Something for Nothing

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Remember those pavers we salvaged not so long ago?  You can read about it here.  Apart from saving them from landfill, we had a couple of projects in mind.  Once the builders realised that we were serious about salvaging and re-using as much of the materials as we could, they even collected the spent crusher dust (about a cubic metre) and left it in a neat pile beside the driveway.

Last weekend GMan used some of the crusher dust as a bedding for the paving under the new walkway.  He then cleaned and relaid the pavers.

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The edges are yet to be finished but we are really pleased with how it has turned out so far.

The fresh mulch was the other piece of work GMan did.  He dug up the last small area of turf between the end of the native verge planting and the walkway and mulched it.

There are still plenty of pavers and crusher dust left and we have other plans for those so watch this space.

Meanwhile, I was not being entirely idle.  I finished transplanting the beans which had come up self-sown in the bed where I grew them earlier in the year.

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Here is the corn I planted 3 weeks ago.  I think all but one of the seeds have germinated.

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Two of the other garden beds have been sown with seeds – one with cucumber and the other with rockmelon and a sprinkling of lettuce.  No photos as there is nothing to show yet.

A Working Weekend

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I really felt as though I was back into the swing of things at home this weekend.  We achieved a great deal and by yesterday evening I was too tired to contemplate writing a blog post.  So here it is, better late than never.

We bought 3 new chickens who seem to be settling in well.  This brings the number back up to 6.

GMan managed to do the first coat of paint on the outdoor table as well as mowing and lots of work around the yard.


This is our old outdoor table but instead of re-oiling we decided on a facelift and I think it will look great on the newly renovated verandah.  We bought some new black chairs from IKEA earlier in the year to go with it.

In between washing, ironing and preparing some meals for the coming week I managed to spend some time in the garden.


The cherry tomato plants had just gone wild while we were away but it has been too cool for them to develop and ripen the fruit so it was time to pull some of them out and rediscover the garden beds.

Once I had cleared one bed, I emptied the compost from the tumbler and added some of it to the bed.


We use whatever receptacles we can find for compost and the latest addition is the small rubbish bin in the background of the photo.  GMan removed the rusted base and it is now full of weeds and some tomato plants.  Eventually it will break down and then we can simply lift the whole bin off and we will have a pile of compost.

I bought and planted 3 punnets of seedlings – bok choy, zucchini and lettuce.


There is much more that I want to do in the vegie patch but it will have to wait for another day.


The Patch – An Update


In my post from yesterday I mentioned the new garden hose.  GMan unpacked and set it up today.  Here it is.

2015-07-05 01The hose retracts onto the reel inside the case which swivels on the black spindle.  Here is another view with the hose slightly extended.

2015-07-05 02The 30 metre hose extends from the existing tap to the vegetable garden area.  We do need more hose to reach the blueberries and the yet-to-be-built beds on the far side.  We put some of the new fittings onto one of the old hoses and hung it inside the garden area.  That way we can extend the new hose, attach the extra bit and we can water the whole of the vegetable garden area with ease.

2015-07-05 03GMan put this bracket on one of the posts to store the extra hose.  The bracket was one that had come from my father and proved to be perfect for our needs.

I have really neglected the garden for several weeks but nevertheless we still have things growing.  I weeded the flower garden that I made a few months ago and found that I even had some flowers.

2015-07-05 04These heartsease had managed to grow from seed and thrive among the weeds.  I have weeded the bed and transplanted some so that there is now a border of them in front of the sweet peas.

2015-07-05 05Finally, I wanted to show you the garlic that I have growing and also the celery which is now ensconced in cut-down milk bottles to encourage the stems to grow upright in a bunch rather than spreading out everywhere.

2015-07-05 06I hope you have had a great weekend and that the weather has been kind enough to get outdoors.

Redistribution of Resources

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Today has been a cool grey day but after a long week in the office it was good to get outdoors for a while.   The liquidamber tree was looking stunning in red a couple of weeks ago but now there is not much foliage left.

