Garden Notes – Seedling Success


It is 8 days since I planted the seeds which I wrote about in my previous post and I am pleased to report success, almost beyond my wildest dreams.

Here are the trays of cabbage and cauliflower.  It looks as though the germination rate was almost 100%.

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The cauliflower had begun to lean towards the sun so I brought them out from their sheltered spot and they are now in the full sun on some mesh which is covering one of the garden beds.  The mesh is to keep the scrub turkeys out of the sweet potato which I transplanted from the compost heap.

The broccoli seedlings are also looking good but a few days behind the others.

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The germination rate of these is also excellent as I think there were only 20 seeds in the packet – they are a hybrid bred specifically for our warmer sub-tropical climate.

The celery and spinach are still in the sheltered area and I continue to be hopeful.  I think I can see some celery just poking through the soil but the spinach are not showing any signs of life just yet.

The red cabbage seedlings have doubled in size in a week and the beans which I planted directly in the bed are growing at a rapid pace.

On another note, and related to the garden, I wanted to show you a bit of work we did last week.

When we fenced the area for the vegetable garden we installed a couple of gates.  Due to the slope of the land we set this timber sleeper beneath the wide gate.  It has stayed in position and works well.

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There did not seem to be a need under the standard width gate but over time we have noticed that the ground had settled and a few rocks were placed to thwart the efforts of the chickens to access the enclosed area.

So last weekend we found another sleeper and cut a piece for this gate.

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I need to encourage the grass to grow on this side of the gate.  I am not worried about the enclosed area as that will eventually all be mulched with no grass at all.

While we were doing this we decided to also do the gate for the chicken run which had the same problem.

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The gate is propped open as the girls were out free-ranging when I took this photo this afternoon.

A Weekend Off

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Well, it has been a little more than just the weekend, but I took a few days off from my blog.

Life has continued much the same as usual.  During the week I go to work.  On the weekend I go shopping to make sure that we have the food that we need.  I plan and prepare meals for the week ahead.  The washing and ironing and done and so the cycle begins again.

I made another quiche using the rice base that I wrote about last week.  This also used up some more of the cream.

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The meat supplies were low so I stocked up.  One of the things I bought was gravy beef.  I use this to make casseroles in the slow-cooker and one of my favourites is Braised Steak and Onions.  I will do a separate post about this easy meal.

While I was catching up on general housework, GMan was busy outdoors.  He set himself the task of digging up all of the lawn in the area were we are trying to establish a number of blueberry bushes.  They seem to be struggling and I think it is because they are competing with the lawn for nutrients.  So all of the lawn around them will go and we will mulch the entire area.  As usual, nothing went to waste and the lawn has been re-homed in other areas of the garden.

The chickens really enjoyed the opportunity to scratch around in the freshly exposed earth and found lots of tasty morsels.  Digging is their favourite activity and they never miss an opportunity.

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Hen House


In 2013 I wrote this post about a chicken coop we had bought.  While it has been quite successful it has succumbed to the weather over time.

Once we had completed the run we decided that we would really prefer to have a hen house that we could access by walking in to it.

There had been much discussion about how we would make this a reality so last weekend we set to work with our salvaged and recycled materials from the old hen house and other projects.

We worked flat out for 2 days and there was no time for taking photos so there is no record of it under construction.

Here is the finished structure.


There will be covered garden beds around 2 sides.  I plan to grow greens for the chickens to graze on but have it covered so that they can only nibble them once they grow big enough that they are through the wire.


This is the view from the vegie garden.  It is not open to the garden although that is the effect in the photo.  There is chicken wire on the front side of the hen house.  We are considering adding a roll-down clear vinyl blind to use in very wet weather.  There are a couple of old ones which we do not use that are still on the verandah.


The interior with water and feed dispensers as well as a nesting box which we salvaged from the old coop.

There are still a few minor enhancements that we will make but the major part of the project is complete and the chickens seem very happy with their new home.


Friday Flashback

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Tonight I want to share this post from 2011.  It is rather timely as I have noticed that one of the consistently highest categories of our spending is ‘house and garden’.  There is always something that needs doing.

This morning I went to Maleny.  I had several things to do and they all cost money.  I began to think about this and realised that we would have none of these expenses if we lived in the city.  Mind you there would be other costs, and wild horses would not drag me back to suburbia.

I picked up our 4 new point of lay pullets, otherwise known as the new chickens.  Here they are.

