants and this means better resistance to diseases that can attack your plants when not healthy.

With the out lay of a farm (if wanting to go this way) is around $80.00 and can be bought at some shops where they have 15% off sale days, to make them cheaper still. A new worm farm will come with a peat moss brick for soaking and this is the worms bedding. Worms can be bought from most good nurseries, Bunnings and K-Mart in the garden section. A small box is big enough to get you going, this cost is between $20.00 to $30.00. Or you might know someone who can give you some worms for free.

You can also make a farm with a foam box or a plastic rubbish bin or container. Check your local paper for second hand ones. Does your council run a scheme where they will help you purchase a worm farm at a cheaper price???

Then all you have to do if feed them your kitchen scraps, minus onion, citrus, meat, dairy & oily foods. Paper can be added, animal bedding (check for ants though) brushing you dog or cat daily or weekly....... Into the farm it can go. Just about anything that was alive once can be recycled again in your worm farm. Mine love the boxes the pizzas are delivered in.

What a great way to recycle and not send the rubbish to land fill and at the same time save you $$$$ at the shops. My worm farms have now been going for 7 years and I have given away so many worms to friends to help start off their farms.

So why not join in and help recycle, make the planet to bit healthier and save some money all at the one time.





Thursday, July 06, 2006

Seedlings.

Today was a great day as Pat and I went to Bunnings for some seed raising mix for me to use to start the spring/summer seeds off with.

While there I bought the above plants as well. The corn flowers are Pat's favourite annual and so I couldn't resist them.

I have always wanted a bay tree and so I now have one. Later on I'll get a lovely pot for it, thinking of a square ceramic pot in a lovely bright colour, maybe yellow.

The parsley is needed as I have just about used up all the parsley I dried 2 years ago. I must say I have missed the fresh parsley from out the back.

So in the next day or so I'll be busy out in the garden planting out my new plants.

Bad news for the chooks though as the fabless 4 have been hopping the fence and scratching round in some of the garden areas. So they will be in prison unless I'm out the back to watch them.

Also Nibbles will have to be in the play pen too as he will eat the Broccoli as quick as he can. Though our neighbour the other day gave us another play pen the same as ours, so we can double the size. Man he makes me feel guilty when he looks at me standing and begging to hop out and run loose.

Still some more things I need from Bunnings, but that is another day.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Flossy

I have been very quiet gardening wise for the last 5 days. Saturday it was so wet and we had 11 mm of rain in the backyard. Though it has been just released we had the 3rd driest June on record.

Today I cleaned out the 3 rabbit hutches and composted all the used bunny litter. Flossy was put back out into her own hutch in the duck run after living with Nibbles for 2 weeks in Cadbury's hutch. Nibbles is now back in his own hutch and Cadbury is in her's.

I feel guilty about Flossy having been returned to her outside hutch. I am wondering if she enjoyed the TV and heater in the evenings.

Just before I took the above photo, Flossy was busy taking fresh straw into her closed in hutch area. She looked so cute with a mouthful of straw.

The rest of the straw was broken up into biscuits and stored in the bags I buy the wheat and laying pellets in. These bags are now stored in the duck shed and I wonder how long before Twinner or Milly find the bags and start laying their eggs in the straw again.

Some mornings when I go into the duck shed, I will hear a "quack" from one of the bags.

So if all goes well, we could have some baby bunnies in 2 weeks time.