Bare tree
The Duke was mowing the lawn so I decided to spend some time in the vegie garden area.  Much of the area has been covered with several pumpkin vines but they are gradually dying off.  The have had the added benefit of killing off some of the weeds and grass that was growing in the area before we finished the fencing.  It is my goal not to have any lawn within the fenced area.  There will eventually be 9 raised garden beds as well as the blueberry patch which will be all mulced and other beds around the perimeter.

I am not sure how to keep the grass from growing on the paths between the beds but I started today by covering a small area between the ends of 2 of the beds.  I used several layers of newspaper and then some mulch that The Duke had created some weeks ago when he muched a pile of prunings.  I bordered the sides with some rocks, a commodity of which we have an abundance.  This is a bit of a test case as I am thinking of using this method to cover all of the paths/walking areas once the garden beds are finished.

Mulch and rocks

I moved the concrete besser blocks that were bordering this small area.  It was one of the early garden beds we created when we moved here but it is now in the orchard area.

Old garden
I did not take a ‘before’ photo but this is all that is left after the blocks were removed.  There was a cherry tomato growing wild and spreading on the ground so I found a star picket and created a stake for the tomato.  You can so it to the right of the photo.  The plant looks pretty straggly but it still has flowers on it.

Here are the concrete blocks in their new location just inside the fence.  This is the area where I am plaaning to plant asparagus.  I am not sure whether it will be a temporary or permanent home for the blocks.  Wherever I end up using them, I will also fill the blocks with soil and plant in them as well.

Concrete blocks
The cabbages and kale are growing.

Cabbage and kale
I also planted some beetroot, rocket, radish and parsley seeds so I will see what success I have from those.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing my garden as much as I enjoyed the time spent working in it this afternoon.

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?

Ashes to Ashes, Branches to Mulch


We collect all of the fallen branches on our land for firewood, so today The Duke spent some time cutting up some more logs that were stacked and waiting to be cut.

Here are some of them cut and waiting to be stacked in the woodshed.

The mulcher which you can also see in the photograph also got a workout as we mulched several piles of smaller branches as well as some palm fronds and rotting branches.  As always, nothing is wasted so some of the mulch was added to one of the raised garden beds that we are filling and the rest will be spread under the native shrubs which are planted along part of the front boundary.  The mulch keeps the weeds mostly under control.

Piles of mulch
Next, we headed over to the area near the vegetable gardens.  There was more debris to mulch, including the remnants of the corn stalks.

More mulching
While the Duke and Psycho Dog were hard at work, I turned my attention to the new garden bed I built yesterday.  I needed a bit more mulch and soil to fill it up and then I planted some Purple King climbing beans and radishes.

Garden bed
It is along the outside of the chicken run so the fence will provide an excellent trellis for the beans.  I grew these beans a few months ago and had an absolutely fantastic crop so decided to grow them again.  I added a couple of star pickets and some wire to enclose the bed so that the chickens cannot dig it up when they are free-ranging.  I was just putting the finishing touches to the wire surround as the first drops of rain fell late this afternoon.  We had a tremendous thunderstorm with some huge bolts of lightening very close by but were lucky not to lose power.

Finally, just to prove that our garden is decorative as well as functional, here is a photo of the roses flowering in the front garden.

Tonight I am going to make some decisions about my 33 items for the round of Project 333 which began on April 1st.  I have kept track of what I have worn so far this month and will include them in the tally.  I hope to share the details of my choices with you tomorrow.

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.

Garden Planning


After a few weeks of mostly wet weather, our vegetable garden is pretty well non-existent.  While the weather was fine on the weekend, I took the opportunity to examine what is left.  The cucumbers, zucchini and tomatoes all need to be pulled out.  There are a few corn growing and I don’t know whether the cobs will mature but I will leave them for the time being.  The same goes for the button squash which have weathered the wet conditions much better than the zucchini.  There is Greek basil still going under all the weeds so that will stay.  The cherry tomatoes are wild and threatening to take over the garden.

I also was able to pick some figs.  There are a lot more on the tree so I am hoping to get enough to make some fig jam (my favourite) and perhaps to try drying some as well.

2012-02-06 01Next weekend I hope that the weather is fine and we will remove all of the old plants and start preparing the beds for our winter crops.  It is time to get some more mushroom compost again and hopefully some mushrooms as a bonus.

