The Great Garlic Massacre & Other Dirty Tales


We have finally had some of the glorious winter weather for which south-east Queensland is renowned – clear, sunny days and crisp, cool nights.

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The majority of yesterday and today has been spent in the garden. I have previously  shown you the 3 raised vegetable garden beds.  One was planted out with seeds a couple of weeks ago.  I planted 2 bean seeds together in each hole and they all germinated so I transplanted the extras.  I am not sure whether they will survive the process but it never hurts to try. 2013-06-16 02

We moved some lemon tree prunings which had been in this tank and filled it with soil from one of the old garden beds which is now redundant.  The soil is fabulous and it would be a shame to waste it.  We mixed it with some mulch (from the poinciana stump which we had ground last year) and also some mushroom compost.  In the centre you can also see some bok choy seedlings. The bok choy seeds came up so thickly that I have thinned heaps of them and will thin them out again as they get a bit bigger.  I could not bear to just throw the thinnings away so they were all transplanted.  Some went into this old esky filled with soil and mulch.

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I put some others in between the potato plants in the other raised bed.  The bok choy will be well and truly finished before the potatoes take over.

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The carrots, onions and beetroot have also germinated and are growing but are probably too small to identify in this photo.  You can, however, see the beans and bok choy.

2013-06-16 05A few weeks ago I bought some organic garlic ready to sprout and plant.  It has been languishing in a bag on the floor of the pantry but today was the day to plant it out. Firstly, we had to finish preparing the third raised bed.  It was about 1/3 full of leaf litter, mushroom compost and shredded arrowroot leaves.  Today we added some grass clippings after The Duke had mowed the lawn area area the vegie patch, more mushroom compost, lots of mulch and soil as previously described.  Then it was time to plant the garlic.  We peeled off the papery outer layer, separated the cloves and planted them in rows with the sprouting tip pointing upwards.  You can see all of the shredded outer layers on the ground beside the bed.  It really did look like something had been massacred.  The bed is 2.4m x 1.2m and it is entirely planted with rows of garlic.  If this is even moderately successful I should never have to buy garlic again!

2013-06-16 06 I cleared some old cherry tomato plants out of another round tank, topped up the soil and mulch and planted these golden sweet potato plants that had been in a pot for ages since my brother-in-law gave them to us.

2013-06-16 07This is the old garden bed where we have been digging up the soil to re-use.  There is still plenty left.

2013-06-16 08The pile of mulch which resulted from the grinding of the tree stump last year  has been put to good use in the garden beds.  We still have more that we can take from here to build up the next round of garden beds.

2013-06-16 09 It is gratifying to be able to use and reuse everything from our own property in the gardens.  Leaf litter, compost, mulch, soil and grass clippings all go into creating the next lot of vegetables for us to eat.  Chickens, chickens manure and eggs are also part of the cycle. Trees provide fallen timber for firewood which in turn leaves ash that we put back into the compost heap or garden bed. Permaculture in action really is the circle of life.

More Fun


The fun continued yesterday when we made the cupcakes.  Once they were cool, I iced them and Miss O dipped them in sprinkles.  Here is the result.

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There was a purpose to our baking as my sister was coming for afternoon tea.  Miss O set the table and we prepared quite a feast.

2013-05-25 02We all had a very enjoyable afternoon.

Today it was back to the garden.  We moved enough composted mulch and soil from near the driveway to 2/3 fill one of the newly-created raised garden beds.  Then we cut up the sprouting seed potatoes which I had bought from the Co-op last week.  I ended up with about 60 pieces which are all planted.  Next, we harvested the last of the cabbages and a few bits of broccoli before clearing out another bed.  All of the old cabbage and broccoli plants went to the chickens who will enjoy them.

2013-05-25 03Meanwhile, the chickens were having a fine time ‘rotary hoeing’ the freshly cleared garden bed.  Miss O was very unsure of the chickens a couple of days ago but all of her reticence was gone today as she delighted in running around the bed trying to get close enough to ‘pat’ them.  It was great to hear the whoops of joy as she managed to touch their tails.

