Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Since I wanted to grow some pumpkins, watermelons, cucumbers and a few other rambling plants and don't have the space for them to ramble in our yard I have decided to utilise some of the land outside of our fences. The land is council land, walkways between our house and the next. There is a paved pathway between the houses and grass on our side and on the neighbours side too. I have planted about 15 natives out on the council land to give our place privacy and I maintain the area by mowing and looking after the trees. The natives I have planted are a few metres from our boundary so this is the spot I have reclaimed for my vegetables to grow. Hopefully they will be protected from passes by and hidden by the native trees so no one helps themselves to the vegetables. Although since it isn't actually my land I don't mind sharing with the neighbours. I just don't want the veges I hopefully grow to dissapear overnight.
I planted three pumpkin seedlings in a very rought no dig garden mid September and they are growing really well. I was thrilled to see a couple of pumpkins forming on one of the plants.
For this no dig garden bed I layed newspaper over the grass, added lawn mower clippings, blood and bone and a few bucket loads of dirt from another garden bed. Into the dirt I planted the seedlings.

Today I made another raised no dig garden. For this one I bordered the garden with old palm leaves as the sides of the garden bed. Then placed a thick layer of grass clipping onto the existing grass. Followed by newspaper, fertiliser, sugarcane, compost and more sugar cane mulch. I am going to let the garden settle for a week or two before planting out with cucumbers and watermelons.

Eventually I will extend the garden bed the whole length of the fence which will more than double the existing vege patch I have in my yard. This area is perfectly positioned for sun. But watering will be an issue as I will need to bucket water to the veges. from the tap in our front yard as the hose wont reach.

M xx

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Conquering fruit waste

It is working!
I am buying food more consciously with meals and a menu for the week planned. This week I have had some food that has gone off and needed tossing - some potatoes started sprouting so were tossed into the compost, some jelly in a bowl in the fridge was never eaten and some rice went to the dog. Much better than previous amounts that would be thrown away because we hadn't gotten around to eating it.

One of the things that used to be brought and regularly went off before being eaten was fruit. I would buy the fruit with the best and healthiest intentions. But it would sit in the fridge or fruit bowl and the kids, MR Gadget and I would overlook it for other snacks. So it would stay there deteriating a little more each day until it was no good for anything but the compost. So changes had to be made. I still buy heaps of fruit. But now I cut the fruit up (melons, pineapples etc) and put them into see through containers in the fridge. Because they are all cut and ready to be eaten the kids grab them out. There is no peeling or chopping so it is easy and fast for a quick snack. And because I am storing it in a clear container it is very visable and doesn't get overlooked or forgotten. I also add fruit to their breakfast cereals.

If it looks like the fruit isn't going to be eaten in time I will stew and freeze (apples, rhubarb, pears etc).
We have passionfruit vines and they produce an enormous amount of fruit each year. The kids love them but I was always having an excess, even after giving some away to friends. Then Guitar Dude had the brilliant idea of putting them in the freezer whole. They made the best frozen snack. It was just a matter of taking them out, cutting open and scooping the frozen juice and seeds out with a spoon. Big hit and no more passionfruits going off.
I have also began making fruit smoothies using fruits, yoghurt, honey, milk etc. Very refreshing and filling for an afternoon snack.
M xx

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


While I have said I want to replace some ornamental plants with ones that are edible I could not imagine a garden without flowers. Balance is always a good thing.
In the garden I have ginger in flower. Pretty flowers that don't last long but look gorgeous.
I love the flowers that are popping up at the moment.

I have roses in flower -Gold Bunny, Seduction and Blue Moon.
I brought three blue moon rose bushes on special that were all looking a bit sad and sorry. So I am delighted that they are all coming to life and I have had my first flower. Unfortunately it didn't last long as a hail storm broke the stem. But it is inside in a vase and smells divine.
Lavender is always flowering and looking and smelling gorgeous and attracting loads of bees.

This week I have transplanted tomatoe seedling that have popped up where I have emptied the compost onto the garden. I have tomatoes growing on some of the bushes. I have planted more seeds - watermelon, cucumber, loofa, chilli and thyme.

I have planted in the garden okra seedlings and cleared a patch of garden for two passionfruit vines to grow. Hoping they will grow up an arch way and then spread into the trees on the other side of the fence.

I have begun a new no dig garden for the watermelon to go into on the reserve side of the fence.
Fruit flys are eating all the strawberries. Need to deal with them before they become more of a problem.

Now it is raining. Now that I am so into growing our own veges and fruits I am so much aware and in tune with the weather, the rain, the heat etc.
M xx

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I thought I would give you a tour of my garden and home. Our block of land is in suburbia. It is a larger than average block of 979 m2. The house larger than average too and is slam dunked in the middle of the block. We are at the end of a culdesac and have a walkway and reserve land running around two of the boundaries. Behind the back boundary is a road.

I hope you can see the numbers on the plan alright.

1. Front garden with coffee tree (coffea arabica).

2. Front garden with man fern, ornamental ginger, mondo and hydrangers. In the front of these plants I have extended and there is tomatoe and eggplant and creeping thyme.

