Garden Expo

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Tonight I am taking a break from the Plastic Free July posts and want to share our day that we spent at the Garden Expo in Nambour.  This 3 day event is held each year in July and attracts over 35,000 visitors.

Although we do not go every year this was our third visit and we spent several hours looking at exhibits, buying plants and listening to some of the many presentations.

Here is a selection of the goodies we bought.  They include a finger lime, 4 hibiscus, 3 kangaroo paw, 6 lomandra and 4 punnets of flower seedlings as well as a new pair of secateurs and a bottle of organic herbicide.

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There was a reason for everything we bought.  I have always wanted a finger lime (native citrus) and was excited to see them available at the show.  The hibiscus will join the existing ones which are planted in front of the verandah.  We already have a yellow kangaroo pay so am hoping to have success with the new ones – dark red, orange-red and pink.  The lomandra  will be planted on the steep escarpment at the back of our block.  We will be using the organic herbicide to reduce some of the nasty weeds beforehand and hope that the lomandra will help to suppress the regrowth of weeds while the previously planted trees become more established.  The secateurs will replace 2 pairs that have well and truly seen better days.

Aside from our purchases, we saw several exhibits offering items which are of interest to us including solar exterior lighting  and gabion walls.  Thanks to the internet we will look into these in more detail at our leisure.

There were many booths and exhibits promoting a huge range of products and services relating to gardening, home and leisure.  One which was a standout for me was promoting an online platform called Spare Harvest.  This has been set up right here on the Sunshine Coast by Helen Andrew, however, it is designed to be able to be accessed by people all over the world.  I am reminded of the phrase, “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow”.  This great new example of the power of the sharing economy is in its early stages but with your participation and promotion could grow to become a global phenonomen.  If you are interested in buying, selling, sharing or swapping garden produce, plants or resources please take a look and get involved.

We were excited to attend presentations by Jerry Coleby-Williams and Sophie Thompson from ‘Gardening Australia’.  Jerry’s topic was ‘Sustainable gardening in context’ and he made some very interesting points.  The talk included many examples from his personal experience and having had the opportunity to visit his garden some years ago we were able to visualise exactly what her was talking about.  The first talk we saw was Sophie Thompson’s presentation on ‘Gardening for health and wellbeing’.  Sophie is a passionate speaker and knowledgeable about her subject.  Many of the statistics she quoted from well-regarded studies bore out what many gardeners have known for years.  Sophie’s other talk was titled ‘Saving the world with gardening’ and while the title may have been slightly tongue-in-cheek, she clearly showed how this can be done but we have to start with ‘saving’ ourselves, our families, our neighbourhoods and communities.  The point was that we really can make a difference.

I have come home inspired to do more – gardening, growing and sharing.

 

Garden Notes – Seedling Success

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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.

Garden Notes – Raspberries and Rocket

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We have fruit trees and a vegetable garden.  Some years the vegetables garden does better than others.  A lot depends on the weather and how organised I am.

This year I have decided that I will make a concerted effort to successfully produce more of our own food.  Since the hot summer is over and we finally have some moderate autumn weather I have made a start on planting.

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The lettuce and kale seedlings which I planted about 5 weeks ago are now thriving full-sized plants and we are enjoying plenty of fresh lettuce.  I planted red cabbage seedlings about 10 days ago and they are established and looking healthy.

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On the weekend I sorted through a pile of seed packets which I store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Many of them are expired but I decided that I had nothing to lose by planting them.

There are bush beans interplanted with the red cabbage. Coriander and rocket are in the freshly-dug strip in the background of the same photo.  I am excited to report that exactly 48 hours after planting them, the rocket seeds have germinated and I now have hundreds of tiny, two-leaved seedlings.  Other beds have carrot, red onion, peas and radishes.  If they all grow I will have a bumper harvest, if not I will try again with some fresh seeds.

Some seeds are best raised in seed trays before transplanting them.  These include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery and spinach.  Here they are on a temporary potting table which I created from a couple of sawhorses and a piece of pool fencing.  There is another piece of pool fencing over the top in an attempt to prevent the chickens from digging them up when they are free-ranging.

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Here is a close-up of the trays with their labels cut out of an old ice-cream container.

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Finally, I wanted to show you the raspberry canes on the left-hand side of the photo below.

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We have a substantial clump of raspberry canes from the original 4 canes that we planted about 3 years ago.  In an attempt to control the growth of these we have tried to contain them using star pickets and a couple of strands of wire.  When we dig up the canes which are beyond the designated area we will plant them in the vacant area beside the gate.  Our goal is to have a raspberry patch stretching from the front boundary to the gate and extending 600mm either side of the fence which forms part of the garden enclosure.

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Many people are quite surprised that we can grow raspberries in our climate.  Ours are an autumn fruiting variety which are suited to our climate and we are very happy with the yield.  This year has been the best crop so far.  While we are not exactly inundated I am picking about 50 – 100g every few days at the moment and that is definitely enough to have for dessert with some ice-cream.

Growing our own food means that it is raised without pesticides and artificial fertiliser, it comes with no additional packaging and it saves us money.  What is there not to love?

 

 

 

What I Do

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It is nearly a week since I last posted and you are probably been wondering what I’ve been doing.  Some days I wonder the same thing.  My full-time job keeps me pretty busy and t here is always plenty to do when I am at home.  So much so that I barely have enough time (or energy) to blog about it.