2013-05-25 04Thanks to the efforts of an exuberant 5 year old with a rake plus the chickens my garden bed is now ready for replanting.

Happy Harvesting


In a complete turnaround from yesterday, it has been a gloriously sunny day although quite cool and windy.  Miss O was delighted when she woke up to sun streaming in the window.

Apart from a trip into Maleny to go to the library and a short stint in the nearby playground, we have spent the day at home.  While I have been doing some paid work, my grand-daughter has happily entertained herself with some dolls and a dolls house which I received from Freecycle a couple of years ago.  There has been lots of chattering, singing and imaginative play going on.

While we were hanging out the washing, Miss O noticed some lemons on the tree and was keen to pick them.  We put on our gumboots and headed downstairs to spend some time in the garden.  The first stop was the chicken run to give the chickens the contents of the scrap bucket.

2013-05-23 01Next, it was time to collect the eggs. Only 2 today.

2013-05-23 02Quite a number of limes had fallen and there were a few grapefruit ripe but most of the lemons and oranges will be a bit longer before they are ready.  We collected up the rotten fruit and put them in the compost bin.  We took the extendable fruit picker and picked some avocadoes from high up in the tree.  No words can begin to describe the squeals of delight and, “Get it, get it!” as Miss O bounded through the leaf litter, offering encouragement to me as I wielded the long-handled picker.

Finally, I took her out to the front yard where the cherry tomatoes are growing wild and flourishing.  It was only a couple of weeks since I had picked 2 kg of tomatoes so I was not sure how many there would be.  However, there we plenty to keep us entertained and she was quick to point out to me that you do not pick the green ones and the squishy ones are no good.

Miss O was very keen to pose with her harvest.

2013-05-23 03We put all of the produce in the bucket and used the wheelbarrow to collect some more firewood from the shed.

2013-05-23 04The clear sunny day means that the night will be cold so I will light the fire soon as the sun has just about set.  We will bring the clothes in from the line and hang them on the airer in front of the fire to finish drying.

All in all, it has been another productive and successful day and it has been lovely to have a helper with whom to share the work and the harvest.

The Circle of Life


On Friday afternoon I moved some of the wood that had been left to season.  It is now in the woodshed and will be split and added to the the stash of firewood which we keep for the wood heater.

2013-04-28 01Once I disturbed the ground, I was surrounded by the chickens who were eager to feast on the grubs and other insects which were lurking under the wood.  They had a wonderful time turning over the soil and looking for tasty morsels.

2013-04-28 02This weekend we have built 2 more raised garden beds.  One of them is lined with heavy cardboard that I had been saving.  Then we piled in a thick layer of dry leaf litter followed by some lawn clippings.  We will add more soil, compost and probably some mushroom compost which we will buy locally.  These 3 garden beds have been constructed entirely from leftover and salvaged materials.

2013-04-28 03I started to think about how we manage to use and recycle much of what is generated on our property.

The wood is from tree limbs that have fallen or been lopped on our block.  These will be used to heat our home.  The resulting ash is added to the garden beds, either directly or via the compost.  Any charcoal is saved in a jar of kerosene to use as firelighters.  We grow fruit and vegetables.  The chickens provide us with eggs.  The scraps and peels are fed to the chickens.  The chicken manure is added to the garden beds.  Leaf litter and lawn clippings are added to the compost.

It is all part of a never-ending cycle.

My Choices


This afternoon I left work early (3pm) and did the shopping on the way home.  Simply Good where I buy most of my dry goods (flour, seeds, nuts and dried fruit) is only open until 5 pm on weekdays and 9am – 12md on Saturday.  I am happy to support these traditional opening hours that allow retail staff to spend time with their families, however, I do have to be organised as it is about 40km away from where we live.  Since it is on my way to work I decided to drive my car to the railway station nearest to the shop and then do my shopping on the return journey.