Although it is still most definitely summer it is time to get prepared as we have a relatively short and mild winter.  I will be planting onion and leek seeds this week as it takes about 10 – 12 weeks before they are ready to plant out and that takes us through till the beginning of May.  Although I have grown onions successfully in previous years, our winter is not long enough for the tops to die down and dry off.  I have to pick the onions with the tops still green so they do not store well.  I have diced and frozen the onions previously but this year I hope to dehydrate at least some of them.

I checked the seeds that I have to see what else I need to buy.  I keep my seeds in a container in the refrigerator.

2012-02-06 03I buy my seeds from Green Harvest so am going to spend some time checking out the catalogue.  Fortunately for me, Green Harvest are located in Maleny, near my home so I can pick up my order in person.  I need more broccoli seeds and am going to try to grow cauliflower and cabbage from seed as well.  I may have another go a growing carrots which are my nemesis.

2012-02-06 02My ideal is to plant my first crop of broccoli seedlings around St Patrick’s Day (March 17th) so I want to get the seeds planted as soon as possible.

Don’t Cry For Me…..

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…because I have finished preparing and freezing the onions.

We grew onions this year from a punnet of seedlings I bought at the Yandina Markets.  From 1 punnet of seedlings bought for $2.50 I had 90 seedlings.  They were tiny but I separated them and planted each one individually.  74 survived and here is the harvest..

Here they are drying on a rack after I pulled them up today.

We do not really have an ideal climate for growing onions as you should really have dry weather when they are maturing so that the tops die off completely and then they can be stored.  Since we are coming into our wet, humid weather I decided that since they were a reasonable size I would harvest them and then dice and freeze in packs of 150g (about the size of a medium onion.

Thanks to my wondrous food processor I now have 7 kg of diced onion in the freezer as well as another 1.5 kg of the lower end of the stalk sliced and bagged up.  When I get time I will use this to make stock.

By next year I hope to have a dehydrator so that I have some more options.

Despite the less than ideal growing conditions I will definitely be planting onions again next year as a harvest of  8.5kg of onions for $2.50 seems like a pretty good return on my money.

The (Semi) Neglected Garden and A Menu Plan

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Although our fruit trees and vegie gardens are not totally neglected, we do not spend much more than an hour/week on them.  For this meagre investment of time we are fortunate with the harvest we reap.

This afternoon I went downstairs to water the vegetables as it has been particularly dry for the past month with almost no rain.  We have an annual average rainfall of 1800mm (72 inches) and the past 2 years have been well above that average.

I came in with broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, chillies, snow peas, pumpkin, sweet potato and cherry tomatoes as well as grapefruit and avocadoes.

The first of the snow peas.  There will be many more if the flowers are any indication.

Every time I think the broccoli is finished some more side shoots appear.

The mushrooms look like they have been on steroids.  These came up in the garden bed where some of the spent mushroom compost was put.

The bell chillies are not too hot so make a good substitute for capsicums which is good since the latter are as much as $8.95/kg.

There are also lemons, oranges, limes and bok choy ready to pick but I did not need any today.

I have been picking bok choy by cutting it off at the base and leaving the remnant in the hope that it would re-shoot.  Only a week or so after cutting them I have discovered new growth on 2 of the bok choy roots so I am very pleased with that.

Since home-grown vegetables have a much shorter shelf life than bought produce I have put my thinking cap on to come up with some meal ideas.  I have yet to sort them into a proper plan but here they are.

Pizza – using pumpkin, chilli, mushrooms and spinach (plus the salami that is in the freezer).

Beef stir-fry with snow peas and broccoli

Broccoli and cauliflower bake

Broccoli with tuna and tomato sauce

Salmon on sweet potato mash with balsamic roast pumpkin and stir-fried bok choy

Vegetable casserole – using sweet potato, pumpkin and broccoli stalks

Mushroom, bacon and spinach quiche – the pastry is in the freezer from the last batch I made.

The eggs that we collect from our chickens, a vegie garden and not too much effort certainly makes a difference to our grocery bills.

Do you grow any produce?

Now it is time to make the pizza for dinner.