2011-12-12 01Then I paid for the repairs to the ride-on mower.

2011-12-12 02The Duke had managed to break a link in the steering when he last used it.  We have sloping land which is scattered with volcanic rocks (boulders, actually) which are mostly submerged and other obstacles such as large tree roots.  We need this mower as there is a lot of grass to keep mowed.  Here is part of the backyard.

2011-12-12 03I took Psycho Dog to the vet as I had found another 2 paralysis ticks on him this morning.  He had one a couple of months ago which made him quite sick but luckily this time he is not too bad.  It will still cost me quite a bit for the antidote.

I have bought a new tick collar (due for one) today, also.

My final purchase for the day will be online.  I am going to buy a set of dog clippers so that I can keep his coat really short as that is the only feasible way to be able to find the ticks. The cost of the set of clippers is less than one dose of tick antidote so a cost-effective purchase.  Previously, a friend would clip him about every 4-5 months but because of the extreme tick season this year he needs clipping about every 3 weeks.  She is no longer doing it so I have decided to do the clipping myself.  He is a border collie with a thick, double-coat which makes it almost impossible to locate the ticks.  We live in a tick-prone area but the ticks are particularly bad this year.  Perhaps it is because of the wet summer we had last year?

This is what Psycho Dog looks like when he is clipped.  I think he is quite handsome.

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The New Arrivals


On Thursday evening there was a card in our mailbox advising that there was a large parcel at the Post Office for us to collect.  We collected the box early on Friday morning before we went to work.  It was our fruit trees that we ordered online from Daley’s Nursery.  We ordered 12 blueberry bushes and a passionfruit vine.

New plants
Here is the box after I had slit one side open (as suggested in the attached instructions).  The plants were well-packed and in excellent condition.  Once again, we followed the directions and removed all of the wrapping and put them out in full sun.

Blueberry bushes
We watered them well and have placed them in the area where they will be planted  – hopefully tomorrow.  It may be a bit difficult to see in the photo but I had already placed rocks to mark where we are going to plant them so it will be a relatively simple matter of digging the holes.  The ground is quite soft as we have had some rain.  Blueberries thrive in a slightly acidic soil.  I have never actually tested the pH of our soil but the other indicator is that azaleas and camellias grow really well in our area and they like very similar conditions.

We have four other blueberry shrubs which are in the area which is now the chicken run.  You can read about them in this previous post.  We did not give them as much care as they probably needed but we still managed to harvest about 1.5kg of berries this summer.  That was predominantly from 2 shrubs.  We have now pruned them quite hard and mulched them thoroughly.

The other exciting news is that we have completely finished fencing the vegetable garden area.

Vegie garden and fencing

As well as the completed fencing you may also be able to see the black hoops over the garden bed in the distance.  This is some large poly pipe which I am planning to use as a frame for some exclusion netting to keep the white cabbage moth off the broccoli, kale, cabbages and cauliflower.  I am looking at buying the vege netting from Green Harvest.  We are fortunate that this business is located in Maleny so we are able to place our order online and then pick it up in person.

The chickens are rather unhappy that they are now permanently excluded from the garden area and all of the freshly dug soil and earthworms.

Weekend Work & Chicken Wings


It is Wednesday already and it is nearly a week since my last post.  I have been busy doing things instead of writing and unfortunately have not always had the camera handy.  However, here are a few photos of some of the things we did on the weekend.

The existing blueberry bushes have been pruned, enclosed with wire surrounds and mulched thoroughly.  These bushes have been in for several years but are now in the wrong place as they are located within the new chicken run.  I previously had the entire area enclosed to prevent the chickens from digging around them and exposing the roots but I decided that individual enclosures were a better idea.

New garden
The fencing around the perimeter of the vegetable gardens is almost complete.  I the meantime I have temporarily closed off the last bit to exclude the chickens.  This meant that I was able to prepare a new garden bed and be safe in the knowledge that it would not be dug up immediately by the marauding feathered army.  The rock edging is made from some of the hundreds of rocks that litter our property.  The bed is inside the fence nearest to the house so I plan to make this into a herb garden.

Finally, I clipped the wings of the chickens in order to make sure that they could not fly over the 1200mm fence into the vegie garden.  I had wanted to do this for ages but never felt quite brave enough.  With some advice from an online forum, a Youtube video and The Duke to hold the chicken I was able to clip the flight feathers on one wing of each chicken.  The exercise seems to have been successful as there has been no more instances of flying over fences.

