Weekend Work

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After spending my weekdays in the office there is nothing I enjoy more than spending time in the garden on the weekend.  I will start with what we actually did last weekend.

We finally finished building this raised garden bed.  There are now 4 beds complete and we eventually plan to have 9 of them.  The cardboard is a large carton that was the packaging from the refrigerator we bought last year.  We always keep any large pieces of cardboard as it makes a great base for the beds and is very effective at smothering the underlying grass before eventually breaking down.  I will cover the remainder of the base with some more cardboard before gradually filling the bed with a combination of fallen leaves, mulch, compost and grass clippings which will, over time, become rich soil.  It will all be sourced from our block.

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We also created a bed for the asparagus.  Since asparagus grows very vigorously and spreads, we wanted to make sure that we are able to contain it.  The Duke dug a trench and buried some offcuts of Colorbond steel to a depth of 320mm to form the border of the asparagus bed.  Here is the work in progress.

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This is what it looked like once we had finished and planted the asparagus.

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The lettuce seeds I planted a couple of weeks ago have not put in an appearance so yesterday I bought some seedlings and planted them in between the corn which is growing nicely.

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The other thing we did today was to start to tidy up around the citrus trees.  Here is the lime tree with a new border of rocks and some mulch.  You can the orange tree behind it and grapefruit to the far right which have been bordered with rocks and now I just need to finish weeding them and put the mulch down.

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We decided to border the other orange tree and the lemon tree in one large area.  The Duke collected up the rocks from down the back near the water tanks.  We have an abundance of volcanic rocks on the property so it is good to be able to use them.

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I have planted more seeds – most expired by several years – so will see how they go.  Lettuce, radish, chilli, tomato and bok choy all went in today.  I am determined to grow more of our own food and am hopeful of greater success now that the vegetable patch is completely fenced.

Planning is the Key

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As I sat down at my desk on Saturday morning to write a menu plan for the week, I started to think about how much planning goes into keeping our lives running smoothly.

Menu plan
I have always menu-planned to some degree but I have now developed a routine which works for us.  Every Saturday morning I write a plan for the next  7 – 10 days.  I keep in mind what food I have in the refrigerator as well as what is available in the garden.  From that I then write a shopping list.  This generally a few basic groceries such as milk and cheese as well as fruit and vegetables.  I buy meat every couple of months and pantry staples about every 3 months.

We have big plans, such as our overseas trip but also small, day-to-day plans that ensure things run smoothly and we work towards achieving our goals.  If this sounds like our lives are totally structured and regimented, think again as nothing could be further from the truth.

Over breakfast on a Saturday morning, either The Duke or I are often heard to say, “So, what are your plans for today?”  Then follows a discussion about what we have individually considered that we need to get done.  It usually centres around shopping, washing, lawn mowing and the like.  The next step is to plan.

On Saturday morning we had to take the dog to the vet at 8.30am so we decided to leave the shopping until Sunday morning and do some outdoor work.  We needed to finish by 4.30pm so we could be cleaned up and head off to dinner and the movies by 6pm.  We planned our outdoor work and achieved a real sense of satisfaction when the jobs were done.  All of the piles of mulch were collected from various spots around the yard, we weeded and mulched the garden bed beside the front steps.  The Duke lightly pruned the roses and we planted 5 more pineapple tops.  The remainder of the mulch was spread under the native shrubs on the front verge.

Since it was drizzling with rain most of the day we then adjourned under the house to start on one of the other jobs on the master list – covering the area which is bare dirt under the verandah with pebbles.  The original plan was to build 3 more low retaining walls to create stepped levels to hold the pebbles in place, however, we have decided to retain the sections using some timber sleepers.  We will also place some along the outside edge to separate the pebbled area from the garden bed outside.  We have calculated how many sleepers, how much weed mat and the volume of pebbles that we will need to complete the job.  The ground has been dug out and is almost at the levels we need so I hope we can get this finished over the next few weeks.

Wall and lattice - finished
Sunday was a different story.  I did the ironing early, before we went to do the shopping in a couple of different locations and came home with the intention of more outdoor work.  One simple message on the answering machine changed that.  A friend had left a message to ask us to come for drinks at 4pm, so I amended the menu plan as I knew we would have plenty of late afternoon/evening nibbles.  I then spent the rest of the day in the kitchen.  I made pizza bases, wraps for our lunches and a chocolate cake (all gluten-free).  I made 1 pizza and took that and the chocolate cake with us that afternoon.  The remainder of the pizza bases are partly pre-cooked and in the freezer.

So, to round off a fairly long-winded story, I think it is important to have a plan, otherwise things can turn into a disorganised jumble and you end up wasting a lot of time.  The organisation that results from these plans allows you the flexibility to change those plans to accommodate things that arise out of the blue.  What do you think?