Here is a sample of one of the things I did today.

GMan picked up a large bucket full of passionfruit that had fallen from the vine.  The easiest way to store passionfruit is to simply scoop out the pulp and freeze in ice-cube trays.

Some of the fruit ready to cut.

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Work in progress.

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Ready for the freezer.

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Despite the fact that the garden gets minimal attention we still manage to harvest a range of produce.  Over the past few weeks we have picked passionfruit, pineapple, mangoes, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, lettuce and raspberries.

The Sharing Economy

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Sharing is one of the things that I believe is central to living a simpler life.  Sharing can take many forms from inviting someone for a meal, giving away excess produce or sharing a burden by simply being there to listen.  In many ways, our society has moved away from a collaborative approach to many things and I think we have multiple opportunities to encourage more co-operation within our communities.

There are aspects of social media that are less than desirable and the way some people choose to use it is downright awful.  But all is not lost.  Today I have been able to make contact with an online acquaintance who is looking for items that a member of my family has to give away.  This will be a win all round – items will be decluttered from one home and become materials for someone else involved in a community project.

A neighbour also recently asked online for assistance in how to pick mangoes.  We were able to offer the use of our fruit picker with a telescopic handle.

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So today we worked together to harvest a huge number of mangoes.

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Rather than one person trying to pick, process and store a couple of hundred mangoes we have shared the work and the harvest.  Additionally, the fruit picker is available for others to use.  There is no point in everyone having one sitting in the shed when it is only going to be used occasionally.

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Thank you, Patty and Chris.  We were delighted to be able to help and are especially grateful for your generosity.  Looking forward to mango chutney, sorbet and smoothies as well as yummy fresh mangoes!!

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What have you got that could be shared with a neighbour or friend?  What do you need that someone else may have?  Don’t be shy.  It never hurts to ask and you don’t know what the outcome will be.

Like a Duck

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I have been feeling a bit like a duck lately – all calm on the surface and paddling furiously beneath the surface!

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Work is busy and I have deadlines and targets to meet before Christmas.  I am hopeful of achieving them but I can only do what is humanly possible.

On the home front it is about the mundane things – washing, ironing, preparing meals as well as keeping the house in reasonable order.

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A menu plan written on the weekend is a must to keep me on track during the week.  Tonight was Mexican quinoa and while that was cooking I steamed a chicken breast fillet in preparation for tomorrow night.  In the morning I will take a tub of sweet and sour sauce and some rice from the freezer.  Tomorrow evening will be a simple matter of shredding the chicken, adding to the sauce and heating along with the rice.  Dinner will be ready in no time.

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Last night I did some ironing and tonight the folded clothes were put away.  A little bit each night helps to keep on top of the ordinary tasks and leaves me time for extra jobs on the weekend.

On Sunday we cleaned up the vegetable gardens and planted some new seedlings.  I hope to have some photos of the progress in a couple of days.  We also picked several kilos of cherry tomatoes which are washed, packed and frozen for later use.

 

Four Fabulous Days

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I have had the most glorious 4 days at home.  Friday was a well-earned day off followed by a long weekend.  Most weekends I am left with the feeling of wanting a couple more days to try to catch my tail.  I would not say I have done everything but I do have a degree of satisfaction that I have made some progress beyond the basics of washing and meal preparation.  The best part is that I have worked steadily but not frantically for some of the time as well as simply doing nothing at other times.

Here is a snapshot of what I achieved:

Washing and ironing – the first 3 days were brilliantly sunny with a breeze so all of the washing was done and dried which left me with a pile of ironing.  I tackled this with enthusiasm since I was armed with a new iron as well as the ironing board cover that I made on Friday.

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Shopping – most weekends I buy enough fruit and vegetables for the week as well as a few things from Aldi and Saturday was no exception.  However, I also drove a bit further to go to Morayfield so that I could stock up at Simply Good, where I buy all of the flours, dried fruit, seeds, nuts and legumes that I use.  I do this every 4months or so.  Spotlight is nearby so I took the opportunity to have a look and found the fabric to recover the mattress for the day bed.

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Decluttering/recycling – as we change and re-arrange furniture there is often some to move along to someone else who can use it.  This weekend I listed 4 outdoor chairs and a large pine chest of drawers on our local Buy, Swap, Sell Facebook page and they have now gone to new homes.  I also tidied and sorted the shelves in the wardrobe in the sewing/spare room and put a few things in a bag to go to the op shop.

Gardening – when I was at the market buying fruit and vegetables, I noticed a neighbouring stall selling seedlings.  I bought and planted out basil, beetroot and capsicum seedlings.  GMan mulched the shrub we cut down a few weeks ago and planted out several native trees and shrubs.

Outdoors – we have taken a few more steps towards finishing our outdoor living area on the verandah.  The newly painted table is back in position as is the day bed, albeit without the mattress yet.  I spent a good portion of today cleaning up the large concreted area under the house.  This is a lovely cool area in summer and I am trying to make it more useable.  I sorted and stacked various building materials so that they are in a logical order and easily accessible.

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What a shame that I have to go to work tomorrow – there is so much more that I could do here at home.

I will some more details of some of the things I have mentioned tonight in upcoming posts this week.