Finally – A Fence

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We have been living here for over 8 years now and when we moved in there were no vegetable gardens and only 3 fruit trees – avocado, orange and lemon in rather odd spots in the yard.  We built some vegetable gardens which have evolved over time and the chicken run has been moved and is now next to the vegetable gardens.  Since free-ranging chickens and vegetable gardens do not go terribly well together we decided to fence the entire area containing the garden beds.  This has been a very long-winded process but we can finally see the end in sight.

Today we actually did one run on fencing and here is the result.

We hope to finish the fencing which will enclose the vegetable garden area next weekend.  It should mean an end to the various bits of wire contraptions that I create to keep the chickens away from the seedlings.

These are peas and pak choy seedlings that we bought at the Yandina markets on Saturday.  We also bought lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower which are in the other beds.

Beans and radishes
Here are the purple beans and radishes which have come up from seed I planted a couple of weeks ago.

What are you growing in your garden at the moment?

Flown the Coop

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We have a small flock of chickens.  It ranges in number from 2 to 7 depending on circumstances.  We had 5 until last week when one of them died.  We usually let them out for a couple of hours late in the afternoon when we are home so since I was working from home today I went downstairs to let them out about 4pm.  The 2 brown chickens came running but there was no sign of the 2 black ones.  I searched everywhere for them but to no avail.

Then I noticed that the shadecloth that we have over part of the run was split.  The join had obviously deteriorated in the sun.  One of the reasons I put the shadecloth up was to stop the chickens getting on the roof of the henhouse and then using that as a launching-pad to fly out of the enclosure.  The black chickens were the main culprits and The Duke had christened them ‘Harriet Houdini’ 1 & 2.  It looked like they had lived up to their names and I was not sure whether I would see them again.

Wire clips
I decided to fix the split so I used these fencing wire clips.

Repaired shadecloth
Here is the finished result.

About an hour later the 2 escape artists returned and carried on scavenging in and around the garden beds as though nothing untoward had happened.  I am hoping that I have solved the problem and they will stay in the run.

Chicken Castle


We have been working on a new chicken run for a couple of months now.  The end is now in sight and at last I can show you that we are really making some progress.

Chicken run

The chicken wire is unrolled and attached temporarily to the top wire in several places.  Obviously, it still needs to be tensioned and attached but we have a much better idea of how the finished product will look.

I hope that by this time next week our chickens will be firmly ensconced in their new home.

New coop

We have assembled the coop which we bought online.  It was easy to assemble and I think it will be perfect for the girls.

Demolition Derby


We have managed to get a bit more done in the garden this weekend but is has not been all about building.  Some of it has entailed destruction – namely demolishing the original vegetable gardens.

Vegie Garden

This is what it looked like about 2 years after we moved here.  These beds served us well but we are now working on a revamped plan.  So far we have built 3 raised beds and eventually there will be nine of them in a fully-fenced garden area.

New garden beds

You can see some of the old beds in the enclosure in the background of the photo above.  Below is what it looks like now.


You can see the posts for the chicken run in the background.  That will share a common fence with the bottom of the garden enclosure.  The string line on the left hand side marks the eastern boundary of the vegetable garden enclosure.  As well as the 9 raised beds I plan to grow herbs in beds along the fence line nearest to the house and asparagus and rhubarb on the eastern side.  I do not want these in one of the raised beds as they are perennials rather than annuals.  There will also be chilli bushes and blueberries nearest to the front boundary as well as a screened area for the compost tumblers.  We have one tumbler at the moment and will probably get a second one as well as keeping one ‘open’ compost bay.  I am quite keen to clear up the ‘Steptoe & Son’ arrangement that is there at the moment with a cut down rainwater tank as well as a rusty 44 gallon drum.

We put in 4 more posts for the chicken run fencing so next weekend we should be able to attach at least some of the top rails and the strainer wires.  Because the fence is 1800mm high in this section we will have three horizontal wires.  One at the top, one close to the ground and the other in the middle so this should prevent any sagging of the fencing wire.  We are using heavy gauge chicken wire as our plan is to make sure that the chickens do not get out nor any unwanted guests finding their way into the run.

Our original plan included incorporating a coop into the run but it all got too complicated so we have opted to have a ready-made, freestanding coop situated in the run.  It will be something like this.