I stocked up on all of my usual supplies as well as a couple of extras for some Christmas cooking and I am hoping that I will not need to go again until the New Year.  Aldi supermarket was my next stop and I was particularly to find that the cat food (fish varieties) was back in stock.  Finally, a few things from the fruit and vegetable stall and I was home.  By this time it was almost 6pm but still daylight for another 40 minutes.

When I arrived home I checked for mail, collected the rubbish and recycling bins that had been emptied.  Next it was down to the backyard where I let the chickens out for a run, watered the vegetable gardens and weeded the small bed where the lettuce seedlings are becoming established.  I picked lettuces, collected eggs and organised fresh feed and water for the chickens.

Collect the washing from the line, turn the plastic bags which were drying on the airer, unpack the groceries and decant the loose nuts, seeds etc into their relevant jars.

Then it was time to cut up the chicken and vegetables for the stir-fry and make the sauce.

While I was doing all this it occurred to me that most of these chores exist because of choices I have made, but I would not have it any other way.

I could throw out the plastic bags, put the wet washing in a tumble drier, buy my eggs and all vegetables from the supermarket, buy ready-made prepared meals and convenience foods but I choose not and I am very happy with my choices.

House Extensions & Other Projects


Not our house……the hen house is being extended with an outdoor run for the 5 chickens.  They have previously free-ranged over about 3/4 acre of our land but the current chickens are an adventurous bunch and constantly feel the need to find gaps in the fencing (or dig under it) and free-range in the neighbour’s yard where they are not welcome.  I have patched up the various spots where I thought they were escaping but 2 in particular do an excellent imitation of Houdini.

Yesterday we went to Bunnings Hardware to get some materials and we have made a start on an enclosed run for them.  It is not as good as letting them free-range but in the interests of maintaining a reasonable relationship with the neighbours we have decided this is the way to go.

2012-10-21 01Here are the posts all positioned and ready.  We have designed it so that the existing gates can be latched in the ‘open’ position to completely enclose the run.  We will let the posts settle before attaching the wire next weekend.  I will post some more photos when it is complete.

This is only a temporary measure as we will eventually be building a new chicken house and large run (including the orchard) when we re-do the front fencing and permanently fence the entire vegetable garden area.  Like many things around here, it is a work in progress.

The other work in progress is building more raised garden beds.  Unlike the chicken run we have not bought any new materials.  Here is some of the leftover iron from the wall cladding of the house.

2012-10-21 02The Duke is using rivets to join some of the smaller pieces together.

2012-10-21 03The supports are some steel posts we inherited and even the rivets and screws are leftovers from other people’s projects.  We built one bed last year and used a hardwood post (from Freecycle) as the supports.  Because these beds will be used for growing vegetables we do not use treated timber as the chemicals leach into the soil.

2011-05-28 04This is the first bed we built.  This picture was taken when it was first done.  We put cardboard down, then filled it with mulch, leaves, shredded paper and grass clippings.  This eventually decomposes and we now have a productive bed full of rich soil at no cost.

We have a productive weekend and there will be more coming up.


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We have had chickens for about 6 years now but in the last 12 months the most recent ones have been broadening their horizons.  They wander beyond our boundaries and have been making a nuisance of themselves by scratching on the neighbour’s property.  So for the last few weeks we have had to keep them shut up mostly except when we are around to closely supervise their whereabouts.

In the long term we plan to rebuild the chicken house in a different location and have a substantial fenced area where they will be able to roam.  However, this is not going to happen immediately as it is to be done in conjunction with fencing the vegetable garden area and some other landscaping.

2012-05-31 01 So, today I have put some nylon bird-netting over the fence and gate where I think they get out and seem to have successfully kept the chickens in our yard.

We also have some temporary fencing around the vegetable gardens as they are diligent when it comes to looking for tasty morsels, and there are plenty of earthworms in the garden.

2012-05-31 02And here are a couple of photos of the girls happily scratching in an area that is perfect for them.

2012-05-31 04Having a lovely time in the leaf litter…………

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Cost of Country Living


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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