3. Front garden with roses, weeping mulberry tree, apaganthus and flowers.

4. The pool area is paved and faces north. Our bunny cage is in here (so the dog doesn't try to eat him. On top of the rabbit cage is where I grow my seeds.

5. Pots fill this corner in the pool area, mainly ornamental plants at the moment.

6. This garden bed is viewed from the entertainment area. There are palms, hebes, mondo and murraya.

Between 6 and 7 is where Mr Gadget is planning on building a wood fired pizza oven. We already have a movable open fire place and grill here. It gets used heaps for sitting around in winter and roasting marshmallows.

7. Raised vegetable patch.

8. Plumcot fruit tree.

9. pots of herbs (parsley, bay tree, rosemary) outside the back door.

10. Perennial basil, meyer lemon tree, aloe vera. Also passionfruit vine.

11. Ornamental chinese tallow tree and rosemary planted underneath.

Between 10 and 11 and also near no. 14 there are two arches with potoatoe vine growing over. I also grow climbing beans over them too.

12. Hedges of curry plant.

13. Behind the curry plant hedges are lemon grass growing and beside that marjoram.

14. My old vegetable patch and a young meyer lemon tree. Also lavenders.

15. Rockmelon seedlings and more lemon grass.

16. Lemon verbena tree and port wine magnolia.

17. Mandarin tree.

18. water tank (1000 l). In the garden bed opposite I have rhubarb growing (4 little plants at the moment) and gourd seedlings.

19. On the other side of the fence where the pool is I have made a raised garden bed. This isn't actually our land. It is councils but I have reclaimed a bit as where it is positioned is hidden and never used. And besides I maintain it by mowing and weeding it and I have also planted about 15 natives outside our boundary on the council reserve. In the raised bed I have planted pumpkins and hopefully very soon I will lant watermelons out here. I am just waiting for the watermelon seeds to get big enough.

I have plans to grow dwarf fruit trees in pots in no. 5. Install another tank near the clothes line and also one smaller one near No. 4 for topping up the pool. I also have plans to replace ornamental plants like all the agapanthus and mondo with eatable plants and herbs. I really want chooks and they would go between No 10 and No. 7. I want another trellis here for more passionfruit to grow. On the fence between 6 adn 7 I plan on having a narrow 1 metre garden bed and growing espalier fruit trees here. It will probably be years before all this happens. Takes time and takes money. So for the moment I will just keep adding to my wish list.

M xx

Friday, October 10, 2008


My Nanna was one of the people has influenced me the most. She was a truelly remarkable lady. Her life was not an easy one but she was such a positive person who just got on with what needed to be done. She managed her family through the depression and world war two. She had to endure the doctors decision to sacrifice her unborn baby boys life so she could live and provide for the children she already had. She never forgot this baby, the little boy she named but never saw. She only found out where he was buried when she was in her 60's - in a unmarked area of the cemetry where stillborn babies were buried together. Even at the age of 80 she would talk about him, not in a grief stricken way but as a matter of fact way. She was a breast cancer surviver of more than 15 years. She went through a mastectomy, chemo and radiation and just accepted it as a hiccup in her life. She talked about her false breast and her mastectomy in a positive way and just got on with living.
Nanna once said to me that she was an enviromentalist and a recycler before it was trendy to be one. By this she meant that out of necessity she needed to be frugal, needed to recycle and reuse things. She needed to care about here patch of earth and ensure it provided all she needed it to for her and her families day to day survival.

There are many things I remember about my Nanna and I thought I would share a few.

She started every morning with a warm water with lemon juice squeezed into it. The lemons were from a large old tree in the backyard that always seemed to have a never ending supply of lemons on it. The tree is still there in the yard and still provides a prolific amount of lemons each year.

She would sew, knit, crochet just about anything she set her mind to. This started out as being a necessity - making handmade dresses for her little girl, knitting socks for her husband, scarves, beanies, baby clothes etc. As she got older she began knitting and crocheting for pleasure and for here children and grandchildren. Each of her grandchildren were given a hand crocheted mohair blanket as a 21st birthday present. When I had Guitar Dude, my first born very premature baby, she was knitting tiny beanies, matinee jackets and booties for him using dolls clothes patterns. I still have all these put away. She made bunny rugs for her great grandchildren and the most adorable soft knitted toys, baby blankets. I have fond memories of sitting in Nannas kitchen , near the old kerosine heater and of her teaching me to knit. I am left handed and she was so very patient reversing everything and explaining the stitches to me, picking up my slipped stitches and providing me with endless amounts of wool.
Washing day was Monday. The clothes would be washed, hung to dry, brought inside to air, ironed and folded all on Monday. As the washing machine emptied into the laundry tub she would collect this water in buckets and water her plants with it. Not a drop of water went to waste. Even the left overs from the teapot went onto the garden.
Wrapping paper form present was recycled. We were encouraged to open the presents carefully by unsticking the sticky tape so as not to tear the paper. The paper was ironed to get rid ofthe creases and stored until needed for another present. Same with ribbons. This is something I do, as did my mum.
Nan lived in suburbia and over 3/4 of the yard was garden or fruit trees. There were apple trees, peaches and apricots, plums and lemons, raspberries, loganberries. And many, many vegetables. What she couldn't use was given to neighbours or family.

Leftover foods or scraps were composted in an old metal drum. Egg shells were placed on a tray and when she had been cooking she would place them int he oven, then when dry she would crush them and put around the vegetable garden to stop snails eating her veges.

Old clothes were reused and reused. And when they were threadbear she would use them as rags for dusting, cleaning windows, scrubbing the bath etc. Before using them all buttons, zips, lace or ric rac would be removed and reused in other sewing projects.

She made tomatoe and plum sauces to last all year, her own jams, relishes, biscuits and cakes. Visitors never ever left Nannas house empty handed. They were always given homemade food to take with them.
There are so many other things she did that I will share in another post. There is so many things I have learnt because of my Nanna, things that I do today not because I have to like my Nanna did but because I choose to.
M xx

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I am a week and a half into the challenge I gave myself to not waste food. So time for an update. I was so good at the beginning of this challenge and wrote out a weekly menu and then a shopping list of what I would need. But the problem was that I never actually got to the supermarket - see post below about car. So I had to rely on Mr Gadget stopping at the shops to buy what I wanted (roll eyes here please). He doesn't exactly stick to lists! So what came home and what was on the list varied considerably. And the other issue has been the kids being home on school holidays - hungry kids, extra kids, food being eaten that was planned for a meal . Excuses, excuses, excuses!
Well you get the drift. There is definately room for improvement.
So now my car is back (and with the amount it cost to get repaired it is a wonder we can shop this week at all.) and armed with a new weekly menu plan and shopping list I hit the shops and brought exactly what was on the list. Even allowed for very hungry kids this time.
I have had a good look at what is in the fridge, freezer and pantry.
I have planned meals around using up older items first.
I have cleaned fridge, and threw into the compost some mouldy, stuff.
Have some meat I found in the recesses of the freezer defrosted, it has been there way too long and will go to the dog.
Hopefully next update will be a more postitive and successful one.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Today it has rained and even hailed much to Zippy and Super Boys delight! Very exciting - the rain that is! As you would realize if you had read a few posts below about my dumb, aaaghh moment of leaving the hose on and forgetting about it until the tank was empty. The tank is only a small 1000 litre one but it gets lots of use and I rely on it to water the back of the yard where the town water hose won't reach. It is used just for the garden. I really want another one, preferably bigger, for the other end of the yard. Just don't know where I would site it yet.

Thought I would share a few more herbs from the garden.

There is oregano (Greek oregano I think). It is a great ground cover and gets a fair bit of shade where I have planted it yet it seems to really thrive. I use it heaps it cooking. It is delicious in meat dishes and perfect for Italian and Greek recipes.
It has some fantastic health benifits too. Infuse the leaves to make a tea and drink when you have a fever to induce perspiration, relieve colds, cramps , digestive problems and stomach pains. A strong tea of the leaves can be cooled and used as a final rinse on the hair. It is supposed to help darken the hair of brunettes.
Mint- I think this one is spearmint. I make mint iceblocks for drinks on hot sunny days. I also use mint in lots of meat dishes too - sausage rolls, dolmades, meatballs etc. Mint also makes a refreshing tea, brew the tea and then chill. It is good for stomach upsets. MIne is grown in post becasue otherwise it would take over the garden.
Curry plant, not to be confused with curry leaves used in Indian cooking. I started off with one of these plants and then grew more and more from cuttings. Now I grow them as a low hedge along both sides of the pathway. The leaves smell like curry spice. Unfortunately when used in cooking they don't taste as wonderful as you would think they should from the smell. The taste is very subtle but they make a good seasoning for soups, salads and stews. Evidently the flower heads (which are yellow) and the leaves can be made into tea to soothe abdo pains.
Outside it is raining again -yippee the tank will be full again in no time.
M xx

Saturday, October 4, 2008


The weather is getting warm and the garden is coming alive. I just thought I would share some snapshops I took on a wander around my garden.
This is a lemon verbena tree. The tree has been moved two times previously and this is the third. All the leaves fell off and just when I thought it had died and was all set to remove it, we had rain and a few days later it had new growth.

Lavender is my favourite flower. I have a few different varieties. I find that if I don't give them a severe pruning they grow too woody. This plant of lavender is so easy to grow from cuttings. The bees love it and the scent is gorgeous.

The Bay tree is a year old and is in a pot. I was told when I brought it that it is a slow grower and would still be pot size by the time Super Boy reached high school - he hasn't started school yet so that gives me a few years. There is plenty of new growth on it and it seems to be growing rather quickly. It needs a bigger pot.

Rosemary is in a pot by the back door. Sometimes it gets knocked by the kids or dog and bits fall of. I bung them into pots and they always grow. From this one plant I now have 6 rosemary bushes around the place. Great for cooking and for roasts or marinades.

Chocolate mint - smells divine. I am ashamed to say I have never actually used the mint in anything. But I am thinking it would be good to add a few sprigs to iced lemon drinks or in herbal tea.

I will share some more photos next post of wanderings around the garden.

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